Donald Macleod introduces a paean to Liszt's Hungarian homeland and a pastoral idyll.
Donald Macleod presents a rare opportunity to hear all 13 of Liszt's symphonic poems. Today: a paean to the composer's Hungarian homeland, and a pastoral idyll.
In 1848, as revolution raged across Europe, Franz Liszt made the decision to walk away from his life as the most scandalous and brilliant piano virtuoso in the world - and settle down in the provincial German city of Weimar. Over the next twelve years he would forge a reputation as one of the most original composers of the Romantic Era - inventing a genre of composition that became known as the 'symphonic poem'. Liszt's new form of orchestral piece spun poetic or literary fables in music, evoking moods and images in its themes and harmonies, depicting heroes and villains, dramas and triumphs - a radical departure from the symphonic ideal of Beethoven and Brahms. This week, Donald Macleod presents a unique opportunity to hear all twelve of the symphonic poems Liszt created in Weimar - plus his final, valedictory symphonic poem, composed many years later, just before his own death.
Liszt's symphonic poems - spectacular, orchestral canvases that told a story in music - revolutionised the way music was conceptualised in the mid-19th century. In 1854, with the success of his first years in Weimar still ringing in his ears, the composer sat down to put the finishing touches to his first published volume of symphonic poems. It gave him the opportunity to revise and polish his very first, longest - and now least-perfomed - attempt at the form: a pastoral idyll summing up the beauty of mountain life. Donald Macleod also introduces Liszt's hymn to his native land: Hungaria.