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Topic: Some Random Thoughts on Franz Liszt (slightly OT)

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  1. #1
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    Some Random Thoughts on Franz Liszt (slightly OT)

    Hi All - this is a long intro - if you want to read the article, skip to the bottom

    As far as being a composer, or learning to be a composer, goes, I have a disadvantage when compared to a lot of you, particularly those who studies music in school – my basis in classical music, my knowledge of the repertoire, is pretty shallow. Or was – I am trying to remedy that situation.

    I have been spending a lot of time going over the basics – harmony counterpoint, form, etc., and it is starting to pay off.

    I have also been studying composers and their music. I started with Bach and have worked my way to Wagner. I have found that the more I find out about the music of a period and the primary (occasionally secondary and terserary) composers of that period the better I understand all of the music that came after, including music written today.

    As I study I often find that I have to write down my thoughts. Sometimes it’s a paragraph, sometimes a page, sometimes 20 pages. Although brewing in my mind for long periods of time, the actual writing is usually stream of consciousness and is put on “paper” as fast as I can think – in other words, it took you as long to read this paragraph as it took me to write it, maybe longer.

    If I come back later to my earlier writing I often find a few typos, messed up grammar, small factual errors, etc. Sometimes I have totally changed my mind from the time I had originally written it out. The main point in writing is to organize my thoughts.

    A benefit is as a historical record (at least to myself) – I can go back and see where I have been. I have gotten a few “ah-ha” moments from reading old stuff.

    Anyway, here is one of the longer writings I did on Franz Liszt. I wrote this back in late January or early February and just recently reread it. Although I see a few problems, I still like it and kept it the way I originally wrote it. I even thought somebody else might like it.

    So, here it is. Hope you enjoy.

    Some Random Thoughts on Franz Liszt

    Note - Unfortunately I did not see Thomas Quasthoff in March as stated – he was sick and missed the concert. They filled in with some Brahms….
    Trent P. McDonald

  2. #2

    Re: Some Random Thoughts on Franz Liszt (slightly OT)

    Hello Trent,

    Very nice read.

    I seem to fall in line in regards to Liszt as you do.
    I've always found his life and music very interesting.

    IMO, I find him to be the center of the galaxy of the great composers.
    Albeit, the center of the galaxy is a black hole.
    Somehow everything before him leads to him, Somehow everything after him traces back to him.
    For example: I feel he is "indirectly" responsible for the reemergence of Bach, who fell out of fashion in his own lifetime. If Liszt's music wasn't so frowned upon in his time, would Bach be who he is today? I tend to think he wouldn't.

    As a pianist, I find some of his works to be fun fun fun! and Bach boring and torture. Pieces like "Un Sospiro" may rank high in being flashy, it also can bring up a tear.
    But yet, when I bring up Liszt to my uncle (a piano tech) I get a rolleyes and a "showboat.... nothing more".

    I've always found it really interesting that he is always frowned upon.
    How can this be? He is considered the greatest pianist ever!
    Could it be he never shook the image of his personal life? which probably reigns as the "godfather of the tabloids" (such a bad boy rocker he was).
    Would his music been looked upon differently in his time if he had a cleaner image? After all, Beethoven kiss him on his forehead once and told him he was destined for greatness (so I've read).
    So what gives?
    Perhaps he's just the black hole at the center of the galaxy of the great composers, and thats just that....


    Thanks for the read, I enjoyed it!



    Best regards,
    Aaron

  3. #3
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    Re: Some Random Thoughts on Franz Liszt (slightly OT)

    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Dirk View Post
    Hello Trent,

    Very nice read.

    I seem to fall in line in regards to Liszt as you do.
    I've always found his life and music very interesting.

    IMO, I find him to be the center of the galaxy of the great composers.
    Albeit, the center of the galaxy is a black hole.
    Somehow everything before him leads to him, Somehow everything after him traces back to him.
    For example: I feel he is "indirectly" responsible for the reemergence of Bach, who fell out of fashion in his own lifetime. If Liszt's music wasn't so frowned upon in his time, would Bach be who he is today? I tend to think he wouldn't.

    As a pianist, I find some of his works to be fun fun fun! and Bach boring and torture. Pieces like "Un Sospiro" may rank high in being flashy, it also can bring up a tear.
    But yet, when I bring up Liszt to my uncle (a piano tech) I get a rolleyes and a "showboat.... nothing more".

