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#1054141 - 02/26/08 03:45 PM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
Always Wanted to Play Piano Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 674
Loc: Chicago
Hi, everyone. One of the original questions in this thread was something along the lines of "What brought you to Liszt?" For me, I can specifically pinpoint a performance I heard of Les Preludes, done by the Houston Symphony Orchestra about 15 years ago. I was unprepared for the journey this piece took me on, and by the end of the piece, I was sobbing. Had I known it better beforehand, I should think I would have been better prepared.

At any rate, I resolved then to get better acquainted with Liszt's works. As I have mentioned in other threads, I am a complete beginner on the piano, and a virtual beginner in terms of music. But it is my goal to some day have the ability and technique to be able to play pieces like La Campanella and some of the others that have been mentioned here. I'll check back in 8 to 10 years, and let you know how I am progressing. \:D
_________________________

Casio Ap-200
Almost midway thru Alfred's All-In-One Book Two
Blogging my family's piano learning experiences: http://aw2pp.blogspot.com/

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#1054142 - 05/13/08 05:27 PM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
Theowne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/06
Posts: 1099
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Now isn't this a amazing theme..

http://youtube.com/watch?v=nRD5RralCgA&feature=related

Theme starts at 0.21

Then repeats at 0.53 but in a more jaw dropping manner.

That's one of the greatest motif-then-variation treatments I've ever heard in my life.
_________________________
http://www.youtube.com/user/Theowne- Piano Videos (Ravel, Debussy, etc) & Original Compositions
音楽は楽しいですね。。。

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#1054143 - 05/14/08 02:16 PM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
loveschopintoomuch Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/05/06
Posts: 4690
Loc: Illinois
(Just posted on the DtC thread.)


I just noticed that YD brought the Liszt Devoted thread up yesterday, and I am just as disappointed as he that more people have not "joined in."

Liszt was phenomenal! And I don't know why more people have not posted. Gosh, the thread is just about one year old and has only 151 responses. Surely, Franz is more deserving than this.

I realize that there are probably just a handful or more pieces that we, as beginners, can play....but this should not keep us from discussing his life, his works, etc.

It's true that Chopin wrote more music for us "novices," but that doesn't mean that we don't droll over his music that is rated at 9 or 10...dreaming that someday we'll be able to play some of his most difficult works.

The same situation should be true for Liszt, don't you think?

Now, I could jump over to the Liszt thread and post some interesting facts that I have read about him. Do you think I will be welcomed?

Chopin and Liszt were so different in so many ways, but in one way they were the same. They wrote some of the world's most magnificent music. And there is always more room in this nutty world for magnficient music.

I am going to post this over at the DtL thread and see what happens.

Kathleen
_________________________
After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own." Oscar Wilde, 1891

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#1054144 - 05/14/08 03:53 PM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
Beethoven Fan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/06/07
Posts: 191
well, i'll go ahead and add to this thread. the reason i love liszt so much and why he's my favorite composer for the piano is probably because he was the reason i extended any sort of my piano knowledge. now i dont remember if i've posted this before but oh well, i go ahead and tell my brief, brief story.

I had just recently started learning piano, not even 2 full months. I was just sitting in civics and economics 2 years and I had this one song stuck in my head. It was the piece from Tom and Jerry's, 'Cat Concerto' and Bug Bunny's 'Rhapsody Rabbit'. I couldn't get it out of my head, it just kept repeating over and over again all through class and I didn't have the slightest clue to what it was called or who wrote it. Sad part is, this went on for about 2 days before i finally decided to run home and do a google search around the lines of 'piano looney tunes tom jerry' or something like that. I was then taken to a homepage called, pardon the language, Kickass Classical. "Hungarian Rhapsody #2" written by Franz Liszt. My mind was at rest for a moment, then i read about he was supposedly a virtuoso on the piano. wikipedia then led me to understand how much of a virtuoso liszt was and i've been fascinated since. I bought my first classical music CD that week, 'Hungarian Rhapsodies vol. 1' performed by jeno jando, and I have no regrets. I wore that CD out.

