The purpose of a masterclass is to give students an opportunity to perform for and be critiqued by an esteemed artist. Performing for a master teacher is considered an honor and an educational opportunity. Observing a masterclass is a rare opportunity to see a great artist at work.
The idea of a masterclass was first developed by Franz Liszt in the 19th century. Liszt was one of the most revered and sought after teachers of his generation. He is said to have more than 400 students; many of whom were famous such as Carl Tausig, Hans von Bülow and Emil von Sauer. At these early masterclasses, pianists as well as composers, violinists, cellists, singers, and even painters and poets would gather in Liszt’s home in Weimar to experience his teaching. A rather intimidating experience, it is said that students would enter the music room first and place their scores on the piano. Upon Liszt’s entrance, students would stand respectfully while Liszt went to the piano, leafed through the scores and chose the music to be performed.