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Possibly the most technically competent individual to have ever graced the pianoforte, Franz Liszt’s music is widely recognised for its formative style and defining characteristic. His life spanned the Romantic Era from its early beginnings through its pinnacle and onto the later realms of experimentation that were beginning to be felt as the 1800s drew to their close. Leaving behind a plethora of music, he composed close to 1000 catalogued works ranging from full symphonies, petite piano experiments, etudes, various concertos and opera. He also was a master of transcription of works clos ...read more
Possibly the most technically competent individual to have ever graced the pianoforte, Franz Liszt’s music is widely recognised for its formative style and defining characteristic. His life spanned the Romantic Era from its early beginnings through its pinnacle and onto the later realms of experimentation that were beginning to be felt as the 1800s drew to their close. Leaving behind a plethora of music, he composed close to 1000 catalogued works ranging from full symphonies, petite piano experiments, etudes, various concertos and opera. He also was a master of transcription of works close to him, having translated many masterpieces from composers such as Niccolo Paganini, Ludwig van Beethoven (see his piano transcriptions of Beethoven’s nine symphonies), Johann Sebastian Bach and beyond.
Liszt was at the forefront of being the determinant of musical direction during his height. His style was so unique, that parts of it eventually became the norm, and even led to several of his own music inventions including the symphonic poem and the advocacy of programme music. Such musical definitiveness began its life simply in the Hungarian village Raiding in 1811 with Adam, his father giving the youngster his musical foundations through piano tuition. With Liszt so intent on being capable, his musical education was eventually taken up and fully financed by a group of Hungarian magnates.
After the death of his father, Liszt was still in adolescence and readily capable of earning his own ways. While he could have easily made that by way of public performance composition and alike, he chose to respect it by teaching others. In Paris and with an unusually high amount of dedication to his tutoring, he was persuaded to partake in bad habits such as drinking. For a time, he is said to have suffered from a slump in his religious devotion. He came into contact with various individuals who assisted him in leaving this depression behind - Chrétien Urhan was one of these. A well established violinist, Urhan introduced Liszt to the Saint-Simonists, and the music of Franz Schubert lasting in a lifelong devotion to that composer’s music.
On April 20, 1832, Liszt attended a charity concert hosted by Paganini. He was inspired by Paganini’s unequivocal style, technical virtuosity and showmanship that he became determined to be as great on the piano. It would seem that this determination, still resonant with that from his early childhood, gave Liszt the momentum to achieve this goal. Despite his own willingness to become better than the rest, the general standard of playing being expressed by others was increasing on a monthly basis. Liszt tackled all of these standards, as well as showing that he could overcome some of the well known ‘impossibilities’ of what couldn’t be achieved. His hand span could reach over 10 semitones with ease, allowing him to produce large single stroked chords and other physical oddities.
From 1840 he became one of Europe’s most recognised touring musicians. He was relentless in this area, having easily accomplished over 1000 public performances over an eight year period, further generating a good amount of word-of-mouth traffic. During his travels he met Princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein in Kiev who convinced him to take up composition and allow it to become a more formative force behind his career. His relationship with her would last for at least 40 years though it was tainted by interjections from her then husband, and the Russian royalty.
Throughout this period in which Liszt was to compose his most renowned works, he forged a formidable technical aura. It was through this that many of his compositional counterparts became benefactors of his musical style. Edvard Grieg, Hector Berlioz and Richard Wagner were among the many composers who cherished Liszt abilities, with many of them dedicating their own music towards his developments. The 1860s saw many personal calamities overshadow him, namely the death of both his children. He never seems to have overcome these emotional difficulties and re-entered a darker abyss during the later part of his life after many medical altercations. During this time, his music reflected the emotional and physical decay he was experiencing, though this didn’t diminish the quality of his work. He died in Bayreuth on July 31, 1886. The exact cause of his death is noted to have been from a battle from pneumonia though there are those who dispute whether his death was the culmination of medical malpractice.
Liszt’s most recognisable works such as “Libestraum”, a piano journey into modern terrains, are evocative of what his music strived to accomplish. His admiration for the piano clearly dominates music of his musical output from his well known piano concerti (nos. 1, 2 and 3) to etude like arrangements indicative of Frederic Chopin’s own journeys into technical study. His highly Romantic “Dante Symphony” is one place where his orchestral expertise can be discovered. Today he is still widely performed, and his music is readily available on many labels, having still being remembered as being one of, if not the best pianist of all time.
Jake C. Taylor « hide
Similar Bands: Frederic Chopin, Richard Wagner, Edvard Grieg, Robert Schumann, Camille Saint-Saens