Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

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Whispers And Laments20110729

Donald Macleod focuses on the music of Liszt's final years.

There was a shift in Liszt's musical style in the last years of his life, from virtuosic exuberance to dissonance, silence and abandoned endings.

During this time there was a rapprochement between the composer and his daughter Cosima, from whom Liszt had been estranged over her affair with Wagner.

Donald Macleod explores the music of Liszt's final years, including pieces written in response to his premonition of Wagner's death, and a piece written shortly before Liszt's own death on a visit to Cosima in Bayreuth in 1885.

0120070312

With Donald Macleod.

The first biography of Franz Liszt appeared when he was only 23, yet even in old age the superstar pianist-composer refused to write his own memoir.

Nevertheless, more than 35,000 of his letters to musicians, royalty, friends and loved ones have survived, revealing the incredible story of his life in his own words.

Preludio (Etudes d'execution transcendante)

Jeno Jando (piano)

Ave verum corpus

BBC Singers

Peter Dijkstra (conductor)

Sonata in B minor

George-Emmanuel Lazaridis (piano)

Am grabe Richard Wagners

Daniel Hyde (organ)

Schubert arr Liszt: Der Müller und der Bach

Arcadi Volodos (piano).

01A Rock Star in the Country20150105

Donald Macleod focuses on Liszt's 1848 move to Weimar with his mistress Carolyne.

Donald Macleod presents a rare opportunity to hear all 13 of Liszt's symphonic poems. Today: the composer moves to Weimar with his mistress Carolyne.

In 1848, as revolution raged across Europe, Franz Liszt made the decision to walk away from his life as the most scandalous and brilliant piano virtuoso in the world - and settle down in the provincial German city of Weimar. Over the next twelve years he would forge a reputation as one of the most original composers of the Romantic Era - inventing a genre of composition that became known as the 'symphonic poem'. Liszt's new form of orchestral piece spun poetic or literary fables in music, evoking moods and images in its themes and harmonies, depicting heroes and villains, dramas and triumphs - a radical departure from the symphonic ideal of Beethoven and Brahms. This week, Donald Macleod presents a unique opportunity to hear all twelve of the symphonic poems Liszt created in Weimar - plus his final, valedictory symphonic poem, composed many years later, just before his own death.

We begin with Liszt's move to Weimar in 1848, accompanied by his beloved mistress Princess Carolyne von Sayn-Wittgenstein, a Russian aristocrat. With Carolyne still married to her Russian prince, the pair courted scandal by openly living 'in sin' at their spectacular Weimar residence, the Altenberg. Meanwhile, Liszt was busily composing what would ultimately prove his most popular symphonic poem, "Les Préludes", inspired by words by Alphonse de Lamartine.

Les Préludes

West-Eastern Divan Orchestra / Daniel Barenboim

Tasso: Lamento e Trionfo

Berlin Philharmonic / Herbert von Karajan

Prometheus

London Philharmonic Orchestra / Georg Solti.

01Liszt The Virtuoso20080623

Donald Macleod surveys the range of Liszt's piano music, from the Second Hungarian Rhapsody to the work which Wagner called 'great, lovable, deep, and noble' - the Sonata in B minor.

Preludio No 1 in (Douze etudes d'execution transcendante, S139)

Douze etudes d'execution transcendante, S139 (No 10 in F minor; No 5 in B flat; No 8 in C minor)

Boris Berezovsky (piano)

Hungarian Rhapsody No 2 in C sharp minor, S244

Roberto Szidon (piano)

Sonata in B minor for piano, S178

Alfred Brendel (piano).

01Living Like A Lord20110725

Donald Macleod discusses Liszt's heyday as a touring virtuoso.

Lisztomania swept Europe in the early 1840s - wherever he performed his reception was hysterical.

It all began in Berlin, with a sensational series of concerts in the Singakademie.

The only performer in his concerts, he invented the modern recital, and became a huge star.

When he left Berlin he was driven out of the city in a coach drawn by six white horses, in a stately procession, as if a reigning monarch were taking leave of his people.

Donald Macleod looks at Liszt's heyday as a touring virtuoso.

02Death And Demons20110726

Donald Macleod on the influences on Liszt's life that led to his becoming a virtuoso.

Liszt's father Adam took charge of his son's career once his remarkable talent had become obvious, finding teachers for him and arranging concerts.

He died suddenly when Liszt was still a teenager, and a preoccupation with death appears in the young composer's music from here on in.

Seeing the phenomenal Paganini perform in 1830 was a blinding flash of revelation, and he set out to become the Paganini of the piano.

