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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Romantic Era > Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 (Liszt)


Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2

Franz Liszt
(1811-86)



Liszt wrote fifteen Hungarian rhapsodies, all of them originally for piano solo, but many of them have been scored for orchestra. Of all these the second is by far the most popular and the most frequently heard in the concert room and is therefore selected for description. Its orchestral version was made by Herr Muller-Berghaus, though another version was also made by the composer, assisted by Franz Doppler. The two principal movements are the Lassan, or slow movement, and the Friska, or quick movement, of the conventional Hungarian Czardas, the national dance. The Lassan begins in the clarinets, violins and violas in unison, accompanied by chords in the horns, trombones and basses and is very earnest and resolute in character. A slow and mournful passage follows in the same instruments with a similar accompaniment, the theme of which, after a clarinet Cadenza, appears in the flutes and oboes. In the next section, a theme of the Friska is suggested in the flute, harp and violas with a pizzicato string, triangle and bells accompaniment. The same melody is next taken in a spirited manner in the first violins and woodwinds, leading to a second clarinet Cadenza, after which the first part of the movement is repeated with some variations and comes to a quiet close. The Friska opens with the theme suggested in the Lassan, announced in the oboe with accompaniment in the violins, piccolo and clarinet. A crescendo follows, the time gradually growing more rapid, until a climax is reached, and the whole orchestra gives out the principal dance theme of the Friska, a dashing, brilliant melody. It is developed with the greatest energy, bringing out at the same time, some subsidiaries in the wild rush. Near the close there is a lull for an instant, and a quiet little melody is hard, based upon one of the themes, in the clarinet and bassoon. Then comes a momentary pause, followed by the fortissimo Coda, which brings this spirited work to its close.





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