La Campanella is one of the most popular and characteristic of Franz Liszt's etude.
Liszt profoundly admired the great Italian violin virtuoso NiccolÃ² Paganini. Paganini virtually invented the persona of the touring virtuoso, drawing huge audiences and commanding stellar fees on the basis of his star power. He drew unprecedented technical effects from the violin, often achieved by specially tuning the strings to notes other than standard, allowing himself to create unusual double stops and to allow the violin to ring in resonance on unexpected notes. Liszt similarly built his public performances around a carefully constructed stage persona and an ability to stun the audience with brand-new feats of virtuosity, some taking advantage of technical advances incorporated in newer pianos. He played the part of the creative artist, the new hero of Romantic literature and music. In 1838 he completed a set of six piano pieces collectively entitled "Ãtudes d'exÃ©cution transcendante d'aprÃ¨s Paganini".
The 3rd of these etuded is based on the finale of Paganini's Second Violin Concerto in B minor. This finale uses an old song called La Campanella (the little bell; "la clochette" in French) and accordingly uses many bell effects both in the violin and the orchestra. Liszt was an inveterate reviser of his own music so he drastically cut and further refined the etudes and, in this case, he revised twice all of them. In either of its two forms Liszt's etude is the third in its set and is a dazzling, sparkling piece. With utmost inventiveness it plays the delightful Paganini-arranged folk theme amidst a continuous ringing of tinkling high notes. Liszt achieves many different bell effects by various means in his writing, which remains exceptionally difficult even in the rather more efficiently written later version. Properly played, it rarely fails to delight!
Well... I hope so! ð .
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