The paraphrase on God Save the Queen
was written for Liszt’s second British tour. He had first toured as a teenage prodigy, billed as ‘Young Master Liszt’, and would return once again in the last year of his life as a grand and respected figure who would swap yarns with Queen Victoria about their first encounter some 46 years previously. The 1840/41 tour was a gruelling exercise which encompassed far too many venues, desperately mixed bills of fare, and some fairly dreadful pianos, much of which is amusingly recounted in John Orlando Parry’s diaries. Liszt’s general critical reception was rather lukewarm, and his repertoire, whilst ideal for travelling vaudevillians, was no help to his long-term serious reputation. To modern audiences, his ramble on the national anthem is a bit of fun, but of slight merit—although there is a clever hint at ‘Rule, Britannia’ in the coda and one or two striking harmonic effects.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1994