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Frédéric Chopin
Nocturne in c-sharp minor for Violi
Nocturne in C-Sharp minor, B.49 Frédéric Chopin, arranged by...
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Violin Sonata No. 22 in A major, K.
Having resigned his post in Salzburg, Mozart, accompanied by his mot...
Johann Sebastian Bach
Chaconne from Partita in d minor, B
Longer and perhaps more complex than the collective preceding four m...
Niccolò Paganini
Caprice No. 23 "Posato"
The penultimate work in a collection of 24 caprices, this miniature ...
Hubert Parry
My Soul, There is a Country
My Soul, There is a Country, poem by Henry Vaughan (1622-1695) My so...
Vytautas Miškinis
O Sacrum Convivium
From wikipedia.org:O Sacrum Convivium is a Latin prose text honoring...
Eric Whitacre
Five Hebrew Love Songs
From http://ericwhitacre.com""In the spring of 1996, my great friend...
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Welcome to Classical Connect - the free classical music site!

If you like classical music, you’ve come to the right place! Classical Connect is your virtual concert hall, featuring thousands of recordings of classical music. If you love piano music, just go to the Browse by Instruments section and access the thousand-plus piano recordings available in our library. If you prefer the violin or the flute, you won’t be disappointed either – in fact, we have music for practically every instrument! If, on the other hand, you’re interested in a particular composer, you can Browse by Composer and select your favorite.

Where do we get our music? Our site allows independent musicians to upload their own recordings, or we may do it on their behalf. Musicians value the special opportunity Classical Connect offers because it allows for their music to be heard around the world. Several hundred musicians have already joined our site. We also have arrangements with several labels, festivals, programs and orchestras, allowing us to use some of their material.

As a visitor to our site you can listen to the first three minutes of any recording. However, by joining our site you’ll have access to all full-length performances. Joining is easy and has many great benefits. You’ll be able to create playlists, comment and vote on recordings, share music with friends, listen to our special programs, and more.

The music you hear upon entry was randomly selected from our library - what we call our Serendipity list. You can always pause it or jump to the next piece. You’ll be able to change the content of these initial selections once you’ve signed in.

To help you navigate the site and use its features, we’ve also created a Help page.

In the meantime, enjoy the music!

The Classical Connect team

Announcement: On white...and black keys +

11/27/2014 19:00, Romanian Cultural Institute

Details here: http://www.bandsintown.com/TeoMilea/start_tracking

Vienna, Austria


Welcome to our Virtual Concert Hall

We started Classical Connect with a mission to provide independent musicians with a new venue for their performances. Hundreds of classical musicians have taken advantage of this opportunity, sharing their music with listeners across the world.

We encourage you to join and upload your performances. Once signed in, you’ll be able to create a personal page with your bio, photo and other promotional materials. Since all the recordings on our site are streamed, your performance cannot be downloaded without your permission. In the future, you may also benefit from our plan to introduce fees for certain downloads. These fees will be shared with you, the musician.  If you have a video of your performance on YouTube, you can link it to your personal page: go to Upload or Link Your Performance and paste the YouTube URL in the appropriate field.  Your video will play on Classical Connect alongside your audio recordings.

Also, we have created a new feature called Concert Schedules, which allows you to enter your future concerts. Once your event has been entered, two things should happen. First, the concert is displayed on your personal page, below the bio. Second, the concert appears on the combined front-page Concerts Calendar. Moreover, for two days – the day before the concert and the day of the concert itself – there will be a message announcing your concert on the front-page News and Updates tab. This is the very first tab presented to all logged-on users.

On the technical side: our site accepts MP3 and MP4 files, so if you have a CD recording, you can rip and upload it in this format. For better quality, we recommend using a bit rate of 128 kbps, an audio sample rate of 44 kHz, and a two-channel (stereo) format.

To upload, enter the complete title of the piece, including its key, number, opus, etc. For example, the title of Beethoven's Sonata No. 21 would be identified as Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53. "Waldstein" is optional.  Also, we encourage you to leave comments about your performance or the composition.

If your performance was recorded on several tracks, then upload each one with a different title. For example, Sonata No. 21, part 1, Sonata No. 21, part 2 and so on. Please let us know and we’ll merge these different movements into one complete performance with the appropriate title.

Please do not upload parts of a composition. Think of Classical Connect as your virtual concert hall: only upload the things you would play in a real one.

