Franz Liszt: The Nature Poet

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On this edition of The Romantic Piano, David Dubal shares Franz Liszt's poetic tastes and love of the natural world in composition.

After 12 years of grueling non-stop concertizing Franz Liszt retired. He was everywhere in Europe: from Ireland to Lisbon to Madrid and even to Constantinople. He played to ovations never before given to a pianist. Liszt had invented the solo recital and brought the repertoire of the concert pianist to a new peak.

Liszt played his last public recitals in Odessa and in Elizabethgrad in the Ukraine in February of 1847. Only 36 years old, he had exhausted himself on the road. And he wanted to retire from the stage and settle down to compose. By then, so much was burning inside of him besides performing. In sleepy Wiemar, Liszt became court Kapellmeister. Through his baton and through his teaching, he made Weimar the most musically progressive town in the world of music. His glamorous presence brought a cultural luster to the city not seen since the days of Goethe and Schillers living there.

During his Weimar years (1848-1861), Liszt composed a constant stream of music and invented what he called he symphonic poem - a one movement orchestral score based on his feelings about poetry. In all of his output, he was a painter and poet of the world.


Transcendental Etude after Paganini, S 140: no 2 in E flat major "Octave" / Vladimir Horowitz

Années de pèlerinage no 3, S 163: no 4, Les jeux d'eaux à la Villa d'Este / Claudio Arrau

Années de pèlerinage, première année, S 160 "Suisse": no 2, Au lac de Wallenstadt / France Clidat

Hungarian Rhapsody for Piano, S 244: no 6 in D flat major / Vladimir Horowitz

Concert Etude for Piano, S 145: no 1, Waldesrauschen / John Ogdon

Transcendental Etude for Piano, S 139: no 12, Chasse-neige / György Cziffra

Hungarian Rhapsody for Piano, S 244: no 10 in E major / Nelson Freire

Grandes Etude de Paganini, S 141 / Barbara Nissman