Busoni, Ferruccio (1866-1924)
© Amadeus Schwarzkopf, Zurich
Ferruccio Busoni, between 1916 and 1919

Ferruccio Busoni

born: 1 April 1866
died: 27 July 1924
country: Italy

Born in Empoli, near Florence, Ferruccio Busoni (1866–1924) was the only child of the clarinettist Ferdinando Busoni and the pianist Anna Weiss. A prodigy whose precocious career fortunately went beyond a brief flash, he gave his first recital and wrote his first composition at the age of seven, and published his first work when ten. He completed his private studies in composition (in Graz) while still a fifteen-year-old teenager and, two years later, he began contributing reviews and articles to a Trieste newspaper. He later became aware that he had written too much music and published several works prematurely. Jürgen Kindermann’s thematic catalogue has 303 numbers for the original works and 115 for the cadenzas, arrangements and editions. Busoni considered that his Sonata in E minor for violin and piano, completed in late 1898, was his actual ‘opus 1’.

Busoni’s career as a highly respected piano teacher started in 1888 with one- or two-year appointments in Helsinki, Moscow and Boston. After a short period of activity as a freelance pianist based in New York, he settled in 1894 in Berlin, whence he managed his career as one of the most esteemed pianists of his time. In addition to Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Mozart, he championed Liszt and Alkan. Several of his private pupils, including Rudolph Ganz, Mark Hambourg, Eduard Steuermann, Theodor Szántó and Gino Tagliapietra, made a successful career. Returning to Berlin in 1920, after almost five years of self-imposed exile in Zurich, he taught composition to a small group of advanced students among whom was Kurt Weill. A highly cultivated person and a passionate collector of first editions, he kept an open house for musicians and intellectuals of various disciplines who sought his advice and enjoyed his brilliant conversation.

Like Liszt, Busoni devoted a large part of his production to the piano and became an acknowledged master of the transcription. This played against his reputation as a composer (which was what really mattered for him) until at least the centenary of his birth in 1966, if not the 1980s, because his name, for many, was associated solely with his Bach arrangements. Yet his output also comprises several works for chamber ensembles and for orchestra (including concertos), as well as songs and operas. His massive Piano Concerto of 1904 (recorded by Marc-André Hamelin on Hyperion CDA67143), whose fifth and final movement calls for a male chorus, with which he stylistically bid farewell to the past, and the Fantasia contrappuntistica (recorded by Hamish Milne on Hyperion CDA67677), a completion of the final fugue from Bach’s Art of Fugue within a large-scale original structure, written in 1910, have become much better known and admired over the last thirty years or so. This is also true of his four operas, especially Doktor Faust (1916–23), the final masterpiece that sums up his mature years as a composer.

from notes by Marc-André Roberge © 2013

Albums

Busoni & Strauss: Violin Concertos
Studio Master: CDA68044Best of 2014Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Busoni: Fantasia contrappuntistica & other piano music
CDA67677
Busoni: Late Piano Music
Studio Master: CDA67951/33CDs Best of 2014Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Busoni: Piano Concerto
CDA67143
Hyperion monthly sampler – December 2014
FREE DOWNLOADHYP201412Download-only monthly sampler NEW
Bach: Piano Transcriptions, Vol. 1 – Ferruccio Busoni
CDA66566
Bach: Piano Transcriptions, Vol. 2 – Ferruccio Busoni
CDA67324
Emil Gilels & Yakov Zak – Mozart, Mozart-Busoni & Saint-Saëns
APR5664Download only
Gina Bachauer – The first HMV recordings
APR5643Download only
Grigory Ginzburg – His early recordings – 1
APR5667Download only
Grigory Ginzburg – His early recordings – 2
APR5672Download only
Hommage à Chopin
CDA67803
Marc-André Hamelin – It's all about the music
This album is not yet available for downloadDVDA68000DVD
Marc-André Hamelin live at Wigmore Hall
CDA66765
Michael Zadora – The complete recordings
APR6008for the price of 1 — Download only
Mozart: Stephen Hough's Mozart Album
CDA67598
Rare Piano Encores
CDH55109Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Strauss & Busoni: Violin Concertos
Studio Master: CDA68044Best of 2014Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
The Composer-Pianists
CDA67050Archive Service
The Transcendental Tradition
APR5630Download only
Vladimir Horowitz – The complete solo European recordings
APR6004for the price of 1 — Download only
The Essential Hyperion, Vol. 1
This album is not yet available for downloadHYP12Super-budget price sampler — Deleted

