Many will know the name Franz Liszt. This is because he was an accomplished pianist in addition to being a composer.
Liszt was a Hungarian, born in 1811 into a highly musical family. He was known as a prodigy early on and an established concert pianist by age 9. He wanted to enroll in the Paris Conservatoire when he was about 12 years old. He was denied admission due to the fact that he was a foreigner. He had studied under Antonio Salieri (Mozart’s teacher) and was consider a very special musician. He toured all of Europe as a teenage, performing not only in concert halls but also for kings.
One of Liszt’s abilities that few others had was the ability to improvise on a melody suggested by an audience member. This surely influenced his composition and playing abilities.
When his father died, Liszt was only 15. This was a traumatic period for him and he almost quit music completely. He pushed through and reignited his musical passions. In 1849 he accepted the position of the director of the court theater at Weimar. This meant he did not tour or do concert performances much any more.
Liszt did begin much conducting and was able to promote many other composers’ works. He was equally as talented as a conductor as a pianist. He is considered the first to have developed the symphonic poem as a form of composition, contributing a great deal to the orchestral literature of the world.
Some of his greatest compositions are for piano. However, he was such a talented pianist that few players can properly perform his piano works.
The Hungarian Rhapsody series of works is perhaps some of the most well-known of Liszt’s works. All together there are 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies for piano. The first 15 were published during his life and the final four posthumously. These were at one time considered the bread and butter of a pianist’s repertory. They are evidentally not quite as common these days, though. They are such lovely piano works. Here is Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in D Minor.
Some of the Hungarian Rhapsodies have been orchestrated. Here is the same Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 for orchestra.
Additionally, as mentioned before, Liszt did quite a bit of work on helping the symphonic poem to become a popular form. The symphonic poem is sometimes also called a tone poem. He wrote 13 of these symphonic poems. The most popular one is the third, Les Preludes, based off of Lamartine’s Meditations poetiques.
Liszt allowed many different types of art to inspire his compositions. Not only did Lamartine influence him, but also the piece Orpheus. Victor Hugo’s Les Orientales inspired one of the symphonic poems (No. 6, Mazeppa). The set of 6 frescos by Wilhelm von Kaulbach in the New Museum at Berlin has one picture that was the basis for a musical setting of it, titled Hunnenschlact, or The Battle of the Huns.
Resources for Franz Liszt:
Some of the information in this post came from the liner notes of two CDs that I have. 1) Franz Liszt Symphonic Poems by the Vienna State Opera Orchestra, Hermann Scherchen, conductor, recordings from 1957 and 1958. 2) Franz Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodies Nos 1-6, Vienna State Opera Orchestra, Hermann Scherchen, conductor, recordings from 1959. Both CDs released on MCA Classics, copyright 1990.
Lori, At Home.
Thank you for joining me this week for Composer ABCs. Please visit the hosts to find the linky and other participants.
Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook – This week is L is for Legoland.
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses – This week is Life Skills In Your Homeschool.
Other posts from the week of Letter K –
- Discovering K Rabbits of the World over at At Home Pets
- Key Books for Middle School over at A Net in Time
- Homeschooling Tips from A to Z: the Letter K over at Homeschooling Highway