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#1213759 - 06/08/09 02:46 AM Do you think Liszt lacks melody?
ecthelion Offline
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Registered: 02/24/09
Posts: 72
I don't know, but generally, be it his transcriptions or his originals, I feel Liszt tends to sacrifice melody for virtuosity. It's almost as though he goes out of the way to make a piece diabolically hard and yet it doesn't have much of a musical effect.

Some of his are good, I particularly like his Polonaise in E, but the overwhelming majority of his works (or rather, what I've heard of them) seem to be technical exercises. I hardly think Liszt can be categorized romantic. His motifs are vague, or myabe my musical understanding is too limited to grasp his (?) greatness.

He might have been the greatest pianist, and I think that really is his claim to fame.

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#1213767 - 06/08/09 03:31 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: ecthelion]
Numerian Offline
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Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 1075
Yes.

He has Liebestraume to his credit and Un Sospiro. But he was otherwise undistinguished as a melodist. He did not write much vocal music and no operas, so it seems he understood his limitations.

You could postulate some other factors as well. He spent the early part of his career as a touring pianist until 1847, and he created spectacular show pieces for his piano skills by writing transcriptions around other people's melodies. He wasn't really forced by circumstances to rely on his own melodic inventiveness until after he stopped touring.

Second, once he did begin composing his own music in earnest, he paid as much attention to structure and harmony as he did to melody. This required him to look for certain sorts of melodies that could serve multiple purposes, first as a dramatic opening attention-grabber, and then next at a much slower tempo as a love song or arioso. His Tarentella is a perfect example of this, but so is the Sonata or his tone poem Les Preludes.

He became quite good at this and deserves some respect for his development of this compositional technique, but the price was high because generally his melodies are not very singable. In this regard he joins Beethoven, who liked to work with motifs rather than melodies, because motifs were ideal for developing grand architectural structures. Look what he did with the first movement of the Fifth Symphony, building a huge edifice on a simple motif Da-da-da DA. The difference was that Beethoven's efforts always had a dramatic punch to them that could turn a simple motif into something tempestuous, while Liszt's compositions lack such drama.

Except - in one circumstance, which is when Liszt played them himself. This is probably the third piece to the puzzle. The accounts of his playing all talk of one element that was unique and memorable, and that was the emotions he conveyed to the listener. Audiences were simply overwhelmed emotionally from his performances. There has been no one since Liszt who can play his music with his power and affect (with the possible exceptions of Anton Rubinstein and Ervin Nyierghazi).

Until the day comes when someone arises who can play Liszt like he could, we'll have to answer your interesting question in the positive.

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#1213772 - 06/08/09 03:41 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: ecthelion]
FunkyLlama Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/09
Posts: 359
Originally Posted By: ecthelion
I hardly think Liszt can be categorized romantic.
*monocle pop*

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#1213775 - 06/08/09 04:00 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Numerian]
PlayWellOneDay Offline
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Registered: 08/16/06
Posts: 45
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Numerian
He has Liebestraume to his credit...


Victor Borge did a hilarious version of Liebestraum which pretty well sums up what many people thought of Liszt's work both now and in his lifetime.

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#1213795 - 06/08/09 07:23 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: ecthelion]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7843
Originally Posted By: ecthelion
I don't know, but generally, be it his transcriptions or his originals, I feel Liszt tends to sacrifice melody for virtuosity. It's almost as though he goes out of the way to make a piece diabolically hard and yet it doesn't have much of a musical effect.

Some of his are good, I particularly like his Polonaise in E, but the overwhelming majority of his works (or rather, what I've heard of them) seem to be technical exercises. I hardly think Liszt can be categorized romantic. His motifs are vague, or myabe my musical understanding is too limited to grasp his (?) greatness.

He might have been the greatest pianist, and I think that really is his claim to fame.


Where did that "roll eyes" icon go? I need it right now.

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#1213803 - 06/08/09 07:49 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: wr]
sotto voce Offline
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Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: ecthelion
I don't know, but generally, be it his transcriptions or his originals, I feel Liszt tends to sacrifice melody for virtuosity. It's almost as though he goes out of the way to make a piece diabolically hard and yet it doesn't have much of a musical effect.

Some of his are good, I particularly like his Polonaise in E, but the overwhelming majority of his works (or rather, what I've heard of them) seem to be technical exercises. I hardly think Liszt can be categorized romantic. His motifs are vague, or myabe my musical understanding is too limited to grasp his (?) greatness.

He might have been the greatest pianist, and I think that really is his claim to fame.


Where did that "roll eyes" icon go? I need it right now.

Here you go!



I'll see your rolleyes and raise you a facepalm:



Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1213807 - 06/08/09 08:05 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: ecthelion]
Janus K. Sachs Offline
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Registered: 10/31/07
Posts: 1710
Loc: Betelgeuse, baby!
This has moved beyond rolleyes and facepalms, so I give you:

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Die Krebs gehn zurcke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.

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#1213821 - 06/08/09 09:06 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Janus K. Sachs]
Thracozaag Offline
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Registered: 10/06/04
Posts: 1980
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_________________________
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#1213857 - 06/08/09 10:38 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Thracozaag]
DameMyra Online   happy
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Registered: 12/21/04
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#1213859 - 06/08/09 10:38 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Thracozaag]
beginningpianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/08
Posts: 98
And hungarian rhapsodies. Parts of the paganini etudes are his creation too.

If he "goes out of his way" to make it hard, why'd he simplify the paganini etudes?

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#1213864 - 06/08/09 10:48 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Thracozaag]
Horowitzian Offline
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Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Originally Posted By: Thracozaag




grin
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#1213897 - 06/08/09 11:45 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Horowitzian]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8887
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
Originally Posted By: Thracozaag




grin


Pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?
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#1213899 - 06/08/09 11:46 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: argerichfan]
Horowitzian Offline
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Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Indeed it does, Jason.


WHAT AN AWESOME THREAD!!!!!!!!
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#1213912 - 06/08/09 12:06 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: ecthelion]
pianojerome Offline
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Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Originally Posted By: ecthelion
I hardly think Liszt can be categorized romantic.


What makes a composer romantic?
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#1213936 - 06/08/09 12:32 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Numerian]
BruceD Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Numerian


He has Liebestraume to his credit and Un Sospiro. But he was otherwise undistinguished as a melodist. He did not write much vocal music and no operas, so it seems he understood his limitations.

