Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
April 9
Can You Guess?
The pop music group ABBA was fromed by musicians from a northern European country.  Can You Guess what country they were from?

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Franz Liszt' Music
April 9, 1870 Franz Liszt took up a piano concerto composed by Edvard Grieg and played it at sight.  He said that he loved the work, which thrilled Grieg.  Franz (sometimes called Ferenc) Liszt was born October 22, 1811, in Raiding, Hungary.  He was a brilliantly innovative composer and a virtuoso pianist who is largely responsible for bringing works of the master composers to the average person before the invention of recording devices through his piano transcriptions.
Liszt's talent was recognized at a very early age.  By the age of 3 he was already reading multiple staves of music at once.  He was evidently so involved in music that he never learned to speak his native language, Hungarian.  Later in life he expressed deep sadness at this.  At age 11 he went to Vienna to study!  While in Vienna Liszt met Schubert and Beethoven. He took piano lessons from Czerny and composition lessons from Salieri. Two years later his family left Vienna for Paris. In Paris Liszt became widely acclaimed as a brilliant pianist.  At the age of 19, Liszt attended a concert by Paganini, and was so impressed with his prowess on the violin that he vowed to become Paganini's equal on the piano.  Liszt withdrew from the concert stage for several years to practice, which he did from eight to twelve hours a day.  He emerged from this period as the premier pianist of his time.

It is said that Chopin wished that he could play his own etudes as well as Liszt did, and Brahms, "Whoever has not heard Liszt cannot speak of piano playing."

To display his own skill, Liszt composed his
Transcendental Etudes and wrote piano transcriptions of Paganini's violin pieces. 'My piano,' he wrote, 'is my very self. . . .Ten fingers have the power to reproduce the harmonies which are created by hundreds of performers.'  In starting to transcribe for piano pieces originally written for an orchestra, Liszt made it affordable for common people to hear the music of the master composers.

But Liszt also wanted to be known as a serious composer. At age thirty-six, he left his virtuoso piano career, which had forced him to travel throughout Europe, virtuoso to become court conductor in Weimar.  While there he composed many orchestral pieces and conducted works by such contemporaries as Berlioz, Schumann, and Wagner. His orchestral works were precursors of those by Debussey and Wagner.  Liszt invented the "tone poem," or "symphonic poem."  This is an orchestral composition written in one movement, which is based on a literary or pictorial idea.

Liszt contributed greatly to the development of future composers and performers.  He taught hundreds of gifted pianists without charge and provided musical and financial support for Richard Wagner. He also wrote music criticism and books on Chopin and on Gypsy music. 

Strikingly handsome in his youth, with long, flowing hair, it is said that women swooned at his recitals . . . and when he was at a social engagement it is said that he could play almost anything at first sight with depth and expression while still continuing to chat with the women who surrounded the piano.

Among his works are Liebestraume No. 3 ("Dreams of Love") in Ab Major, Mephisto Waltz No. 1, the Dante Symphony, the Faust Symphony, twelve symphonic poems, two piano concertos and nineteen Hungarian Rhapsodies.

Franz Liszt died  in Bayreuth, July 31, 1886.

1887 - Florence Beatrice Smith Price, US composer, was born.

1889 - Efrem Zimbalist,  Russian-American violinist, was born. Married to Mary Louise Curtis Bok (Curtis Publishing, Saturday Evening Post) who founded Curtis Institute. of Music in Philadelphia.

1919 - Noah Greenberg, US conductor and founder of the New York Pro Musica Antiqua, was born.

1932 - Carl Perkins, Rockabilly singer songwriter and guitarist, was born.

1933 - Sigfrid Karg-Elert, German composer and organist, died.

1938 - US premiere of Dimitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5. by the NBC Symphony.

1942 - Premiere of  Stravinsky's Circus Polka by the Barnum & Bailey Circus band.

1948 - St. Louis Blues March, by Tex Beneke, was released.

1955 - Unchained Melody by Les Baxter was released.

1971 - "For All We Know"  by the Carpenters was released.

1977 - "Dancing Queen", by Abba, was released.

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