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Composer: Liszt, Franz (1811-1886)

© Franz Hanfstaengl, 1858
© Franz Hanfstaengl, 1858
June 2018
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LondonSamuel Bristow

Couperin, Laukvik, Hough, Liszt
Samuel Bristow, Organ

LondonShun Yin Ho

Bach, Liszt, Say
Shun Yin Ho, Piano

CheltenhamBBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists III

BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists III
Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, Grieg
Mariam Batsashvili, Piano

Castel San Pietro TermeAlexander Romanovsky

Liszt, Chopin
Alexander Romanovsky, Piano

Aix-en-ProvenceThe Viola in the Spotlight: Tabea Zimmermann

Brahms, Loeffler, Bray, Kodály, Liszt
Tabea Zimmermann; Andrea Hill; Edwige Herchenroder
Latest reviewsSee more...

Intimacy and brilliant showmanship from Yuja Wang at the Barbican

Yuja Wang © Ian Douglas
A truly remarkable display from a musical giant as Yuja Wang wows the Barbican. 
*****
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Flamboyant Liszt, bold Brahms from Khatia Buniatishvili

Khatia Buniatishvili © Julia Wesely
Famed for her Liszt, the Georgian pianist also impressed with weighty, dignified Brahms in her International Piano Series recital.
****1
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Alessandra Ferri returns in Royal Ballet triple bill

Alessandra Ferri and Federico Bonelli in Marguerite and Armand © ROH | Tristam Kenton
A random assortment of disassociated ballets performed with variable success - from the sublime to the nondescript. 
***11
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Minnesota Orchestra reacquaint with old friends in Minneapolis

Markus Stenz © Molina Visuals
In Minneapolis, Markus Stenz and Louis Lortie present time-honored Austro-German symphonic masterpieces in committed and compelling performances.
****1
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Truly transcendental: Chamayou triumphs in Liszt at Wigmore Hall

Bertrand Chamayou © Marco Borggreve | Warner Classics
Drama and poetry prevailed in Chamayou exhausting programme.
****1
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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
12 Transcendental Études, S 1393 Sonetti di Petrarca, S 1583 Sonnetti del Petrarca: Pace non trovo, S 2706 Chants Polonais (after Chopin Op. 74), S 480: Frühling (Wiosna) no.26 Chants Polonais (after Chopin Op. 74), S 480: Mädchens Wunsch (Zyczenie)/Souhaits d'une jeune fille no.1A Faust Symphony, S 108A Faust Symphony, S 108: Nocturnal processionAdélaïde de Beethoven, S 466Années de pèlerinageAnnées de pèlerinage, Deuxième année, Italie: Après une lecture du Dante. Fantasia quasi sonata, S.161 no.7Années de pèlerinage, Deuxième année, Italie: Sonetto del Petrarca no. 104, S 161 no. 5Années de pèlerinage, Deuxième année, Italie: Sonetto del Petrarca no. 123, S 161 no. 6Années de pèlerinage, Première année, S 160: Suisse: Vallée d'ObermannAnother PlaceAuf dem Wasser zu singen, S 558 no. 2 (transcribed from Schubert D 774)Aufenthalt, transcription from Schubert, S 560/3Ave verum corpusBallade no. 2 in B minor, S 171Der Müller und der Bach (transcription form Die Schöne Müllerin by Schubert) S 565 no. 2Der du von dem Himmel bist , S 279Die Forelle (transcribed from Schubert), S 563/6Die Lorelei, S 273Die stille Wasserrose, S 321Du bist wie eine Blume, S 287Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsam, S 309En Rêve, S 207Enfant, si j'étais roi, S 283Erlkönig (transcribed from Schubert), S 558 no.4Fantasia and Fugue on "Ad nos, ad salutarem undam" S 259Fantasie and fugue on the theme B-A-C-H, S 529Fantasy on themes from operas by Mozart "Figaro Fantasy", S 697Festklänge, symphonic poem, S 101Grandes Études de Paganini S 141: no. 3 in G sharp minor, "La Campanella"Gretchen am spinnrade, D 558 no. 8 (transcribed from Schubert D 118)Harmonies poétiques et religieuses: Benediction de Dieu dans la Solitude, S 173 no. 3Harmonies poétiques et religieuses: Funérailles, S 173 no. 7Harmonies poétiques et religieuses: Pensée des morts, S 173 no.4Hungarian Rhapsody no. 1 in C sharp minor, S 244/1Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2 in C sharp minor, S 244/2Hungarian Rhapsody no. 3 in B flat major, S 244/3Hungarian Rhapsody no. 6 in D flat major, S 244/6Hungarian Rhapsody no. 9 in E flat major "Carnival in Pest", S 244/9Ihr Glocken von Marling, S 328Im Rhein, im schönen Strome, S 272Isolde's Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, transc. for piano, S 447La Lugubre Gondola for piano, S 200 no. 1Les Préludes, symphonic poem no. 3, S 97Liebestraum no. 3 in A flat major, S 541Lieder, variousMalédiction for piano and string orchestra, S 121Marguerite and ArmandMayerlingMephisto Waltz no. 1, "Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke", S 514Mephisto waltz no. 2, S 515No Man's LandOh! Quand je dors, S 282Orpheus, symphonic poem no. 4 for orchestra, S 98Orphée symphonic poem, transcr. for piano trio by Saint-Saëns, S 98Paraphrase on Verdi's "Il Trovatore", S 433Piano Concerto no. 1 in E flat major, S 124Piano Concerto no. 2 in A major, S 125Piano Sonata in B minor, S 178Prelude and Fugue on BACH, S 260Prometheus, S 99Rhapsodie Espagnole, S 254Rigoletto: Paraphrase de Concert, S 434Réminiscences de Don JuanRéminiscences de Norma, S 394Salve Polonia, S.113/2Selected songsStändchen "Horch, horch! die Lerch" S 558 no. 9 (transcribed from Schubert's D 889)Tasso: Lament and Triumph, symphonic poem, S 96Totentanz for piano and orchestra, S 126Totentanz, S 525Transcendental Études, S 139: no. 10 in F minorTranscendental Études, S 139: no. 11 Harmonies du SoirTranscendental Études, S 139: no. 12 Chasse neigeTranscendental Études, S 139: no. 4 MazeppaTranscendental Études, S 139: no. 5 Feux FolletsTranscendental Études, S 139: no. 8 Wilde JagdTranscr. from Wagner's Solemn March to the Holy Grail from Parsifal, S 450Valse caprice d'après Schubert in A minor, S 427 no.6Variations on a theme from Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen by JS Bach, S 180Venezia e NapoliVergiftet sind meine Lieder (My songs are poisoned), S 289Via Crucis, S 53Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe (From the Cradle to the grave), Symphonic Poem, S 107Widmung, transcription of Schumann's liebeslied for piano, S 566