You can tell by now I enjoy virtuoso performances of all types (including those by writers!). Today’s video is the indefatigable Lang Lang playing Franz Lizst’s “La Campanella.”
I’ve programmed the link to start at the 2:14 mark to highlight the extraordinary finger work needed to play this piece at this speed. The fingers are literally a blur.
It also made me wonder about the composer: Was he simply cruel to future pianists? (LOL!) Or was he such a genius that he just composed what only he could play?
Did you know that Franz Lizst was the first to perform solo piano concerts? He was a European “rock star” in the 1830s. The piece you are hearing in today’s video was inspired after Lizst heard violinist Niccolò Paganini play for the first time. Lizst ultimately worked to replicate Paganini’s virtuoso violin technique and transfer his effects to the piano.
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You’re right, his fingers were a blur! I wonder how long it took him to learn that piece.
Sandra D. Revelle
Stunning. This takes me back to my ballet days and lessons paired with classical music. Now I’m set to binge watch Lang Lang performances over the weekend. I followed the link to watch David Garret. I love to watch his facial expressions and the smiles between he and the conductor. Anyone seen photo shots of authors as we fine tune our works? It’s grin-worthy when just the right words flow from heart to brain to fingers to paper.
WOW. That is all.
Some composers did compose for their own geniuses/Paganini for one.
Quite amazing – hours upon hours of practice!!! Thank you for sharing!!!!
David Garrett plays the same, also starred as Paganini in The Devi’s Violinist. I haven’t seen the film just Youtube clips of it. Though to let you know, if you view some of them, there’s some fleshy romantic scenes which no advance warning. However, numerous Youtube performance clips available. He’s amazing!!!
Thank you again!!!
Amazing, think of how the left side of the creative brain working with the right side of the brain to touch the exact keys at the proper time.
Oh, I forgot. Here’s the link to hear David play this on the violin.
Now imagine you are Lizst. You hear Paganini perform that piece and you think, “oooh. I could do that on the piano!” And then accomplish it!??????
I’m limited to things like “oooh, look at that donut. I could eat that.” And then accomplish it!!!!
Way to play to your strengths, Steve! I admire that trait. I have played piano since childhood and I’m now a grayhaired lady. I was taught by the woman who played for congregational singing in our small Baptist church. When I was about 14, she told me, “You know everything I know. You can start playing for Sunday morning singing. Work up an offeratory.” I did not learn music theory, and I made it through only intermediate level classical lesson books, because my lesson homework always included a hymn and a pop song of my choice. However, I learned to fill with chords, develop my touch, and to feel (and sometimes count 1-e-and-uh, 2-e-and-uh) rhythm. I learned to watch the director aka song leader for tempo changes, dramatic holds, and repeating a chorus. I forced myself to learn to sight-read. I later applied those watching skills to accompanying soloists and choirs at larger churches, and as a keyboard player in a worship band. I don’t play my beautiful Yamaha Grand nearly as much now. I am still thrilled to hear and watch a virtuoso such as Lang Lang, but also Beegie Adair, and very young talented pianists like Joey Alexander. Thank you for this wonderful way to procrastinate a boring deadline on a Friday afternoon!
Franz Lizst composed pieces for the piano comparable to Paganini’s violin works, but was not the first to perform solo piano. Mozart did perform solo piano concerts in 1765 and his first piano concerto at age 11, seventy years before Lizst. Lang Lang is a spectacular pianist and showman. Thank you for sharing this delightful video.
True, but until Lizst the pianists shared the stage with other musicians. Thus the claim to be the first solo piano performer:
Amazing. I looked up the sheet music for La Campanella. Five sharps and intervals that are dangerous at any speed.
“La Campanella” means “little bell.” Maybe he should have called it “grande impossibilita!”
No wonder it is truly limited to virtuosos.
Try to imagine hearing or seeing that in concert in 1836. Especially after trying to play chopsticks on that new piano in your mansion.
The history of the piano as an instrument is quite fascinating too. From harpsichord (in Bach’s day) to the piano forte then to the piano.
At the age of 34, I went back to college to finish my degree. I changed my major from piano to library science. I’m so glad I never got to Lizst!! Ha!!! God knew what he was doing!
God has a way of doing that.
I was pursuing a degree in business. God changed my mind. Thought I should get a degree in music performance (voice). But strange circumstances changed that. Ended up a Bible major.
And now? I’m in the “Bible business” – if you know what I mean.
As a friend of mine put it, “God is sneaky.”
Sharon K. Connell
Amazing! Thank you, Steve.
I’ve always appreciated and enjoyed great piano players, from classical to jazz and rock. This was certainly a wonderful virtuoso performance. Thank you for sharing it!
DAMON J GRAY
No response I can offer is adequate for that performance.
Incredible! Thank you for sharing.
My fingers hurt after watching that.
Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D.
Rebecca Barlow Jordan
Love piano solos and concerts. I remember doing research on Franz Liszt for a paper in college. And being introduced to him in my days of piano lessons years ago! Loved his music. Still do. Thanks for sharing.
And he makes it look so easy!
Carol R Nicolet Loewen
And without error. Fabulous. Thanks Steve! As a former pianist I can appreciate the hard work that went into that performance!