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......."Happy Birthday Franz Liszt"

posted 10/22/2008 8:33:11 AM |
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tagged: birthday, piano, history, music

Frans Liszt was born October 22, 1811

Today would be his birthday

The following is a little history of

the man....I hope you enjoy..

along with his music..See below

David Alaverdian/ Franz Liszt / Campella

"Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was handsome, magnetic. irresistible to women, and an incredible showman, and a pacesetter in musical history. During the 1840s, he performed superhuman feats at the piano, overwhelming the European public and impressing musicians as much as concertgoers.

"Chopin wished that he could play his own piano etudes the way Liszt did. Schumann wrote that Liszt "enmeshed every member of the audience with his art and did with them as he willed." Brahms later said, "Whoever has not heard Liszt cannot speak of piano playing."

"Liszt was born in Hungary; his father was an administrator for the Esterhazy family (which Haydn had also served). At age eleven, Liszt studied in Vienna, where he met Schubert and Beethoven; during his teens and twenties, he lived in Paris, a city where romanticism flourished and a mecca for virtuosos. When he was nineteen and already acclaimed, Liszt was awed by the great violinist Paganini, who drove audiences into a frenzy and was half suspected of being in league with the devil. Young Liszt was determined to become the Paganini of the piano. He withdrew from the concert stage for a few years, practiced from eight to twelve hours a day, and emerged as probably the greatest pianist of his time.

"To display his incomparable mastery, Liszt composed his Transcendental Etudes and made piano transcriptions of Paganini's violin pieces. 'My piano,' he wrote, 'is my very self. . . .Ten finger have the power to reproduce the harmonies which are created by hundreds of performers.' Once, after an orchestral performance of a movement from Berlioz's Fantastic Symphony, Liszt played his own piano arrangement and made a more powerful effect than the entire orchestra. He toured Europe tirelessly between 1839 and 1847, playing mainly his own piano music and receiving unprecedented adulation.

"But Liszt also wanted recognition as a serious composer. At thirty-six, he abandoned his career as a traveling virtuoso to become court conductor in Weimar, where he composed many orchestral pieces (developing a new and influential form of program music) and conducted works by such contemporaries as Berlioz, Schumann, and Wagner. Unselfish and generous, he taught hundreds of gifted pianists free of charge and provided musical and financial support crucial to Wagner's success. He also wrote music criticism and books on Chopin and on Gypsy music. His literary efforts were aided by two aristocratic women writers: Countess Marie d'Agoult and, later the Russian Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein. (Marie d'Agoult left her husband to live with Liszt; she and Liszt had three children, one of whom , Cosima, later left her own husband to marry Richard Wagner.)

Liszt went to Rome for religious studies in 1861, and in 1865 he took minor holy orders, becoming Abbe Liszt. This seeming incongruity--a notorious Don Juan and diabolical virtuoso as churchman--stunned his contemporaries. In Rome, he composed oratorios and masses.

"During his last years, Liszt traveled between Rome, Weimar, and Budapest, where he was president of the new Academy of Music. Now he began to write curious, experimental piano pieces that foreshadowed some features of twentieth-century music. Though these late works went unappreciated, Liszt had become a living legend. The grand duke of Weimar said, 'Liszt was what a prince ought to be.'

Liszt's Music

"Liszt's music is controversial. Some consider it vulgar and bombastic; others revel in his extroverted romantic rhetoric. Yet few would deny Liszt's originality, his influence, or his importance as the creator of the symphonic poem.

"Liszt found new ways to exploit the piano; his melodies are sometimes surrounded by arpeggios that create the impression of three hands playing; and in the Hungarian Rhapsodies, which influenced a generation of nationalist composers, he makes the piano sound at times like an entire Gypsy band. His piano works contain daring leaps, rapid octaves and runs, and an unprecedented range of dynamics. Before the age of recordings and frequent concerts, Liszt's transcriptions made it possible for people to play operas and symphonies on their own pianos.

"Breaking away form classical sonata form and the standard four-movement-symphony, Liszt created the symphonic poem, or tone poem, a one movement orchestral composition based to some extent on literary or pictorial ideas. Among his favorite inspirations were the works of Goethe, on which he based his Faust Symphony (1854); and those of Dante, which inspired the Dante Symphony (1856). Many of his compositions are concerned with he devil or death and bear titles like Mephisto Waltz, Totentanz (Dance of Death), and Funerailles. Constant changes of tempo and mood and alternations between diabolical fury and semi religious meditation contribute to a feeling of improvisation; but in his symphonic poems and other orchestral works, contrasting moods are often unified through thematic transformations of a single, recurring musical idea.

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Oct 22 @ 8:36AM  
Con't from above

Liszt's music influenced many composers, including Wagner, who admitted to him: 'When I compose and orchestrate, I always think only of you.' As a stupendous performer, innovative composer, and charismatic personality, Liszt typified the romantic movement."

The above is from Music an Appreciation by Roger Kamien, Third Brief Edition, McGraw Hill Companies, Inc. Pages 233-236.

In the book, Building A Classical Music Library, Bill Parker writes, "Liszt was about seven or eight people rolled into one: piano virtuoso, composer, conductor, music teacher, author, man of the cloth, notorious lover, and all-around unforgettable character. No one else in the history of classical music was more rabidly Romantic, more outrageous, more controversial,more energetic, more downright amazing. Asked late in life if he had written his memoirs, Liszt replied, 'It is enough to have lived such a life as mine.'

"He invented the 'tone poem,' a short orchestral form of loose construction meant to picture or apostrophize a poetic, literary, or historical subject. He originated a type of composition based on 'transformation of themes' which went against the established dogmas and influenced dozens of composers after him. He was the first to give solo piano recitals (in fact, the term 'recital' probably was his coinage), and the first to perform at the piano in 'profile position.'

"Despite his many notorious liaisons with high-titled women (accompanied by duels, attempted poisonings, and grotesque adventures outlandish enough to fill a dozen purple novels), Liszt's significance to history is principally as a pianist. He was said by everyone who heard him--and that was half of Europe--to be the greatest pianist who ever lived. With his long hair and demonic good looks, he had women swooning at this concerts, but despite an excess of showmanship, there was real substance to his musical style. He was apparently able to sight-read almost anything, playing it on a read-through with a mixture of spontaneity and depth, chatting all the while with ladies right and left of the piano

Oct 22 @ 8:38AM  
Franz' music is EXQUISITE;

(Think I'll go put some on, while showering and getting lost in some gourmet hot cocoa).

Oct 22 @ 9:28AM  
Thanks for enlightening us and making us a little smarter for having read this. I love piano, took lessons as a kid. I love Yanni and he uses a lot of piano in his music and violins. Great soothing music, I clean my house with it housework seems to flow lol. tc Lost

Oct 22 @ 12:00PM  
What a 'Liszt' of superstars! Fascinating era...makes one wonder which of our current day musicians will be remembered in 100-200 years.

Oct 22 @ 12:08PM  
Such skill on a piano has always fascinated my. Thanks Howard!

Oct 22 @ 12:39PM  
His Piano Music is beautiful . thanks ,,

Oct 22 @ 4:55PM  
What a glorious stress reliever! Thank you for that.........
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