Rounding out their month-long celebration of Beethoven’s birthday, the local classickal station has been running pairings this week of his symphonies with piano transcriptions of them done by Franz Liszt.

I may say that it is an interesting exercise, but I find that I am not greatly moved by the keyboard versions.  And it occurs to me off-handedly that this kind of transposition probably is more effective going the other way, that is, arrangements of original keyboard works for orchestra.  (Here I’m thinking of Ravel’s arrangement of Mussorski’s “Pictures At An Exhibition” or Berlioz’s version of Weber’s “Invitation to the Dance”.  There are exceptions to this, I suppose, such as Leopold Stokowski’s orchestral murder of Bach’s keyboard musick, which I wouldn’t wish on anybody.)

I can only think of a few other piano transcriptions of orchestral musick, mostly in the context of variations based on themes from Mozart’s operas and the like, but there again, I usually don’t much care for them.  If there are better examples of the craft that I don’t know about, I’d be interested to learn.

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