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Komponist: Liszt, Franz (1811-1886)

© Franz Hanfstaengl, 1858
© Franz Hanfstaengl, 1858
Juni 2017
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Biographie

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.

Werkverzeichnis
12 Études d’exécution transcendante, S139Ab irato, étude de perfectionnement de la Méthode des méthodes de Fétis, S 143Adagio vom Bach, S.661 (arreglo para órgano del Adagio de la Sonata BWV 1017)Années 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. 123, S 161 no. 6Années de pèlerinage, Deuxième année, Italie: Sposalizio, S 161 no. 1Années de pèlerinage, Deuxième année, Italien: Sonetto del Petrarca Nr. 104, S.161 Nr.5Années de pèlerinage, Première année: Suisse, S 160: Au bord d'une sourceAnnées de pèlerinage, Première année: Suisse, S 160: Les Cloches de GenèveAnnées de pèlerinage, Troisième année: Les jeux d'eaux à la villa d'Este, S 163 no. 4Ave Maria, S 659Bagatelle sans Tonalite, S 216aBallade no. 2 in B minor, S 171Consolation Nr. 3 in Des-Dur, S172 Nr.3Consolation in E major, S.172 no.6Csárdás macabre, S 224Csárdás obstiné, S 225 no. 2Danse macabre, piano transcr. of Camille Saint-Saëns' Op.40, S 555Der Müller und der Bach (transcription form Die Schöne Müllerin by Schubert) S 565 no. 2Die Lorelei, S 273Eine Faust-Symphonie in drei Charakterbildern, S 108Er liebte mich so sehr! S 271Fantasia and Fugue on "Ad nos, ad salutarem undam" S 259Fantasie and fugue on the theme B-A-C-H, S 529Fantasy on Hungarian folk melodies S 123FaustGrand galop chromatique S219Grand Études de Paganini, S141 Nr.3 in gis-Moll "La Campanella"Grande Tarantelle di bravura d'apres la tarantella de "La Muette de Portici" d'Auber, S 386Grandes Études de Paganini S 141: no. 6 in A minor "Theme and Variations"Grosses Konzertstück über Themen aus Mendelssohns Lieder ohne WorteHamlet, poème symphonique, S 104Harmonies poétiques et religieuses: Benediction de Dieu dans la Solitude, S 173 no. 3Harmonies poétiques et religieuses: Funérailles, S173 Nr.7Isolde’s Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, transc. for piano, S 447Klavierkonzert Nr. 1 Es-Dur, S 124Klavierkonzert Nr. 2 in A-Dur, S125Klaviersonate in h-Moll, S178La Lugubre Gondola for piano, S 200 no. 1La vallée d'Obermann: TristiaLe Rossignol, S 250aLeonore, for narrator and piano, S 346Les Préludes, Symphonische Dichtung Nr. 3, S97Liebestraum no. 3 in A flat major, S 541Liebesträume, S 541Légende no. 2 "Saint François de Paule: marchant sur les flots", S 175Malédiction for piano and string orchestra, S 121Marguerite and ArmandMephisto Waltz no. 4, S 696Mephistowalzer Nr. 1, "Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke", S 514Nuages gris (Grey Clouds), S 199Orpheus, symphonic poem no. 4 for orchestra, S 98Paraphrase on a Waltz from Gounod's "Faust", S 407Polonaise in E major, S 223 no. 2Prelude and Fugue on BACHRapsodia húngara núm. 6 en re bemol mayor para orquesta, S 359Rhapsodie Espagnole, S254Rigoletto: Paraphrase de Concert, S 434Romance oubliée, for piano, S 132Réminiscences de Don Juan for two pianosSchlaflos! Frage und Antwort, S 203Soirées de Vienne (Transkription nach Schubert), S.427Symphonic poem no. 6 "Mazeppa"Tasso: Lament and Triumph, symphonic poem, S 96Totentanz for piano and orchestra, S 126Totentanz, S 525Trans. from Wagner's Flying Dutchman: chorus, S 440Transcr. from Wagner's Solemn March to the Holy Grail from Parsifal, S 450Tre sonetti di Petrarca, S 270Trovatore: Miserere, transcription from Verdi, S 433/R 266Ungarische Rhapsodie Nr. 2 in cis-Moll, S244/2Valse caprice d'après Schubert, S.427 no.7Valses oubliée in F sharp minor, S 215 no. 1Variations on a theme from Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen by JS Bach, S 180Venezia e NapoliVon der Wiege bis zum Grabe (From the Cradle to the grave), Symphonic Poem, S 107Widmung, transcription of Schumann’s liebeslied for piano, S 566Wie singt die Lerche schön, S 312Études d’exécution transcendante, S139 Nr.10: Presto molto agitatoÉtudes d’exécution transcendante, S139 Nr.11: Harmonies du SoirÉtudes d’exécution transcendante, S139 Nr.4: MazeppaÉtudes d’exécution transcendante, S139 Nr.5: Feux FolletsÉvocation à la Chapelle Sixtine, S 651