Rose Kissed by Liszt
Gift of Walter Bradley-Keeler
Gilmore Music Library
In his later years, Liszt spent much of his time teaching and holding court at his homes in Rome, Budapest, and Weimar, surrounded by students, would-be students, and admirers of all kinds. Among these was an American pianist, Walter Bradley-Keeler. It is said that Liszt was so impressed by Bradley-Keeler’s playing that he kissed a rose and gave it to the young man. When Bradley-Keeler died, several decades later, he left the rose to Yale. His wife Susanna also endowed a scholarship in his name for composition students at the Yale School of Music.
Kissing a rose and giving it away as a token of esteem may seem curious today, but it was not unusual in the 19th century. The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library has a rose kissed by Lord Byron.