Liszt - Hungarian Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra


Franz Liszt (October 22, 1811 July 31, 1886) was a Hungarian composer, virtuoso pianist and teacher. He was also the father-in-law of Richard Wagner. Liszt became renowned throughout Europe during the 19th century for his great skill as a performer. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age and perhaps the greatest pianist of all time. He was also an important and influential composer, a notable piano teacher, a conductor who contributed significantly to the modern development of the art, and a benefactor to other composers and performers, notably Richard Wagner, Hector Berlioz, Camille Saint-Saëns, Edvard Grieg and Alexander Borodin. As a composer, Liszt was one of the most prominent representatives of the "Neudeutsche Schule" ("New German School"). He left behind a huge and diverse body of work, in which he influenced his forward-looking contemporaries and anticipated some 20th-century ideas and trends. Some of his most notable contributions were the invention of the symphonic poem, developing the concept of thematic transformation as part of his experiments in musical form and making radical departures in harmony. The Hungarian Fantasy (Fantasia on Hungarian Folk melodies; Fantasie über ungarische Volksmelodien) for piano and orchestra is an arrangement of the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 14 written by Franz Liszt in 1852. The work was premiered in Pest on June 1, 1853 with Hans von Bülow as soloist and Franz Erkel conducting the orchestra. During Liszt's lifetime, his Hungarian Rhapsodies were among his most popular works. Because of this popularity, he may have been under pressure to produce versions of them for piano and orchestra. The Hungarian Fantasy is the only such work that Liszt is known to have produced. However he may, at the end of his life, have helped his student Sophie Menter with her Concerto in the Hungarian Style (1885), a work which was clearly influenced by the Hungarian Fantasy. A slow introduction by the orchestra is followed by a solo cadenza before proceeding to the main body of the work. The bold, marchlike main theme of the work, as in the version for solo piano, is the Hungarian folk song "Mohac's Field," with a long-short-short-long rhythm. While much of the piece's thematic material is derived from this song, there is also a section in A minor marked "in gypsy style" (alla zingaresse). While the Fantasy is in the same style and tradition as the Hungarian Rhapsodies, it differs structurally from them. The Rhapsodies generally present a clear succession of three traditional scales —lassan, czifra, and friska. These dances are evident in the Fantasia, particularly in the long and brilliant friska section. However, Liszt is freer and wider ranging in his combination and juxataposition of material than he usually does for this type of work. Painting by Chris Berens (Delicate, 2007)

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