Grandes études de Paganini
The Grandes études de Paganini, S.141, are a series of six études for the piano by Franz Liszt, revised in 1851 from an earlier version (published as Études d'exécution transcendante d'après Paganini, S.140, in 1838). It is almost exclusively in the final version that these pieces are played today.
The pieces are all based on the compositions of Niccolò Paganini for violin, and are among the most technically demanding pieces in the piano literature (especially the original versions, before Liszt revised them, thinning the textures and removing some of the more outrageous technical difficulties). The pieces run the gamut of technical hurdles, and frequently require very large stretches by the performer of an eleventh (although all stretches greater than a tenth were removed from the revised versions).
Études d'exécution transcendante d'après Paganini
Original version (1838), S. 140 – Dedicated to Madame Clara Schumann
- Étude No. 1 in G minor (Preludio: Andante; Non troppo lento, cantabile) ("Tremolo") – after Paganini's 24 Caprices for Solo Violin #6 (with the introduction and coda of #5). Begins with a prelude of rapid arpeggios and scales and then enters the main étude section; as the name suggests, the piece is meant to employ tremolos. Voicing and dynamics are important in "Tremolo", and adding to its difficulty is the fact that many tremolos are marked to be played by the left hand only.
- Étude No. 2 in E-flat major (Andantino capricciosamente) – after the 17th caprice. Contains many rapid scales and octaves and requires elegance and quality of tone.
- Étude No. 3 in A-flat minor (Allegro moderato) – after the final movement of Paganini's Violin Concerto #2 in B minor, and containing the first theme of the final movement of Paganini's Violin Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major.
- Étude No. 4 in E major (Andante quasi allegretto) – after the 1st caprice.
- Étude No. 5 in E major (Allegretto, dolcissimo) ("La Chasse") – after the 9th caprice.
- Étude No. 6 in A minor (Quasi presto, a capriccio) ("Theme and Variations") – after the 24th caprice, with a slightly altered theme and 11 variations. The technically demanding work abounds with rapid octaves, scales, and arpeggios.
Grandes Études de Paganini
Performed by Romuald Greiss on an 1850 Budynowicz piano
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Revised version (1851), S.141 – dedicated to Madame Clara Schumann
- Étude No. 1 in G minor (Preludio, Andante; Etude – Non troppo lento) ("Tremolo") – after the 6th caprice (with the introduction and coda of the 5th).
- Étude No. 2 in E-flat major (Andante capriccioso) – after the 17th caprice.
- Étude No. 3 in G-sharp minor (Allegretto) (La campanella) – after the final movement of Paganini's Violin Concerto #2 in B minor.
- Étude No. 4 in E major (Vivo) ("Arpeggio") – after the 1st caprice. Written on one line only, omitting the usual separate line for the left hand. Furthermore, its lowest tone is the g, the score thus mimicking a score for violin.
- Étude No. 5 in E major (La Chasse) (Allegretto) – after the 9th caprice.
- Étude No. 6 in A minor (Theme and Variations) (Quasi presto, a capriccio) – after the 24th caprice.
- Études d'exécution transcendante d'après Paganini (first version, 1838, S.140), Grandes études de Paganini (revised version, 1851, S.141): Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
- Recording and analysis by Leslie Howard (in English/French/German)