Franz Liszt – A Master of Piano Technique
When it comes to piano repertoire, it’s difficult to narrow down a favorite and it could be argued that it is down right impossible. However, for the sake of finding out which pieces are at the top of everyone’s piano list, I wanted to begin a weekly post to find out our most cherished pieces to play. This week we begin with the one and only Franz Liszt. He was a champion of virtuosic technique unparalleled to this day. He set the standard for mastery of piano technique, memorizing scores and sheer bravado at the piano. He loved the stage and loved even more knowing that no other can outperform him. I highly recommend reading a good biography on Liszt. You will not be disappointed and it will certainly give you a greater appreciation for his music.
For those that have attempted any of Liszt’s pieces, you already know that you have to be in top form with your piano technique in order to make it sound anywhere near acceptable. His music is not for the faint of heart and you better expect a workout when approaching his music. Among his most famous pieces, there is the Hungarian Rhapsody No.2, Liebestraum consolation no.3, Trans. Etude no.1,2,4,6,10, Romance in e minor and La Campanella. Although all of these pieces are masterpieces in the own right, my personal favorite is La Campanella. It is impossibly difficult to play but sounds almost comical.
La campanella (Italian: the little bell) is a nickname given to the third of Franz Liszt’s six Grandes études de Paganini. It is in the key of G-sharp minor. Its melody comes from the final movement of Niccolò Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, where the tune was reinforced by a little handbell. When you listen to it, you can’t help but think, “this shouldn’t be too bad”, until you actually try it and remember how humbling Liszt is.
Here is an exceptional performance of this piece by Evgeny Kissin.