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Topic: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?  (Read 12726 times)

Offline flashyfingers

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Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
on: December 08, 2014, 04:39:55 AM
Why do people think Chopin is better, or they enjoy Liszt music more?

Do you have a preference?


I personally love Chopin's music but Liszt has very beautiful music, too. And as a pianist, I would prefer to play Liszt…wait, no…Chopin. No. Liszt….UGH! I DON'T KNOW!!


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Frédéric Chopin:
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Offline amytsuda

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #1 on: December 08, 2014, 12:23:20 PM
As a player, I wonder it has something to do with hand size, hand shape, finger strength, etc.  I have very short pinkies with weak joints and long strong middle and index fingers. And 4th fingers are sort of hanging in there. Not sure if that is the reason or not, but when I play Chopin, I never suffer, but Liszt makes me suffer. And based on the description of Chopin's hands, I feel it may make sense. And because I am a player, I think I am skewed to like what my hands like. Simply stepping back from the listener's viewpoints, there are so many Liszt pieces I like, e.g. Sonata B-minor - but I can not imagine the literal physical pain to learn it...while I feel like I can learn Chopin B-minor (I tried when I was in high school but never got back on it, but it never hurt my hands) But I know some people who feel completely opposite. They feel Liszt fits their hands than Chopin.  Here is an interesting article by Stephen Hough.
https://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/stephenhough/9357947/Why_the_Chopin_B_minor_sonata_is_harder_than_the_Liszt_B_minor_sonata/
I am sure Mitsuko Uchida would give the opposite view.

Offline visitor

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #2 on: December 08, 2014, 02:11:09 PM
I do not think Chopin is better. I therefore am not a person ;D

Offline indianajo

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #3 on: December 08, 2014, 06:19:20 PM
I realize it is going to make me very unpopular, but I much prefer to listen to Liszt. 
Chopin as interpreted these days is so hesitant, all that starting and stopping.  It as if noone is quite sure what they want to say.  Or perhaps they need to stop and sigh with emotion.  It is all so French Louis 18th salon music- more French salon style than Debussy or Ravel, both of whom I find quite straightforward.  I work out aerobically so I don't spend a lot of time sighing (or gasping for breath, to put it baldly).  Chopin reminds me a fat church choir that can't make it through a whole four syllable word without gasping in the middle. 
Liszt music can be quite straightforward, if a bit on the powerful Prussian side.  I can't play any of it, but I can watch Yefim Bronfman on stage at the  Wein summer concert, and dream. 

Offline lephantome92

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #4 on: December 08, 2014, 07:11:28 PM
I have to agree with what was commented earlier: probably the reason many people like Chopin more than Liszt is because of playablilty. While yes, there are many Chopin pieces that are far from easy (*cough* Revolutionary Etude *cough* f# prelude *cough*), most of Liszt's pieces are only for the most advanced performers. Yes, there are exceptions (I'm getting proficient at the 3rd and 5th Hungarian Rhapsodies), but easy Liszt is typically the exception.

Offline chopincat

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #5 on: December 08, 2014, 10:35:04 PM
In terms of listening, I think it's kind of hard for people to pinpoint specific reasons. It's just a matter of personal preference. I think that Liszt's music is beautiful, but Chopin's music speaks to me in a way that Liszt's music does not. I can't really explain it more than that.

In terms of playing, I agree with what's already been said.

Offline starlady

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #6 on: December 08, 2014, 11:05:38 PM
I find Chopin's music more personally involving, more likely to touch the emotions.  Liszt in comparision seems to be more concerned with showing off his virtuousity than with speaking to the heart. But this judgement may well be influenced by what I know of Liszt's technical challenges and Chopin's (relative) accessibility.  --s.

Offline flashyfingers

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #7 on: December 09, 2014, 03:24:01 AM
I think that because Liszt earned the title of a priest (not an easy task, usually)…says a lot about how he felt but never told anyone, maybe about his mistakes in life, the ungodly passion he showed, the desire in him…I also think his music reflects that, not necessarily in a very obvious way. But I think that the harmonies he writes, they are the sound of his heart. I think there was a lot of sadness in him. The complex piano stylings and technical challenges he presents in his music is just his character, and not for the sake of virtuosity. I think that he was never happy with him self, so he wrote all these grandiose, overwhelming pieces. And the actual music (not the technical barrier he created UNPURPOSE, but not for virtuosity) is what is really touching. But you have to understand why that technical barrier is there, and it is not simply because Liszt was a show off. There is a personal reason behind what Liszt was and what he did.


