Greta Pasztor: Wrath and Rage in Liszt on a Day of Sweetness

Pianist and future conductor, Gréta Pásztor, is set to perform Franz Liszt’s “Totentanz” with the Kent State University Orchestra as the graduate winner of the annual concerto competition. She is a second-year graduate student pursuing master's degrees in both piano performance and choral conducting at Kent State. As an undergraduate at Baldwin Wallace, she earned degrees in piano performance and music theory.

“I really grew to love piano and music,” says Pásztor, a native of Cluj-Napoca, Romania. “When I was very little, my parents and my family discovered that I had talent for music, so they immediately took me to the music kindergarten and then music school. So I wasn’t even aware that it was training me for the future. It was just something I was talented at or good at.”

With the scope of her several majors, she says, “It will give me more opportunities to be on stage or to work with musicians in different settings.”

“Totentanz,” German for “Dance of the Dead,” is a paraphrase on the Gregorian Chant “Dies Irae,” Latin for “Day of Wrath,” commonly found in requiems but quoted throughout music literature. Written in a theme and variations form for piano and orchestra, the piece is highly acclaimed among piano virtuosos. “It’s not an easy piece,” Pásztor says. “I was intimidated by the first two pages. It starts with cadential material right away.”

While most of the piece is reminiscent of wrath, Pásztor describes how her piano professor, Dr. Donna Lee, helped her interpret the abrupt sensitivity of Variation IV. “The way we worked on it really opened my ears to hearing it as an angelic movement with the B major, and she helped me with pacing these chords. This movement is only piano; there is no [orchestral] accompaniment to it.”

“I really loved the piece from the first time I heard it,” Pásztor says. “I would like to perform in a way where not just the musicians but also the audience gets really excited about the music, because it’s a very exciting and powerful piece.”

The program also will include Stravinsky’s “The Firebird Suite”, Marquez’s “Danzon” No. 2, and Dubois’ concerto for saxophone and orchestra with soloist Eric Vasquez, an undergraduate student at KSU. The performance, led by Dr. Jungho Kim, will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Fri., Feb. 14 in Cartwright Hall. Tickets are $8-$15 and free for 18s and under as well as full-time Kent Campus undergraduates. They can be reserved at


Written by: Alena Miskinis, Glauser School of Music Writing Intern

Contact for Media: Andrew Paa, Marketing Assistant or 330-672-0894

POSTED: Thursday, February 6, 2020 - 9:43am
UPDATED: Monday, February 10, 2020 - 9:01am