Don't forget that the three Liebesträume are piano transcriptions by Liszt of three of his (vocal) songs. As to the statement that he did not write much vocal music and no operas, that is not true. He wrote over 80 songs, he wrote over 70 sacred choral works and almost as many secular choral works, and he did write an opera Don Sanche, albeit it a very early work. Nevertheless with such a fairly large collection of works for voice and for chorus - where melody certainly is important - I don't see how it can be said that he was not a melodist. Just because these works are not known, overshadowed, perhaps, by the popularity of his virtuosic piano works and his tone poems, doesn't mean that Liszt was not a melodist.
Originally Posted By: Numerian
[...]
[...] There has been no one since Liszt who can play his music with his power and affect (with the possible exceptions of Anton Rubinstein and Ervin Nyierghazi).


We don't know that for a certainty, since no one alive has heard him play to compare him with current day virtuosi. That he received great accolades for his playing from critics and public alike, that women swooned when he played, and that he was considered the greatest pianist to appear on the concert stage, are as much a mirror of the times and a measure of the hyperbole in writing as they are quantifiable statements of fact. Remember that while Liszt was not the first he was among the first of a new breed of traveling piano virtuosi, so comparisons with previous piano players put him in a special category the likes of which were not known to many concerto-goers of the time. I don't think we can conclude from that that "there has been no one since Liszt who can play his music with his power and affect [sic!] ...."

Regards,
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#1213965 - 06/08/09 01:20 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: BruceD]
John Citron Offline
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Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
Remember that while Liszt was not the first he was among the first of a new breed of traveling piano virtuosi, so comparisons with previous piano players put him in a special category the likes of which were not known to many concerto-goers of the time. I don't think we can conclude from that that "there has been no one since Liszt who can play his music with his power and affect [sic!] ...."

Liszt was typical of the period and played and wrote similar works to that of Czerny, Thalberg, Gottschalk, Heinrich Herz, among many others at the time. He took the performance to a different level than these other contempories, and gained popularity through "parlor tricks" as they were called.

http://www.escholarship.org/editions/vie...mp;brand=eschol

"How sad that natural gifts as rare as those possessed by M. Liszt are only used to convert music into a shell-game and conjuring show! That is not at all the destiny of this enchanting art. It should touch us, move us, not astonish us. The emotions are inexhaustible, but astonishment soon wears off. M. Liszt, you are very young; you are an excellent sight-reader and already a very skilled musician; you possess wonderful fingers; unfortunately, however, you were born at a time when pianists have made music into silliness and you have been carried away by the torrent.…Renounce these brilliant frivolities in favor of more solid advantages."

In my oh so humble and honest opinion, his works are beautiful, but get boring after awhile. This is the same for music of his contemporaries as well. The constant virtuostic runs up and down the keyboard over the steady bass line becomes the same and predictable after listening to a few of their works.

At least Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart have some kind of variation and play between the two hands to keep the music interesting and exciting. This isn't saying that they're not easy to play, and nor are the works of Liszt, Gottschalk, and the others.

John
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Nothing.

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#1213999 - 06/08/09 02:02 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: ecthelion]
virtuoso418 Offline
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Registered: 10/29/03
Posts: 645
I think the OP should have a more complete knowledge of Liszt's work (which is vast) before making generalizations about him.

Ask Leslie Howard.

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#1214003 - 06/08/09 02:04 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: virtuoso418]
Horowitzian Offline
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Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
http://www.youtube.com/user/liszt73

Lots of Leslie Howard Liszt recordings.
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#1214066 - 06/08/09 03:26 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Horowitzian]
John Citron Offline
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Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
http://www.youtube.com/user/liszt73

Lots of Leslie Howard Liszt recordings.


Yes, I agree. wink Liszt's music is very difficult to play and probably for us to interpret, but I think Leslie Howard has done one of the best recordings I've ever heard.

My uncle Ronald had a chance to chat with him last summer while attending a master class. He asked about the recordings and about memorization. Leslie Howard went on to explain that out of the thousands of pieces that he played, he only had a few memorized. He would bring some back to memory as he'd practice for a concert, but the recordings were done with the sheet music on the stand.

John
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Nothing.

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#1214089 - 06/08/09 04:08 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: John Citron]
GreenRain Offline
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Registered: 04/24/08
Posts: 888
Loc: Somewhere in Europe
Many works by Liszt are worthless and lack in melody. On the other side, he wrote many good, virtuoso pieces.

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#1214091 - 06/08/09 04:10 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: John Citron]
Horowitzian Offline
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Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Originally Posted By: John Citron
Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
http://www.youtube.com/user/liszt73

Lots of Leslie Howard Liszt recordings.


Yes, I agree. wink Liszt's music is very difficult to play and probably for us to interpret, but I think Leslie Howard has done one of the best recordings I've ever heard.

My uncle Ronald had a chance to chat with him last summer while attending a master class. He asked about the recordings and about memorization. Leslie Howard went on to explain that out of the thousands of pieces that he played, he only had a few memorized. He would bring some back to memory as he'd practice for a concert, but the recordings were done with the sheet music on the stand.

John


His accomplishment will surely be one of the great pianistic achievements. I have heard a handful of the pieces performed better than Howard did, but as a whole, his complete Liszt is staggeringly good. Thanks for sharing your uncle's experience!
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#1214092 - 06/08/09 04:11 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: GreenRain]
Horowitzian Offline
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Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Originally Posted By: GreenRain
Many works by Liszt are worthless and lack in melody. On the other side, he wrote many good, virtuoso pieces.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. smile
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#1214096 - 06/08/09 04:12 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Horowitzian]
GreenRain Offline
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Registered: 04/24/08
Posts: 888
Loc: Somewhere in Europe
Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
Originally Posted By: GreenRain
Many works by Liszt are worthless and lack in melody. On the other side, he wrote many good, virtuoso pieces.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. smile


I agree. smile

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#1214100 - 06/08/09 04:15 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: GreenRain]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8887
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: GreenRain
Many works by Liszt are worthless and lack in melody.

Many works? I realize it's just a matter of opinion, but could you give some examples?
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Jason

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#1214115 - 06/08/09 04:27 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: argerichfan]
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18023
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: GreenRain
Many works by Liszt are worthless and lack in melody.