As far as Chopin, I would see him as someone who many can understand, unlike Liszt. Chopin was someone who was (obviously) highly capable, but suffered from a lot of anxiety and stress. Otherwise, Chopin was a pretty normal person. And it was likely people died from disease, where cure did not exist yet. A lot of people can appeal to Chopin's character. He did have a serious career in music, but his music was the most prominent thing about his life. Where Liszt had so much more time to live a much more passionate life.

This still does not mean I think Liszt's music is more beautiful. It isn't. But I do not agree when people dismiss Liszt to be all about virtuosity, when virtuosity had been dismissed from performance, centuries ago. Virtuosity is just a part of the 19th century composer package. If difficulty makes it difficult to find the music, then you have quite a journey to make, to discover music.

Difficulty is only overwhelming if you do not see a solution. The solution is there, in the music that Liszt wrote.

:)

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Offline cbreemer

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #8 on: January 21, 2015, 08:05:00 PM
I like some pieces by Chopin better than some by Liszt. And vice versa :)
Why does one need to like one composer better than another anyway ? It seems futile.
Having said that, I like Bach better than Stockhausen.

Offline alistaircrane4

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #9 on: January 21, 2015, 08:54:59 PM
How real estate is all about "location,location,location", the difference between Liszt and Chopin is "Melody,Melody,Melody". Listen to any piece by Chopin no matter what the difficulty which by the way, does not matter for we do not listen to music and think "Wow" listen to that technique Technique is useless if you cannot put forth a beautiful interpretation, all of his melodies are amazing and sublime. It took Liszt years before he created beautiful melodies. If anyone argues that the Hungarian Rhapsodies are beautiful note that Liszt found those themes whilst traveling. I have listened to a lot of Liszt and I have found only a handful of pieces where melodic genius comes out. It is amazing but never as good as Chopin. There are a lot of different forms of music for piano, the best way to see the difference between the two is to listen to some of the forms that they both wrote in. Listen to these pieces,
Liszt Polonaises and Chopin Polonaises
Liszt Ballades and Chopin Ballades
Liszt Etudes and Chopin Etudes
Liszt Concertos and Chopin Concertos
these are just a few. Which Composer presents the most simplistic yet sublime melodies?

Offline mjames

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #10 on: January 21, 2015, 09:13:04 PM
How real estate is all about "location,location,location", the difference between Liszt and Chopin is "Melody,Melody,Melody". Listen to any piece by Chopin no matter what the difficulty which by the way, does not matter for we do not listen to music and think "Wow" listen to that technique Technique is useless if you cannot put forth a beautiful interpretation, all of his melodies are amazing and sublime. It took Liszt years before he created beautiful melodies. If anyone argues that the Hungarian Rhapsodies are beautiful note that Liszt found those themes whilst traveling. I have listened to a lot of Liszt and I have found only a handful of pieces where melodic genius comes out. It is amazing but never as good as Chopin. There are a lot of different forms of music for piano, the best way to see the difference between the two is to listen to some of the forms that they both wrote in. Listen to these pieces,
Liszt Polonaises and Chopin Polonaises
Liszt Ballades and Chopin Ballades
Liszt Etudes and Chopin Etudes
Liszt Concertos and Chopin Concertos
these are just a few. Which Composer presents the most simplistic yet sublime melodies?

Chopin would have never been able to write something like Liszt's Dante Symphony. I wish he would have...

Imagine what a Chopin opera would sound like? Chopin's a ability to write sexy long melodies would have definitely suited the genre. Too bad he didn't invest in any other genres beside piano & piano's sidekicks.

Offline j_menz

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #11 on: January 21, 2015, 11:47:36 PM
Chopin would have never been able to write something like Liszt's Dante Symphony. I wish he would have...

Of course not. It would have been called Chopin's Dante Symphony and, given Freddy's orchestrational shortcomings you would never have heard of it.

Imagine what a Chopin opera would sound like? Chopin's a ability to write sexy long melodies would have definitely suited the genre. Too bad he didn't invest in any other genres beside piano & piano's sidekicks.

He actually wrote quite a number of songs. Go listen to them. It may make you rethink your wish for an opera.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline mjames

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #12 on: January 22, 2015, 12:46:29 AM
Of course not. It would have been called Chopin's Dante Symphony and, given Freddy's orchestrational shortcomings you would never have heard of it.

He actually wrote quite a number of songs. Go listen to them. It may make you rethink your wish for an opera.

True true...

I feel sorry for the orchestras that have to play his concertos, or worse, his op. 22..

Offline alistaircrane4

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #13 on: January 22, 2015, 01:49:46 AM
True true...

I feel sorry for the orchestras that have to play his concertos, or worse, his op. 22..



