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Jan. 22 2012

01/22/12 – Beethoven and Liszt

By Mark Malinowski | Posted in Toccata | 2 Comments

Franz Liszt was a great admirer of Beethoven.  He played Beethoven’s Sonatas and Concertos regularly, and did several arrangements of Beethoven’s music, including arranging the symphonies for piano solo.  One might very well ask, “why do such a thing?”  Well, we take so much for granted in our time.  In Liszt’s day, the opportunity to attend symphony concerts were rare, and were limited to those who lived in big cities.  Traveling 25 miles by carriage or on horseback to attend a concert–well, it probably wouldn’t happen.  And, while Beethoven was pretty well-known at that time, outside of the major metropolitan areas, much of his music had never been heard.  The best way to get people to hear Beethoven’s symphonies was to arrange them in a format that the music could be taken to the people.  Moving an entire orchestra was far too impractical, but smaller ensembles, or soloists could make that happen.  Liszt’s arrangements of Beethoven’s symphonies did just that–took these works to audiences that might not ever hear them.   Oh, it also provided a great vehicle for showing off great virtuosity.  Kind of an added bonus.  Listen for a Beethoven Symphony in arrangement for piano solo by Franz Liszt on this Sunday’s “Toccata” on WBJC.

Mark Malinowski

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Mark is WBJC's morning host. His full bio can be read here.

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