Showing posts with label Franz Liszt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Franz Liszt. Show all posts

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Story of FRANZ LISZT's "Liebestraum"

Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Franz Liszt was born in 1811 in the Kingdom of Hungary, which was then a part of the Hapsburg Empire. His nationality is often disputed since many records were destroyed by the Ottoman Turks. Usually, he is claimed as either Hungarian or German, though a small group recognizes him as a Slovak. Adding to the debate, his musical character is often described as French.

His father had dreams of being a musician, and he studied piano, violin, and guitar while attending university. Because of his poverty, he had to give up his music lessons and was employed by Prince Nikolaus II Esterhazy. On several occasions he sat in with an orchestra on the second cello, keeping his musical love alive.

Liszt's father claimed that by the age of nine the boy had played through all of the works of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and others. He was forced to buy over eight thousand pages of new music by the masters so that young Franz could keep playing. In 1820 he played to an elite group of socialites who offered to buy his education abroad, but it took two more years before the prince would consider a leave of absence for his father.

Franz's early lessons in Vienna were hard for him because his instructor forced him to learn proper fingerings. Liszt attempted to outsmart his teacher by telling his father the teacher was trying to show him illogical fingerings. Lessons continued after Liszt's father realized his son's trickery.

Early performances in Vienna established him as a child prodigy, but tragedy soon struck. His father's sudden death and a failed love affair in France threw him into depression. He didn't play or compose for a few years until revolution took over Paris.

Travels and tours throughout Europe allowed Liszt to meet many noted composers and artists of the day. He had many love affairs and a few children as well. Eventually, he ended up in Weimar, where he wrote the Liebestraum.

The Liebestraum is a delicate piece of music written in his own romantic style. Playing it requires dexterity in both hands and a grasp of sensitivity that takes time to master. No classical pianist's repertoire is complete without the Liebestraum.

Liebestraum is German for "dreams of love." The name Liebestraum is often used to refer to the third of the pieces, though it is actually the name of the entire set. The three parts are based on poems by Ludwig Uhland and Ferdinand Freiligrath. Each poem describes a different type of love: exalted love, erotic love, and mature love.

The third movement of the Liebestraum is the best known. It is also a reliable test of a pianist's ability. At the time, a version of the Liebestraum for piano and high voice and another for piano two-hands was published.

Throughout his varied life, Franz Liszt created mesmerizing works, including the Faust Symphony and the Liebestraum. He is often called the greatest pianist who ever lived, and the Liebestraum is a great argument in his favor.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Some Facts on LISZT


Liszt was born in Raiding, near Sopron, on Oct. 22, 1811. While still a boy, his prodigious talents won the patronage of local Hungarian aristocrats, and his family took him to Vienna in 1821. There he studied piano with Carl Czerny and composition witdh Antonio Salieri. In 1823 Liszt was refused admission to the Paris Conservatory because of a regulation barring foreign students, but he stayed in Paris and took composition lessons from Anton Reicha. Liszt's one-act operetta Don Sanche was performed at the Academie Royale de Musique when he was only 14.

Franz Liszt, portrait by Miklós Barabás, a Hun...
Franz Liszt, portrait by Miklós Barabás, a Hungarian painter, 1847
(Photo credit: 

After a number of dazzling European concert tours, Liszt again settled in Paris and became a well-known member of the highest social and intellectual circles. He abandoned a passing thought of becoming a priest to remain a musician, evolving a style of virtuoso piano technique and composing music to serve it. From 1835 to 1839 he lived with the Comtesse Marie d'Agoult, who wrote historical and philosophical works under the name Daniel Stern. They had one son and two daughters. One daughter, Cosima, became the wife first of pianist-conductor Hans von Bulow and later of Richard Wagner.

From 1839 Liszt again traveled throughout Europe, having become-with violinist Niccolo Paganini, with whom he was often compared-the most sought-after of all performing musicians. From 1848 he was kapellmeister to the ducal court at Weimar, where he performed and staged many new musical works-especially those of his friend and future son-in-law, Richard Wagner-and generously helped fellow musicians. When his tenure at Weimar was disturbed, in part by scandal connecting his name with that of Princess Karoline Sayn-Wittgenstein, he gave up piano playing almost completely to devote himself to composition and teaching. From 1859 to 1870 he lived chiefly in Rome, where Pope Pius IX in 1866 made him an abbe.

In 1870 Liszt returned to Weimar to conduct the music festival honoring the centennial of Beethoven's birth. In 1875 he accepted the presidency of the Hungarian Academy of Music at Budapest. His later years were spent in Weimar, Rome, and Budapest and were occupied largely with composition and with numerous pupils and hangers-on. He died in Bayreuth, Bavaria, on July 31, 1886, while attending a Wagner festival.


Liszt's compositions comprise original works and transcriptions of other composers' music. His most popular original compositions are the 20 Hungarian Rhapsodies, which are in part Gypsy rather than truly Hungarian. Although written for the piano, many of the rhapsodies have been orchestrated.

Notable among Liszt's piano works are numerous Etudes; three Liebestraume (originally composed as songs); the Sonata in B Minor; three albums of short pieces called Annees de pelerinages; three Valses oubliees; and the Legends, entitled St. Francois d'Assise predicant aux oiseaux and St. Francois de Paul marchant sur les flots. His organ music includes the Fantasy and Fugue on B-A-C-H (1855) and Variations on Bach's Weinen, Klagen (1862). For solo voices, chorus, and orchestra in varying combinations, Liszt composed Hungaria, Die Legende von der Heiligen Elisabeth, psalms, several Masses, and over 60 songs.

Liszt wrote several books on musical subjects, the best known of which are Des Bohemiens et de leur musique en Hongrie (1859; Eng. tr., The Gipsy in Music), and the partly ghostwritten Frederic Chopin (1852).


Although the artistic quality of much of Liszt's enormous body of compositions remains the subject of argument, his importance is unquestioned in the development of modern piano technique; in the introduction into music of the Mephistophelian element of eerie, mischievous, and elusive tempi called diablerie; in the evolution of harmony and of musical forms; and in the formation of the high romantic musical idioms of the era. He shared with Frederic Chopin and Robert Schumann domination over the composition of specifically pianistic music, inventing many techniques directly related to the keyboard. He developed for orchestra the single-movement, semiprogrammatic form that he called symphonic poem, thus assisting other composers in solving problems raised by music inspired by extramusical materials.

Liszt's harmonic innovations were of prime importance as leading away from the Viennese rococo-classic style of the 18th century to the Romanticism of the 19th and the breakdown of tonality in the 20th century. He prefigured not only the whole-tone scale but also both atonality and polytonality. With Wagner he incarnated and preached the "music of the future" and advocated an almost religiously intended synthesis of the arts. Liszt left scarcely an established musical usage unquestioned or unchanged.