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Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

Franz Liszt, Hungarian-born pianist and composer, was the originator of the solo piano recital and, through his network of pupils, the most influential pianist of the 19th century.
His connections with poet Alphonse de Lamartine and the liberal pamphleteer Félicité Lamennais particularly influenced his career, as did the appearances in Paris, beginning in 1831, of the Italian violin virtuoso Nicolò Paganini.
Liszt was one of the most remarkable personalities of his time. Aside from his achievements as pianist and conductor, Liszt taught more than 400 pupils, turned out some 350 compositions, and wrote or collaborated on 8 volumes of prose, not counting his correspondence.
Liszt was one of the 19th century's harmonic innovators, especially in his use of complex, chromatic chords. His compositions for the piano inaugurated a revolutionary, difficult playing technique that gave to the piano an unprecedented variety of textures and sonorities.

Paganini Etüde No 2 Paganini Etüde No 2 (MPEG3) Paganini Etüde No 2 (RealAudio 3.0, 16 kbps)

Liszt's Paganini Etudes were inspired by the visit of Paganini to Paris in 1831. The matchless skill of this great artist, romantic novelty and fantastic virtuosity impressed Liszt as some kind of "supernatural miracle". This first encounter with Paganini had a significant impact on the music of Liszt himself encouraging him, according to his memoirs, "to the experiments of a new kind".
Etüde No 2 forms a very good introduction to Liszt's distinctive technique. It is memorable for the exciting and humorous way in which it interweaves chords, scales and octaves.

Acknowledgments: Microsoft® Encarta® 96 Encyclopedia. © 1993-1995 Microsoft Corporation; Yuri Didenko, Six Grandes Etudes de Paganini, Moscow 1996. Picture from The Great Composers.

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