All his life Frederic List tried to bring his technical apparatus to the highest degree of perfection. However, this brilliant Hungarian pianist, plunging his contemporaries into shock with his virtuosity and the latest pianistic techniques, always stressed that he needed the technique not for glory - he considered it only a means by which one could perform a musical work in all its splendor, as he intended his artist. That is why Liszt was so reverent about the etudes, of which there are 55 in his creative legacy - he wrote them throughout his entire creative journey.
History of creation
For the first time about writing etudes F. List was thinking back in 1826 during the second concert trip to Paris. He planned that he would create one etude in the form of 48 exercises in all major and minor keys. However, this idea was not destined to come true - Liszt composed only 12 exercises. They were not yet independent and were written on the basis of etudes op. 740 of his mentor K. Cerny. The young composer dedicated the cycle of these exercises to Mademoiselle Lydia Garella, whom he met in Marseille on the way to the French capital, where he had to linger for several days. Young people spent a lot of time together and often played music in four hands. Historians believe that Liszt’s sympathy for Garella cannot be called love, and therefore this dedication is explained by an ordinary friendly gesture.
12 years later, in 1838, Liszt returns to his first etudes and, based on them, writes new ones. From simple technical exercises, he creates quite difficult detailed pieces, full of new techniques of virtuosity. Etudes in this edition are called "Big." But the maestro did not stop there and in 1851 reworked them again. This time, Liszt retained the look of etudes and removed some virtuoso fragments that seemed to him superfluous. But the lightweight presentation did not make his compositions simpler to be performed - the composer managed to preserve, and in some places greatly strengthen the virtuoso effect. The works in this edition were called "Etudes of Transcendental Performance", many of them received program titles. Both editions are devoted to Liszt K. Cherni’s teacher.
Another cycle of Liszt’s etudes is connected with his interest in the game of Niccolò Paganini, which he first heard in 1831. He was so delighted with the perfect technique of the Italian violinist that he decided to recreate the violin piano playing techniques. The first edition of the Great Paganini Etudes, based on caprices, appeared in 1838, the final Liszt was made only in 1851. The collection includes 6 works, and his composer dedicated Clara Schumann.
In addition to the named cycles, Liszt also wrote concert etudes with program titles (“Complaint”, “Ease”, “Sigh”, “Dance of the Dwarfs”, “Forest Noise”), as well as the technical “Salon Piece”, which was created by the composer for the grandiose pedagogical Labor F. Fetis and I. Mosheles "Method methods for piano", later processed into a study entitled "In anger." The final work in this genre is "Technical exercises", which were published in 1886 after the composer's death.
- At the beginning of Liszt’s studies, K. Cherni discovered the complete absence of any school in him and actively began to eliminate this shortcoming, regularly forcing him to play various exercises for the development of technology. The young pianist did not like this, and he constantly complained to his father that the teacher was exhausting him with scales and especially etudes, but he did not find support from him. Adam Liszt was completely on the side of Cherni, and Ferenc had to accept the methods of his mentor.
- In the literature of the XIX century, many contemporaries were remembered about Liszt's concerts. If you believe them, during the composer’s performance of his etudes, the ladies present in the hall fainted, ecstatic from his phenomenal virtuosity.
- Many pianists of the XIX-XX centuries performed sheet works with improvisational changes of the text. And this tendency appeared due to Liszt himself, who liked to freely use the text of musical works, and allowed his students to do this with his own creations. Such "co-authors" of Liszt include A. Siloti, I. Paderevsky and F. Busoni. Among the sheet recordings of the latter, Campanella is considered one of the best - it is performed by Busoni in her editorial office, filling her with endless energy and a powerful rhythm.
- Liszt tried to make his lessons in playing the piano fascinating and significant in content, and he discussed various issues of science, art and even philosophy with his students. In the book A. Boissier “The Lessons of Liszt” there is a description of his occupation with a student, who could not correctly perform the etude of Moscheles. In order to adjust her to the desired wave and to awaken a poetic feeling in her, Liszt read her an ode to V. Hugo.
- One of the main interpreters of Liszt’s music is F. Busoni. He often gave concerts, the program of which consisted exclusively of sheet works. Surprisingly, in the last years of his life, the famous pianist practically did not resort to forte, who was so fond of Liszt, and all his compositions were played with restraint in terms of dynamics. Because of this, critics at that time often called him an uninteresting and boring performer, and some admired his playing style. Among the latter was listed G. Neuhaus.
- When creating the third edition of "Etudes of Transcendental Execution", two plays No. 2 and No. 10 were left without a programmatic subtitle. F. Busoni later came up with his own name - Fusees for No. 2 and Appassionata for No. 10, but today they are very rarely used. The headlines proposed by the German publisher G. Henle Verlag. Are more common in modern literature. The publishers suggested that the etudes should be called according to the tempo specified by the composer - Molto vivace (# 2) and Allegro agitato molto (# 10).
