LISZT Franz, Hungarian Rhapsody No.9 ‘Carnival in Pest’

Liszt composed his Carnival in Pest in 1847 for solo piano, the ninth of his Hungarian Rhapsodies in which he aimed to compose virtuoso works in which he could incorporate traditional music from his homeland. Carnival in Pest is dedicated to the Brno-born violinist Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst, It was therefore a particularly appropriate idea for Liszt to compose a version for piano trio which includes a flamboyant violin part – in fact all three instruments are given some dazzling writing. 

Dating from 1848, the autograph manuscript of the trio version (in the collection of the Juilliard School in New York) is covered in revisions and deletions, suggesting that Liszt rethought much of the work when he made this transcription. It is a piece that is largely celebratory in mood and Liszt presents a succession of stirring Hungarian Gypsy themes with frequent changes of tempo, interspersed with cadenzas. It culminates in a triumphant reprise of the opening idea on the strings, in octaves, followed by a dizzying coda. It is unclear why Liszt did not publish the trio version during his lifetime, but it eventually appeared posthumously in 1892. 

© Nigel Simeone 

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