Liszt's Greatest Works

Piano virtuoso who redefined keyboard music while developing new genres such as the symphonic poem.


(1811 - 1886)

Etudes d'exécution transcendante Nos 1-12

Dazzling compendium of keyboard techniques that pushed contemporary pianos and pianists to the limit, although such evocative titles as 'Vision' were added later.

Franz Liszt 12 Etudes d'exécution transcendante, S.139 No.1 Prélude (Presto) Alice Sara Ott

Hungarian Rhapsodies Nos 1-19

Gripping miniature melodramas, featuring exuberant emulations of the cimbalom, 'rubato' violins, and the driving, syncopated rhythms of gypsy music.

Franz Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No.6 in D flat, S.244 Martha Argerich

Hungarian Rhapsodies Nos 1-6

Hugely popular orchestral transcriptions of Liszt's keyboard miniatures. By the end of his life he had grown so weary of them that he forbade his pupils to play them to him.

Franz Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No.4 in D minor, S.359 No.4 (Corresponds piano version no. 12 in C sharp minor) Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan

La lugubre gondola

Deeply introspective piano work that started out as a premonition of his son-in-law Richard Wagner's death and became a memorial following the composer's demise just a few months later.

Franz Liszt La Lugubre Gondola, S.200 No.1 Maurizio Pollini

Mephisto Waltz No.1

Piano showpiece in which a bored Mephisto seizes a violin, plays havoc with the local band's bland waltz tune, and encourages the assembled to indulge in a ravenous orgy.

Franz Liszt Mephisto Waltz No.1, S.514 Vladimir Ashkenazy

Piano Sonata in B minor

Epic Romantic sonata in which introspective passages of exquisite refinement are contrasted with outbursts of coruscating technical bravura.

Franz Liszt Piano Sonata In B Minor, S.178 Lento assai - Allegro energico Daniil Trifonov

A Faust Symphony

Initially drafted in just two months but drastically revised over the following six years, Liszt chose to portray Goethe's Faust as a burnt-out scholar compelled to feast on carnal pleasures.

Franz Liszt A Faust Symphony, S.108 1. Faust Boston Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein

Piano Concerto No.1

Technically demanding concerto that welds piano and orchestra together in a dramatic series of meditations on a theme of which Liszt enigmatically declared 'None of you understands!'

Franz Liszt Piano Concerto No.1 in E flat, S.124 1. Allegro maestoso Daniel Barenboim, Staatskapelle Berlin, Pierre Boulez

Piano Concerto No.2

Cast as a single continuous structure, Liszt's 'Concerto symphonique' is a sequence of magical transformations of the same musical motif.

Franz Liszt Piano Concerto No.2 in A, S.125 6. Allegro animato - Stretto Lazar Berman, Wiener Symphoniker, Carlo Maria Giulini


Horrific scenes during the Paris cholera epidemic of 1832 inspired Liszt to use the Dies Irae chant in a number of works, most notably the Totentanz for piano and orchestra.

Franz Liszt Totentanz, S. 525 Krystian Zimerman, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Seiji Ozawa