Mid-Study Presentation – Adela Liculescu

Shadings of Virtuosity in Franz Liszt’s Music

The discourse on Franz Liszt’s music has seen little change throughout the past two centuries. The tone was already set by Liszt’s contemporaries who described his performances as devilish, mystical, and mysterious. These notions have been perpetuated by Liszt’s biographies up until present, describing details of his stage behaviour or wild audience reactions, but giving almost no further detail on the musical intricacies of his performances. What are the concrete factors which composed the “aura” of a Liszt performance? And can such a performance be reproduced nowadays by the modern pianists?

In my research, I endeavour to analyse these aspects systematically. In the past two years, I explored a large amount of works for piano by Liszt and I would like to present here the overview results of my artistic research, sustained by relevant musical examples. Performance and composition are intertwined in Liszt’s works (the act of performing being at the core of Liszt’s music), so through a vast exploration of his compositions, I could make observations about aspects of performance.

In this current presentation, I will show examples of multiple types of virtuosity in his music and I will dive deeper into analysing the virtuosity of his art of transformation and transcription. I will explain the different treatment of the instrument in his vocal (song, opera) and orchestral transcriptions. On a more concrete level, I will show selected examples of my work and ways in which I explore with parameters like sound, touch, dynamics, tone colour, voicing, balance, texture, density, intensity, resonance, character, rubato etc. I think the modern pianist can profit from a clearer and more systematic understanding of the innovations Liszt brought to each of these parameters, in order to refine their spectrum of their Liszt interpretation at the piano.

Internal Supervisors and External Advisors: Milana Chernyavska (KUG), Deniz Peters (KUG), Jan Jiracek von Arnim (University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna), Heinz von Loesch (Berlin State Institute for Music Research)

Adela Liculescu


The Vienna-based Romanian Pianist Adela Liculescu is one of the most active musicians of her generation: international awarded soloist, demanded chamber musician and active as an artistic researcher.

Education: Adela began her piano studies when she was four. She studied piano performance and chamber music with distinction at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna and received also tuition in composition, music theory and conducting at the same institution.  At the moment she is pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz. The main mentors during her artistic studies are Milana Chernyavska, Avedis Kouyomdjian, Martin Hughes, Stefan Mendl and Mihai Ungureanu.

Piano Competitions: Adela Liculescu won several prizes in piano competitions: the most recent one is the second prize at the International Enescu Piano Competition Bucharest 2021, where she performed Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto in the final stage with the Bucharest Philharmonic and the conductor John Axelrod in the Romanian Athenaeum Bucharest. She won the first prize at Prix du Piano Bern 2018. In September 2017 she won in less than two weeks the first prize in both existing Brahms Competitions (Pörtschach, Austria and Detmold, Germany. In 2015 she won the first prize at the Bösendorfer Competition in Vienna – on this occasion she performed in the final round Beethoven Second Piano Concerto in the concert theatre of the Schönbrunn Palace with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and conductor Stefan Vladar.

Activity as a soloist: Adela played recitals and concerts in Berlin (Berliner Philharmonie), München (Philharmonie Gasteig), St. Petersburg (Philharmonic), Vienna (Musikverein, Konzerthaus, MuTh), London (Saint Martin-in-the-Fields), Bucharest (Romanian Athenaeum, Radio-Hall, George Enescu National Museum) and many other concert halls in Europe, Asia and America.
Among the orchestras with which she worked, are: das neue Deutsche Sinfonieorchester Berlin, St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, Dogma Chamber Orchestra Deutschland, das Radio-Sinfonieorchester Bucharest, Philharmonic Orchestra Bucharest, Royal Chamber Orchestra of Romania, Alma Mahler Philharmonie Wien etc.

Activity as a chamber musician: Adela is a very passionate chamber musician. She is the pianist in the piano quintet Philharmonic Five, with members of the Vienna Philharmonic. With this Ensemble she performed at the opening of the Salzburg Festival 2021 and she performs a subscription series in Konzerthaus Vienna.

Awards and Honours: In 2016 she was awarded the Prize „Romanian Student in the Arts Category“ at a ceremony which took place at the Parliament Palace in Bucharest. In 2020 she was awarded the Beethoven Prize by the Romanian National Culture Radio.
Adela was a scholarship holder by the Music Academy in Liechtenstein, the Thyll-Dürr Foundation of Switzerland, the Tokyo Foundation and the Beethoven Society of Vienna.
Adela is an Official Bösendorfer Artist.