Chamber Music on the Hill concert features rhapsody from cartoons

So many famous pianists have performed Franz Liszt's classic 19th century "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2." Even Bugs Bunny played it.

When pianist Viktor Valkov and cellist Lachezar Kostov perform in the second concert in the 2012-13 Chamber Music on the Hill series at 3 p.m. Sunday at McDaniel College's Forum inside Decker College Center, the award-winning musicians will take on "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" as part of their concert.

"Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" may not be immediately recognizable by its name, but those with an affinity for classic cartoons may just recognize it.

In 1946, two different cartoon shorts were made using Liszt's classic 19th century melodic piece as a backdrop.

"Rhapsody Rabbit" featured Bugs Bunny playing with the assistance of a mouse living inside a grand piano. "The Cat Concerto" featured Tom the cat playing while Jerry the mouse, his longtime nemesis, mocked him.

"It's a lively piece," said John Holbert, the chairman of the Board of Directors for Chamber Music on the Hill. "I'm sure there are people and children especially that will really recognize that tune because the music was used in animated features."

Kostov and Valkov performed the rhapsody during the 2011 Liszt-Garrison Competition, which is held at Notre Dame of Maryland University in Baltimore.

Kostov and Valkov won first prize in the Collaborative Artist category in the competition, which attracts musicians from all over the world.

The winners of the chamber music portion of the Liszt-Garrison competition are always invited to perform a chamber music concert at McDaniel College in Westminster. Kostov and Valkov, both doctoral degree students at Rice University in Texas, will become the latest to do so.

"The audiences have been really bowled over," said Chamber Music on the Hill organizer David Kreider. "When [Liszt-Garrison] has these competitions, it's really world-class."

Once again, Chamber Music on the Hill is encouraging student attendance by offering free admission to anyone with a student ID. Any guardians that bring a student to the performance will also receive free admission.

"We want to build an audience for the future," Kreider said. "We want to expose students to what's available in the community."

The Bulgarian performing duo will take on pieces by J.S. Bach, Robert Gross, John Corigliano, Buxton Orr and, of course, Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody."

While Bugs Bunny played away in his "Merry Melodies" cartoon performance, he was interrupted by a ringing telephone.

He answered. The voice asked for Liszt.

"Franz Liszt?" Bugs Bunny said. "Never heard of him."