With Donald Macleod.

02Liszt The Traveller20080624

Donald Macleod looks at the period beginning in 1835 when Liszt eloped with his pregnant mistress, the countess Marie d'Agoult - the beginning of a restless time the composer later immortalised in the first two volumes of his Annees de pelerinage.

Pastorale No 3 (Annees de pelerinage - premiere annee, S160); Annees de pelerinage - Nos 2, 4 and 9

Alfred Brendel (piano)

Vallee d'Obermann (Annees de pelerinage - premiere annee: Suisse, S160)

Lazar Berman (piano)

Gondoliera (Venezia e Napoli - supplement to Annees de pelerinage - deuxieme annee, S162); Apres une lecture du Dante (Fantasia quasi Sonata - Annees de pelerinage - deuxieme annee: Italie, S160)

Jeno Jando (piano).

02Liszt's Letters20070313

Donald Macleod continues his survey of Liszt's life, told in the composer's own words.

A homage to Liszt's virtuoso idol Paganini and a fiery symphony inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy.

La Campanella (Grandes Etudes de Paganini)

Jorge Bolet (piano)

Dante Symphony

Berlin Philharmonic

Daniel Barenboim (conductor).

02Trailblazer On The Podium20150106

Donald Macleod focuses on how Liszt protected his friend Wagner as he fled arrest.

Donald Macleod explores Liszt's symphonic poems. Now established in Weimar, Liszt protects his friend Wagner as he flees arrest.

In 1848, as revolution raged across Europe, Franz Liszt made the decision to walk away from his life as the most scandalous and brilliant piano virtuoso in the world - and settle down in the provincial German city of Weimar. Over the next twelve years he would forge a reputation as one of the most original composers of the Romantic Era - inventing a genre of composition that became known as the 'symphonic poem'. Liszt's new form of orchestral piece spun poetic or literary fables in music, evoking moods and images in its themes and harmonies, depicting heroes and villains, dramas and triumphs - a radical departure from the symphonic ideal of Beethoven and Brahms. This week, Donald Macleod presents a unique opportunity to hear all twelve of the symphonic poems Liszt created in Weimar - plus his final, valedictory symphonic poem, composed many years later, just before his own death.

As Liszt began to establish a reputation as a composer in Weimar, he also began to cultivate a reputation as an innovative and dynamic conductor. Liszt was diverted from his musical work by the travails of his friend Richard Wagner, who was fleeing arrest after inciting revolution in Dresden. Donald Macleod introduces the symphonic poems Mazeppa and Heroïde Funebre - both rarely played in the concert hall - as well as Liszt's take on the Orpheus myth.

Six Grandes Etudes De Paganini: no.3 "La Campanella"

Lang Lang (piano)

Héroïde Funèbre

Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Kurt Masur

Mazeppa

Vienna Philharmonic / Christoph Eschenbach

Orpheus, arr. Camille Saint-Saëns for piano trio

Trio Di Parma.

03Liszt The Re-composer20080625

Donald Macleod investigages why Liszt spent so much time re-arranging existing music - by composers such as Bach, Schubert and Mozart - instead of writing more of his own.

Schubert: Der sturmische Morgen (Winterreise - transcr for solo piano by Liszt, S561)

Anastasia Voltchok (piano)

Bach: Prelude in A minor, BWV 543 No 1 (Six Organ Preludes and Fugues - transcr for solo piano by Liszt, S462)

Artur Pizarro (piano)

Schubert: Der Lindenbaum (Winterreise - transcr for solo piano by Liszt, S561)

Reminiscences de Don Juan, S418 (1841)

Earl Wild (piano)

Mazeppa (Douze etudes d'execution transcendante, S139)

Claudio Arrau (piano)

Mazeppa

Budapest Symphony Orchestra

Arpad Joo (conductor).

03Liszt's Letters20070314

More tales from Liszt's travels, including an embarrassing mid-concert scuffle with a piano tuner, and compliments from the King on a brand new creation: the symphonic poem.

Excelsior!

Daniel Hyde (organ)

Piano Concerto No 1

Louis Lortie (piano)

Residentie Orchestra The Hague

George Pehlivanian (conductor)

Pater Noster I

BBC Singers

Peter Dijkstra (conductor)

Tasso

Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra

Karl Anton Rickenbacher (conductor).

03Memories Of Home20150107

Donald Macleod introduces a paean to Liszt's Hungarian homeland and a pastoral idyll.

Donald Macleod presents a rare opportunity to hear all 13 of Liszt's symphonic poems. Today: a paean to the composer's Hungarian homeland, and a pastoral idyll.