Many works? I realize it's just a matter of opinion, but could you give some examples?


It could well be, Jason, that he's refering to many of the ones he hasn't yet heard, so he'd have difficulty naming them. Give the kid a break! frown

Cheers!
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BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#1214146 - 06/08/09 05:22 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: ecthelion]
virtuoso418 Offline
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Registered: 10/29/03
Posts: 645
Does anyone know if Leslie got into the guiness book of world records for the complete recording of Liszt? I think I read that somewhere...

But a fantastic achievement nonetheless.

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#1214156 - 06/08/09 05:37 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: virtuoso418]
izaldu Offline
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Registered: 09/18/08
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Loc:
COntrary to may people, my favourite Liszt pieces are the "less difficult" ... Chapelle de Guillaume Tell, Les cloches de Geneve ... the transcriptions are usually a bit too much for me.
It took me a while to get into Liszt but i realize maybe i was a bit biased; he was a great composer , probably overshadowed by the virtuoso.

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#1214163 - 06/08/09 05:50 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: argerichfan]
virtuoso418 Offline
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Registered: 10/29/03
Posts: 645
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: GreenRain
Many works by Liszt are worthless and lack in melody.

Many works? I realize it's just a matter of opinion, but could you give some examples?


I doubt he knew that more than five Liszt pieces existed.

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#1214253 - 06/08/09 08:25 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: virtuoso418]
sotto voce Offline
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Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Originally Posted By: virtuoso418
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: GreenRain
Many works by Liszt are worthless and lack in melody.

Many works? I realize it's just a matter of opinion, but could you give some examples?

I doubt he knew that more than five Liszt pieces existed.

I doubt that any motive but meanness exists for such a gratuitous insult.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1214284 - 06/08/09 09:33 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: virtuoso418]
Horowitzian Offline
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Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Originally Posted By: virtuoso418
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: GreenRain
Many works by Liszt are worthless and lack in melody.

Many works? I realize it's just a matter of opinion, but could you give some examples?


I doubt he knew that more than five Liszt pieces existed.


Interesting you say something like this in light of your comments in another thread:

Originally Posted By: virtuoso418
If you don't anything constructive to say to the post, then don't say anything at all. [...]
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#1214306 - 06/08/09 10:12 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Horowitzian]
boo1234 Offline
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Registered: 05/06/09
Posts: 509
if you ask me Brahms lacks in melody too.

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#1214341 - 06/08/09 11:39 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: boo1234]
Horowitzian Offline
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Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
This thread has just gone from really bad to horrible.
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#1214345 - 06/08/09 11:47 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: boo1234]
Emanuel Ravelli Offline
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I think we're getting lost in generalizations here. Sure, there's Liszt and Brahms out there that isn't terribly tuneful, but I can think of many examples of works by both composers where just the opposite is true. Liszt: B minor Sonata, Un Sospiro, Liebestraume, Benediction de Dieu dans las Solitude. Brahms: many of the intermezzi, esp'y all of the Op. 117 pieces, Op. 118 No.2, the middle of Op. 119 No. 2 the Rhapsodies (including Op. 119 no. 4) and the wonderful things he does (some of them very melodic) with a simple classical theme in the Handel Variations.

For my money, the all-time champ of the "Find the Melody" game is Schumann. Most of his stuff is nothing but dense harmonic textures and sometimes weird rhythms. But then consider Carnaval, the Abegg Variations, the F# major Romance, and Traumerei -- some of the greatest melodies ever written for piano. Most of the reason a composer is considered great boils down to memorable melodies. We just need to keep looking and listening until we find the ones we love.


Edited by Emanuel Ravelli (06/08/09 11:51 PM)
Edit Reason: typo
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#1214351 - 06/08/09 11:56 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Emanuel Ravelli]
Horowitzian Offline
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Posts: 8453
Thank you for your thoughtful post, Phil. I agree with you completely. Another great melodist is Rachmaninoff. I was listening to Elyso Bolkvadze play his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini today with Jansung Kakhidze and the Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra. What a masterful work! cool
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#1214352 - 06/09/09 12:00 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Horowitzian]
musica71 Offline
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Loc: Bend, Or.
For Heaven's sake...what about the Consolations? Also Neil McKelvie has the most gorgeous video on youtube (Bostonpianoamateurs) of a French piece that Liszt wrote for voice. It is absolutely beautiful!!
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#1214366 - 06/09/09 12:38 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: ecthelion]
Ferdinand Offline
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Registered: 04/23/07
Posts: 943
Loc: California
I don't understand why people are attacking Ecthelion. He made it clear that he was describing his impressions of Liszt. He admitted his experience is limited. He does not deserve anyone's scorn. Suppose the Liszt enthusiasts were to try to enlighten him by offering a broader viewpoint and suggestions for listening, instead of disdain for venturing an opinion. Other readers of the thread might learn something too.

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#1214374 - 06/09/09 01:18 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Ferdinand]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6340
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
While the quality of Liszt's overall compositional output was inconsistent, when he was at his best he did, in fact, write many beautiful and memorable melodies. They're there if you take the time to explore his work and seek them out. One of the challenges with Liszt, however, is the overall difficulty of much of his piano music. Its not the kind of stuff that is easy to sightread - and often the "melodies" are buried in the complexity of the writing. The Transcendental Etudes are perfect examples.
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#1214393 - 06/09/09 03:00 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Ferdinand]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7843
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
I don't understand why people are attacking Ecthelion. He made it clear that he was describing his impressions of Liszt. He admitted his experience is limited. He does not deserve anyone's scorn. Suppose the Liszt enthusiasts were to try to enlighten him by offering a broader viewpoint and suggestions for listening, instead of disdain for venturing an opinion. Other readers of the thread might learn something too.


Anyone showing a high-handed and completely misguided disdain for a major-league composer of whom they obviously have little understanding deserves lots of scorn. Besides which, the original post didn't even ask for other people's thoughts on the subject, but was just worded as an outright dismissal, with just the tiniest hint that the writer might admit to not really being in a position to hold the opinion that was expressed. The whole post is sort of troll-like, actually. And I really don't care a whole lot about attempting to "enlighten" someone exhibiting such a closed mind right off the bat - it usually isn't worth the effort. They need to grow up a lot first, no matter what their chronological age.

