Liszt van Beethoven: The Nine Symphonies for Solo Piano

Josef danhauser - franz liszt, am flügel phantasierend (1840)

Josef danhauser - franz liszt, am flügel phantasierend (1840)


a three-year project... perform all nine Beethoven symphonies as transcribed for two hands by Franz Liszt. With the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth approaching in 2020, I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate this musical milestone by bringing these masterpieces of the repertoire to as many people as possible.

I will be focusing on three of the symphonies each season, presenting solo recitals, lecture-recitals, and interactive workshops designed to highlight the genius of these two giants of music. For the solo recitals, I have chosen one of Beethoven's solo sonatas to pair with each symphony (save the Ninth) in its given key, giving the audience a chance to experience Beethoven's particular "affect" or characteristic mood within each key.

In lecture-recitals and workshops, we will explore the form of the symphony and how Beethoven both adheres to and breaks out of traditional form to create his masterpieces. We will also delve into the art of transcription, discovering how Liszt was able to reduce the texture of an entire orchestra into ten fingers. In an interactive setting we will also try our hand at developing Beethoven's motives, unleashing our own creativity as a prelude to experiencing the composer's own solutions.

For more details, I have provided sample programs below, as well as a thoroughly enjoyable lecture by the world's foremost Liszt scholar, Alan Walker, describing the history behind these transcriptions. Performance dates for the 17-18 season will be continually updated on the Schedule page.

Finally, some words from Liszt himself: 

"The name of Beethoven is sacred in art. His symphonies are nowadays universally recognized to be masterpieces. No one who seriously desires to extend his knowledge, or create something new himself, can ever devote sufficient thought to them, or ever study them enough." ~Franz Liszt, preface to Breitkopf & Härtel's 1865 edition of the symphony transcriptions (translated by Alan Walker)

    Program pairs for solo recitals:

2017-2018 season

Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21 ~ Sonata in C major, Op. 2, no. 3

Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 ~ Sonata in F major, Op. 54

Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55 "Eroica" ~ Sonata in E-flat major, Op. 27, no. 1

2018-2019 season

Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major, Op. 60 ~ Sonata in B-flat major, Op. 22

Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92 ~ Sonata in A major, Op. 101

Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 - Sonata in C minor, Op. 10, no. 1

2019-2020 season

Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36 ~ Sonata in D major, Op. 10, no. 3

Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93 ~ Sonata in F major, Op. 10, no. 2

      Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral"