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Liszt - Piano Music

Franz Liszt (1811-1886), the greatest piano virtuoso of his time, was also highly influential in shaping the western musical canon.
His championship of new composers like Wagner and Berlioz helped them to fame; equally important was his promoting past masters including Bach, Handel, Schubert and Beethoven.
In his compositions he developed piano technique beyond recognition, made radical experiments in harmony and invented the symphonic poem. Born in Hungary, he went as a boy to Vienna, where he studied with Czerny and Salieri and met Beethoven and Schubert.
Still in his teens he settled in Paris where he soon became a prominent figure in society, first and foremost because of his wizardry at the piano, but also because of his various romantic entanglements, which provided much material for gossip.
Liszt became acquainted with a number of musical contemporaries at this time, including Berlioz, Chopin, Alkan and others.
One of the most important events of these early years was his witnessing of the concerts of the diabolical violinist Niccoló Paganini.
Towards the end of 1832 Liszt was introduced to Countess Marie d’Agoult, who was to become his lover; as she was already married, the couple eloped to Switzerland to escape scandal. The relationship went on for 12 years and resulted in three children – Liszt’s daughter Cosima would go on to marry Richard Wagner.
During the years 1839 to 1847 Liszt unfolded a virtuoso career unmatched in the history of performance. He was the first to play entire programmes from memory; the first to play the full range of the keyboard repertory (as it then existed) from Bach to Chopin; the first consistently to place the piano at right-angles to the stage, so that its open lid reflected the sound across the auditorium; and the first to tour Europe from the Pyrenees to the Urals.
However, at 35 years of age he abandoned the concert stage, persuaded by his new lover Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein to concentrate on composition. Liszt settled in Weimar and went on to compose some of his most important masterpieces, include the Faust Symphony, the Symphonic Poems, and the two piano concerti.
In the so called War of the Romantics, he supported his son-in-law Wagner and the futuristic school of Weimar against the more conservative Leipzig school, most famously represented by Johannes Brahms, Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann.
Around 1860, Liszt settled more or less permanently in Rome, where he took minor orders and became Abbé Liszt. Here his output consisted mainly of religious music.
In his last years he abandoned the virtuoso style in favour of a bleak and introspective approach, pointing forward into atonality.

Major works:
Orchestral: Symphonic poems (incl. Ce qu´on entend sur la montagne, Les preludes, and Prometheus), Faust and Dante Symphonies, Mephisto Waltzes 1 & 2, two piano concertos and other works for piano and orchestra, incl. Totentanz and Fantasy on Hungarian Folk-Melodies
Piano: Sonata, Années de pèlerinage Books 1-3, Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, Légendes,
6 Grandes Études de Paganini (incl. La Campanella), 12 Transcendental Studies, Hungarian Rhapsodies, Mephisto Waltzes 3 & 4
Operatic transcriptions and fantasies, incl. Reminiscences de Don Juan (based on Mozart´s Don Giovanni) and a vast number of other pieces, incl. transcriptions of his own and other people’s orchestral and choral compositions (incl. the Beethoven Symphonies for piano four hands)

Heinrich Heine about Liszt: "When he sits at the piano and having repeatedly pushed his hair back over his brow, begins to improvise, then he often rages all too madly upon the ivory keys and lets loose a deluge of heaven-storming ideas, with here and there a few sweet flowers to shed fragrance upon the whole. One feels both blessedness and anxiety, but rather more anxiety."

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Total pieces by Liszt: 192

Collections - Liszt
Liszt - 12 Grand Etudes (12 pieces)
Liszt - Années de pélerinage, First Year: Switzerland (9 pieces)
Liszt - Années de pèlerinage, Second Year: Italy (7 pieces)
Liszt - Années de pèlerinage, Third Year (7 pieces)
Liszt - Apparitions (3 pieces)
Liszt - Ballades (2 pieces)
Liszt - Beethoven Symphonies (9 pieces)
Liszt - Concertos (1 pieces)
Liszt - Consolations (6 pieces)
Liszt - Etude in 12 Exercises (12 pieces)
Liszt - Etudes for Transcendental Technique (7 pieces)
Liszt - Harmonies Poétiques et Religieuses (10 pieces)
Liszt - Hungarian Rhapsodies (19 pieces)
Liszt - Legends (2 pieces)
Liszt - Liebesträume (3 pieces)
Liszt - Paganini Etudes (6 pieces)
Liszt - Soirées de Vienne (5 pieces)
Liszt - Three Sonnets by Petrarca (3 pieces)
Liszt - Transcendental Etudes (12 pieces)
Liszt - Transcriptions (26 pieces)
Liszt - Two Polonaises (2 pieces)
Liszt - Venezia e Napoli (3 pieces)
Liszt - Venezia e Napoli (Années de pèlerinage) (3 pieces)
Liszt - Miscellaneous Pieces (23 pieces)

