Liszt and Bach; Music to Die For; 4 Songs for Life

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Music to Die For; 4 Songs for Life

Xah Lee, 2010-10-31

On a island, if there can be only 4 songs i can listen to for the rest of life, they would be:

  • Bach. WTC, Book 1, Fugue 4. bach_wtc1_f04.mid
  • Bach. WTC, Book 1, Fugue 8. bach_wtc1_f08.mid
  • Liszt. Transcendental Etudes, #12, Vision
  • Liszt. Transcendental Etudes, #6, Snowstorm

These are cold, austere, painful, and represent me, my personality, my character.

There are many others that would be my top 10 or 20, but these 4 standout. And if i can only pick 2 albums, that'd be Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC) book 1 (24 songs), and Liszt's Transcendental Etudes (12 songs). My top 10 songs likely will be exclusively piano/keyboard music. No symphonies, orchestras, no pop rap rock'n'roll, nothing except pure music.

Here's music video of them.

Bach, Fugue 4, WTC 1

Bach, Prelude and Fugue number 4, WTC 1. Playe by Tatiana Nikolaeva. Fugue starts at 2:50.

Bach, Prelude and Fugue number 4, WTC 1. Played by Kenneth Gilbert. The fugue starts at 2:25.

The above one, found on youtube, lacks dynamics in the fugue, partly due to the instrument the harpsichord. But it is good for the prelude.

All the prelude in WTC are also my top favorites.

Bach, Fugue 8, WTC 1

Bach, Prelude and Fugue number 8, WTC 1. Played by Friedrich Gulda. The fugue starts at 4:34.

My favorite interpreter of Bach's WTC is Wanda Landowska. And my favorite instrument of WTC is Wanda's special Pleyel harpsichord. Second favorite is probably Friedrich Gulda in the video above.

  • 〈The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I. Johann Sebastian Bach (Composer), Wanda Landowska (Performer)〉 amazon
  • 〈Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1 Johann Sebastian Bach (Composer), Friedrich Gulda (Performer) 〉 amazon

Liszt, Transcendental Etude, #12

Liszt Transcendental Etude #12. Played by Jorge Bolet.

The above guy is Jorge Bolet, one in top 2 my favorite interpretation of this piece.

Liszt Transcendental Etude #12. Played by Miroslav Kultyshev.

For more about this piece, see: Piano Scale Practice; Liszt Transcendental Etude #12.

Liszt, Transcendental Etude, #6

Liszt Transcendental Etude #6. Played by Claudio Arrau.

Claudio Arrau is another one of my favorite Liszt pianist.

  • 〈Liszt: The Complete Etudes Franz Liszt (Composer), Claudio Arrau (Performer), Nikita Magaloff (Performer)〉 amazon

About Bach and Liszt

I've known Bach's work and WTC since around 1991, and have been listening to his WTC almost every day for many hours for the first few years. Am mostly interested in his fugue works. Through out the past 20 years, i still listen to them, perhaps every month.

I've known Liszt's transcendental edutes also in the early 1990s. Franz Liszt is a fascinating character. My hero of sorts. The type of guy i admire. (for context, i don't give a flying fuck about Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven, et al.) I've read increasingly more about Liszt, and discovered he has massive number of piano work. About in 2006, i discovered that a pianist Leslie Howard has recorded the entire Liszt's solo piano works as they exist. 99 CDs so far. Record label is Hyperion. (i bought all the CDs on this page in 1990s, but am sorry to say, i downloaded the Leslie Howard's liszt work.) Since i listened to all Liszt's works, they are just incredible. Now, 3.656 k songs in my lib. 1.7k are Liszt. 354 are Bach.

  • 〈Liszt: Transcendental Studies. Franz Liszt (Composer), Leslie Howard (Performer) 〉 amazon

(I can't find the boxed set of Leslie Howard's complete Liszt work. Please let me know if you do find it.) Here's a list of the titles: Leslie_Howard_complete_Liszt.txt.

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