I think it is relatively ungrateful that we think this of his concertante works. Schumann, an amazing orchestrator himself, once said "We may be sure that a genius like Mozart, were he born today, would write concertos like Chopin and not like Mozart."
And Mozart's concertos are held in high regard. Chopin did not wish to make exciting orchestral parts for these works. He sought to provide a new type of dialogue between piano and orchestra. There is never a moment where the piano is lost in the orchestral parts or vice versa. Which the former is sadly too often.

Offline mjames

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #14 on: January 22, 2015, 05:26:25 PM
I think it is relatively ungrateful that we think this of his concertante works. Schumann, an amazing orchestrator himself, once said "We may be sure that a genius like Mozart, were he born today, would write concertos like Chopin and not like Mozart."
And Mozart's concertos are held in high regard. Chopin did not wish to make exciting orchestral parts for these works. He sought to provide a new type of dialogue between piano and orchestra. There is never a moment where the piano is lost in the orchestral parts or vice versa. Which the former is sadly too often.

Yeah, but the bored to death soloists who are sitting behind the pianist might not agree you.

Offline alistaircrane4

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #15 on: January 22, 2015, 07:17:36 PM
Yeah, but the bored to death soloists who are sitting behind the pianist might not agree you.
That is because they are not pianists and I would not call them soloists either as the orchestra performs as a whole in his concertante works. If they were pianists they could understand better the significance of what they are playing. In a concerto all instruments work as a whole if the orchestra does not play because their part is exciting they play because they enjoy the whole work. There are much more boring parts ever hear the cello part for cannon in d major by Pachebel...

Offline mjames

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #16 on: January 22, 2015, 07:40:51 PM
That is because they are not pianists and I would not call them soloists either as the orchestra performs as a whole in his concertante works. If they were pianists they could understand better the significance of what they are playing. In a concerto all instruments work as a whole if the orchestra does not play because their part is exciting they play because they enjoy the whole work. There are much more boring parts ever hear the cello part for cannon in d major by Pachebel...

the soloists thingy was an error :-X

Offline flashyfingers

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #17 on: January 24, 2015, 02:28:43 AM
I think it is relatively ungrateful that we think this of his concertante works. Schumann, an amazing orchestrator himself, once said "We may be sure that a genius like Mozart, were he born today, would write concertos like Chopin and not like Mozart."
And Mozart's concertos are held in high regard. Chopin did not wish to make exciting orchestral parts for these works. He sought to provide a new type of dialogue between piano and orchestra. There is never a moment where the piano is lost in the orchestral parts or vice versa. Which the former is sadly too often.

Simplicity is a facet of chopin's orchestra parts! Not a shortcoming! I do not see why every single part has to be overly elaborate. The counterpoint is there, and the theme of each instrument is certainly intentional in ways that go beyond technique (analysis is not my thing, though. but there is certainly dialogue there). Besides, when the piano is so unstable with rubato and accents and syncopation, and performance adrenaline, what would happen if the orchestra's stability and reliability, somewhat predictability was none?

What I love about either of his concerti is that you can sing the melody that the orchestra is creating together, even though they are playing their respective parts. I would literally sing a theme of the second concerto by singing the melody and then harmonizing with it when the part that is emphasized is too low or too high. It's dope!
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Offline faa2010

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #18 on: January 26, 2015, 06:49:44 PM
That's a good question, both Liszt and Chopin have nice pieces.

I think both have created marvelous music, it is just that Chopin has transmitted something more, more feeling, more emotional intensity. That's my subjective point of view.


Let me try something more objective: Chopin's music has been more accessible to the public in general, in most of the senses: technique, level, global knowledge, recognize and expansion.

Liszt music is good, but it was less accessible in level and technique, thus leading to a less marvelous and quick recognition and popularity than with Chopin's.

Also both have had remarkable personal lives where there was gossip, like with rock stars. Although Chopin's one was seen more intense and emotional than Liszt's, I suppose.


Both can have the same level of popularity, and maybe it is very difficult to compare their music, but of what I can be sure is that Chopin's popularity arrived faster than Liszt's in their era.



Once I was curious why Chopin is very popular in Japan, and I found this:

https://www.chopin.pl/japanese.en.html

Offline chopinlisztfan 6869

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #19 on: January 18, 2022, 12:53:16 PM
In my opinion, they are all equal and excel in different areas of the piano repertoire. Chopin's sentiment and emotion rival Liszt's complexity and tonality.

