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Observations placeholder

Liszt - Hungarian Rhapsody No 2



Type of Spiritual Experience


The Hungarian Rhapsodies, S.244, R.106 (French: Rhapsodies hongroises, German: Ungarische Rhapsodien, Hungarian: Magyar rapszódiák), is a set of 19 piano pieces based on Hungarian folk themes, composed by Franz Liszt during 1846–1853, and later in 1882 and 1885. Liszt also arranged versions for orchestra, piano duet and piano trio.

Some are better known than others, with Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 being particularly famous. No. 10 and No. 6 are also well known.

Liszt incorporated many themes he had heard in his native western Hungary and which he believed to be folk music, or by composers such as József Kossovits, often played by Roma (Gypsy) bands. The large scale structure of each was influenced by the verbunkos, a Hungarian dance in several parts, each with a different tempo. Within this structure, Liszt preserved the two main structural elements of typical Gypsy improvisation—the lassan ("slow") and the friska ("fast"). At the same time, Liszt incorporated a number of effects unique to the sound of Gypsy bands, especially the pianistic equivalent of the cimbalom. He also makes much use of the Hungarian gypsy scale.

A description of the experience

Valentina Lisitsa plays Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2

Liszt writing about the Romany violinist Janos Bihari:

I was just beginning to grow up when I heard this great man in 1822 … he used to play for hours on end, without giving the slightest thought to the passing of time … his musical cascades fell in rainbow profusion, or glided along in soft murmur … his performances must have distilled into my soul the essence of some generous and exhilarating wine; for when I think of his playing, the emotions I then experienced were like one of those mysterious elixirs concocted in the secret laboratories of the alchemists of the Middle Ages.

Franz Liszt The Virtusos Years – Alan Walker
Liszt writes with affection about Bihari’s musical personality and has some penetrating things to say about this Romany’s life and art.  When in the 1840s, Liszt composed that national epic, the series of 15 Hungarian Rhapsodies, he must have had constantly before him these childhood scenes [when he saw the gypsies] and attempted to enshrine them in those unique creations.

Franz Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 arr. for six cimbaloms and gypsy-orchestra

provided for comparison.  The Budapest Gypsy Orchestra is the worlds largest gypsy symphony orchestra


The source of the experience

Liszt, Franz

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps