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Ferruccio Busoni

April 1, 1866 - July 27, 1924
born in Empoli, Italy, composed during the Modern period
Ferruccio Busoni was the son of an Italian clarinet virtuoso who was a harsh and demanding pedagogue. Under the thumb of his father, Busoni developed a virtuoso keyboard technique that is in itself the stuff of legend. He began composing early, adding opus numbers to his works from the beginning. Reaching Opus 40 at age 17, Busoni decided go backward to number 31 and start over, causing no end of grief to scholars who attempted to edit his works later.

From an early age, Busoni pursued a serious interest in the music of J.S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Liszt. Although Busoni's reputation as a piano virtuoso of the first rank was established in Europe by the end of the 1880s, he first made his mark as an editor of Bach's keyboard music. While today these editions are regarded as among the most intrusive and heavily marked Bach scores ever made, Busoni's marginal remarks about Bach's thought processes and the analytic value of these comments influenced Bach scholars and composers for generations.

In 1896, Busoni found his mature compositional voice in the Violin Sonata No. 2, Op. 36b, which takes a theme of Bach and submits it to a complex series of variations. In 1904, Busoni followed that with his huge piano concerto. Cast in five movements, it runs 90 minutes and contains parts for a chorus. In 1907, Busoni published a series of writings as Sketch for a New Esthetic of Music. This book proposes a wide variety of new compositional techniques then relatively uninvestigated in Western music, such as microtonal scales and electronics. By 1912, Busoni had composed his first entirely non-key centered composition, the Sonatina seconda. The basis for his definitive style is to be found here; it is neither wholly tonal nor completely atonal, but is placed in a sort of harmonic netherworld in between. In the years left to him, Busoni composed four operas, Die Brautwahl (1912), Arlecchino (1915), Turandot (1917), and Doktor Faust (1924). His major keyboard work is the Fantasia Contrappuntistica (1911-1922), a piece that concludes with a massive fugue built out of the unfinished Contrapunctus XXIV of Bach's Die Kunst der Fuge.

Busoni conducted master classes in composition and taught piano. Among his composition students, Kurt Weill made perhaps the most masterly use of Busoni's Apollonian approach to opera and his quirky sense of harmony. Another Busoni pupil, Otto Luening, helped pioneer the use of electronics in music. As a piano teacher, Busoni also started off an international school of super-virtuosos. Claudio Arrau and Egon Petri are good examples of what Busoni wrought in terms of pianists. As to Busoni's own playing, there are some phonograph records of him made in 1919 and an enormous number of piano rolls. The records only hint at what his playing might've sounded like, but some of the better rolls offer a more generous sample of his artistry at the keyboard.

After his death, Busoni was regarded as a great piano virtuoso whose own music was seemingly incomprehensible. Busoni's thinking would have a more decisive impact on later composers, such as John Cage and Morton Feldman, and in the early '80s, his music experienced a small-scale revival of interest. There is little reason to be afraid of Busoni, as his best music is tremendously exciting, accessible, and endlessly thought-provoking. ~ Uncle Dave Lewis , Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Busoni: Doktor Faust

Title: Doktor Faust, Opera In 8 Scenes (unfinished), KiV 303
x

Track List: Busoni: Piano Concerto; Turandot Suite; Sarabande And Cortege

Disc 1
Title: Berceuse Élégiaque, For Orchestra, Op. 42, KiV 252a
Disc 2
Title: Turandot Suite, For Orchestra, Op. 41, KiV 248
Title: Sarabande & Cortège, For Orchestra (Zwei Studien Zu "Doktor Faust"), Op. 51, KiV 282
Title: Sonatina Ad Usum Infantis, For Piano (No.3), KiV 268
Title: Zehn Variationen Über Das Prelude Von F. Chopin Op. 28/20 In C Minor, K. 293 (Klavierübung II/1), Op. 22, KiV 213a
Title: Elegien, Suite Of Elegies (6) For Piano, KiV 249
Title: Sonatina Super Carmen, For Piano (No. 6), KiV 284
x

