Franz Liszt

Franz Liszt is a composer which, I feel, doesn't have the appreciation he deserves on this forum.

Thus, I wanted to start a discussion with other people, about Franz Liszts place in musical composition. 

He certainly was a genius, no denying that, he wrote in a very extraordinary way and even though he composed pieces that were impossible to play, basically just to prove he can play them, they sound utterly beautiful.

My absolute favorite composition by Liszt is definetly Liszt's Totentanz (

In my opinion Liszt's Rondo fantastique el contrabandista is to date the most difficult piece of music to have ever been performed and mastered by any musician.

Some people might argue, that there are much more difficult pieces of music that have been performed by humans. But not Feux Follets, not La Campanella and not Mazeppa can match the piece in difficulty. 

Other than being the most difficult piece, in my opinion, El Contrabandista is a wonderful piece with a beautiful tremolo and stormy end sections.

Do other users feel the same about Liszt (Which I would frankly rank as my 2nd-3rd favorite composer, only suceeded by Bach and perhaps Beethoven) or do they have vastly different opinions?

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  • Liszt was a very interesting composer; there's a reason why he's also one of my favorite composers (maybe 4th-5th). He does have plenty of "show off" pieces (like Hungarian Rhapsodies No.2 and No.6, as well as his etudes)  that show his virtuosity. However, he does experiment a lot with his pieces; his Sonata in B minor, Un Sospiro, Funerailles, and later pieces really speak to me with a feeling of genuine compassion. One could even say that he was the predecessor of Impressionism with his experimentation of whole tone scales (in some pieces) and his evocative pieces (though it is a stretch). I respect him greatly.

  • I took the starting view that if Liszt in his earlier days was declared superfirical composer it was simply because he was also a showman and the contemporary repertoire held nothing that allowed him to show off. He had to compose. He had the composer deep within him. The B minor Sonata is one of just two unified 3 movement Sonata-form works I can recall. He was one of the biggest proponents of chromaticism. My view but he taught Wagner chromatic harmony during the time the latter was visiting. It's noticeable in the difference between Tristan and the works that preceded it. But I find little superficial about his Transcendal or the three Concert Etudes. They're dreadful to play: techincal skill has to be taken for granted so that the art can emerge. It's something a few professionals overlook as they try to bring off these pieces bravura-style but without the the nuances of expression that transcend just a technical performance.

    If nothing else, Liszt taught me how to spread a melody in the middle of everything using just the thumbs! Came in very useful.

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