Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886)
Complete Piano Music, Volume 13
Hungarian Rhapsodies Nos. 10 to 19
The Gypsies play the true national compositions of Hungary...
There is something in their music so wild and impassioned... tones of such deepmelancholy, such heart-piercing grief, and wild despair, that one is unvoluntarilycarried away by it.
- Johann GeorgKohl, from "Austria, Vienna, Prague,
Hungary, Bohemia,and the Danube" (1843)
In composing the Hungarian Rhapsodies, Lisztdesired to create what he called "Gypsy epics". He felt that thesongs he had collected might be united in "one homogeneous body, acomplete work, its divisions so arranged that each song would form at once a wholeand a part, which might be severed from the rest and be examined and enjoyed byand for itself, but which would, none the less, belong to the whole through theclose affinity of subject matter, the similarity of inner nature and unity ofdevelopment." He wrote the first in 1846 at the age of 35, and his last in1885 at the age of 74. Most of these are in the sectional slow-fast form of thegypsy dance known as the csardas. The Hungarian Rhapsodies remainundisputedly popular today alter almost 150 years. If we were to follow theirhistory, however, we find in them the same contradictions in origin and purpose,the same contrast between serious musicianship and virtuoso exhibitionism whichmade Liszt himself so fascinating. There is no doubt that Liszt was devoted tohis country, but he was a Hungarian more by enthusiasm than through upbringingor ethnic heritage. He could barely speak the language, for Hungarian was thirdto German and French, which were spoken at home. He left his native province atthe age of nine for the more cosmopolitan cities of Vienna and Paris. When hereturned some two decades later he was an international hero in need of anational identity. This identity was achieved through the special musicallanguage of the Hungarian Rhapsodies.
In order to collect gypsy tunes and absorb the strong flavourof their rhythms -the slow pride of the Lassan and the rampage of the Friska
- Liszt spent time in gypsy encampments. His first fifteen HungarianRhapsodies were published by 1854, with the remaining five to come in hislast years. Liszt also wrote and had printed, in German and Hungarian, a longbook, The Gypsies and their Music in Hungary. As scholars have since shown,he was entirely wrong about the gypsy origins of Hungarian music. Half acentury later Bela Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly, alter collecting thousands of Magyarfolk-tunes, showed that the gypsy contribution was a style of playing, aprocess of inflection and instrumental arrangement rather than anythingoriginal in form. Nevertheless, Hungarian gypsy music, as it is now called, wasthe glory of the nation, known throughout the world through Liszt'scompositions. In spite of the ethnomusicological deficiences of his work, Liszt'sfree-ranging fantasies, with the inspired use of the word "rhapsody",were strokes of genius. Here Liszt did much more than use the so-called csardas.
He miraculously recreated on the piano the characteristics of a gypsy band,with its string choirs, the sentimentally placed solo violin and thecompellingly soft, percussive effect of the cimbalom, the Hungarianzither.
 Hungarian Rhapsody No.10 in E major
(Published 1853; dedicated to the Hungarian composer,actor, translator and librettist Beni Egressy (1814-1851)).
Filigree effects predominate in Rhapsody No.10,with a challenging alternative form preferred by Liszt but avoided by somevirtuosi. The theme was by Egressy, embellished by Liszt's soft ascending anddescending glissandos.
 Hungarian Rhapsody No.11 in A minor
(Published 1853; dedicated to Baron Ferenc Orczy)
The cimbalom figurations yield a new play of sonoritiesin this surprisingly short Rhapsody No.11. In a mood of intimacy ratherthan dazzle, stringed instruments are suggested in the rapid Vivace assai.
 Hungarian Rhapsody No.12 in C sharp minor
(Published 1853; dedicated to Joseph Joachim)
Liszt dedicated Rhapsody No.12, one of the mostelaborate, to the distinguished Hungarian violinist Joachim, using a well-knownHungarian tune. The melody heard in strong unisons is a csardas
attributed to the Hungarian-Jewish composer and violinist Mark Rozsavolgyi,while the Allegro zingarese theme was composed by the gypsy composer andviolinist Janos Bihari.
 Hui1garian Rhapsody No.13 in A minor
(Published 1853; dedicated to the amateur composer CountLeo Festetics)
Though Rhapsody No.13 is less often heard, it ismusically one of the most interesting, with a broadly designed slow section, aspirited vivace (with a melody also used by Sarasate in his Zigeunerweisen),and a brilliant finale. After Hungarian gypsy-like scales in the slow openingLiszt quotes the Hungarian folk-songs, "Ketten mentuk, Harman jottunk"and "Akkor szep az erdo, mikor zold" in the fast sections.
 Hungarian Rhapsody No.14 in F major
(Published 1853; dedicated to Hans von Bulow (1830-1894),pupil and his first son-in-law) Rhapsody No.14 is perhaps the mostpopular of all, also used by Liszt as the famous orchestral Rhapsody No.1 andin a version for piano and orchestra, as the Hungarian Fantasia. Here he drewupon the Hungarian song Magasan repul a daru in the slow funeralmarch-like introduction as well as in the Allegro eroico. The vivace
section uses the famous Kolto csardas.
 Hungarian Rhapsody No.15 in A minor (Rak6czyMarch)
(Second Version; Published 1871)
Rhapsody No.15 is better known as the RlikoczyMarch. This same march was used by Berlioz in his Damnation of Faust.
It was originally the work of Michael Barna, written in honour of PrinceFrancis Rakoczy, a historic hero in the eighteenth-century Hungarian revoltagainst Austria. It remains a symbol of Hungarian freedom and national pride.
 Hungarian Rhapsody No.16 in A minor
(Composed 1882; published 1882; dedicated to theHungarian painter Mih13.ly Munkacsy (1844-1900))
A powerful octave fanfare leads into the slowintroduction. Subtle harmonic progressions characterize Rhapsody No.16,composed on the o