There, now do you understand a little better?

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#1214394 - 06/09/09 03:10 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: boo1234]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7843
Originally Posted By: boo1234
if you ask me Brahms lacks in melody too.


As has been pointed out, music doesn't depend on melody to be great. There are a zillion examples of exceptionally good music that isn't particularly "melodic", or if they do contain a melody, it isn't particularly distinguished, starting all the way back before Bach.

And Bach himself wrote a lot of great stuff without much melody - the very first prelude in the WTC being the classic example. The basic material of many of his fugues isn't really good melody - he just understood the contrapuntal potential of it and took it from there. Beethoven likewise wrote a great deal of excellent stuff based on banal melodic material, if there was any at all; it's practically a trademark of his style.



Edited by wr (06/09/09 03:10 AM)

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#1214419 - 06/09/09 05:01 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: wr]
davaofthekeys Offline
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The thing with clear, defined (humable?) melodies in music, at least to me, is that they make you tire of the piece more quickly. A melody often becomes very predictable once you´ve learned it, while more complex layers of harmony does not in the same way. (I know this is a generalization, just thought I´d put the thought out there). I get utterly sick of playing very melodic pieces by for instance Mozart, but spend lots more time exploring and discovering the harmonic structure in some of Liszt´s works. To each his own.

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#1214428 - 06/09/09 05:55 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: davaofthekeys]
David Ramezani Offline
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Here is a piece with some of my favourite melodies:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BZgte0ObLw&fmr=18
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRa36DV6zJ8&fmt=18

And it is written by no other than Liszt.

And if you are looking for beauty:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avdHNjOmWBU&fmt=18
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#1214451 - 06/09/09 07:20 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: John Citron]
ecthelion Offline
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Originally Posted By: John Citron
...
"How sad that natural gifts as rare as those possessed by M. Liszt are only used to convert music into a shell-game and conjuring show! That is not at all the destiny of this enchanting art. It should touch us, move us, not astonish us. The emotions are inexhaustible, but astonishment soon wears off. M. Liszt, you are very young; you are an excellent sight-reader and already a very skilled musician; you possess wonderful fingers; unfortunately, however, you were born at a time when pianists have made music into silliness and you have been carried away by the torrent.…Renounce these brilliant frivolities in favor of more solid advantages."

In my oh so humble and honest opinion, his works are beautiful, but get boring after awhile. This is the same for music of his contemporaries as well. The constant virtuostic runs up and down the keyboard over the steady bass line becomes the same and predictable after listening to a few of their works.
...
John


Along the lines of what I meant when I said "sacrifice melody for virtuosity".

I just wanted to know what the general consensus was like. From what I can see here, I might have just said what many others think about Liszt.

Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
Suppose the Liszt enthusiasts were to try to enlighten him by offering a broader viewpoint and suggestions for listening, instead of disdain for venturing an opinion. Other readers of the thread might learn something too.

Exactly.

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#1214478 - 06/09/09 08:42 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: ecthelion]
sotto voce Offline
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Originally Posted By: ecthelion
I just wanted to know what the general consensus was like. From what I can see here, I might have just said what many others think about Liszt.

You might have. But you should also consider that it may be, as you said in your OP, that your own understanding (and that of others, too) is limited.

There's a difference between an opinion, an informed opinion, and a matter of fact. It honestly sounds like you've made up your mind and are seeking evidence and validation for that predetermined position. Rather than start with a conclusion and looking for data to support it, it's customary (and safer) to start with the evidence (and an open mind) instead.

Steven
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Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
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#1214530 - 06/09/09 10:01 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: sotto voce]
Numerian Offline
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There's nothing wrong with ecthelion asking a loaded question. It is a serious question, after all, and more credit to ecthelion if he provides his or her own opinion to kick off the discussion. It is not as if this was a hit and run thread that ecthelion abandoned. Some of the responses have too much condescension for my taste.

He did not, after all, ask whether M. Liszt was a great composer. Liszt was a great composer and remains underrated even to this day. He was an even greater man in the history of Western music, perhaps one of the most influential considering the composers and performers he selflessly championed.

But he was not a great melodist, of which there are not that many in Western music. Franz Schubert, P.I. Tchaikovsky, Frederic Chopin, Johann Strauss, Richard Rodgers, Arthur Sullivan - these are men with a unique and rare talent to write many great melodies throughout their career. This doesn't even count the opera composers like Verdi, Bizet, Bellini, and Donizetti.

Liszt is not in this company. So what? He is still a great composer who had many other gifts and I play his pieces constantly for my own enjoyment. He just is not in that pantheon of great melodists.

Ask someone familiar with Western music to "sing me some Liszt" if you want an answer to ecthelion's question, and you'll see the responses are limited.

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#1214547 - 06/09/09 10:32 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Numerian]
sotto voce Offline
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Not being considered a great melodist is hardly the same as lacking melody. If Liszt suffers in this regard in comparison to Schubert, Chopin or composers of opera, the difference is one of degree, not of kind.

Steven
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Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1214549 - 06/09/09 10:34 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: sotto voce]
Numerian Offline
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It's a pretty big degree, though.

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#1214575 - 06/09/09 10:55 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Numerian]
sotto voce Offline
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I don't agree, and I think it's a matter of opinion unless one can inventory all works in Liszt's vast corpus (after first defining, of course, what defines the presence or absence of melody and what makes melodies qualitatively better or worse than one another).

Steven
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Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
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#1214581 - 06/09/09 11:03 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: sotto voce]
Numerian Offline
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I walk out of Iolanthe or Die Fledermaus singing and humming all the great melodies presented. I don't do that after a Liszt recital. He provides different satisfactions, not the least of which is the talent of the pianist in presenting Liszt's music. Maybe if you assembled Liszt's greatest hits in one concert I would say "great melodies", but the vast corpus of his work does not elicit the same reaction.

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#1214599 - 06/09/09 11:33 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Numerian]
sotto voce Offline
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But Liszt's vast corpus of work is indeed vast. How much of it are you familiar with? My own acquaintance is very limited, yet offers no basis at all for an generalized assessment of lack of melody or lack of "great melodies."

