Great Music – Chapter 46
A change of pace. While in last week’s chapter I promised more music from current composers, I have changed my mind for just this week considering the tragic events of this week. After being absorbed by television shows about the killings in El Paso and Dayton, I took to music as a way of dealing with grief. Even though I knew no one involved in these events, they still hit me like a sledgehammer. When I need a friend, the piano will always say” sit with me my friend and together we will deal with it”
Some may find it odd, but this music will produce a flood of tears in me and the good thing about it is the copious tears will carry away some of the grief inside my soul. Without washing away the grief inside it is impossible for the sun to shine in. To that end, let me share with you some music by Franz Liszt (an old dead white guy) which brought me comfort.
Franz Liszt was born in Hungary in 1811 and took piano lessons as a child. He was good enough that some sponsors paid to have him study piano in Vienna. When he was 16 he moved to Paris which was the hot bed of the musical world at the time. There he established friendships with numerous famous musicians like Chopin, However, his fame was as a brilliant pianist rather than as a composer. He was an original “Rock Star”. He toured Europe extensively and at every concert women would throw roses at him and rush the stage to touch him. Liszt had “groupies” in every city and as a result neither one of his marriages lasted very long.
While his touring schedule was demanding when he was in his 40’s he started to significantly reduce his tour commitments to concentrate on composing. This is when he became prolific in producing new music. One of the reasons Liszt was such a brilliant pianist was the huge hands he was gifted with. While most normal people can reach an octave (8 notes spread), Liszt could comfortably reach an 11 and 12 note spread with either hand. This meant he could play parts of difficult music using just one hand while others had to use two hands to reach all the notes.
Now back to Lizst’s music as applied to this week’s events:
Consolation #3 in Db