Not only did that start me on Liszt, but I started researching and looking for other composers as well such as Chopin, Debussy, Beethoven, etc. I had never before gone out of my way to do such a thing, so it was liszt that set my mind to learn as much about the classical composers as much as i have and will continue to do. He also inspired me to try and become a virtuoso pianist, but that train is going rather slowly. anyhows, that is why I love Liszt to the degree I do. He opened many doors for me and gave and still gives inspiration reading about his accomplishments...and listening to his music.

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#1054145 - 05/15/08 03:39 AM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
Elene Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 1408
Loc: under monsoon clouds
OK, I'll chime in for a moment. Yes, Franz does deserve more attention.

If you haven't heard Yundi Li playing Liszt, please do.

Elene
_________________________
Semi-Pro Musica

Blog: http://elenedom.wordpress.com
Website: http://elenelistens.com






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#1054146 - 05/15/08 05:36 PM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
Mr. K Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/25/08
Posts: 84
Loc: Louisville, KY
Saw LovesChopin's call to action...I'll answer. I'm not a rabid Liszt fanatic, but there was a time when I listened to him an awful lot, and he definitely left an imprint on the way I think about the piano. About five years ago, when I was first starting to fool with the piano, a friend of mine played "Un Sospiro" for me, I learned to do the first eight bars, and from then on I wanted to check out Liszt's music. I don't know much of it but I still enjoy "Liebestraum" and his etudes, such as "Un Sospiro" and the last couple Transcendental Studies.

On the first page of this thread, YD said, "...despite being at times very technical, Liszt is also incredibly melodic and easy to comprehend." Mainly what I enjoy about Liszt and what I got into was that he had a simple, singable melody clear above all the arpeggiation. This is the formula in "Un Sospiro," "Liebestraum" and much of his other work that I've heard. The complexity is under the melody, not in it. You have to lasso all the arpeggiation and keep it soft enough for the tune to come through, but the tune itself is easy, something a beginner can sing and remember well enough to plunk out with one finger.

Which is exactly what I did, and I saw very early that that was something making music on the piano would demand, that I be able to control dynamics well enough to bring out a singable melody above everything else. And it's still true! This is usually the piano player's job, often the most important thing you'll have to do in all kinds of music. A Liszt etude done tastefully can get even a beginner paying attention to which line he should be able to hear above the others in what he's playing, and that's a beautiful thing.

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#1054147 - 05/16/08 09:33 AM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
LisztAddict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/05
Posts: 2896
Loc: Florida
Here is something for the Liszt devotees:
http://www.box.net/shared/2q01h4wgso

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#1054148 - 05/16/08 12:29 PM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
Wagner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/28/07
Posts: 57
Loc: Bayreuth
Liszt is one of my very favorite composers. I think it is a little bit lacking in sensitivity to think of such a great, spiritually charged composer as merely "the greatest pianist" - instrumental playing being something of a cultural, human phenomenon that itself has little to do with the infinite archetypes presented through harmony. I think his "pianistic mind" is extremely secondary when compared to his music as it is.

I'm typically more of a fan of orchestra works however, and his "Les Preludes" is one of my very favorites for orchestra.

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#1054149 - 05/18/08 08:58 AM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
Wagner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/28/07
Posts: 57
Loc: Bayreuth
Speaking of liszt, is his utilitarian book of excercizes of any use? I was thinking of getting it.