If you have any questions, please contact us by clicking here and sending us an e-mail. We'll make every effort to respond as quickly as possible.

The Classical Connect team

Benefits of Joining Classical Connect

There are many advantages to joining Classical Connect. The first, and most obvious, is the ability to listen to complete performances. We have more than 2,000 different pieces of classical music, some of them as long as an hour and 50 minutes (yes, that’s how long Mahler’s Third Symphony is!). Once you’re logged in, you can listen to every one of them from start to finish – that’s if you like the performance, of course.

You can also create personal playlists. There’s no limit to how many pieces each playlist can include. You can read more about playlists here. In addition, you can comment and vote on any piece of music in our library. The grades / rankings go from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest), but please only reserve 10s for the truly great performances and use 1s sparingly!

Another advantage includes sharing performances with your friends. Click the Share button on the Player and send a message to your friend on Classical Connect, or simply copy/paste the link into an e-mail. Your friends don’t even need to be members of Classical Connect; they can simply click on the link and listen to the complete performance the same way you do.

Also, you can actively participate in Forums only if you’ve joined the site.

Finally, as you set up your profile, you can select the content of the initial musical selection or omit it entirely.

Joining is easy. Just click here and follow the instructions.

Enjoy!

The Classical Connect team


Announcement: Jialiang Wu, Piano

11/26/2014 12:15, Preston Bradley Hall

Keyboard Sonata in E Major, Hob. XVI:31 -- Joseph Haydn

Selections from Fantasiestücke, Op. 12 -- Robert Schumann
I. Des Abends (In the Evening)
II. Aufschwung (Soaring)
III. Warum? (Why?)
IV. Grillen (Whims)

Trois mouvements de Petrouchka -- Igor Stravinsky
I. Danse russe (Russian Dance)
II. Chez Pétrouchka (Petrushka's Room)
III. La semaine grasse (The Shrovetide Fair)

Chicago Cultural Center Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Washington Streets


November 24, 2014.  Alfred Schnittke.  We have to admit to having a problem with the term “Soviet,” as in “Soviet composer.”  There is just so much negativity associated with the term, with all the totalitarian connotations and the evil that was perpetrated under its name during a large part of Alfred Schnittkethe 20th century.  But what would you call a composer born on November 24th of 1934 in a city on river Volga, who then moved to Moscow, studied and later taught at the Moscow Conservatory, and was for a while a member of the Soviet Composer’s Union?  On the other hand, what would you call a composer whose music was so non-conformist and “anti-Soviet” that it was banned by the same Composer’s Union?  The life of Alfred Schnittke, one of the most interesting composers of the last half of the 20th century, was very unusual.  He was born into a German-Jewish family.  His Jewish father Harry was born in Frankfurt but brought to the Soviet Union in 1927 by his parents who, like so many Western intellectuals at that time, went to Russia to build a new, just society.  Most of them perished in the Gulag, but not the Schnittkes.  Harry became a well-known German translator and a journalist.  During the Great Patriotic War, as WWII was called in the Soviet Union, Harry worked as a wartime correspondent.  Once the war was over, he was stationed in Soviet-occupied Vienna to work in a newspaper established by the Soviet authorities.  Harry brought his family with him, including the 12-year-old Alfred.  It was in Vienna, the city of Mozart and Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert, Bruckner and Mahler, that Alfred started his musical education.  Even though the family stayed in Vienna for just two years, the exposure to the Austrian-German tradition deeply influenced young Schnittke.  They returned to the Soviet Union in 1948 and settled in the suburbs of Moscow.  Alfred attended a music school and in 1953 entered the Moscow Conservatory, studying composition with Evgeny Golubev, a pupil of Myaskovsky, and eventually doing graduate work.  In 1962 he assumed an assistant teaching position at the Conservatory but earned his living writing film scores.   His relationship with the Soviet musical establishment was difficult from the beginning.  Some of his work was banned and most of it rarely performed.  He became officially accepted only in the late 1980s, during Gorbachev’s Perestroika.

Schnittke was a very prolific composer, writing several operas, 10 symphonies, four violin concertos, several piano concertos, and many chamber and instrumental pieces.  His early music was deeply influenced by Shostakovich, but eventually Schnittke evolved into a highly original composer.  In 1971 he wrote an essay titled “Polystylistic Tendencies in Modern Music.”  In it Schnittke pointed to composers he called “polystylistic,” who mixed and matched various styles into a coherent composition; those, in Schnittke’s opinion, included Luciano Berio, Edison Denisov, Krzysztof Penderecki and other.  But it was Schnittke himself who became a major proponent of this style.

