Michael Hawley
piano solo
van cliburn amateur competition
fort worth, texas
june, 1999



    click to download/play            mp3      wav
1. Bach-Liszt  (1685-1750)
    the great fantasy (& fugue) in g (bwv542, 1708)
 6:00  5.6mb  62mb
2. William Bolcom  (1938-)
    the graceful ghost  (1970)
 5:49  5.5mb  60mb



After years away from the piano, and some gentle prodding from Richard Rodzinski, I entered the first Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, held in Fort Worth in June, 1999. The format was three rounds (preliminary:10 mins, semifinal:20 mins, finals:30 mins), and contestants were asked to choose their own repertoire (pieces could be repeated across rounds).  My program was:


Bach-Liszt: the great fantasy & fugue in g minor


Bolcom: two ghost rags
Liszt: Mephisto waltz


Chopin: Sonata in b minor

When the moment of truth came, I found I was the 97th person to play, and most of the opening repertoire had been pretty tame (over a dozen Chopin ballades, lots of Beethoven, etc).  So rather than play the whole Bach fantasy & fugue, which might have left everyone feeling like they had just spent 10 minutes in a Lutheran church, I decided to drop the fugue and use a piece from my second round, the Bolcom Graceful Ghost rag.  My daring tactic worked perfectly: I was critically acclaimed in the Dallas/FtWorth papers, received a wonderful ovation, and the jury bounced me out of the competition!  The eventual winner was Joel Holoubek, a French coin dealer, who played Liszt's Funerailles, Ravel's Ondine, and the finale from Dutilleux's sonata.  Holoubek played wonderfully, and had exceptional, sensual charisma.


Michael Hawley