Fun Fridays – September 7, 2020

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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24 Responses to Fun Fridays – September 7, 2020

  1. Avatar
    Roberta Sarver September 4, 2020 at 5:51 am #

    You’re right, his fingers were a blur! I wonder how long it took him to learn that piece.

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      Steve Laube September 4, 2020 at 10:22 am #

      Roberta,

      A lifetime.

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        Sandra D. Revelle September 5, 2020 at 7:31 am #

        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.

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    Colleen Snyder September 4, 2020 at 6:02 am #

    WOW. That is all.

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    Jeannie Delahunt September 4, 2020 at 6:25 am #

    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!!!

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    Teresa Rose September 4, 2020 at 6:29 am #

    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.

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    Jeannie Delahunt September 4, 2020 at 6:34 am #

    Oh, I forgot. Here’s the link to hear David play this on the violin.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwGeY2JZOKA

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube September 4, 2020 at 10:21 am #

      Jeannie,

      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!!!!

      • Avatar
        Dinah Rogers September 4, 2020 at 12:59 pm #

        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!

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    marilyn pardine September 4, 2020 at 7:01 am #

    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.

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    Kay DiBianca September 4, 2020 at 7:09 am #

    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!”

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube September 4, 2020 at 10:18 am #

      Five sharps?
      Gasp.

      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.

  8. Avatar
    Regina Merrick September 4, 2020 at 7:11 am #

    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!

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube September 4, 2020 at 10:24 am #

      Regina,

      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.”

  9. Avatar
    Sharon K. Connell September 4, 2020 at 7:49 am #

    Amazing! Thank you, Steve.

  10. Avatar
    JB Blake September 4, 2020 at 8:19 am #

    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!

  11. Avatar
    DAMON J GRAY September 4, 2020 at 9:34 am #

    No response I can offer is adequate for that performance.

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    Chris Wachter September 4, 2020 at 11:05 am #

    Incredible! Thank you for sharing.

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    John Turney September 4, 2020 at 11:18 am #

    My fingers hurt after watching that.

  14. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D. September 4, 2020 at 4:17 pm #

    Unbelievable! Impressive!

  15. Avatar
    Rebecca Barlow Jordan September 5, 2020 at 10:36 am #

    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.

  16. Avatar
    Susan Martin September 5, 2020 at 11:46 am #

    And he makes it look so easy!

  17. Avatar
    Carol R Nicolet Loewen September 5, 2020 at 7:52 pm #

    And without error. Fabulous. Thanks Steve! As a former pianist I can appreciate the hard work that went into that performance!

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