Monday, March 21, 2016

March Composer of the Month: Franz Liszt

Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was truly the premier music superstar of his time. Known for his amazing technical ability and showmanship, Liszt rose to rock star like fame during the Romantic period. He became known for writing and performing piano pieces more difficult and showy than had ever been composed before, and he was the first pianist to perform solo recitals from memory.

Fame and fortune followed Liszt, but like many celebrities, Liszt lived a life of scandal. He toured and performed all over Europe beginning at age 12, and he was inspired by the great violinist, Niccolo Paganini. Liszt was also known for his “transcriptions” (transforming works originally written for other instruments into piano pieces.) In his later years, Liszt continued composing and took on students of his own. He studied composing very seriously and influenced many composers who came after him.

Liszt's best known pieces include his Transcendental Etudes, Sonatina in B Minor, Liebestraume, La Campanella, and Un Sospiro.

Here are two of my favorite of Liszt's more than 1,000 compositions for piano, La Campanella and Un Sospiro. Enjoy!