Today's Memory

Today’s Memory – Franz Liszt

Photo: Franz Liszt at the Piano by Sir Hubert von Herkomer (circa 1904)

Franz Liszt

22 October 1811, Doborján, kingdom of Hungary, Austrian Empire [now Raiding, Austria] – 31 July 1886, Bayreuth, Germany


Franz Liszt was a Hungarian composer, virtuoso pianist, conductor, music teacher, arranger, and organist of the Romantic era. He was also a writer and a philanthropist.

Franz began to compose at the age of eight. When only nine he made his first public appearance as a concert pianist at Sopron and Pozsony (now Bratislava, Slovakia). His playing impressed so much the local Hungarian magnates that they put up the money to pay for his musical education for the next six years.

In Vienna, he had piano lessons with Carl Czerny and studied composition with Antonio Salieri, the musical director at the Viennese court. He gave several concerts in Vienna, with great success.

Liszt moved with his family to Paris in 1823, giving concerts in Germany on the way. He was refused admission to the Paris Conservatoire because he was a foreigner; instead, he studied with Anton Reicha and Ferdinando Paer. Liszt’s Paris debut in 1824, was sensational. Other concerts quickly followed, as well as a visit to London in June. He toured England again the following year, playing for George IV at Windsor Castle and also visiting Manchester, where his New Grand Overture was performed for the first time. This piece was used as the overture to his one-act opera Don Sanche, which was performed at the Paris Opéra.

Franz Liszt – Don Sanche (ou Le château de l’amour) • Hungarian State Opera Orchestra, Conductor Támas Pál

In 1834 Liszt emerged as a mature composer with the solo piano piece Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, based on a collection of poems by Lamartine, and the set of three Apparitions. He wrote the first two books of solo piano pieces collectively named Années de pèlerinage (1837–54; Years of Pilgrimage), which are poetical evocations of Swiss and Italian scenes – these are works for solo piano transformed into pieces of terrifying virtuosity.

Franz Liszt – Années de Pèlerinage • Piano Lazar Berman

Liszt traveled all over Europe, giving concerts in countries as far apart as Ireland, Portugal, Turkey, and Russia. His visit to Hungary in 1839–40, the first since his boyhood, was an important event. His renewed interest in the music of the Roma, laid the foundations for his Hungarian Rhapsodies and other piano pieces composed in the Hungarian style.

Franz Liszt – Complete Hungarian Rhapsodies

A prolific composer, Liszt was one of the most prominent representatives of the New German School (Neudeutsche Schule). He left behind an extensive and diverse body of work which influenced his forward-looking contemporaries and anticipated 20th-century ideas and trends. Among Liszt’s musical contributions were the symphonic poem, developing thematic transformation as part of his experiments in musical form, and radical innovations in harmony.

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În limba română:


Franz Liszt – Romanian Rhapsody, S244 Piano Giovanni Bellucci



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