    I've always found it really interesting that he is always frowned upon.
    How can this be? He is considered the greatest pianist ever!
    Could it be he never shook the image of his personal life? which probably reigns as the "godfather of the tabloids" (such a bad boy rocker he was).
    Would his music been looked upon differently in his time if he had a cleaner image? After all, Beethoven kiss him on his forehead once and told him he was destined for greatness (so I've read).
    So what gives?
    Perhaps he's just the black hole at the center of the galaxy of the great composers, and thats just that....


    Thanks for the read, I enjoyed it!



    Best regards,
    Aaron
    Hi Aaron. Thanks for reading my little essay.

    Another lover of Liszt (I know there are a few around).

    Although I’ve read a few theories about Liszt, I don’t think anybody really knows why history smiles on some and frowns on others. Sure, I think everyone understands why we remember Beethoven, but why is his contemporary, Hummel, forgotten outside musicians and students? Liszt’s reputation is, in my opinion, the biggest injustice in how we remember composers.

    Liszt may have helped bring Bach back into fashion, but the role of others, particularly Mendelssohn, can’t be ignored.

    Thanks again for your comments.
    Trent P. McDonald

  4. #4

    Re: Some Random Thoughts on Franz Liszt (slightly OT)

    Quote Originally Posted by trentpmcd View Post
    Liszt’s reputation is, in my opinion, the biggest injustice in how we remember composers.
    I was once listening to the ClassicFM countdown (a ridiculous chart of 500 pieces, voted for by listeners. The catch being that they can only vote for things from a list already predetermined by the station - I couldn't nominate Ligeti's Requiem for instance), and I actually heard a presenter say,

    "Here's Liszt's 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody. It's his only entry in the chart, proving that we Brits can still appreciate good music, even when it comes from the lesser composers."

    I couldn't believe my ears. A radio station that is very loudly decrying the UK's education system, because not enough kids can name any Classical composers, and yet they seem blissfully unaware of Liszt's absolutely central role.

    Yes he wrote a lot of fluff, mainly because that's what excited the audiences, but even the showpieces that have little musical content have advanced piano technique by leaps and bounds. And, of course, when he wasn't being the showman he wrote some of the most stunning, chromatic music of all time.
    David

  5. #5

    Re: Some Random Thoughts on Franz Liszt (slightly OT)

    About Liszt. I've read a biography. I listened to his music, mainly pianoworks.
    Completely depending on who performed it, you can love it or hate it. It needs careful planning and phrasing. Overall idea: I love it. When it comes to play it myself, I hate it. My hands were not that big to make all necessary chords, sequences of octaves. But the more "easy" pieces were part of my repertoire.

    In the middle-ages, the time I only had Cubasis 3.0/4.0 and Mozart Notation Program, somebody asked me to look for Hexameron. I managed to get it. Not only the score from the local library but also some other sources. Both sources were a bit obscure in the handwriting and printing of notes. So after having studied the piece I made my own and from that I made the following Mp3-files:

    Hexameron


    I invite you to do a search on Google for Hexameron and you will find a lot of info. It is composed by Liszt, Herz, Thalberg, Pixis, Czerny and Chopin. It was also one of the favorites Liszt played during his "tours" in Europe. You can hardly find any recording of this. I found only one version and it is really crap.

    By the way, the piano is The Grand2. In due time I will convert this to the Authorized Steinway. Have fun with this very pompous piece of music,

    Raymond
    {I promised the initiator of this project Danny Newman(UK) to mention his name every time I present Hexameron to the outer world - he found the first draft of the variation nr.6 made by Chopin}

  6. #6
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    Re: Some Random Thoughts on Franz Liszt (slightly OT)

    Quote Originally Posted by Pingu View Post
    I was once listening to the ClassicFM countdown (a ridiculous chart of 500 pieces, voted for by listeners. The catch being that they can only vote for things from a list already predetermined by the station - I couldn't nominate Ligeti's Requiem for instance), and I actually heard a presenter say,

    "Here's Liszt's 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody. It's his only entry in the chart, proving that we Brits can still appreciate good music, even when it comes from the lesser composers."