In 1985 Schnittke suffered a terrible stroke (doctors believed they had lost him several times) but recovered and continued composing, though his style became more introverted.  In 1990 Schnittke left Russia and settled in Hamburg.  He had another stroke in 1995, which paralyzed him; after that he stopped composing.  Schnittke died in Hamburg on August 5th, 1998.  His body was returned to Moscow and buried with state honors.

We have a number of Schnittke’s works in our library.  Here’s his "polystylistic" and very representative piece from 1977 called Concerto Grosso No. 1.  It’s performed by the dedicatees of the piece, the violinists Gidon Kremer and his then wife Tatiana Grindenko and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Heinrich Schiff conducting.

Jean-Baptiste Lully, the father of French Baroque, was born on 28th of November 1632.  We’ll commemorate his birthday at a later date.

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November 17, 2014.  This week across centuries.  Wilhelm Friedemann, a talented but rather unhappy eldest son of Johann Sebastian Bach, was born on November 22nd of 1710.  Friedemann had a difficult character, later Wilhelm Friedemann Bachin his life he drank heavily, but it seems that his main problem was his rivalry – probably unconscious – with his father.  As Grove Music Dictionary puts it, “… [W.F.] Bach clearly concentrated more on virtuoso performance than on his career as a composer, perhaps in the depressing realization that he could never attain his father’s perfection in all musical genres. His creative energies were therefore expressed more readily in free improvisation, and particularly in his late years the improvisation of fantasies on the organ and harpsichord was very important to him.”  Still, in that rather barren period of the 18th century between the deaths of J.S. Bach and Handel and the time when Haydn and Mozart brought the new classical style to its pinnacle, Wilhelm Friedemann was clearly one of the very best.  To prove it, here’s his Harpsichord Concerto in F minor, written around1767.  Claudio Astronio conducts the Italian ensemble Harmonices Mundi from the harpsichord.

Firdemann died in 1784.  Two years later, on November 18th of 1786 Carl Maria von Weber was born in Eutin, the Duchy of Holstein.  Weber is mostly known for his operas, especially Der Freischütz, considered the first German “Romantic” opera.  The operas are indeed the most important part of his body of work, but being a wonderful pianist Weber also wrote a number of pieces for Carl Maria von Weberthe instrument.  He composed two piano concertos, four sonatas, and the Konzertstück (concert piece) in F minor for piano and orchestra.  He completed the piece the morning of June 18th of 1821, the day Der Freischütz had its premier in Berlin.  While the Konzertstück has just one movement (that’s why Weber decided not to call it a concerto), it has four sections and Weber provided a detailed – and highly romantic – program for each.  The first one, according to the composer, describes a knight’s wife on a balcony, gazing into the distance, thinking about her husband who went on a Crusade to the Holy Land.  In the second section, the excited wife, thinking of her possibly wounded husband, falls unconscious, but do we hear the trumpets in the distance?  Yes we do, and in the third section, written in the gay C Major, the knights are returning from the Crusade to the delight of the crowds, and the couple is reunited.  The forth, final episode depicts happiness without end.  Felix Mendelssohn attended the premier, loved it and later played it many times.  We don’t know whether Weber’s extravagant program helps the listener to appreciate the music but it’s a superb piece and is brilliantly played here by Alfred Brendel with the London Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Abbado conducting.

Weber suffered from tuberculosis and was just 39 when he died in 1826.  Manuel de Falla, one of the most important Spanish composers of the early 20th century, was born fifty years later, on December 23rd of 1876 in the port city of Cádiz in Andalusia.  Falla was the youngest of the three composers who revolutionized Spanish music at the end of the 19th century: Isaac Albéniz was born in 1860 and Enrique Granados – in 1867.  While promoting the national roots of Spanish music, the three of them opened up a rather close-minded and xenophobic musical culture of the country to broader musical ideas, many of them emanating from France.  Falla studied in Madrid as a young man, and then, in 1907, moved to Paris, where he met and befriended many composers, including Ravel, Debussy, and Stravinsky.  Falla returned to Spain in 1914; by then he was recognized as one of the leading composers of the time.  His opera La vida breve was successfully staged in France and Spain; he had a written a number of zarzuelas, songs, and chamber pieces.  An even more productive period followed.  One of the pieces Falla wrote shortly after returning from France was Nights in the Gardens of Spain for piano and orchestra, which he completed in 1915.  Here it is, in the performance by the great champion of Spanish music, the late pianist Alicia de Larrocha; L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande is conducted by Sergiu Comissiona.

