Hear Igor Levit’s encore at First Night of the Proms 2017. Liszt’s piano solo version of Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.
Piano score to download and print:
Extract, page 45-47: Beethoven/Liszt – Theme from Symphony 9
The 9 Symphonies Transcribed by Liszt
For those interested in Liszt’s transcriptions of all nine Beethoven symphonies might also find thrill in the 19th century practices on ways to experience orchestral music without attending a symphony concert, years before the invention of recordings and piano rolls. With this in mind inspiring recordings of the Liszt versions of the symphonies have been spotted utilizing a variety of historical keyboards and performance styles. Liszt had produced a superb two-piano transcription of the Ninth, a work he often conducted. Despite his publisher Breitkopf & Härtel’s appeals, Liszt maintained that distilling the universe of Beethoven’s last symphony for one player at one instrument was impossible. In 1865 however, living in seclusion at a monastery on the Monte Mario, Liszt wrote a translation of the symphony medium to solo piano with immense craft and inspiration. The opening of the finale to the ‘Ode to Joy’ is stunningly affecting. But it is a stint preparation for the combination of rhythm, colour, pacing and unyielding musical will, describing the sublime exaltation of Beethoven’s incitement.
“Of the major Romantics, Liszt alone had a personal connection with Beethoven. A case could be made that this first-hand association would prove to be the defining event of his life. Even in old age, he continued to refer to Beethoven as his great ideal, the lodestar of his artistic universe. Liszt’s advocacy of Beethoven’s music, at a time when many of his contemporaries were either unfamiliar with or baffled by the late-period works, is a matter of historical record.
Before the earliest attempts at sound reproduction, Liszt drew on every means at his disposal to create an accurate replica, a facsimile, of works he recognised as uniquely powerful, in order that others might better know and understand an artistic legacy he loved and valued above all.” — Patrick Rucker, Gramophone
Hear full recordings of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony transcribed by Liszt:
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