In 1848, as revolution raged across Europe, Franz Liszt made the decision to walk away from his life as the most scandalous and brilliant piano virtuoso in the world - and settle down in the provincial German city of Weimar. Over the next twelve years he would forge a reputation as one of the most original composers of the Romantic Era - inventing a genre of composition that became known as the 'symphonic poem'. Liszt's new form of orchestral piece spun poetic or literary fables in music, evoking moods and images in its themes and harmonies, depicting heroes and villains, dramas and triumphs - a radical departure from the symphonic ideal of Beethoven and Brahms. This week, Donald Macleod presents a unique opportunity to hear all twelve of the symphonic poems Liszt created in Weimar - plus his final, valedictory symphonic poem, composed many years later, just before his own death.

Liszt's symphonic poems - spectacular, orchestral canvases that told a story in music - revolutionised the way music was conceptualised in the mid-19th century. In 1854, with the success of his first years in Weimar still ringing in his ears, the composer sat down to put the finishing touches to his first published volume of symphonic poems. It gave him the opportunity to revise and polish his very first, longest - and now least-perfomed - attempt at the form: a pastoral idyll summing up the beauty of mountain life. Donald Macleod also introduces Liszt's hymn to his native land: Hungaria.

Blume und Duft

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone), Daniel Barenboim (piano)

Hungaria

BBC Philharmonic / Gianandrea Noseda

Ce qu'on entend sur la montagne

Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra / Zoltán Kocsis.

03Self-composure (weimar, 1848-61)20110727

Donald Macleod focuses on the works Liszt wrote while he was living in Weimar.

In Weimar, Liszt experienced the most settled, productive years of his life.

The large music room of the Altenburg, Liszt's home in Weimar, provided a perfect venue for the performance of some of the pieces he now focussed on.

In all his activities there, Liszt was supported by his mistress and companion, Princess Carolyne von Sayn-Wittgenstein.

Donald Macleod looks at the music of Liszt's Weimar years, including his masterpiece, the B minor sonata.

04Liszt The Song Composer20080626

Donald Macleod explores Liszt's songs, including settings of Heine, Hugo and Petrarch.

While he is not often thought of as a composer of songs, Liszt wrote around 80 of them, some of which are considered to be among his finest works.

Vergiftet sind meine Lieder, S289 (text: Heine)

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone)

Daniel Barenboim (piano)

Die Loreley, S273 No 2 (text: Heine)

Hildegard Behrens (soprano)

Cord Garben (piano)

Ich mochte hingehn, S296 (text: Herwegh)

Four settings of Victor Hugo: S'il est un charmant gazon, S284; Enfant, si j'etais roi, S283; Comment, disaient-ils, S276; Oh! quand je dors, S282

Brigitte Fassbaender (soprano)

Irwin Gage (piano)

Tre sonnetti di Petrarca, S270: Pace non trovo; Benedetto sia il giorno; I vidi in terra angelici costumi

Thomas Quasthoff (baritone)

Justus Zeyen (piano).

04Liszt's Letters20070315

Donald Macleod delves into more of Liszt's writings, including the changing fortunes of his popularity as a composer and a musical premonition of Wagner's death in Venice.

Ave Maria I

Edward Goater (tenor)

BBC Singers

Peter Dijkstra (conductor)

Totentanz (Danse macabre)

Krystian Zimerman (piano)

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Seiji Ozawa (conductor)

Andante maestoso

Daniel Hyde (organ)

Mephistopheles (A Faust Symphony)

Orchestra of the Ferenc Liszt Academy

András Ligeti (conductor)

La lugubre gondola

Thomas Hitzlberger (piano).

04Mystic (rome)20110728

Donald Macleod explores the music of Liszt's years in Rome.

Liszt grew old in Rome.

He followed his mistress Carolyne there, in the hope of marrying her, but the ceremony was prevented in a complex story of intrigue and corruption.

After a retreat in a monastery on the slopes of Monte Mario, the composer chose to enter the lower orders of the Catholic priesthood, which one friend described as 'an act of spiritual suicide'.

Donald Macleod explores the music Liszt wrote in Rome while he grappled with several personal crises.

04The Death Of Daniel Liszt20150108

Donald Macleod explores the tragic death of Liszt's son Daniel.

Donald Macleod explores Liszt's symphonic poems. Today: the composer struggles to come to terms with the tragic death of his son Daniel.

