Happy Birthday Franz Liszt

Today, Friday October 22, 2021, is the 210th birthday of the Hungarian Romantic Era composer, pianist, conductor, Franz Liszt. He was born in Hungary on October 11, 1811.

Franz Liszt [Oct 11, 1811 – July 31, 1886]


Franz Liszt was considered a child prodigy as he was writing compositions at age 8 and performed in concerts at 9 years of age.

From Liszt bio in Wikipedia:  “Liszt gained renown in Europe during the early nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age, and in the 1840s he was considered to be the greatest pianist of all time.”

“Liszt wrote transcriptions for piano of a wide variety of music. Indeed, about half of his composing work (approximately 400 out of 800 items) was arrangement of music by others.”

“He died in Bayreuth, Germany, on July 31, 1886, at the age of 74, officially as a result of pneumonia…Composer Camille Saint-Saens, an old friend, whom Liszt had once called “the greatest organist in the world”, dedicated his Synphony #3, Organ Symphony” to Liszt; it had premiered in London only a few weeks before his death.”

Franz Liszt wrote some very exciting music in my opinion.  Here are a few examples.  His Piano Concerto in E-Flat Major has some exciting virtuoso piano playing.  This concerto that lasts just over 18 minutes has 4 movements 1. Allegro maestoso  2. Adagio  3. Allegro vivace-animato  4. Allegro animato. The last movement has a strong virtuoso performance that is displayed until the exciting climax.

Liszt composed 19 “Hungarian Rhapsodies” which were a set of piano pieces based on Hungarian folk themes.  Here we have probably the most famous of those, his Hungarian Rhapsody #2 in C-Sharp minor.

As we stated earlier Franz Liszt transcribed some music for the piano from many of the great composers.  He did so for the great violinist Niccolo Paganini’s Etudes [studies].  One of those famous etudes that Liszt transcribed for piano was the Etude #3 in G-Sharp minor known as “La Campanella.”  When you are listening as you watch the video of this piece you may say to yourself, oh a nice calm piece.  But don’t worry, as in most Liszt pieces, the amazing excitement will emerge.

Franz Liszt wrote a set of three pieces for piano entitled “Liebestraume” [Dreams of Love] with his most famous that we have here his Liebestraume #3 in A-Flat Major.  This piece is a very beautiful melodic piece and you may say more beautiful than exciting, so I will just call it excitingly beautiful.  🙂 

Jim Denton, a virtuoso cellist-recently retired from the Houston Symphony Orchestra, and a good, kind gentleman, was nice enough to add this information in the comment section: “My mother has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Baylor University and before my parents divorced, she was a stay-at-home mom, preparing a recital to be played in Cowden Hall at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I was just a baby so Mom put me beneath the piano to nap while she practiced. The result was that I could sing the fugue in Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BMV 565 before I could even talk! You see, Franz Liszt adopted the piece into his organ repertoire, and a piano transcription was made by Liszt’s pupil Carl Tausig, which gained substantial fame and this is what Mom was playing.”

Please turn up the volume and enjoy some exciting music from the Hungarian prodigy, Franz Liszt, on this his 210th Birthday:

Franz Liszt: Piano Concerto in E Flat Major:

Franz Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody #2 in C Sharp minor:

Franz Liszt: La Campanella:

Franz Liszt: Liebestraume #3 in A Flat Major:

Happy Birthday Franz Liszt!

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