Alfred Schnittke, one of the most important Russian composers of the second half of the 20th century, was also born this week, on November 24th of 1934.  We commemorate his birthday every year and hope to do it in 2014 as well, albeit at a later date.

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November 10, 2014.  Couperin, Borodin, Hindemith.  François Couperin, one of the greatest French Baroque composers, was born on this day in 1668.  He came from a large family of musicians, some of them very talented (you can read more about the Couperins François Couperinin our earlier post).  He was incomparable as a composer for the harpsichord (clavecin, as it is called in French).  Couperin wrote four Books for the harpsichord, each containing several “orders,” 27 orders altogether.   One of the pieces in Order 6 (Book 2) is called Les Barricades Mistérieuses (The mysterious barricades); it was written in 1717.  Nobody knows for sure why Couperin used this unusual title, although many suggestions have been made, from rather risqué to outlandish.  In any event, here it is, performed by Scott Ross.  (A talented American harpsichordist who spent most of his life in Canada and France, Ross had a tragically short life: he died in 1989 at the age of 38.  Ross recorded all keyboard compositions by Couperin, all 555 sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti, and many other works by the Baroque composers).

The chemist, doctor and accidental composer of great talent, Alexander Borodin was born on November 12th of 1833.  All his life Borodin was mostly interested in sciences, studying in St.-Petersburg and universities abroad and eventually obtaining a teaching position at the prestigious Medical-Surgical Academy.  Music was a love, and composing – a pleasant hobby.  In 1862, at the home of his colleague, the famous doctor Sergey Botkin, Borodin met Mily Balakirev and then through Balakirev, he made friends with Cesar Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, and the young Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.  Five years later the music critic Vladimir Stasov would call them the Mighty Five.  The 1862 meeting strongly affected Borodin, and almost immediately he started working on his 1st Symphony.  Even though he wrote three of them, some chamber music, and most of Prince Igor, a truly great opera (it fell upon Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov to finish it after Borodin’s death), he never made composing his main profession.  In 1880 Borodin wrote a symphonic poem In the Steppes of Central Asia (the original Russian title was just “Central Asia”).  In 1908, a Frenchman by the name of Joseph-Louis Mundwiller shot a documentary called Moscow Clad in Snow (and it really was that year).  It’s a fascinating film that shows Moscow at the beginning of the 20th century, much of which doesn’t exist any longer.  When the movie was restored, the editors decided that Borodin’s In the Steppes would go well as an accompaniment.  Even though there are thousands of miles between Moscow and Central Asia, somehow it worked.  Here is In the Steppes of Central Asia as performed by Kurt Sanderling and Dresden Staatskapelle.  And here is the movie on YouTube.  It’s worth watching even if you’ve have never been to Moscow.

One of the most important German composers of the 20th century, Paul Hindemith was born on Mathias Grunewald, Isenheim Altarpiece, CrucifictionNovember 16th, 1895.  We need to dedicate an entry to him alone, but right now we’ll present one of his most famous compositions, the symphony Mathis der Maler (Matthias the Painter).  “Mathis” in the title is Matthias Grünewald, a German Renaissance painter who lived from 1470 to 1528.  His greatest work was the so-called Isenheim Altarpiece, which consists of a large central panel depicting the Crucifixion and several side panels with the Annunciation, several saints, the visit of Saint Anthony to Saint Paul the Hermit and other biblical and apocryphal stories.  The side panels can be opened and closed, creating different views of the altar.  The altarpiece is an absolute pinnacle of German art; the power of it is as overwhelming today as it was 500 years ago.  Located in a museum in the Alsatian city of Colmar it is very much worth the trip, as the Michelin guide would put it, even though Colmar itself is not a very interesting place (but of course if you’re there, you’ve already made it to Strasbourg).  If the trip to Alsace isn’t in your plans, then  you can go to the Web Gallery of Art and view it there.  Mathis der Maler consists of three movements, each corresponding to a separate panel: Angelic Concert, Entombment, and The Temptation of Saint Anthony.  Here it is, in the performance by the London Symphony Orchestra, Jascha Horenstein conducting.