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#1054150 - 05/19/08 02:45 AM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
Lisztener Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/12/06
Posts: 921
Wagner,

 Quote:
Originally posted by Wagner:
Liszt is one of my very favorite composers. I think it is a little bit lacking in sensitivity to think of such a great, spiritually charged composer as merely "the greatest pianist" - instrumental playing being something of a cultural, human phenomenon that itself has little to do with the infinite archetypes presented through harmony. I think his "pianistic mind" is extremely secondary when compared to his music as it is. [/b]
Perhaps I am guilty, (as others here in the ABF and elsewhere) of comparing Liszt with Chopin and concluding that Chopin is the composer with the memorable themes and melodies that somehow make him stand above Liszt as the romantic composer of the ages, therefore relegating Liszt to the role of "The greatest pianist" to account for a shortfall in his musical knowledge. Your post helps dispel this notion by causing one to think more broadly when evaluating the totality of his work. Though my knowledge of both composers is limited, it stands to reason that in every aspect of music the adjective "great" applies and perhaps "greatest" even better to the overall musicianship of Liszt in comparison to any other "romantic" musician before or since him. I'm sure there are many who would argue this till the keg of lager is emptied, but given the infusion of music into his life and soul for such a long period of time, let's hear from those who consider him less than best.

Thank you for your thought provoking post.

Regards,

Lisztener
_________________________


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#1054151 - 05/19/08 08:04 AM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
Babs_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 321
Loc: Gulf Coast
 Quote:
As a pianist, Liszt was, from all reliable accounts, among the greatest, if not the greatest, there has ever been. His comps. have taken longer to win a rightful place, but they are now recognized as occupying a high place for their own virtues as well as for their undoubted influence on Wagner, R. Strauss, and subsequent composers. The pf. works are in a category of their own, the symphonic poems developed a new art-form, the syms. are compelling and imaginative, the religious works are moving and visionary, and the songs hold their own in high company. He remains a romantic enigma of mus., a genius with a touch of the charlatan, a virtuoso with the flair of an actor-manager, a man generous to colleagues and to the young.
 Quote:
The above is a quote from the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music, 4th edition

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#1054152 - 05/19/08 03:51 PM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
Lisztener Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/12/06
Posts: 921
Babs,

I don't know how respected the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music, 4th edition[/b] is in highly knowledgeable music circles, but to say that he was "a genius with a touch of the charlatan" really rubs me the wrong way. I know he was quite the showman and the "rock star" of his time, but to use charlatan as a descriptive demeans his character in my mind.

I have no recourse but to order and read (stop procrastinating) the recommended biographies from earlier posts in this thread. Then, I can decide for myself if his character flaws deserve the lowly term, charlatan, ascribed to him.

Nice little controversy you've entered into the thread, Babs. :p

Best regards,

Lisztener
_________________________


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#1054153 - 05/19/08 04:25 PM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
Babs_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 321
Loc: Gulf Coast
Lisztner

I pasted that quote directly from the Classical Archives Website . I often use that website to listen to various classical pieces and I just happened to be reading the biography of Liszt listed on that website.

I wish I had gone ahead and had that extra cup of coffee this morning and read that quote a little harder now! :rolleyes:

I do agree that the word "charlatan" is bit overdone. I do love to read and my problem is that I have often read other books on composers like Chopin and others , only to find out from the experts that they are totally inaccurate. :rolleyes:

I wish I could find an accurate biography of the life of Liszt. So far, I have heard so many stories of various nature of his life.Anybody have any recommendations for books for me to read on his life?

I see there is talk of earlier posts of recommendations of books to read on his life so maybe I will look those up as well.

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#1054154 - 05/19/08 04:32 PM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
loveschopintoomuch Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/05/06
Posts: 4690
Loc: Illinois
Very interesting thread.

(I hope I am not repeating something already stated.)

Did you know that Liszt's first instrument was the violin and not the piano? I beleve he was about 10 or so when he switched. He had to make up for lost time as Chopin began playing the piano when he was but 3 and gave his first concert at 4.

Also Liszt practiced hours and hours and hours a day for many years to get to the level of "virtuoso." Whereas Chopin hardly did at all. Perhaps before a concert, and then he would play something by Bach.