Complete works available for download

AllegroMarc-André Hamelin (piano)
Canonic Variations and Fugue, BVB40Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Elegies, BV249Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Fantasia after J S Bach, BV253Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Fantasia after J S Bach, BV253Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Fantasia contrappuntisticaHamish Milne (piano)
Indianisches ErnteliedMarc-André Hamelin (piano)
Indianisches Tagebuch I, BV267Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Kammer-Fantasie über Carmen, BV284Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Kammer-Fantasie über Carmen, BV284Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Kammer-Fantasie über Carmen, BV284Michael Zadora (piano)
Motive 'Allegro risoluto'Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Nine Variations on a Chopin Prelude, BV213aJonathan Plowright (piano)
Nine Variations on a Chopin Prelude, BV213aMarc-André Hamelin (piano)
Nuit de Noël, BV251Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Perpetuum mobile, BV293Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Prélude et étude en arpèges, BV297Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Preludio 'Allegro festivo'Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Preludio 'without the third finger, Moderato alla breve'Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Prologo, BV279Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Serenade 'Deh vieni alla finestra' from Mozart's Don GiovanniLeslie Howard (piano)
Seven Short Pieces for the Cultivation of Polyphonic Playing, BV296Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Sonatina 'ad usum infantis Madeline M* Americanae', BV268Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Sonatina 'ad usum infantis Madeline M* Americanae', BV268Michael Zadora (piano)
Sonatina brevis 'in signo Joannis Sebastiani Magni', BV280Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Sonatina 'in diem nativitatis Christi MCMXVII', BV274Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Sonatina 'in diem nativitatis Christi MCMXVII', BV274Michael Zadora (piano)
Sonatina seconda, BV259Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Sonatina, BV257Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Three Albumleaves, BV289Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Toccata 'Preludio, Fantasia, Ciaccona', BV287Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Variations-Studie nach Mozart IMarc-André Hamelin (piano)
Veloce e leggieroMarc-André Hamelin (piano)
Violin Concerto in D major, Op 35aTanja Becker-Bender (violin), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Garry Walker (conductor)
Vivace moderato, con precisioneMarc-André Hamelin (piano)
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750))
Adagio in G major, BWV968Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt, BWV637/705Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
Herr Gott, nun schleuss den Himmel auf, BWV617Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
Ich ruf' zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV639Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
In dir ist Freude, BWV615Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
Jesus Christus, unser Heiland, BWV665Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
Komm, Gott Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist, BWV667Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gemein, BWV734Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gemein, BWV734Vladimir Horowitz (piano)
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV659Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV645Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827))
6 Ecossaises for piano, WoO83Michael Zadora (piano)
FRANZ LISZT (1811-1886))
Fantasia on two themes from Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart, S697Grigory Ginzburg (piano)
Fantasia on two themes from Mozart's The Marriage of FigaroStephen Hough (piano)
Fantasie und Fuge über den Choral Ad nos, ad salutarem undam, S259Hamish Milne (piano)
Rapsodie espagnole, S254Gina Bachauer (piano), The New London Orchestra, Alec Sherman (conductor)
LEOPOLD MOZART (1719-1787))
Duettino ConcertanteEmil Gilels (piano), Yakov Zak (piano)
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791))
Fantasia in F minor, K608Emil Gilels (piano), Yakov Zak (piano)

