You are using the Global edition of Bachtrack, which contains listings and reviews across the world
OK, stay here
Switch to the United States editionUnited States - English
Remember my choice (uses cookies)
Global - EN
Loading...

Composer: Liszt, Franz

Met Opera on Demand
Watch this on-demand
Online on your computer
Try it out
Upcoming eventsSee more...
Rosie Whiting - Contemporary Inspirations
1901 Arts Club, 25 April at 19:30
Scarlatti, Davies, Chopin, Finch, Stockhausen, Liszt
Rosie Whiting, Piano
Buy ticketsRead more
collected stories: travel
Carnegie Hall: Zankel, 26 April at 18:00
Liszt: Années de pèlerinage
Louis Lortie, Piano
Buy ticketsRead more
Peter Donohoe
University of Southampton: Turner Sims, 29 April at 20:00
Scriabin, Liszt, Prokofiev
Peter Donohoe, Piano
Buy ticketsRead more
Voice and Harp Recital
Royal Academy of Music: David Josefowitz Recital Hall, 30 April at 19:30
Fauré, Debussy, Liszt
Dame Felicity Lott; Isabelle Moretti
Buy ticketsRead more
Llŷr Williams: Travels with Liszt and Beethoven
Concertgebouw: Recital Hall, 11 May at 11:00
Beethoven, Liszt, Scriabin
Llŷr Williams, Piano
Buy ticketsRead more
Latest reviewsSee more...
Gemischte Gefühle
, 11 Apr
Read more
Lest We Forget: English National Ballet at the Barbican
, 03 Apr
****1
Read more
Paul Lewis excels in Bach-Busoni, Liszt, and Mussorgsky at Zankel
, 26 Mar
****1
Read more
Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s recital delights the Staatsoper audience
, 25 Mar
***11
Read more
Imaginative recital programming from Paul Lewis in Oxford
, 21 Mar
***11
Read more
Biography

For most of us, the name of Franz Liszt conjures up a two word phrase: piano virtuoso. Liszt gave us the piano recital: before him, no pianist was so sure of his prowess and showmanship as to dare to book a large concert hall and pull in an adoring audience there to see just one man playing the piano for an entire evening.

Liszt’s vast array of piano pieces abounds with showmanship: whether or not they are more difficult to play than other composers’ works, they sound more difficult and more impressive. But amidst all the razzmatazz, it’s easy to overlook the depth, variety, innovation and sheer quality of the music. His masterwork, the single movement Sonata in B Minor, builds a series of themes into a massive musical structure with a coherence that would later be echoed in the operas of his son-in-law Richard Wagner. The shorter Totentanz is utterly convincing in its depiction of a series of shifting moods, while the Hungarian Rhapsodies alternate joyous fireworks with moments of rare delicacy. Equally impressive are Liszt’s transcriptions and “reminiscences”. Listening to his Reminiscences de Norma gives you the uncanny feeling that you’re listening to the original Bellini opera, while being aware that this can’t possibly be right since there’s only one man and a piano. Liszt formed part of the democratisation of music to wider audiences, playing music by many other composers and transcribing Beethoven’s nine symphonies for the piano.

Liszt’s output stretched far beyond piano works, including wonderful religious music and orchestral works, notably the Faust Symphony and a series of symphonic poems.

Liszt was born in 1811 to a musical German-speaking family in Sopron, in a small finger of Hungary very close to the Austrian border and the Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt where Haydn was employed for many years. He was taught by Carl Czerny (the author of the dexterity studies still used by many of today's piano students) and was recognised early as a child prodigy: his one act opera Don Ssanche, ou le château de l’amour, received its première five days before his fourteenth birthday. For the first half of his life, he lived as a travelling musician, touring the major cities of Europe (particularly Paris) and dazzling an ecstatic public. His superstar nature was reflected in a prolific and tempestuous love life; although he had a series of highly public affairs and several children, he never married. In 1847, he gave up public performances to focus on composition and teaching, living first in Weimar and then in Rome. He became a revered and influential teacher: extraordinarily, he did not charge for lessons, believing that he had already made enough money from his music.