I don't think the comparison between operas and a Liszt recital is apposite. Opera is supposed to be melodic, after all, and Liszt didn't write any; the pieces programmed at a Liszt recital are a tiny fraction of his oeuvre that may or may not be melodic. It's not necessarily a consideration in programming recital pieces.

Steven
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Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
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#1214603 - 06/09/09 11:42 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Horowitzian]
virtuoso418 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
Originally Posted By: virtuoso418
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: GreenRain
Many works by Liszt are worthless and lack in melody.

Many works? I realize it's just a matter of opinion, but could you give some examples?


I doubt he knew that more than five Liszt pieces existed.


Interesting you say something like this in light of your comments in another thread:

Originally Posted By: virtuoso418
If you don't anything constructive to say to the post, then don't say anything at all. [...]



It was a joke. I should of inserted a smiley. chill.

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#1214606 - 06/09/09 11:46 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: virtuoso418]
sotto voce Offline
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It wasn't funny. A smiley doesn't turn an insult into a joke.

Steven
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Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1214614 - 06/09/09 12:02 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: sotto voce]
virtuoso418 Offline
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Originally Posted By: sotto voce
It wasn't funny. A smiley doesn't turn an insult into a joke.

Steven


Whether or not you find it funny, that's fine. But it was never an insult in the first place to turn into a joke. You sure do take these things seriously, it's quite funny.



BTW, green: In case you took it as an insult, I apologize. smile

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#1214628 - 06/09/09 12:20 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: virtuoso418]
sotto voce Offline
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virtuoso418,

You seem preoccupied with the seriousness with which other people "take these things." You might take your own advice to "chill" and "relax."

BTW, saying you're sorry that someone took offense at your offensive remark isn't an apology for making it.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1214632 - 06/09/09 12:26 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: sotto voce]
virtuoso418 Offline
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Originally Posted By: sotto voce
virtuoso418,

You seem preoccupied with the seriousness with which other people "take these things." You might take your own advice to "chill" and "relax."

BTW, saying you're sorry that someone took offense at your offensive remark isn't an apology for making it.

Steven


LOL, so I can't say sorry? Wow.

Sotto, this conversation is over. You have too much blinding hostility. Good day.

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#1214643 - 06/09/09 12:37 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: virtuoso418]
sotto voce Offline
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Intentional irony is amusing; psychological projection, not so much.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1214649 - 06/09/09 12:52 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: sotto voce]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Yeah, man, I mean that B minor sonata is SUCH crap, eh? Full with abstract abnormalities, I wouldn't even classify it as music, Liszt, can't find a single melody in there, I tell ya! It's just like contemporary music nowadays, isn't it? Shame, shame.
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#1214650 - 06/09/09 12:56 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: virtuoso418]
Horowitzian Offline
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Originally Posted By: virtuoso418
Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
Originally Posted By: virtuoso418
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: GreenRain
Many works by Liszt are worthless and lack in melody.

Many works? I realize it's just a matter of opinion, but could you give some examples?


I doubt he knew that more than five Liszt pieces existed.


Interesting you say something like this in light of your comments in another thread:

Originally Posted By: virtuoso418
If you don't anything constructive to say to the post, then don't say anything at all. [...]



It was a joke. I should of inserted a smiley. chill.


You're one to be talking.
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#1214718 - 06/09/09 02:38 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Horowitzian]
virtuoso418 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
Originally Posted By: virtuoso418
Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
Originally Posted By: virtuoso418
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: GreenRain
Many works by Liszt are worthless and lack in melody.

Many works? I realize it's just a matter of opinion, but could you give some examples?


I doubt he knew that more than five Liszt pieces existed.


Interesting you say something like this in light of your comments in another thread:

Originally Posted By: virtuoso418
If you don't anything constructive to say to the post, then don't say anything at all. [...]



It was a joke. I should of inserted a smiley. chill.


You're one to be talking.


Who are you.

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#1214735 - 06/09/09 03:10 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: virtuoso418]
Horowitzian Offline
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Do you really expect anyone to believe it was a joke? It's easy to insult someone and when called out on it claim it was a "joke" and "I should have inserted a smiley".
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#1214843 - 06/09/09 06:03 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Horowitzian]
debrucey Offline
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The Chasse-Neige etude has a very nice melody.

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#1214863 - 06/09/09 06:36 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: virtuoso418]
GreenRain Offline
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Very funny joke.

I have to insert smiley: smile

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#1214865 - 06/09/09 06:41 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: argerichfan]
GreenRain Offline
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Valse oubiliee for example. It's quite boring piece. That's just my opinion of course.



Edited by GreenRain (06/09/09 06:41 PM)

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#1214869 - 06/09/09 06:47 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: GreenRain]
Thracozaag Offline
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Originally Posted By: GreenRain
Valse oubiliee for example. It's quite boring piece. That's just my opinion of course.



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#1214874 - 06/09/09 06:58 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Thracozaag]
GreenRain Offline
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Is this the first time when someone disagrees with you?

Is it that hard to accept the fact that this piece is boring to me?

Why is there need to spam forum with "smiley posts"?

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#1214901 - 06/09/09 07:25 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: GreenRain]
Horowitzian Offline
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People have every right to express their opinion of your opinion, my good mate. smile
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#1214912 - 06/09/09 07:48 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: ecthelion]
lisztonian Offline
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Originally Posted By: ecthelion
I don't know, but generally, be it his transcriptions or his originals, I feel Liszt tends to sacrifice melody for virtuosity. It's almost as though he goes out of the way to make a piece diabolically hard and yet it doesn't have much of a musical effect.


Do you think it is necessarily bad to sacrifice that? What is a "musical effect"? Just some thoughts.


Edited by rinforzando (06/09/09 07:49 PM)
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#1214915 - 06/09/09 07:52 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: lisztonian]
wr Offline
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Originally Posted By: rinforzando
Originally Posted By: ecthelion
I don't know, but generally, be it his transcriptions or his originals, I feel Liszt tends to sacrifice melody for virtuosity. It's almost as though he goes out of the way to make a piece diabolically hard and yet it doesn't have much of a musical effect.


Do you think it is necessarily bad to sacrifice that? What is a "musical effect"? Just some thoughts.


It's pretty silly to say he's "sacrificing" anything, IMHO. I'd be curious to know how that was determined.