- As already mentioned, Liszt initially conceived in his sketches to cover all the major and minor keys, but he stopped half way down. This idea was decided to complete by the Russian composer S. Lyapunov. At the end of the 19th century, he wrote his 12 transcendental etudes, in which he continued the logic of following tonalities - from the very moment on which the greatest Hungarian genius half a century ago had settled. Lyapunov's compositions did not arouse any interest among performers for a long time, but in recent years they have begun to sound more and more often in concert halls.
- Transcendental etudes are in the creative heritage of British composers. Thus, the well-known pianist and music critic Kaihosru Shapurdzhi Sorabjee wrote 100 piano pieces from 1940-1944, combining them with such a title. But Brian Fernyhou in 1982-1985. He created transcendental etudes for voice and a whole ensemble of instruments - flute, oboe, harpsichord and cello.
- Etudes Liszt was conceived by them as a cycle, he did not assume their holistic execution. One of the first who dared to play the concert completely two cycles of his etudes (Transcendental and Paganini), was F. Busoni. Today you can count on one hand those performers who take the risk for such a concert. And all because it is very difficult to perform everything at once, since it requires considerable strength and endurance from the pianist.
- In the literature, the name Liszt’s “Transcendental Etudes” is very often encountered, but theorists insist that it is incorrect, since it changes the meaning originally laid down in the name by the composer. The fact is that Liszt himself titled his compositions in a different way - "Etudes of Transcendental Performance", thereby focusing not on the work itself, but on its playing by a pianist.
- Despite the fact that Liszt admired Paganini’s play and even based on his works he created his own etudes, the composers almost didn’t communicate with each other. They were familiar, often met in Parisian houses, but did not seek to make friendship. Historians believe that the reason for this was too different views of geniuses on art.
Technical tasks and musical content
F. Liszt created his own classification of technical difficulties: there are 4 types of them - octaves and chords, tremolo, double notes, and also scales and arpeggios. All of them are represented in his etudes. Moreover, the composer harmoniously combines a variety of techniques and types of technology in one composition, making of it the most difficult virtuoso concert work. For example, in Etude No. 1 C-dur, he freely replaces gamma-like passages with wide arpeggios, and in Etude No. 4 d-moll combines double notes and broken arpeggios.
All sheet etudes are diverse in content. Some of the pieces even have links to literary sources or historical events.
"Etudes of transcendent execution"
Etude No. 3 (F-dur), entitled "Landscape," according to Liszt’s biographers, was created under the impression of the inspirational lyrical ode by V. Hugo. The poem "Mazepa" by the same outstanding French playwright inspired the composer to write Etude No. 4 (d-moll), which bears the same name. Etude No. 5 “Wandering Lights” (B-dur) recreates fantastic bizarre images, characteristic not only for Liszt himself, but for the art of romanticism in general. Researchers of the legendary maestro believe that in study No. 6 “Vision” (g-moll) Liszt tried to depict the burial scene of the emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, in No. 7 “Heroic” (Es-dur) to embody the bright heroic images he already addressed in its grandiose symphonic poems, and in No. 8 “Wild Hunt” (c-moll) capture the ancient Germanic myth of hunters. The connection with poetic images is also present in No. 9 “Remembrance” (As-dur), No. 11 “Evening Harmony” (Des-dur) and No. 12 “Metel” (b-moll).
Etude number 7 (listen)
"Great etudes on Paganini"
Plays in this cycle do not have program titles. As a basis for thematic material of these studies, Liszt chose some caprices from the famous cycle of N. Paganini for violin solo ("24 Capricci per il violino solo, dedicati agli artisti"). He settled on No. 1, No. 5-6, No. 9, No. 17, No. 24, and also used the rondo theme from the Paganini Violin Concerto No. 2 (h-moll).
Study number 6 (listen)
Use in the cinema
Etudes F. Liszt is not so popular among film directors, in contrast, for example, from his rhapsody. Nevertheless, some of them still sound in films of different years.
|№ 4||"Expromt", 1991|
|"Forest Noise"||"Ruth Orkin: shots from life", 1996|
|№ 12||Mayerling, 2010|
|№ 39 "Sigh"||Green Hornet, 2011|
|Three concert etudes||"Nobuyuki Tsuji at Carnegie Hall", 2012|
|№ 4||"Goodbye Debussy", 2013|
|№ 3||"Neil Cantabile", 2014, 6 series|
|№ 12||"In Balance", 2015|
|№ 1||"Protecting Vulnerable Adults", 2017|
It would not be an exaggeration to say that after the appearance of Franz Liszt’s etudes, the history of this genre was divided into “before” and “after”. The famous composer managed to create a standard of a fundamentally new genre - a concert etude with highly artistic images and deep philosophical meanings, which took one of the main places in the nineteenth-century genre system.