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The Bicentenary of Franz Liszt October 22, 2011

Posted by Alan Yu in Classical, Music.
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Two hundred years ago today, Liszt Ferenc, better known to us as Franz Liszt, was born to Marie Anna Lager and Ádám Liszt in the Kingdom of Hungary.  In the service of Prince Esterházy, his father played a number of instruments and counted Haydn, Hummel and Beethoven as personal acquaintances.

As talented musicians are wont to do, Liszt started playing the piano early, and appeared in concerts at age 9.  He was to develop friendships with leading musicians of his time, including Berlioz, Paganini, Hans von Bulow and Wagner, who influenced him and were influenced by him.  For example, Paganini’s superb skills on the violin spurred Liszt on to become a virtuoso piano player.

For a good part of his life, Liszt travelled frequently and more or less divided his time among Rome, Weimar and Budapest, playing music and directing musical events.  His biggest legacy is his compositions, which can be divided into two types: transcriptions of works by other composers and those of his own creation.

Although having been vaguely aware of his piano works for a long time, I am a relative newcomer to Liszt’s music, and certainly not qualified to discuss it in any detail.  But I do know this much: his piano music can be technically daunting, and he practically invented the symphonic poem format.

As I tried to find out more, I came across some interesting sources.  As always, the first stop for any information is Wikipedia, which has a long entry on him:


From there you can navigate to a page which contains a full list of his compositions:


Allmusic is a good source of information about popular music for me, but it seems to be lacking in classical music.  Nevertheless, its entry on Liszt is a good starting point for further investigation:


Naxos, the pioneer of affordable classical music CDs, has a long list of items on its catalogue with recordings of Liszt’s music:


I recently stumbled upon an excellent web site, apparently maintained by author Rich DiSilvio:


On this site, not only are there detailed sections with commentary on his biography and his role in the development of music, there is also has a list of recommended recordings and bibliography.  What I find most fascinating is its list of links to other sites with information relevant to the composer:


Of course, it’s easy to find a list of videos of Liszt’s music on Youtube.  With the help of Toobbox.com, I have compiled a list of my own personal playlist of Youtube videos:


And to whet your appetite further, you can create your own radio channel of music similar to that of LIszt on last.fm:


But if you insist on generating a list of videos on Youtube, here it is:


If you are anywhere in Indiana from October 27th to November 13th, you may want to attend one of the concerts the Indiana University is putting on to celebrate Liszt’s 200th birthday:


This is by no means an exhaustive list of sources.  I’m sure you will come across a lot of other sites with interesting information.  If you find one, drop me a line and let me know.