If you’ve ever wanted someone to blame for the tradition of having to memorize your pieces for a performance, then this week’s listening assignment composer will introduce you to the culprit – Franz Liszt.  Franz Liszt was an Hungarian composer who lived from 1811-1886 and he was famous in his time as a pianist, composer, conductor and teacher.  He actually was not the first to play his recitals from memory, Clara Schumann, wife of composer Robert Schumann is credited with being among the first to play in concert from memory, but Liszt was enormously popular with the general public and “Lisztmania” spread across Europe in the 1840-1850’s, and therefore all the other pianists tried to copy Liszt with his playing from memory, and soon it became the norm. His performances were so electrifying that people were known to faint at the concerts and try to be the first to grab a handkerchief or scarf as a souvenir.


Liszt is best known for his piano compositions and he added many beautiful and enduring pieces, such as Liebestraum, the Hungarian Rhapsodies, Annees de Pelerinage and many others to the repertoire.  The selection for this week is one of the Consolations nicknamed, “Un Sospiro” or “the sigh”

Un Sospiro played by Marc Hamelin