For much of the twentieth century, critics belittled Liszt’s music as flashy and superficial: he was seen as the dead end of a decadent romantic movement. More recently, music scholars have been kinder, perceiving compositional techniques which have strongly influenced 20th century music. But throughout this time, his works have been continuously popular with pianists and audiences, and he stands as one of the most memorable composers of the 19th century.

List of works
Mephisto Waltz no. 1, "Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke", S 514Années de Pèlerinage, Troixième Année, S 1633 Concert Etudes: Un sospiro, S 144 no. 3Consolation no. 3 in D flat, S 172 no. 3Piano Concerto no. 2 in A major, S 125Les Préludes, symphonic poem no. 3, S 97Années de Pèlerinage, Deuxième Année, Italie, S 161Piano Sonata in B minor, S 178A Faust Symphony, S 108Prelude and Fugue on BACHAnnées de Pèlerinage, Deuxième Année: Après une lecture de Danté "Dante sonata"Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2 in C sharp major, S 244/26 Consolations, S 172Harmonies poétiques et religieuses: Benediction de Dieu dans la Solitude, S 173 no. 3Angelus! Prière aux anges gardiens, S 378 no. 2Années de Pèlerinage, Première Année: Suisse, S 160Valse-impromptu, S 213Nuages gris (Grey Clouds), S 199Ballade no. 2 in B minor, S 171Années de Pèlerinage, Troisième Année: Les jeux d'eaux à la villa d'Este, S 163 no. 4Venezia e NapoliTre sonetti di Petrarca, S 270Harmonies Poétiques et ReligieusesRomance Oubliée, for violin (or cello) and piano, S 527Hungarian Rhapsody no. 6 in D flat major, S 244/6Hungarian Rhapsody no. 15 in A minor, S 244/15Rhapsodie Espagnole, S 254Années de Pèlerinage, Deuxième Année, Italie: Sonetto del Petrarca no. 104, S 161 no. 5Isolde’s Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, transc. for piano, S 447Années de Pèlerinage, Première Année, S 160: Suisse: Vallée d'ObermannAnnées de Pèlerinage, Première Année: Suisse, S 160: Orage9 Valses caprices, transcription from Schubert, S 427Schlaflos! Frage und Antwort, S 203Liebestraum no. 3 in A flat major, S 541Années de Pèlerinage, Deuxième Année, Italie: Sonetto del Petrarca no. 123, S 161 no. 6Années de Pèlerinage, Deuxième Année, Italie: Sonetto del Petrarca no. 47, S 161 no. 4Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsam, S 309Harmonies poétiques et religieuses: Funérailles, S 173 no. 7Grandes Études de Paganini S 141: no. 3 in G sharp minor, "La Campanella"Ständchen "Horch, horch! die Lerch" S 558 no. 9 (transcribed from Schubert's D 889)Années de Pèlerinage, Première Année: Suisse, S 160: Au lac de WallenstadtFantasie and fugue on the theme B-A-C-H, S 529Paraphrase on a Waltz from Gounod's "Faust", S 407Réminiscences de Don JuanRW Venezia, S 201La Lugubre Gondola for piano, S 200 no. 2Études d'exécution transcendante d'après Paganini, S 140Die drei Zigeuner, S 320Morgens steh' ich auf und frage, S 290Anfangs wollt' ich fast verzagen, S 311Hexaméron, Variations on the march from Bellini's Il Puriatani, S 392Variations on a theme from Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen by JS Bach, S 180Grande Tarantelle di bravura d'apres la tarantella de "La Muette de Portici" d'Auber, S 386Via Crucis, S 53Fantasy on themes from operas by Mozart "Figaro Fantasy", S 697Erlkönig (transcribed from Schubert), S 558/4Orphée symphonic poem, S 98, transcr. for piano trio by Saint-SaënsLiebesträume, S 541Années de Pèlerinage, Première Année: Suisse, S 160: EglogueLégende no. 2 "Saint François de Paule: marchant sur les flots", S 175Années de pèlerinageThe Three Gypsies, S 383À la Chapelle Sixtine (Miserere d’Allegri et Ave verum corpus de Mozart) S.461