Franz Liszt, one of the first virtuoso superstars of the music world, didn’t stop at composing his own showpieces to display his own incredible talent at the piano keyboard. He also transcribed for piano many of the great symphonic works of his day, including all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies. Reducing orchestral works to the keyboard results in a very odd kind of listening experience if you know the original work well: you’re hearing all the themes and all the development, in all their compositional glory, but with none of the orchestral timbres.
But it’s still Beethoven, distilled through the piano genius that was Franz Liszt.
Here’s the Symphony No. 7, possibly Beethoven’s greatest symphony and one of his very greatest works, recast as a piano virtuoso work by Franz Liszt. And make no mistake: it’s all here. Liszt transcribed it, but he sure didn’t simplify it.