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#1214927 - 06/09/09 08:11 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: wr]
lisztonian Offline
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Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: rinforzando
Originally Posted By: ecthelion
I don't know, but generally, be it his transcriptions or his originals, I feel Liszt tends to sacrifice melody for virtuosity. It's almost as though he goes out of the way to make a piece diabolically hard and yet it doesn't have much of a musical effect.


Do you think it is necessarily bad to sacrifice that? What is a "musical effect"? Just some thoughts.


It's pretty silly to say he's "sacrificing" anything, IMHO. I'd be curious to know how that was determined.



Yes it is certainly true that Liszt has melody AND virtuosity, but the OP stated that Liszt "tends" to sacrifice one for the other. Apparently the OP thinks that the virtuosity in some pieces overpowers the melody, thus sacrificing one for the other. There doesn't NEED to be a balance between the two, music expresses itself in many different ways. I don't necessarily see a problem with more virtuosity and less melody, but it's all a matter of opinion.
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#1215002 - 06/09/09 10:25 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: lisztonian]
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#1215570 - 06/11/09 12:14 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: ecthelion]
Damon Offline
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Originally Posted By: ecthelion
I don't know, but generally, be it his transcriptions or his originals, I feel Liszt tends to sacrifice melody for virtuosity. It's almost as though he goes out of the way to make a piece diabolically hard and yet it doesn't have much of a musical effect.
Try listening to Jorge Bolet play Liszt if you're having trouble hearing melodies. Listen in particular to him play "Harmonies Poétiques et Religieuses", "Années de Pèlerinage", or the Consolations. I don't think he lacks melody in the least and he gave us a lot more.

Originally Posted By: ecthelion

Some of his are good, I particularly like his Polonaise in E, but the overwhelming majority of his works (or rather, what I've heard of them) seem to be technical exercises. I hardly think Liszt can be categorized romantic.

How else would you categorize him?
Originally Posted By: ecthelion


He might have been the greatest pianist, and I think that really is his claim to fame.



If being the greatest pianist were his "claim to fame", he would already be forgotten.
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#1215889 - 06/11/09 03:45 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: FunkyLlama]
wdot Offline
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Originally Posted By: FunkyLlama
Originally Posted By: ecthelion
I hardly think Liszt can be categorized romantic.
*monocle pop*
laugh That's a great verbal image!

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#1215959 - 06/11/09 06:07 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: beginningpianist]
Drunk3nFist Offline
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Yes I can agree that Liszt does tend to sacrifice melody for virtuosity. His Transcendental Etudes, especially no.1 shows this. But hey, Liszt is Liszt. What better composer to show off virtuosity for the sake of virtuosity? :p
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#1215981 - 06/11/09 07:02 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Drunk3nFist]
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Originally Posted By: Drunk3nFist
Yes I can agree that Liszt does tend to sacrifice melody for virtuosity. His Transcendental Etudes, especially no.1 shows this.


No.1 is supposed to sound like someone warming up with arpeggios etc. It's not supposed to be melodic. Quite a few of the Transcendental Etudes have beautiful melodies...my favorite being No.12(Snow Drifts?)and the slow one with all the arpeggios(can't remember the name).

I think occasionally Liszt does have too much figuration for the melody. An example of this would be his transcription of Schubert's Ave Maria. I find most of his other song transcriptions fantastic.

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#1215991 - 06/11/09 07:14 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: pianoloverus]
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One interesting thing about Liszt is that of all of the great composers for piano I think a smaller percentage of his works are performed with any regularity or are well known to all but some professionals. I think maybe I'm familiar with 40-50 of his works, but he wrote many hundreds if I remember correctly.

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#1216000 - 06/11/09 07:31 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Drunk3nFist]
Damon Offline
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Originally Posted By: Drunk3nFist
Yes I can agree that Liszt does tend to sacrifice melody for virtuosity. His Transcendental Etudes, especially no.1 shows this.


Huh!?
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#1216019 - 06/11/09 08:21 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Drunk3nFist]
wr Offline
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Originally Posted By: Drunk3nFist
Yes I can agree that Liszt does tend to sacrifice melody for virtuosity. His Transcendental Etudes, especially no.1 shows this. But hey, Liszt is Liszt. What better composer to show off virtuosity for the sake of virtuosity? :p


I still don't get the "sacrifice" part. You can't sacrifice something that wasn't supposed to be there in the first place. Did Bach "sacrifice" melody for repetitiousness in the first prelude of WTC I?

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#1227361 - 07/05/09 02:10 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: ecthelion]
ecthelion Offline
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I've procured Howard's Liszt marathon recordings and am preprared to give it a good hearing (already begun).

What do you like about Liszt?

Post your Liszt favorites. And specifics would be appreciated, ('Etude No. so and so' as against to 'Transcendental Etudes' in general)

P.S. Usually, with a new composer, I try listening to their best works. If they interest me, then I venture out into their less-known and deeper stuff. Granted I think it's unrealistic to expect every composition to melodically interest me, but I expect this atleast from their 'best' works.

When I started the thread it was from my point of view after listening to Liszt's more popular works; only a precious few appealed to me and consequentially the others seemed hardly worth listening to. From the Liszt sentiments floating around I'm curious as to what you see in Liszt and spare me the trouble of wading in piles of obscure un-melodic works.

Sorry if I sound biased, but I'm really prepared to give Liszt a fair hearing. Don't get me wrong, I really want to like Liszt's music, and am sort of pissed with myself for not getting what you people evidently perceive.

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#1227365 - 07/05/09 02:16 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: ecthelion]
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Originally Posted By: ecthelion
I've procured Howard's Liszt marathon recordings and am preprared to give it a good hearing (already begun).

What do you like about Liszt?

Post your Liszt favorites. And specifics would be appreciated, ('Etude No. so and so' as against to 'Transcendental Etudes' in general)

P.S. Usually, with a new composer, I try listening to their best works. If they interest me, then I venture out into their less-known and deeper stuff. Granted I think it's unrealistic to expect every composition to melodically interest me, but I expect this atleast from their 'best' works.

When I started the thread it was from my point of view after listening to Liszt's more popular works; only a precious few appealed to me and consequentially the others seemed hardly worth listening to. From the Liszt sentiments floating around I'm curious as to what you see in Liszt and spare me the trouble of wading in piles of obscure un-melodic works.