    I couldn't believe my ears. A radio station that is very loudly decrying the UK's education system, because not enough kids can name any Classical composers, and yet they seem blissfully unaware of Liszt's absolutely central role.

    Yes he wrote a lot of fluff, mainly because that's what excited the audiences, but even the showpieces that have little musical content have advanced piano technique by leaps and bounds. And, of course, when he wasn't being the showman he wrote some of the most stunning, chromatic music of all time.
    The commercial (as opposed to Public Broadcasting Stations) here sound a lot like your Classic FM – light, relaxing music that happens to be made by some “brand-name” composers. With only a few exceptions even most the music of Beethoven is too heavy for them. I guess if the radio station had played Liszt’s Sonata in its top 500 a lot of people would have freaked. I believe Penderecki’s “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima” should be on any top 500 list, which I’m sure would cause many heart attacks amongst their listeners.

    “Liszt's absolutely central role” is a good way of saying it – he helped bridge the gap between the classical era and modern, meeting and working with composers on both extremes.

    Thanks for reading my little essay.
    Trent P. McDonald

  7. #7
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    Re: Some Random Thoughts on Franz Liszt (slightly OT)

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond62 View Post
    About Liszt. I've read a biography. I listened to his music, mainly pianoworks.
    Completely depending on who performed it, you can love it or hate it. It needs careful planning and phrasing. Overall idea: I love it. When it comes to play it myself, I hate it. My hands were not that big to make all necessary chords, sequences of octaves. But the more "easy" pieces were part of my repertoire.

    In the middle-ages, the time I only had Cubasis 3.0/4.0 and Mozart Notation Program, somebody asked me to look for Hexameron. I managed to get it. Not only the score from the local library but also some other sources. Both sources were a bit obscure in the handwriting and printing of notes. So after having studied the piece I made my own and from that I made the following Mp3-files:

    Hexameron


    I invite you to do a search on Google for Hexameron and you will find a lot of info. It is composed by Liszt, Herz, Thalberg, Pixis, Czerny and Chopin. It was also one of the favorites Liszt played during his "tours" in Europe. You can hardly find any recording of this. I found only one version and it is really crap.

    By the way, the piano is The Grand2. In due time I will convert this to the Authorized Steinway. Have fun with this very pompous piece of music,

    Raymond
    {I promised the initiator of this project Danny Newman(UK) to mention his name every time I present Hexameron to the outer world - he found the first draft of the variation nr.6 made by Chopin}
    Hi Raymond – thanks for your comments.

    I have read about Hexameron but have never heard it. I only have time to sample a little of it now but I like what I’ve heard. I will definitely come back and listen to all of it later. Thanks for posting this.
    Trent P. McDonald

  8. #8

    Re: Some Random Thoughts on Franz Liszt (slightly OT)

    Thanks a lot for sharing this, Trent!

    Looking back, Liszt was a much bigger influence on me than for instance Chopin (whom I value much higher as a piano composer) because of ... hard to put in words ... what I felt was his "Carpe Diem" attitude - the desire to explore everything life has to offer, from barbaric and "pop" to sophisticated, while constantly growing and enjoying every minute of it - that was the feeling his music somehow conveyed to me. Being exposed to his work, I feel, makes me want to live and laugh and create.

    (perhaps that was a bit pathetic but I hope the point was made )

    TL;DR: Listz rawkz!!

  9. #9
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    Re: Some Random Thoughts on Franz Liszt (slightly OT)

    Quote Originally Posted by Aziraphal View Post
    Thanks a lot for sharing this, Trent!

    Looking back, Liszt was a much bigger influence on me than for instance Chopin (whom I value much higher as a piano composer) because of ... hard to put in words ... what I felt was his "Carpe Diem" attitude - the desire to explore everything life has to offer, from barbaric and "pop" to sophisticated, while constantly growing and enjoying every minute of it - that was the feeling his music somehow conveyed to me. Being exposed to his work, I feel, makes me want to live and laugh and create.

    (perhaps that was a bit pathetic but I hope the point was made )

    TL;DR: Listz rawkz!!
    Thanks or taking the time to read this, Aziraphal. Occasionally attitude and philosophy towards music are just as important as the music itself.
    Trent P. McDonald

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