So we might think about who was the more naturally "gifted" pianist. I believe Chopin would win, hands down. (I know...Chopin once stated that he wished he could play his own etudes as well as Liszt could. But I believe that if Chopin practiced them as hard and as long as Liszt did, he wouldn't have made that remark.) Chopin was (yikes!!) a bit on the lazy side when it came to practicing. I think it was because it all came so naturally to him that he didn't see the need.

But when it came to composing...that was a totally different story. He would labor long and hard over just a measure or two. He was a genius who had to work at it.

I believe he was more inherently gifted than Liszt, both as a pianist and as a composer.

Just my 2 cents.

Kathleen
_________________________
After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own." Oscar Wilde, 1891

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#1054155 - 05/19/08 05:19 PM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
Wagner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/28/07
Posts: 57
Loc: Bayreuth
As for the "charlatan" remark, some people, including Debussy, called Liszt a "genius who sometimes lacked taste".

As a composer, I find that Chopin seems to have lived more in the aesthetic sphere of mind, and his music has more of a human, emotional, anthropocentrism than Liszt, who was very religious - and I think Liszt's lack of the same anthropocentrism, in favor of spiritualism, made him a more inspired composer than Chopin (to me).

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#1054156 - 05/19/08 06:03 PM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
BB Player Offline


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2557
Loc: Not in Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by loveschopintoomuch:


Did you know that Liszt's first instrument was the violin and not the piano? I beleve he was about 10 or so when he switched. He had to make up for lost time as Chopin began playing the piano when he was but 3 and gave his first concert at 4.[/b]
If so, this is completely omitted from both Derek Watson's one volume biography and Alan Walker's 3 volume biography on Liszt. Neither make any mention of Liszt ever playing the violin. Walker says, in Vol 1, p. 58 "The boy's musical genius first asserted itself in his sixth year. One day he heard his father playing Ries's Concerto in C-sharp minor and was captivated by it. That same evening, the child spontaneously sang one of the themes of the concerto from memory..... According to Adam (Liszt's father) the boy now incessantly begged to be taught the piano. Adam's reluctance stemmed from his concern over his son's delicate health.... Eventually, Adam took on the task of giving the boy regular lessons."

 Quote:
Originally posted by loveschopintoomuch:

Also Liszt practiced hours and hours and hours a day for many years to get to the level of "virtuoso." [/b]
Again, if so, Walker makes no mention of it. In fact, rather the contrary. As mentioned above, Liszt's health was very poor when he was young and he therefore went long periods without touching the piano at all. Again, quoting Walker (Vol. 1, p. 60) "It was to Adam's credit that once he had recognized his son's genius, he allowed it to blossom without hindrance. He himself tells us that the boy's practice sessions were quite irregular until his ninth year." and yet, when he was 9 he gave a concert that drew the following review "Last Sunday, on the 26th, at noon, the nine-year-old virtuoso pianist Franz Liszt had the honour of playing the piano before a glittering assembly ... His extraordinary skill and his ability to decipher the most difficult scores and to play at sight everything placed before him was beyond admiration".

 Quote:
Originally posted by loveschopintoomuch:

So we might think about who was the more naturally "gifted" pianist. I believe Chopin would win, hands down.
...
I believe he was more inherently gifted than Liszt, both as a pianist and as a composer.

Kathleen [/b]
I would have to disagree, both as composer and pianist. I don't know that the concept "more genius" has any meaning but they were both geniuses, both as pianists and composers. Liszt's output was much broader (masses, symphonies, transcriptions, chorales, etc) where Chopin composed mostly for solo piano and his orchestration when he stepped outside that domain (his piano concertos) isn't anywhere near the level of Liszt's.