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November 3, 2014.  Années de Pèlerinage, Deuxième Année: Italie.  Even though today is the birthday of Vincenzo Bellini (he was born in 1801 in Catania, Sicily, and we’ve written about him extensively in the past, here and here), we’ll continue the traversal of Franz Liszt’s Années de Pèlerinage.  This time it’s the second year of the pilgrimage, and we’re in Italy.  As always, we’ll illustrate every piece with performances by pianists young and renowned: the Canadian Jason Cutmore plays Sposalizio and Canzonetta del Salvator Rosa, the great Alfred Brendel plays Penseroso, Lazar Berman plays the first two of the three Sonetto del Petrarca, Sonetto.47 and Sonetto 104, and the legendary Russian pianist Vladimir Sofronitsky – Sonetto 123, in a 1952 recording.  Finally, the young Swiss pianist Beatrice Berrut plays what Liszt called “Fantasia Quasi Sonata” Après une Lecture de Dante.  Here’s the article by Joseph DuBose.

Rafael The Marriage of the Virgin (Lo Sposalizio)The second volume of Années de Pèlerinage is a catalogue of Liszt’s travels through Italy. Unlike its predecessor, however, it does convey depictions of Italy’s landscapes and cities, but instead impressions of its rich artistic heritage. As Liszt traveled the Italian Peninsula, he traversed its centuries of artistic excellence, from the immortal writings of Dante and Petrarch, to the paintings of Raphael, the sculptures of Michelangelo, and even the music of Bononcini, whose death preceded Liszt’s travels by roughly only a century. Like the preceding volume, the pieces of Deuxième Année are revisions of those Liszt originally composed during the time of his pilgrimage, some quite extensively and amounting, in essence, to full-fledged rewritings, such as with the three Petrarch sonnets. The volume was published 1858, three years after the first.

Deuxième Année opens with Liszt’s musical portrayal of Raphael’s The Marriage of the Virgin in “Sposalizio” (here). The innocence and reverence of the subject matter is displayed in the simple pentatonic melody of the opening measures, stated without any further adornment, and answered by an expectant motif tucked within the inner tones of contrasting chords. Repeated incessantly, the pentatonic theme drives the first section of the piece, through wide-ranging harmonies, to a fortissimo conclusion in E major. A brief passage, combining the fragments of the theme with the answering motif, then leads the listener into the piece’s second main theme. A pious wedding march in G major, this new theme, given in a rich, chordal texture, is accompanied by the pentatonic theme. At first, its appearance is only occasional. However, following a modulation back into the tonic key of E major and the recommencement of the wedding march, the pentatonic theme becomes a permanent fixture of the accompaniment. Against the wedding march, it creates a glistening accompaniment of almost Impressionistic colors, and an continuous flow of energy that climaxes in the expectant motif of the beginning. From thence, the music recedes, with the pentatonic theme still heard above echoes of the wedding march, into the final, quiet tonic chords. (Continue).

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October 27, 2014.  Paganini and Berio.  Today is the birthday of Niccolò Paganini, who was born in Genoa in 1782.  As a composer he’s best known for his 24 caprices for violin solo and several violin concertos.  So here, to celebrate, are two caprices, played by two of the greatest violinists of the 20th century, David Oistrach (caprice no. 17, recorded in 1946) and Jascha Heifetz  (Caprice no. 13, in a somewhat unnecessary arrangement for the violin and piano, with Brooks Smith, recorded in 1956).

Lucian Berio

     Last week we wrote about Liszt’s first book of Années de pèlerinage and didn’t have time to mark the 89th birthday of the Italian composer Luciano Berio, who was born on October 24th of 1925.  Berio was one of the most interesting composers of the second half of the 20th century.  Born into a musical family (both his father and grandfather were organists and composers) he started studying music at an early age.  During the war he was conscripted by Mussolini’s Republic of Salò, but injured himself in training and spent most of the time in a hospital.  When the war was over, he went to Milan to study piano and composition but his injured hand cut short his piano aspirations.  His early compositions were written in the neo-classical style of the Stravinsky type, but he soon became interested in the avant-garde music and especially in serialism.  In 1952 he went to the US to study with Luigi Dallapiccola in Tangelwood.  Dallapiccola, also an Italian, was the major proponent of serialism, being influenced by Webern and Berg. 