In 1848, as revolution raged across Europe, Franz Liszt made the decision to walk away from his life as the most scandalous and brilliant piano virtuoso in the world - and settle down in the small German town of Weimar. Over the next twelve years he would forge a reputation as one of the most original musical creators of the Romantic Era - inventing a new genre of composition that became known as the 'symphonic poem'. Liszt's new form of orchestral piece spun poetic or literary fables in music, evoking moods and images in its themes and harmonies, depicting heroes and villains, dramas and triumphs - a radical departure from the symphonic ideal of Beethoven and Brahms. This week, Donald Macleod presents a unique opportunity to hear all twelve of the symphonic poems Liszt created in Weimar - plus his final, valedictory symphonic poem, composed many years later, just before his own death.

As Liszt took stock of nearly a decade spent in Weimar, he could be justifiably proud: he had shed his reputation as a brilliant pianistic show-pony and instead shown his vast talent as a composer, creating some of his most revered works. But his personal life was a mess. He struggled to gain sanction from the Catholic church to wed his beloved Carolyne, and then his beloved son Daniel died suddenly at the age of only 20. Donald Macleod explored the tragic circumstances of an event that Liszt said changed him for ever.

Festklänge

BBC Philharmonic / Gianandrea Noseda

Hunnenschlacht (arr Liszt for two pianos)

Georgia Mangos, Louise Mangos (pianos)

Hamlet

Lasst mich ruhen

Hermann Prey (baritone), Alexis Weissenberg (piano).

05From the Cradle to the Grave20150109

Donald Macleod explores the thorny circumstances of Liszt's departure from Weimar.

Donald Macleod presents a rare opportunity to hear all 13 of Liszt's symphonic poems. Today: the composer leaves Weimar and the symphonic poem behind - or so it seems...

In 1848, as revolution raged across Europe, Franz Liszt made the decision to walk away from his life as the most scandalous and brilliant piano virtuoso in the world - and settle down in the provincial German city of Weimar. Over the next twelve years he would forge a reputation as one of the most original composers of the Romantic Era - inventing a genre of composition that became known as the 'symphonic poem'. Liszt's new form of orchestral piece spun poetic or literary fables in music, evoking moods and images in its themes and harmonies, depicting heroes and villains, dramas and triumphs - a radical departure from the symphonic ideal of Beethoven and Brahms. This week, Donald Macleod presents a unique opportunity to hear all twelve of the symphonic poems Liszt created in Weimar - plus his final, valedictory symphonic poem, composed many years later, just before his own death.

After a decade crafting a new life for himself in Weimar, it was time for Liszt to leave the city and the symphonic poem behind...or so he thought. Donald Macleod explores the thorny circumstances of Liszt's departure from Weimar - and one poignant, valedictory symphonic poem, composed many years later, just a few years before the composer's death in 1886.

Hungarian Rhapsody no.2 (arr. Liszt for orchestra)

Boston Pops Orchestra / Arthur Fielder

Die Ideale

Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Kurt Masur

Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe

BBC Scottish SO / Ilan Volkov.

05 LASTLiszt The Visionary20080627

Donald Macleod explores the very modern, forward-looking works of Liszt's final decade.

Am Grabe Richard Wagners, S202

Kronos Quartet

Aki Takahashi (piano)

Marcella DeCray (harp)

Bagatelle sans tonalite, S216a

Valse oubliee No 1, S215

Leslie Howard (piano)

Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe (Symphonic Poem No 13), S107

Leipzig Gewandhausorchester

Kurt Masur (conductor)

Les jeux d'eau a la Villa d'Este (Annees de pelerinage, troisieme annee, S163)

Alfred Brendel (piano)

La lugubre gondola, S134

Steven Isserlis (cello)

Stephen Hough (piano)

Nuages Gris, S199; Schlaflos! Frage und Antwort, S203; Unstern! Sinistre, disastro, S208

Paul Lewis (piano)

Go not, happy day, S335 (Text: Tennyson)

Thomas Hampson (baritone)

Geoffrey Parsons (piano).

05 LASTLiszt's Letters20070316

Donald Macleod looks at Liszt's spiritual side, from his obsession with legends of good versus evil, to his minor orders in the church which led the Hungarian composer to be labelled 'half gypsy, half priest'.

Mephisto Waltz No 1

Jorge Bolet (piano)

Via Crucis: Les 14 stations de la croix

Carolyn Foulkes, Olivia Robinson (sopranos)

Lynette Alcántara (mezzo-soprano)

Edward Goater (tenor)

Edward Price (baritone)

Charles Gibbs (bass)

BBC Singers

Peter Dijkstra (conductor).