As I said, they were both geniuses. Liszt had the advantage of a much longer life and who's to say what more Chopin might have accomplished given better health and another 30-40 years but to say one is "hands down" superior to the other is inaccurate in my opinion.
_________________________
Greg

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#1054157 - 05/19/08 06:27 PM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
sophial Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3446
Loc: US
I have to jump in here too

Kathleen, Greg is correct. Liszt was a child prodigy who started to play the piano at an early age (5 or 6) and was a touring virtuoso as a young boy with his father. It was later, after his father's death and also after hearing Pagannini play the violin, that he worked intensively on his technique, determined to develop into the piano equivalent of Pagannini. I don't think he ever seriously studied the violin himself.
As far as the "charlatan" label, nothing could be further from the truth. Liszt was as pure and genuine of a musical talent as has ever been seen. His talent was such that perhaps people did not believe some of the things he could do (such as his astounding sight reading and improvisation skills), but there was nothing phony about it .

As a performer, he really had no equal. Chopin was unique and wonderful but limited as a performer by his difficulty in projecting his sound. This is why he played smaller venues and did not like performing in general. Not only did Liszt have amazing technical virtuosity, he was exceptionally gifted in communicating and interpreting his own and other's music (he was the foremost Beethoven interpreter of his time, and as was noted, even Chopin envied the way he played Chopin's music. Clara Schumann (who did not like him personally) said that she felt like an amateur after hearing him play. Yes, both Chopin and Liszt were geniuses, with different strengths and weaknesses-- Liszt certainly does not stand in his shadow.

Sophia

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#1054158 - 05/19/08 06:33 PM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
BB Player Offline


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2557
Loc: Not in Texas
One interesting anecdote about Liszt's ability as a performer. He was scheduled to play Beethoven's 5th piano concerto in concert that evening. While being shaved a few hours before the concert, he raised his right hand to make a point and the barber inflicted a serious cut to the first finger. Naturally, those close to him assumed he'd cancel but he said he'd just rearrange the fingering to accommodate. The concert got rave reviews from the critics, none of whom knew of his accident.
_________________________
Greg

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#1054159 - 05/20/08 05:02 AM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
sophial Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3446
Loc: US
A few more thoughts on Liszt the composer-- As Greg noted, Liszt had a long life and was extremely prolific in many genres of music. Not every composition of course is equally good, as with any composer. His music has extraordinary emotional power, radical (for the time) harmonies, and had far reaching influence on many other composers who came after him.
His music can be ruined by insensitive playing-- probably more so than Chopin's. Bombastic "virtuosity for its own sake" playing will kill it. In the hands of a sensitive performer though it is heavenly.

Sophia

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#1054160 - 05/20/08 09:34 AM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
loveschopintoomuch Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/05/06
Posts: 4690
Loc: Illinois
I love the fact that we can all agree to disagree.

Regarding the violin being Liszt's first instrument, I will have to find the book for reference (of course, we all know that what we read is not always fact.)

As far as his practicing hours and hours, I am referring to when he was a young and then older adult. NOW I know I've read this many times. This doesn't detract from his skills but only serves to show that he was determined to play as perfectly as possible.

Chopin died at a point in his life when he was reaching out into the future (so to speak), and many think that if he lived longer, his music would have become more radical.

I get a bit upset when I hear people speak unkindly about his two piano concerti. Most experts agree that are perfect jewels. Yes, the piano dominates, but the melody produced stands second to none. And, afterall, they are PIANO concerti!!

Chopin never did make any claims to being religious (only when he was dying did he receive the last rites of the Church...to please his mother). Liszt was purported to be religious; however, the facts don't prove this. He might have had some deep spirituality, but on the surface, he was far from prudent in his sexual escapades and ego-centric behavior. Yes, I know he could be kind and generous to a fault, but he was also known to be jealous, calculating, arrogant and in constant need of adulation.

Please don't get me wrong. I believe many geniuses (or men [women?)) of power possess these traits.

Finally, Chopin performed and composed in order to make a living. He had to give lessons in order to pay the rent (although he was an excellent and patient teacher). He composed and wanted the best price for his music...again, to pay his bills and to survive. One could say he was the more pragmatic.

As far as performing in public, he abhored it (just the opposite for the bombastic Liszt who lived for this). Chopin hated the thought of all those eyes on him; he hated to be the center of attention. His needs were quite simple, really. To give lessons and to sell his music!!