Alphabetical listing of all musical works

6 Ecossaises for piano, WoO83 (Beethoven/Busoni)
Adagio in G major, BWV968 (Bach/Busoni)
Allegro (Busoni)
All'Italia! (In modo napolitano)  
An die Jugend, BV254 (Busoni)
Andantino  
Andantino tranquillo  
Benedictus  
Berceuse  
Canonic Variations and Fugue, BVB40 (Busoni)
Capriccio in B flat major 'on the Departure of his Beloved Brother', BWV992 (Bach/Busoni)
Chorale Prelude 'Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr'  
Ciaccona  
Die Nächtlichen (Walzer)  
Die Zauberflöte (Mozart/Busoni)
Duettino Concertante (Mozart/Busoni)
Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt, BWV637/705 (Bach/Busoni)
Elegies, BV249 (Busoni)
Erscheinung (Notturno)  
Fantasia after J S Bach, BV253 (Busoni)
Fantasia contrappuntistica (Busoni)
Fantasia in C minor, BWV906 (Bach/Busoni)
Fantasia in F minor, K608 (Mozart/Busoni)
Fantasia on two themes from Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart, S697 (Liszt/Mozart/Busoni)
Fantasia on two themes from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro (Liszt/Busoni)
Fantasie und Fuge über den Choral Ad nos, ad salutarem undam, S259 (Liszt/Busoni)
Fugue  
Giga, bolero e variazione  
Herr Gott, nun schleuss den Himmel auf, BWV617 (Bach/Busoni)
Ich ruf' zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV639 (Bach/Busoni)
In dir ist Freude, BWV615 (Bach/Busoni)
Indianisches Erntelied (Busoni)
Indianisches Tagebuch I, BV267 (Busoni)
Jesus Christus, unser Heiland, BWV665 (Bach/Busoni)
Kammer-Fantasie über Carmen, BV284 (Busoni)
Komm, Gott Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist, BWV667 (Bach/Busoni)
Little Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV533 (Bach/Busoni)
Meine Seele bangt und hofft zu Dir (Choralvorspiel)  
Missa solemnis, Op 123 (Beethoven/Busoni)
Motive 'Allegro risoluto' (Busoni)
Nach der Wendung (Recueillement)  
Nach Mozart: Adagio  
Nine Variations on a Chopin Prelude, BV213a (Busoni)
Nuit de Noël, BV251 (Busoni)
Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gemein, BWV734 (Bach/Busoni)
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV659 (Bach/Busoni)
Overture  
Partita No 2 in D minor, BWV1004 (Bach/Busoni)
Perpetuum mobile, BV293 (Busoni)
Piano Concerto in C major, Op 39 (Busoni)
Piano Concerto No 9 in E flat major 'Jeunehomme', K271 (Mozart/Busoni)
Prelude and Fugue in D major, BWV532 (Bach/Busoni)
Prelude and Fugue in E flat major 'St Anne', BWV552 (Bach/Busoni)
Prélude et étude en arpèges, BV297 (Busoni)
Preludio 'Allegro festivo' (Busoni)
Preludio 'without the third finger, Moderato alla breve' (Busoni)
Prologo, BV279 (Busoni)
Rapsodie espagnole, S254 (Liszt/Busoni)
Serenade 'Deh vieni alla finestra' from Mozart's Don Giovanni (Busoni)
Seven Short Pieces for the Cultivation of Polyphonic Playing, BV296 (Busoni)
Sonatina 'ad usum infantis Madeline M* Americanae', BV268 (Busoni)
Sonatina brevis 'in signo Joannis Sebastiani Magni', BV280 (Busoni)
Sonatina 'in diem nativitatis Christi MCMXVII', BV274 (Busoni)
Sonatina seconda, BV259 (Busoni)
Sonatina, BV257 (Busoni)
Three Albumleaves, BV289 (Busoni)
Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV565 (Bach/Busoni)
Toccata 'Preludio, Fantasia, Ciaccona', BV287 (Busoni)
Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV564 (Bach/Busoni)
Turandots Frauengemach (Intermezzo)  
Variations-Studie nach Mozart I (Busoni)
Veloce e leggiero (Busoni)
Violin Concerto in D major, Op 35a (Busoni)
Vivace moderato, con precisione (Busoni)
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV645 (Bach/Busoni)