The first publication of this piece is: ‘Le célèbre Zigeuner-Polka de Conradi pour le piano par F. Liszt’ and advertises an orchestral version (Conradi’s original) and a facilitated piano version (not by Liszt). The idea of any music by August Conradi (1821– 1873) being ‘celebrated’ strikes one as a bit odd today, but Conradi, who for a time acted as Liszt’s musical secretary and amanuensis and carried out some orchestrations of Liszt’s works under Liszt’s instructions, was a prolific and successful composer in his day, especially with his lighter orchestral works—although he wrote operas, symphonies and much other more serious music, all quite forgotten now. He wrote the Zigeuner-Polka
in 1843, and it had certainly become popular before Liszt transcribed it. Apart from the introduction and coda, and one or two transitions, Liszt’s version makes no attempt to improve Conradi’s structure, which is really just a succession of short dance tunes joined together without much in the way of reprise. As one might expect, the Hungarianisms are accentuated by Liszt in his added passages, which are a good deal less tame than Conradi’s agreeable four-square tunes.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1996