Feux Follets Diaboliques

my pianistic prowess challenged by the devil

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Location: Taipei, Taiwan

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

by Rolf-Peter Wille

Feux Follets by Franz Liszt, a most haunting sound poem and a legendary etude of transcendental pianistic difficulty, has been on my practicing menu for decades. Here is a strange incident that happened to me a few years ago:

In order to escape the urban jungle of Taipei, I sometimes run away on some nocturnal rambles in the surrounding hills. These ragged hills are covered with jungle, temples, and decayed graveyards and not even the most hardened criminal would dare to venture too near those graveyards at night. The jungle is inhabited by snakes and lizzards and in the summer time the paths are illuminated by thousands of glow-worms. All of these creatures are of a much more aggressive variety than their European counterparts.

One night, having lost all idea of direction, I found myself in the thickest jungle surrounded by millions of glow-worms furiously taking snapshots of me. I suddenly imagined an important press conference,
and the paparazzi glow-worms began to ask the most bewitching questions about my pianistic prowess. Instinctively I took a cordless microphone out of my pocket (teachers in Taiwan always carry a cordless microphone in their pockets) and announced with pride that I planned to perform the Feux Follets at my next recital.

Just then all the glow-worms were switched off as if by magic power. I was left in complete darkness and a most horrifying mocking laughter seemed to emanate from some deep cavern within the earth.

At that moment I changed my mind and decided to perform the Suggestion Diabolique.

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