I know I am speaking quite generally because I don't have my reference books handy. AND I am giving the impression that I don't care for Liszt, which couldn't be further from the truth. They were (as I mentioned before) two very different individuals, but each possessed his own "brand" of genius.

Chopin's music appeals to me more because of its simplicity in melody and also its deeply (and genuinely-felt) emotion. In this, he was the more honest, I believe.

Oooopppssss...I hope I don't start a war.

Kathleen
_________________________
After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own." Oscar Wilde, 1891

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#1054161 - 05/20/08 11:34 AM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
sophial Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3446
Loc: US
Hi Kathleen
Of course we can disagree and enjoy the discussion! A couple of things: Liszt had a long and amazing life, and of course as part of that went through different periods of development. He was brilliant and complex. It is also important to keep in mind that much of what was written about Liszt after his death was not necessarily correct. Some biographers simply repeated the same errors or misinformation that had been circulated by rivals. The so called "war of the romantics" had led to a lot of criticism of Liszt and his music, including some really vicious attacks on him personally that hurt him deeply. ALso, the Wagner camp (even including his own daughter Cosima, Wagner's wife) were intent on glorifying Wagner and reducing Liszt to Wagner's father in law rather than a major influence on Wagner musically and in his own right. So Liszt' reputation suffered badly with assaults on his music, character, etc.

He of course was no saint and had an ego (as did Chopin of course). They both had a right to justifiable pride in who they were as artists. Don't forget that for someone who you say was bombastic and lived to be the center of attention, Liszt gave up his career as a touring virtuoso at the height of his fame in order to compose and teach.

His spirituality was quite real, and deepened as he got older. He had long term love affairs with two women despite his reputation as a Don Juan. He deeply grieved the loss of two of his three children when they died as young adults. His music evolved dramatically and his later compositions are very advanced for their time. I have no doubt that Chopin's would have as well, had he lived.

I totally respect your preference for Chopin's music, but I don't like to see misinformation about Liszt left out there without a response .
;\)
best to you,
Sophia

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#1054162 - 05/20/08 10:30 PM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
BB Player Offline


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2557
Loc: Not in Texas
After giving up his career as a virtuoso, Liszt lived fairly quietly for what turned out to be the majority of his life. He used his celebrity to help struggling musicians, disaster victims, etc., and promote the music of others. Far from being a jealous egotist he was fairly unique in that he actively promoted the music of others even those who disliked or hated him, his music or both. Because his music was "different" and therefore controversial (the "War of the Romantics" that Sophia alluded to) he actually prohibited students, colleagues and admirers from performing his music because he was afraid it might damage their careers. Hardly the actions of an egomaniac.

He was no saint, but there's a lot to admire about the man, in addition to his music.

As to my comment about Chopin's concerti let me make it clear that I love Chopin's music. His music outnumbers other composers in my collection - by far - and I love his concerti. Having said that, I don't think anyone would hold them up as shining examples of orchestral writing. And yes, I caught on to the fact that they were piano concerti almost right off \:D

This was an area where Liszt excelled although it did take him a while to develop his skills as an orchestrator. He was the first composer to use an orchestra as an instrument and to write orchestral parts that were as complex and difficult to play as the part for the soloists. This often worked against him. The orchestras of the day were relatively small by modern standards and to perform larger scale works it was necessary to pull musicians (often amateurs) from all over who had seldom, if ever, played together and had very little time to rehearse. As a result, there were a lot of performances where they simply made a hash of it, sometimes even stopping in the middle of a performance and restarting because they'd screwed it up so badly. This obviously didn't do much to show Liszt's music at its best.
_________________________
Greg

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#1054163 - 05/21/08 12:31 AM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
Lisztener Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/12/06
Posts: 921
Hi all,

It sure is a pleasure to see this thread again revived with additional information from very knowledgeable sources on the life and times of Franz Liszt.