Offline ranjit

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #20 on: January 18, 2022, 05:25:49 PM
I think it's because Chopin's music is more accessible to the layperson than Liszt for whatever reason. Part of this may have to do with interpretation. From the anecdotes regarding Liszt's concerts, we know that he was really able to excite the public's imagination. I think very few pianists are currently able to do that because of the conservative, note-perfection mindset that has taken over the community which gives it a bit of a stale sound. And Liszt suffers more from a stale sound than Chopin, as Chopin is easier to understand because it's very melodic. Liszt seems to rely on textures and harmonies much more which are brilliant and unprecedented for the time, but which am uninspired reading can completely destroy.

Calling Liszt an empty showman is one of my pet peeves. I would argue that he is possibly more of a genius than Chopin given the range of his innovations. He basically reimagined the piano in a lot of ways. I think that for a common person (and for a lot of pretentious musicians), Liszt's music is just "too much". A common response I get from people I introduce Liszt to is, this is too many notes, this guy is a showoff, I'd much rather listen to Eric Satie, lol.

I sometimes think it's akin to someone who sees a person exceptionally talented at what they do, and concludes that they must be a fraud, because they don't understand what they're doing at first glance.

Offline nightwindsonata

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #21 on: January 26, 2022, 03:27:59 AM
I think it's because Chopin's music is more accessible to the layperson than Liszt for whatever reason. Part of this may have to do with interpretation. From the anecdotes regarding Liszt's concerts, we know that he was really able to excite the public's imagination. I think very few pianists are currently able to do that because of the conservative, note-perfection mindset that has taken over the community which gives it a bit of a stale sound. And Liszt suffers more from a stale sound than Chopin, as Chopin is easier to understand because it's very melodic. Liszt seems to rely on textures and harmonies much more which are brilliant and unprecedented for the time, but which am uninspired reading can completely destroy.

Calling Liszt an empty showman is one of my pet peeves. I would argue that he is possibly more of a genius than Chopin given the range of his innovations. He basically reimagined the piano in a lot of ways. I think that for a common person (and for a lot of pretentious musicians), Liszt's music is just "too much". A common response I get from people I introduce Liszt to is, this is too many notes, this guy is a showoff, I'd much rather listen to Eric Satie, lol.

I sometimes think it's akin to someone who sees a person exceptionally talented at what they do, and concludes that they must be a fraud, because they don't understand what they're doing at first glance.

I actually prefer to play Liszt more than Chopin (of course I adore their music equally)! In Liszt there is so much room for flexibility and experimentation with a melody, a cadenza, a texture, etc. and even great 'risks' will be acceptable and welcomed by the audience--the more wild the performer is, the more exciting his music gets. Playing Chopin, meanwhile, is much more difficult: there are also many ways to play his music, but the more wild individual preferences and variations often need to be 'smoothed-out' to fit into established traditions, and rare is the person who can surpass the tradition of a hundred years with something fresh. In a phone conversation I had today with Joseph Banowetz, he mentioned that many concertos (including the Chopin concertos) tend to be 'controversial' and hard to please, while the Liszt concertos are much better to show off with (he recommended I study the first one during my master's, for instance).
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Offline jimf12

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #22 on: January 27, 2022, 03:57:09 PM
I think I heard this from Robert Greenberg, a noted music historian discussing Chopin vs Liszt.    Both Chopin and Liszt came to be at a time when the first pianos with an iron framed harp came to be.    Essentially, these instruments were on par with what we know today, and very different from the pianos of Mozart's days.   

Greenberg made the statement that the two composers looked at the new instrument in different ways.   Chopin saw a way to create more expressive music, and Liszt saw a way to better demonstrate virtuosic playing.    The musician vs the showmen theme, but in no way was Greenberg making a statement that one made the other "better".    Simply that it allowed for different styles of genius to emerge.    These different styles do account for some of the accessibility comments, Chopin was much more likely to write simple music simply because it was beautiful.   

Personally, I do like Chopin better, but it has nothing to do with accessibility.   I simply like the expressiveness, whether listening or playing.    I do like Liszt, he is one of my favorite composers, so no disrespect.   Just a personal taste, and I think that is all it is.   

Offline ranjit

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Re: Why do people like Chopin better than Liszt?
Reply #23 on: January 27, 2022, 04:35:50 PM


Greenberg made the statement that the two composers looked at the new instrument in different ways.   Chopin saw a way to create more expressive music, and Liszt saw a way to better demonstrate virtuosic playing.    The musician vs the showmen theme, but in no way was Greenberg making a statement that one made the other "better".    Simply that it allowed for different styles of genius to emerge.    These different styles do account for some of the accessibility comments, Chopin was much more likely to write simple music simply because it was beautiful.   
I think Chopin thought of the piano more as an instrument, whereas Liszt thought of it more like an orchestra. Liszt was more invested in finding all the possible things that could be done at the piano, while Chopin seemed to largely stick to his own style.
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