     Berio then attended several of the International summer courses in Darmstadt, at that time the epicenter for new music in Europe.  Darmstadt was the place for young composers and music theoreticians to listen to music, lecture, argue, and share ideas.  Among the participants were Stockhausen, Boulez, Ligeti, Milton Babbit, Hanz Werner Henze and many others.  Theodor Adorno, the leading philosopher and musicologist, was one of the active participants.  In the 1960s Berio spent a lot of time in the US, teaching at Tanglewood and Juilliard.  Interested in electronic music, he went to Paris and became a co-director of IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique), a place associated with the name of Pierre Boulez and one of the leading centers of research in new music in general and electro-acoustical music in particular.  After returning to Italy in the 1980s, Berio created a similar center in Florence, called Tempo Reale.  Though he was a sought-after teacher and traveled constantly, he bought some land and buildings in the village of Radicondoli, not far from Siena.  That became his base, especially after his third marriage to Talia Pecker, an Israeli musicologist.  Berio continued to actively travel, conduct and compose till the end.  He died in Rome on May 27, 2003.

     Berio possessed a wonderful intellectually curiosity which went well beyond music.  In the 1950s he collaborated with Umberto Eco, a philosopher, novelist and literary critic.  Together they produce several radio programs on language and sound - for example, words that are formed by sounds that describe their meaning (like “cuckoo,” for example, or “roar”; the fancy name for it is “onomatopoeia”).  Eco also got Berio interested in semiotics, the study of symbols and signs.  Later in his life Berio collaborated with the writer Italo Calvino and the architect Renzo Piano.

     Berio worked in many different styles, from pieces for solo instruments to orchestral works for operas.  He wrote a series of works for different instruments calls Sequenza.  The first Sequenza, for flute, was written in 1956, the last Sequenza XIV, for cello, in 2002.  From 1950 to 1964 Berio was married to Cathy Berberian, an American mezzo-soprano (they met in Milan, while studying at the conservatory).  Sequenza III, for voice, written in 1965, and dedicated to her.  And here she is, singing this piece.  Berio’s Sinfonia was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and premiered in 1968.  Here’s the first movement, performed by the Orchestre National de France under direction of Pierre Boulez, with and the Swingle Singers, 1969.

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October 20, 2014.  Franz Liszt.  We’re marking the 113th birthday anniversary of the great Hungarian composer.  Liszt was born on October 22nd of 1811 in a small village of Doborján (after the First World War that part of western Hungary was given to Austria; the town is now called Franz LisztRaiding).  He grew up to become the greatest pianist of his time (and some believe of all time) and one of the most important composers of the 19th century.  To celebrate, we‘re publishing an article by Joseph DuBose on the first of the three Années de pèlerinage piano suites, Première année: Suisse.  We illustrate each piece (there are nine altogether in Première année) with performances by two young English pianists, Ashley Wass and Sodi Braide, both recorded in concerts, and two great Lisztians, the Cuban-American Jorge Bolet (1914 – 1990) and the Russian pianist Lazar Berman (1930 – 2005).  The article follows. ♫

 

In early June 1835, Franz Liszt traveled from Paris to Switzerland. There, in Geneva, he met his mistress, Marie d’Agoult, who had recently left her husband and family for him. Over the next four years, they lived and journeyed throughout Switzerland and Italy. Inspired by the wondrous scenery of Switzerland and the rich cultural heritage of Italy, Liszt composed during these years a suite of piano pieces entitled Album d’un voyageur, a title which he likely adapted from that of a letter from George Sand: Lettre d’un voyageur. The suite was later published in 1842, after his relationship with d’Agoult had ended and he had returned to the life a touring virtuoso. However, Album would prove to be only the genesis of a much more significant collection of pieces. Between 1848 and 1854, Liszt revised several of its constituent pieces to form the first volume (Première année: Suisse) of his Années de pèlerinage (Years of Pilgrimage)—indeed, only two emerged relatively unaltered. Besides being personal reflections of Liszt’s travels, the pieces that ultimately became part of Première année were imbued with a keen sense of the Romantic literature of his time. The title of Années de pèlerinage itself is a certain reference to Goethe’s famous novel Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahr, but mostly significantly, its sequel Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahr, which in is first French translation was translated as “Years of Wanderings.” Furthermore, each piece was headed by quotations from Schiller, Byron, and Senancour, leading figures of the burgeoning Romantic Movement. The final result, Première Année: Suisse, was published in 1855.  (Continue reading here.)

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