Sorry if I sound biased, but I'm really prepared to give Liszt a fair hearing. Don't get me wrong, I really want to like Liszt's music, and am sort of pissed with myself for not getting what you people evidently perceive.


I applaud not only your willingness to approach Liszt's works with a receptive, open mind but also the efforts you have gone to do so, particularly if it means you have bought many - if not all - of Howard's recordings. That's a considerable investment that I hope brings you some considerable returns in either enjoyment or appreciation or both.

Regards,
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#1227368 - 07/05/09 02:22 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: BruceD]
ecthelion Offline
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Registered: 02/24/09
Posts: 72
I'm sorry, but that post gives me credit when it's not due.

I never said I bought them. I merely procured them. A willing mind, yes, but forgive me, my efforts stop there. Hardly relevant to the discussion anyways.

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#1227379 - 07/05/09 02:36 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: ecthelion]
BruceD Online   content
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Originally Posted By: ecthelion
I'm sorry, but that post gives me credit when it's not due.

I never said I bought them. I merely procured them. A willing mind, yes, but forgive me, my efforts stop there. Hardly relevant to the discussion anyways.


Well, I did write "...if it means you bought them. Hope the procuring was legal! smile

Regards,
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#1227689 - 07/06/09 10:47 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: BruceD]
izaldu Offline
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Well the Années de Pelerinage set by Berman is a must isn't it? First book specially, i think you need to listen to the whole thing. It's not that long anyway.


Edited by izaldu (07/06/09 10:50 AM)

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#1227781 - 07/06/09 02:58 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: izaldu]
SeilerFan Offline
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Registered: 03/27/09
Posts: 746
Liszt is a fine, fine composer. Not all of his compositions are of an equally high level, but many of them are masterpieces. There is lots of melody in his music. One just has to bring it out. I am a bit annoyed that some people like to portray him as the virtuoso without substance. That's not true. One needs to read his scores thoroughly, and then one will find melodic substance. The Annes de Pelerinage are a prime example of amazing virtuosity coupled with melodic power.

Having said this, Liszt is currently not my favorite as I haven't really dealt with too much of his music. Spontaneously, I'd prefer Chopin's melos over Liszt's. However, I can clearly see myself becoming drawn into Liszt's music and learning about his musical core value in the future.

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#1227875 - 07/06/09 07:34 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: ecthelion]
Damon Offline
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Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6148
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: ecthelion
I've procured Howard's Liszt marathon recordings and am preprared to give it a good hearing (already begun).

What do you like about Liszt?

Post your Liszt favorites. And specifics would be appreciated, ('Etude No. so and so' as against to 'Transcendental Etudes' in general)

From the Liszt sentiments floating around I'm curious as to what you see in Liszt and spare me the trouble of wading in piles of obscure un-melodic works.


What I like about Liszt is that he explored the entire spectrum of what is possible on the piano. Sometimes with unparalleled beauty and other times with unparalleled vulgarity. I'm not sure with which "popular" works you've already formed opinions. But my favorites on the more melodic side are:
1. (from Annes de Pellerinage)
__a. The 3 Sonettos
__b. Canzonetta del Salvator Rosa
__c. Tarantella
2. (from Harmonies poétiques et religieuses)
__a. Les funérailles
__b. Benediction de Dieu dans la solitude
3. En rêve
4. Concert Etudes
__a. Un sospiro
__b. Il Lamento
5. Valse-Impromptu
6. Sonata in Bm

If transcription of other composers melodies are fair game, Leslie Howard has (I think) 3 volumes of opera transcriptions by Liszt. Several of the Hungarian Rhapsodies use folk songs as their melodic basis. I like 9, 10, and 12. The Schubert song transcriptions and the Six Chants Polonais from Chopin are melodic.
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#1227882 - 07/06/09 07:47 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: Damon]
pianoloverus Online   content
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I think virtually every Liszt piece is melodic. The only question is whether he sometimes has so much other pianistic figuration going on that the melody gets obscured.

Occasionally would be my answer. Part of the problem can be traced to some pianists who want to try and impress by not keep all the figurations at an appropriate dynamic level. According to Alan Walker's first volume of his Liszt biography, Liszt hated it when pianists played his music that way.

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#1227886 - 07/06/09 08:03 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: pianoloverus]
FunkyLlama Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/09
Posts: 359
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
The only question is whether he sometimes has so much other pianistic figuration going on that the melody gets obscured.
Yeah, the Transcendental Etudes in their second version are like this. But I think he realised this when he revised them for their final version because they're a lot less 'busy'.

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#1227900 - 07/06/09 08:34 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: FunkyLlama]
ProdigalPianist Offline
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Is the "problem" (if there is one) perhaps not with the composer but with the type of pianists likely to perform their music?

I have very limited experience compared to many if not most on this board, but in that limited experience, a lot of piano students and young competitors chose Liszt (and the flashiest of his pieces) for the flash and virtuosity, and because those of his works they choose showcases their virtuosity to the utmost.

I have always thought I did not like Liszt because I associated him with this "loud, louder, loudest" pyrotechnic display of technique type of pianism. Having now been exposed to really excellent video and audio recordings (and a recent recital) of Liszt works by really _musical_ pianists, I have rethought my feelings about Liszt.

As I said, this says more about my limited experience than about the composer. I was a piano student as a kid but did not have access to recordings as a rule (my mom had one Van Cliburn 'Greatest hits' album and one Liberace album)...I am in awe of the knowledge a lot of board members have about composers and pianists.
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#1227914 - 07/06/09 08:59 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: ProdigalPianist]
beet31425 Online   content
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Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3788
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Myself, I have mixed feelings about the great man. Heart-rending, beautiful melodies. Astonishing harmonic sequences, paving the way for Wagner and music history. Fascinating original pianistic textures.

And yet... I often feel there's something missing; some bedrock sense of depth that I get from, say, Beethoven and Chopin. So that, sadly for me, I've always thought of Liszt as second-rate Chopin.

But realizing how important Liszt is to people on this forum-- and worldwide-- makes me think I might be missing something. Perhaps, along the lines of ProdigalPianist, I've been listening to the wrong pianists. Or to the wrong pieces. So there may be hope for me; after all, I used to think Mozart was just second-rate Beethoven until I was abruptly cured of that a few years ago.

