Liszt Piano Sonata in B minor – Introduction

Franz Liszt (1811 – 1886), well known to the world as one who portrayed the ‘devil’, shows much struggle of character within his pieces. An accomplished piano virtuoso, many of his pieces require much technical skill to be played. Don’t forget about the music which lies underneath this show-work, though.

His Piano Sonata in B minor is something special. Normally Piano Sonatas come in the form of 3 movements (sometimes 4), different in character. Here, Liszt has decided to roll up everything into a half-hour long 1 movement piece. One can’t get bored listening to it, though.

His piece shows great struggle between two opposite characters, one angry, and the other calm. A bit like Schumann’s “Florestan” and “Eusebius”, I guess. So, excitement, tension, resolve is very much a part of this piece.

The piece may be divided up into a few sections (Opinions differ, but I would say 4 sections). The piece may be looked at as a fusion of the sonata form and 4 movements. The sonata form consists of – 1st theme – bridge – 2nd theme – codetta – development – 1st theme – bridge – 2nd theme (in tonic) – coda.

In this particular work, Liszt reveals the 1st theme and the bridge, both fast and virtuostic, and moving on through a slowing bridge before coming to what you could call BOTH the 2nd theme, and also the 2nd movement. In fact, it looks like the 2nd theme is a variation of the 1st theme.

Later, Liszt moves into a ‘development’-like section, before a ‘scherzo-like’ section which turns back into our 1st theme (hence recapitulation), and also like the 3rd movement. The bridge and 2nd theme come back again, before moving into a coda (or somewhat like a 4th movement).

Frankly, I think Liszt was a genius at coming up with this work. It’s a sonata form, it’s a few movements in one, and may be called a work on variations.

And thus the end of the introduction to this piece, and the wonderful world of music.

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