Liszt’s “Transcendental Studies” of 1852 are without doubt among the triumphs of virtuoso piano music, and their visionary language and poetic expression make them a milestone of the romantic age. This set of twelve études represents the results of the composer’s own revision of a collection already published in 1827 and 1839. Accordingly, the principal source for our edition was a printed copy of the earlier version with myriad changes in the composer’s hand. Each of these pieces, including the famous “Harmonies du soir” and “Mazeppa”, bears its own title and has entered the concert repertoire less as an étude than as a tone-poem with its own distinctive flavour.
- Level of difficulty (Explanation)
- Other titles with this level of difficulty
- Transcendental Studies
In 1855, while preparing the first thematic catalogue of his music, Franz Liszt summarized the complex gestation of his Études d’exécution transcendante as follows: “The Hofmeister edition of the twelve études (with a lithographed cradle and the publisher’s addendum ‘travail de jeunesse’!) is nothing but a reprint of the volume of studies I published in France when … more
About the composer
The most famous piano virtuoso of the nineteenth century is regarded as the most influential artist and composer (with Berlioz, Wagner) of the so-called New German School. His immense musical oeuvre comprises, above all else, works for solo piano, including numerous transcriptions; he also devised the symphonic poem. Important, too, are his sacred and secular choral works and songs.
|1811||Born in Doborján/Raiding (Sopron) on October 22, son of an official in the service of Prince Esterházy. First piano lessons from his father, early first attempts at composition, first public performance at age nine.|
|1822||Relocation of the family to Vienna, studies with Carl Czerny and Antonio Salieri.|
|1823||Relocation of the family to Paris. Composition studies with Ferdinando Paër and Antonín Reicha (1826). Performances in salons, concerts.|
|1824–27||Concert tours through France, to England and Switzerland. Composition of opera paraphrases for piano.|
|1830||Acquaintance with Berlioz, self-study by reading. He becomes Parisian society’sfavourite pianist and piano teacher.|
|1835||He moves to Switzerland with Countess Marie d’Agoult: their first child together, Blandine-Rachel, is born here. He continues concertizing in Paris.|
|from 1839||Continuous concert tours throughout Europe.|
|from 1847||Symphonic poems, including No. 2, “Tasso: lamento e trionfo”; No. 1, “Ce qu‘on entend sur la montagne” (‘Bergsymphonie,’ ‘Mountain Symphony’); “A Faust Symphony in Three Character Pictures”; “A Symphony to Dante’s Divine Comedy” (‘Dante Symphony’); as well as [No. 11], “Hunnenschlacht” (“Battle of the Huns”).|
|1848–61||Kapellmeister in Weimar; he advocates for progressive music (Wagner, Schumann, Berlioz).|
|1857–62||Oratorio, “The Legend of St. Elisabeth.”|
|1861–68||Resident in Rome.|
|1865||Takes minor holy orders.|
|1871||Appointed Hungarian court councilor; he lives in Rome, Weimar, and Budapest.|
|1886||Death in Bayreuth on July 31.|
About the authors
The print is large and easy to read, although the music is difficult to play. Liszt had specific ideas for the performance of these etudes, which are presented here with greater clarity than other editions.
La Henle propone questi formidabili pilastri tecnici in una nuova pubblicazione, dove sono collazionate ben cinque fonti, fra cui le edizioni del 1852 e del 1871-3, uniche riconosciute dall’autore, e quella del 1839.
Por ello, esta pulcra edición crítica de Henle vale su peso en oro.