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Liszt: Reminiscences of Don Juan

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: remembering opera on the keyboard…

“Don Giovanni” was Liszt’s favorite opera. In this work, however, Liszt goes far beyond simply transcribing Mozart’s music. He expands it, elaborates upon it, and gives to it his unmistakably virtuosic voice. This special type of transcription, called “reminiscences” or “memories,” was popular with Romantic composers. In an artistic culture where individuality was highly valued, composers relished the act of filtering and transforming older works through their own sensibilities. Liszt, who had toured as a virtuoso pianist at a young age, had always felt an affinity to Mozart. Liszt’s famously stormy personal life perhaps also left him sympathetic to Mozart’s famous seducer. Tellingly, Liszt chooses two of the Don’s finest moments, the seduction duet “Lá ci darem la mano,” and the boisterous “Champagne” Aria to focus upon in his “reminiscences.”

Music Heard On This Episode

Franz Liszt: Reminiscences of Don Juan
Joyce Yang, piano — Twelfth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition: Joyce Yang, Silver Medalist (Harmonia Mundi Fr., 2005)
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album cover
Franz Liszt: Reminiscences of Don Juan
Joyce Yang, piano — Twelfth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition: Joyce Yang, Silver Medalist (Harmonia Mundi Fr., 2005)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

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