I'll try some of the suggestions from this thread. Meanwhile, I do at least hold the Db major Consolation dear to my heart, as my grandmother used to play it....
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#1227915 - 07/06/09 08:59 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: ProdigalPianist]
sophial Offline
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Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3465
Loc: US
http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/2192/essays4.html

Please click on the above and read Alfred Brendel's essay "Liszt Misunderstood" for an educated opinion on the music of Franz Liszt. He says it far better than I ever could.

Sophia

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#1227951 - 07/06/09 10:46 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: beet31425]
sotto voce Offline
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Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Myself, I have mixed feelings about the great man. Heart-rending, beautiful melodies. Astonishing harmonic sequences, paving the way for Wagner and music history. Fascinating original pianistic textures.

And yet... I often feel there's something missing; some bedrock sense of depth that I get from, say, Beethoven and Chopin. So that, sadly for me, I've always thought of Liszt as second-rate Chopin....

I understand the point you're making, and yet "second-rate Chopin" isn't an association I'm comfortable with. I guess I just don't find much similarity at all between Liszt's and Chopin's music; it's a difference of kind rather than degree, too, so the comparison seems inapposite.

Lest anyone misunderstand my point, I do regard Liszt as a great composer in his own right.

Steven
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Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
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#1227977 - 07/07/09 01:19 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: sotto voce]
beet31425 Online   content
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Registered: 06/12/09
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Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: sotto voce
I guess I just don't find much similarity at all between Liszt's and Chopin's music; it's a difference of kind rather than degree, too, so the comparison seems inapposite.


Interesting. Maybe that's exactly what I'm missing: I'm trying to view Liszt through a Chopin lens, instead of "directly", whatever that means.

I think I did something similar with Bruckner and Mahler. (This may be a better comparison than the Beethoven-Mozart I referenced in an earlier post.) I've loved every minute of Mahler almost since high school, and I used to think of Bruckner as a clumsy, repetitive second-rate Mahler. It was only when I began to listen to what he had to say on his own terms (in particular, a sort of fusing of some medieval aesthetics to a late romantic idiom) that I began to appreciate some Bruckner.

How difficult it is to hear anything freshly, and not through the lenses of what we already know....
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#1228013 - 07/07/09 08:02 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: beet31425]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6148
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Myself, I have mixed feelings about the great man. Heart-rending, beautiful melodies. Astonishing harmonic sequences, paving the way for Wagner and music history. Fascinating original pianistic textures.

And yet... I often feel there's something missing; some bedrock sense of depth that I get from, say, Beethoven and Chopin. So that, sadly for me, I've always thought of Liszt as second-rate Chopin.

But realizing how important Liszt is to people on this forum-- and worldwide-- makes me think I might be missing something. Perhaps, along the lines of ProdigalPianist, I've been listening to the wrong pianists. Or to the wrong pieces. So there may be hope for me; after all, I used to think Mozart was just second-rate Beethoven until I was abruptly cured of that a few years ago.

I'll try some of the suggestions from this thread. Meanwhile, I do at least hold the Db major Consolation dear to my heart, as my grandmother used to play it....


Often, how it is played makes all the difference. Had it not been for Horowitz, I wouldn't be listening to Chopin. I used to find his music insipid and my early exposure to it was from Rubenstein, a famed Chopin interpretor. Oddly, Horowitz does nothing to make me enjoy Liszt as Rubenstein did.
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#1228051 - 07/07/09 10:07 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: sophial]
FunkyLlama Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/09
Posts: 359
Originally Posted By: sophial
http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/2192/essays4.html

Please click on the above and read Alfred Brendel's essay "Liszt Misunderstood" for an educated opinion on the music of Franz Liszt. He says it far better than I ever could.

Sophia
Brendel is quite mean about Rachmaninoff D:

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#1228422 - 07/08/09 03:08 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: FunkyLlama]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3788
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Well, consider me a convert.

Inspired by forum members' general love of Liszt, as well as Brendel's words, I've begun listening to him, for the first time in earnest. For the last 24h it's been mostly the trancendental etudes, and when you have several recordings to compare (from Naxos music library) and the scores to follow along with (from imslp.org), you can really get into it.

And far from feeling like second-rate Chopin, or any kind of Chopin, he now just feels like Liszt. And he's just great!

(Actually, in his combination of beautiful melody and lack of restraint, he really reminds me, to my surprise, of Schubert. Surely the middle section of the slow movement of Schubert's late A major sonata is Lisztian.)
_________________________
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#1230710 - 07/13/09 12:19 AM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: beet31425]
ChopinLives81 Offline
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Registered: 10/10/04
Posts: 1367
Loc: New York City
Well I'll throw in my two cents. I think that a lot of people miss the overall reason for a composer/pianist' being and existence sometimes. Liszt did a great service to us all with his transcriptions and adaptations to solo piano. His personal research into developing technique paved the way to express ideas on a piano that were inconceivable before. His merit lies within his endeavors.

Still I must add that I've been a deep listener of Liszt for quite some time and I'm familiar with many of his works ( compositions ) and his creation and development of melodies is just as profound as any other composer.

The real question is....what constitutes a melody in our opinion. If its not catchy or memorable is it still a melody? I feel it reflects a lot about our musical understanding. When I first began listening to piano music, there were hundreds of pieces that I couldn't understand for the life of me, why they were popular or why one would bother to play them. It wasn't until after I began to understand the nature of music that I discovered the melodies within the music that were invisible to me at first.

Am I alone on this????
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Check my videos @:
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#1231022 - 07/13/09 04:15 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: beginningpianist]
SantaFe_Player Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/31/08
Posts: 607
Liszt wrote many beautifully singing, melodic pieces. But he also wrote many that were strictly for showing off his own virtuosity; I think sometimes the two are mutually exclusive but by no means did he completely lack in melody. I think we tend to hear the flashy ones more often but there is some heartbreakingly beautiful Liszt out there.
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#1231050 - 07/13/09 05:12 PM Re: Do you think Liszt lacks melody? [Re: SantaFe_Player]
Juishi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/10/08
Posts: 123
With all liszt-experts around I would be delighted to hear what are those "many pieces" that were written for showing off only.
Do not mention etudes because they do have melodies and very good ones :>

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