Trois études de concert
, No. 3: Un sospiro
Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 9 Track 20-24
Whenever I hear mention of Franz Liszt I think of the poem The New Jules Verne
in which Joesph Brodsky
described a ship as having a "Franz Liszt" profile.
I would like to dislike Maestro Liszt. After listening to Chopin, Liszt's personality seems overblown. However, of the composers that most heavily influenced his formative years--Berlioz, Paganini, and Chopin--it is Chopin, an opposite of Liszt, that may have saved Liszt from being little more than unhealthy fluff. And, unlike many talented pianists today, Liszt played Chopin's tunes, as Chopin played them, not as an end but as a revelation of the possibility of writing more and different music.
As Heather points out in her fantastic fictional breakfast scene
(thanks to Robert Gable
for the link), many a modern pianist can play Chopin's music really well
and yet, unlike Liszt, they seem to feel no inspiration to compose something new. Perhaps it is because the piano, as a genre, is no longer young as it was under Franz's fingers. And, perhaps, being a composer in our modern times is a little confusing
. But what impresses me about Liszt is not his virtuosity but his willingness to let the content of his music decide the form. And this approach, so influential in the music to come after him, is, to my ears, a part of his attitude toward music as a constant stream of ideas rather than a collection of immovable masterpieces to be admired from a distance.