Greg, I just completed ordering Derek Watson's biography of Liszt from Amazon. I'm now more eager than ever to read about this exceptional man, his life and his music. I must admit to not having yet listened to the majority of Cziffra CDs I have in reserve, but perhaps the Watson bio will rekindle my desire to do so.

Best regards to all Liszt devotees and all who love great music from from great composers,

Lisztener
_________________________


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#1054164 - 05/21/08 08:41 AM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
loveschopintoomuch Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/05/06
Posts: 4690
Loc: Illinois
Thank you all for your input. Everything you've written is important to know when trying to understand this man.

There is no doubt in my mind that Liszt was the more quixotic and interesting of the two.

I've read that Liszt purposedly composed pieces that were (nearly) impossible for others to perform. Now, of course, we can't always rely on what we read, but the compositions he's left us would seem to give credence to this.

Since I think it would be fascinating to analyze his behavior, does anyone have a notion if this were true and why?

Also, Liszt's had this seemingly burning desire to fool around with other composers' music...changing it (for the better?). One of the reasons why he fell from Chopin's grace is the simple fact that Chopin did not appreciate Liszt's "altering" his music. What composer would?

Why do you think he did this?

Again, I am a fan of Liszt, so please don't think these questions I am throwing out to you are an indication of my disdain for him. I believe he was a fasicinating creature who deserves to be more revered than he is.

I just want to keep this thread going, and I think there is more than enough fodder about Liszt to do so.

Kathleen
_________________________
After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own." Oscar Wilde, 1891

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#1054165 - 05/21/08 11:13 AM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
BB Player Offline


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2557
Loc: Not in Texas
I don't think that Liszt's purpose was to compose music just so it was impossible for others to perform. Rather, I think he was trying to explore what was possible on the piano i.e., to push both the piano and the pianist to the limits. Remember that during his lifetime the piano evolved from fragile instruments that were easy to destroy to today's more robust concert grand so it was perhaps natural for him to explore the power and sonority of the improved pianos.

As to his desire to fool around with others music, I'm not sure what his motivation was to compose so many transcriptions but Walker does some very detailed analysis of many of them and argues that it wasn't Liszt's intent to change the music so much as to fully realize it on the piano. In other words, rather than a watered-down piece that only captured the "theme" of a composition he was literally trying to transport it all to the piano - no mean feat when you consider he did transcriptions of all of Beethoven's symphonies!

As to why, who knows? Perhaps admiration for the work and wanting to give it a broader audience (certainly true with Wagner's work), perhaps part of the exploration of the possible noted above. I suppose there must be a number of cases where he couldn't resist "improving" it a bit if he thought it was possible to do so and that certainly irked Chopin. Another possibility is that performance practice was different in those days, fidelity to the text wasn't as sacred as it is now and in many cases e.g., cadenzas, the pianist was expected to improvise.

I certainly agree there's plenty to talk about where Liszt is concerned. One of the things that is problematic though is that he was so famous for so much of his life that he was victim to a number of false newspaper accounts and shoddy, inaccurate biographies - even during his lifetime. The newspaper's maxim of "don't let the truth get in the way of a good story" applied as much then as it does now.

Two examples leap to mind although there are many. The first is his alleged "affairs". For whatever reason, a number of women wanted it to be known they had an affair with Liszt - even if they didn't. The second example is the "Liszt pupil". Liszt was incredibly generous as a teacher - he never charged for a lesson - and for most of his life his home was open to any pianist that would wonder in to his daily lessons which resembled todays master classes. A pianist (some very mediocre) would come in, spend a few days and then go back home and hang out their shingle as a "Liszt pupil". His long time admirer, pupil and (for a number of years) son-in-law Hans van Bulow would go in and "clean the Augean stables" i.e., drive out those who weren't near the level of artist to justify studying with Liszt because Liszt rarely if ever turned any of them away. He could be harshly critical (he once famously said of a pianist with poor technique "wash your dirty linen at home") but, if they had the temerity to stay, he allowed it.