Posts in the piano forum about Liszt:

xx Best Liszt Editions?
December 21, 2007, 01:45:13 AM by dnephi

Which of the following do you recommend?

New Liszt Edition (Musica Budapest)
Henle Verlag Urtext
Emile von Sauer as editor (Peters Edition)




xx Liszt Technical Excersizes: my experience
July 26, 2005, 05:30:05 AM by musicsdarkangel

I used to hate technical excersizes...........

but every since a month ago, when I saw Jemboy write in one of his posts, that practicing these Liszt excersizes was his "technical secret", I had to try them out.

Here is my conclusion:
I am amazed by these excersizes, and believe that they are genius.

His opening excersizes, for finger dexterity, and mainly independance, are the hardest of their type....... not only do they do this, but he also has dynamics marked in to help improve control of the fingers (and dynamics).

A month ago, my weakness was by far octaves, but now, after this last practice of the octave excersizes, I'm starting to wonder.  They have helped me improve so much, that I can take speeds much faster and more accurate than I could a month ago.

The Liszt excersizes cover all sorts of great stuff...............

1.   Finger independance
2.   Scales, 3rds, 6ths, contrary, pretty much everything.  arpeggios in 3rds, 6ths, etc
3.   Sightreading (excersizes are in different keys! unlikes Hannon and crap like that)
4.   Trills
5.   Octaves
6.   Repeated notes
7.   Passing the thumb under
8.   Using different fingerings
9.   Tremelos
10. Endurance

.... the list goes on and on.  No wonder Liszt was so good........ these are the excersizes that he was said to have practiced for 4 hours a day.

Already, my finger strength has improved, my speed, my octaves, trills are coming easier.  This is from practicing just for the last 2 weeks for an hour a day.  I'm going to move it up to an hour and a half a day.   

What is wonderful is how Liszt puts these excersizes in different keys, so they are great for sightreading, and knowledge of the keyboard.  I look at the music, don't look at my hands, and follow the directions, so I get the technical work out, as well as sight reading.  This coupled with all of the techniques, and the scales, helps my playing greatly. 

My memorization is improving as well because of all of these scalar patterns Liszt puts in, and chord shapes, I remember them, the inverstion, and can recognize it in music.  Also, at the very end of the book, I actually get a work out from the octaves!  Because there are sections where you have to change direction in the octaves each time you hit one (c, e, c, g, c, c, then e, g, e, c, e, e etc) the arms get a great workout.

There are sections I skip (mostly repeated, scalar sections), but eventually I will go back to them. 

I thought I should let you all know my experience with these excersizes, because Liszt was technically one of the (if not THE) most brilliant pianists, and these excersizes are worth checking out.

If you do these though, be cautious, the excersizes are HARD so you have a possibility of tendonitis........... if you ever feel pain, don't keep playing. 

Anyone else have experience with these?

xx Re: Best Liszt interpreter?
July 15, 2005, 07:37:59 AM by dikai_yang

liszt etudes: jorge bolet
hungarian rapsodies: roberto szidon
for those of you who have never heard of roberto szidon's playing of these rapsodies...
that will change your life, you'd start to wonder how can these pieces be played any other way...
i really really dislike horowitz's interpretation of too many things...
the major reason being he over-exaggerate everything way too much....
and he kinda changes the music around such that it becomes not what the composer desires....
in a way, he has a great style for himself....
but he's not a great "interpreter" because compoasers may not like their pieces played the way horowitz does....

xx liszt works
March 22, 2005, 09:43:39 PM by paris

please if you could list some liszt works, what would you recomend to 16 year old student

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