WARNING: The following material contains a video of a professional playing Liszt. Do not be discouraged if you cannot learn this piece overnight.

Today we’re gonna look at Liszt’s Totentanz (for an introduction, see the last post).

In classical music, you will find a lot of titles in another language, and thanks to the internet, we can translate these names into English. Totentanz, which is the piece we’re gonna look at today, is German for “death dance”. I prefer to think of Liszt’s Totentanz as variations on the Dies Irae theme, rather than a “death dance” because it’s too dark for me to think of it that way. I admire the piece for how he brings out the Dies Irae theme in various moods, as we will see.

Hold on tight because you are going to see some epic piano skills right here. Make sure you’re sitting down. I warned you.

00:00 – Liszt introduces the Dies Irae theme in bass notes for a more “mwuhaha” effect.

00:33- No, this is not in fast forward…

01:36- A break from all those fancy piano skills to play it in a more serious mood for a little bit

02:49- The fast little parts get higher up on the piano each time like his hand is getting ready for take off

03:01- On this part the pianist basically plays glissandos, which is a fancy name for sliding across the keys. 03:16- glissandos all over the place

04:00- In this middle section Liszt does a kind of peaceful version on the same theme, which gets into a sad mood on 05:20

06:22- His hand needs a break to get ready for the finale, it’s tired (hard work)

06:47- Now that the hand is ready, the music builds up again

09:21- “Phew, glad that’s over” …no wait there’s more

10:02- Getting ready for the big ending

10:31- Rocking out to Liszt (yes you can head bang to classical music)

13:23 Playing dat bass while the right hand goes all over the piano (yes classical music has bass too)

Now that you have just watched one of the most difficult piano pieces ever, hopefully you have become a little more of a music nerd, or at least can admire the work that goes into practicing something like this.

Moll

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