Track List: Busoni: Piano Music

Title: Wachet Auf, Ruft Uns Die Stimme, Transcription For Piano (After J. S. Bach, Bwv 645; Ten Chorale Preludes No. 2), Kiv B27/2
Title: Toccatas, Transcriptions (2) For Piano In D Minor & C Major (Bwv 564/565; Bbga 7/3), Kiv B29
Title: Ich ruf' zu dir, transcription for piano (after J.S. Bach, BWV 639; Ten Chorale Preludes No. 5), KiV B27/5
Title: Elegien, Suite Of Elegies (6 Or 7) For Piano, Kiv 249
Title: Sonatina seconda, for piano (No. 2), KiV 259
Title: Toccata: Preludio, Fantasia, Ciaccona, for piano, KiV 287
x

Track List: Busoni: Piano Music, Vol. 1

x

Track List: Busoni: Piano Works

Title: Sonatina Super Carmen, For Piano (No. 6), KiV 284
Title: Sechs Stücke, For Piano, Op. 33b, KiV 241
Title: Elegien, Suite Of Elegies (6 Or 7) For Piano, Kiv 249
Title: Fantasia Nach J. S. Bach, For Piano, KiV 253
Title: An Die Jugend, Pieces (4) For Piano, KiV 254
Title: Sonatina seconda, for piano (No. 2), KiV 259
Title: Indian Diary: First Book, For Piano ("Four Studies On Motives By American Indians"), KiV 267
Title: Toccata: Preludio, Fantasia, Ciaccona, for piano, KiV 287
Title: Praeludium & Fuge, Transcription For Piano In D Major (after J. S. Bach, BWV 532), KiV B20
x

Track List: Busoni: Songs

Title: Zwei Lieder, Songs (2) For Voice & Piano, Op. 31, KiV 167
Title: Album Vocale, Songs (4) For Voice & Piano, Op. 30, KiV 114
Title: Zwei Altdeutsche Lieder, Songs (2) For Voice & Piano, Op. 18, KiV 207
Title: Zwei Lieder, Songs (2) For Voice & Piano, Op. 15, KiV 202
Title: Zwei Lieder, Songs (2) For Voice & Piano, Op. 24, KiV 216
Title: Des Sängers Fluch, Ballade For Voice & Piano, Op. 39, KiV 98
Title: Lied Des Brander, Song For Voice & Piano, KiV 299
Title: Songs (2), For Baritone & Small Orchestra, Op. 49, KiV 277-8
Title: Lied Des Unmuts, Song For Voice & Piano, KiV 281
Title: Zigeunerlied, For Voice & Piano, Op. 55/2, KiV 295a
Title: Schlechter Trost, Song For Voice & Piano, KiV 298a
Title: Reminiscenza Rossiniana, Arietta For Voice & Piano, KiV Deest
x

Track List: Ferruccio Busoni: Music for Cello & Piano

Title: Albumblatt, For Flute (or Muted Violin) & Piano In E Minor, KiV 272
Title: Chromatic Fantasy And Fugue, Arrangement For Cello & Piano (after J. S. Bach, BWV 903; BBGA 7/7), KiV B38
Title: Kleine Suite, For Cello & Piano, Op. 23, KiV 215
Title: Serenata, For Cello & Piano In G Minor, Op. 34, KiV 196
Title: Kultaselle, Variations (10) On A Finnish Folksong For Cello & Piano, KiV 237
Title: Valse Oubliée, Arrangement For Cello & Piano, (after Liszt), KiV B69
Title: Durch Adams Fall Ist Ganz Verdebt (I), Transcription For Piano (after J.S. Bach, BWV 637; Ten Chorale Preludes No. 7), KiV B27/7
Title: Ich ruf' zu dir, transcription for piano (after J.S. Bach, BWV 639; Ten Chorale Preludes No. 5), KiV B27/5

Comments

Wow! Sounds different played on piano!
msspring2006
Was the inspiration for the music of UP??
Fairly certain this is the music from "Up"
IM HERE TO LISTEN TO DEM OG CLASSICS
nickwoebcke
At first I was going to say you had the wrong composer but I see this is a Bach 'mashup' written by Busoni. Very nice.
I like his transcriptio n of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor BWV 565.
wow. this is reall music
jtorres41619 8 1
Great!!!!!!! !
this guy is great thank thank you for telling me out this vituiso
Stands out in a crowd! Like it.
just_meef
Set's himself apart he does.
This is gorgeous. Swallows you up.
Harkens' me back to my adolescence when my classically trained piano teacher played this very piece. Thank You Mrs. Cox for all those great lessons that turned into concerts.
gorgeously alive . . .

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