That's part of the reason I consider Walker's biography of Liszt to be definitive. He spends a great deal of time debunking the "common knowledge" about Liszt. Could you imagine for example how difficult it would be to write a factual[/b] biography of a controversial and popular person that lived today 150 years from now? Especially one that traveled as much as Liszt did in his lifetime when travel was enormously more difficult than today. That was the task he took on and, in my opinion, succeeded at admirably.

Do you know of a biographer of similar caliber for Chopin?
_________________________
Greg

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#1054166 - 05/21/08 01:34 PM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
LaValse Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/21/07
Posts: 1224
Loc: Mumbles, Wales
 Quote:
Originally posted by BB Player:
Do you know of a biographer of similar caliber for Chopin? [/b]
Alan Walker, though not on the same scale... \:\)

I've read Walker's first Liszt volume, but it was a while ago now - this thread makes me want to read it again; and get the other two...

Eigeldinger's Chopin book has a lot of factual non-nonsense detail...
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http://uk.youtube.com/user/sailwavedev

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#1054167 - 05/21/08 06:40 PM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
sophial Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3446
Loc: US
Kathleen
I've never read that Liszt' intent was to write music that was impossible for others to play but rather to expand the boundaries of what was possible on the piano and he was probably one of the only pianists alive at the time (Alkan was probably another) with the technique able to take on some of those challenges. He also was interested in developing a "transcendent" piano technique capable of creating musical effects that went beyond what had been previously possible and allowing symphonic music to be played on the piano.

As far as improvisation goes, it was the norm rather than the exception at that time.

Sophia

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#1054168 - 05/22/08 01:25 AM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
Lisztener Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/12/06
Posts: 921
Sophia and Greg,

The more I hear from the both of you about Liszt the more excited I become to learn more about him. Admittedly, I'm impulsive, and before receiving the Watson bio...should be here Friday...I just ordered the three volume set by Walker. I envision a huge problem looming on the near horizon: How will I find enough hours in the day to surf the ABF, play the piano, read four volumes of bios and still get a couple hours nap time during the day. Wait! One of the problems is solved before it arises. I always fall asleep while reading, so, my nap will fit right into my daily routine. Plus, there are other major undertakings that I must work on before I place my head on a pillow. Woe is me! How will I ever find time to consume all that's on my plate. Jeesh, I just remembered I haven't reviewed the recital entries, yet, to boot. :rolleyes:

Thank you both for your most impressive and informative posts. You two are the Liszt experts, IMO. Greg, if you were a woman, I'd kiss you both. Please pardon my forwardness, Sophia. \:o

Biter-offer-of-morer-than-he-can-chewer

Best regards,

Lisztener
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#1054169 - 05/22/08 01:48 AM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
liszt's pinky Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/08
Posts: 64
Lisztener-
The Walker books ARE amazing. Kudos to you for picking them up. I have been trolling for a bargain on them for months now.They tend to run rather spendy. I did manage to find a gently used copy of Volume 2 for $5.99. I have read all three--at this point I 'd just like to have them in my library.

I believe Walker has two more additional Liszt books. Someone will correct me on that if I am wrong, surely.

Enjoy.

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#1054170 - 05/22/08 01:49 AM Re: ABF Liszt Devotees Society
sophial Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3446
Loc: US
Dear Lisztener,

I'm always happy to share my enthusiasm for Liszt and what I've learned about him with other Liszt lovers around here. (If Franz were here I'd kiss him too!) :2hearts:

You have a wonderful dilemma -- what to read first and how to fit it all in? I found the Walker books read like a novel-- so well written and interesting. What a life Liszt led! and such glorious music-- It's wonderful to hear the historical context in which it was written and also some of the musical concepts behind it as well as learn about the other fascinating characters of the day (Wagner, Chopin, Alkan, Berlioz, Thalberg, etc). Walker gives a nice balance of biography and musical analysis. The research and documentation are scholarly and impressive without being stuffy. I hope you enjoy every minute of it!

Sophia

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