Saturday, April 16, 2016

Franz Liszt - The Hungarian Pianist Prodigy

This is a repeat post, first published in January of 2015, about the Romantic Era virtuoso pianist and composer Franz Liszt.

Franz Liszt [1811-1886]
From an earlier Tales post:  " Franz Liszt, born in Hungary in 1811, was a great pianist and composer in the Romantic era of music. He was considered a child prodigy as he was writing compositions at age 8 and performed in concerts at 9 years of age."

From Liszt bio in Wikipedia:  "Liszt gained renown in Europe during the early nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age, and in the 1840s he was considered to be the greatest pianist of all time."

"Liszt wrote transcriptions for piano of a wide variety of music. Indeed, about half of his composing work (approximately 400 out of 800 items) was arrangement of music by others."

"He died in Bayreuth, Germany, on July 31, 1886, at the age of 74, officially as a result of pneumonia...Composer Camille Saint-Saëns, an old friend, whom Liszt had once called "the greatest organist in the world", dedicated his Symphony No. 3 "Organ Symphony" to Liszt; it had premiered in London only a few weeks before his death."

Franz Liszt wrote some very exciting music in my opinion.  Here are a few examples.  His Piano Concerto in E-Flat Major has some exciting virtuoso piano playing.  This concerto that lasts about 18 minutes has 4 movements 1. Allegro maestoso  2. Adagio  3. Allegro vivace-animato  4. Allegro animato. Watch as in the last movement a strong virtuoso performance throughout is really emphasized beginning at around the 17:20 mark until the exciting climax.

Liszt composed 19 "Hungarian Rhapsodies" which were a set of piano pieces based on Hungarian folk themes.  Here we have probably the most famous of those, his Hungarian Rhapsody #2 in C-Sharp minor.

As we stated earlier Franz Liszt transcribed some music for the piano from many of the great composers.  He did so for the great violinist Niccolo Paganini's Etudes [studies].  One of those famous etudes that Liszt transcribed for piano was the Etude #3 in G-Sharp minor known as "La Campanella."  When you are listening as you watch the video of this piece you may say to yourself, oh a nice calm piece.  But check out from about the 3:25 and the amazing excitement begins!

Franz Liszt wrote a set of three pieces for piano entitled "Liebestraume" [Dreams of Love] with his most famous that we have here his Liebestraume #3 in A-Flat Major.  This piece is a very beautiful piece and you may say more beautiful than exciting, so I will just call it excitingly beautiful.  :-)

Please turn up the volume and enjoy some exciting music from the Hungarian prodigy, Franz Liszt.

Franz Liszt: Piano Concerto #1 in E-Flat Major:




Franz Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody #2 in C-Sharp minor [orchestral version]:




Franz Liszt: "La Campanella" in G-Sharp minor, transcription of Niccolo Paganini's Etude #3:




Franz Liszt: Liebestraume #3 in A-Flat Major:



2 comments:

Jim said...

My mother has a Bachelor's Degree in Music from Baylor University and before my parents divorced, she was a stay-at-home mom, preparing a recital to be played in Cowden Hall at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I was just a baby so Mom put me beneath the piano to nap while she practiced. The result was that I could sing the fugue in Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BMV 565 before I could even talk! You see, Franz Liszt adopted the piece into his organ repertoire, and a piano transcription was made by Liszt's pupil Carl Tausig, which gained substantial fame and this is what Mom was playing.

Big Mike said...

Wow, what a great story and what an amazing Mom, big Jim!! I think that plus a lot of hard work by you is why you are a great cellist! Thanks for sharing Jim!