Années de pèlerinage Venezia e Napoli
Professor Jean-François Heissler and student Virgile Roche travel with Franz Liszt to Venice and Naples in this piano masterclass. Virgile Roche deepens his knowledge of Années de Pèlerinage Venezia y Napoli, a beautiful piece composed by Liszt as part of three suites for solo piano.
A composition that is particularly technically demanding, Professor Heissler gives a few notes to his student about the left and right hand being at the ‘service of each other’, and the importance of playing the legatos and staccatos distinctly, without keeping one’s fingers ‘glued’ to the keyboard.
In order to perform this piece as naturally as possible, the piece must be known extremely well. Other elements that are examined include respecting Liszt’s use of accents, keeping with tempo, and understanding the underlying emotions and character of this oeuvre.
Posture and fingering.
Following accents, legatos, and staccatos as they were intended.
Suspending tremolos (giving the impression of gliding).
Immersing oneself into the context of the piece.
This oeuvre by Franz Liszt is part of three suites for solo piano he wrote between 1835 and 1838 and were first published in 1845. It is widely considered to be the height of his musical style and features what the composer called his “strongest sensations and most lively impressions.”
The Venezia e Napoli movement is a revision of an earlier piece and is a beautiful composition that transports the musician and audience into a great voyage. It is not an easy oeuvre to master and must be known extremely well, especially because the tempo must be always maintained and the emotions and intentions must be taken into consideration.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this piano masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Jean-Francois Heisser’s feedback and comments.
1973: 1st Prize in piano, counterpoint, harmony, fugue, accompaniment and chamber music.
Jean-François Heisser is a well-rounded artist, leading a versatile career as a pianist, conductor and teacher. Born in Saint-Étienne, France, he is the disciple and heir of Vlado Perlemuter, Henriette Puig-Roget and Maria Curcio.
From 1991 to 2016, he was a professor at the Paris Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique. Among his talented students are Bertrand Chamayou and Jean-Frédéric Neuburger, with whom he has developed a relationship of close musical complicity. Presently, he balances his career between being a Musical Director for the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Chamber Orchestra (since 2001), a guest conductor, as a solo artist, and as an Artistic Director of various institutions and major musical productions.
As a soloist, he has played under the baton of renowned conductors such as Janowski, Tilson Thomas, Segerstam, Krivine, Mehta, Plasson, Roth etc., with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, the Bayerischer Rundfunk, the Orchestre National de France or Les Siècles, and more. He frequently performs in recitals, with a preference for Beethoven (Sonatas, Diabelli Variations etc.), Brahms, Chopin, the Spanish repertoire (Albéniz, de Falla, Granados, Mompou), as well as the works of great French composers of the past and present.
As a chamber musician, Jean-François Heisser has covered the entire repertoire with musical partners such as the Ysaye, Lindsay, and Pražák Quartets, and his recording of the Bartok sonatas with Peter Csaba (on Praga) is now regarded as an essential work. As a Musical Director, Heisser has been in charge of developing the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Chamber Orchestra project since 2001, firmly establishing the orchestra as one of the finest French chamber ensembles, as reflected in its recordings on the Mirare label.
Moreover, his extensive discography boasts over 40 recordings: after his highly acclaimed recording of the piano works of Paul Dukas (awarded the Diapason d’or de l’année prize), he embarked on a collaboration with Erato Records (a 6-CD boxed set dedicated to the Spanish repertoire of Schumann, Brahms, Saint-Saëns, Debussy, etc.), then with Naïve Records (Beethoven, Brahms) and Praga Records (Weber, Berg, Manoury, Bartok…). More recently, recordings of Marie-Josèphe Jude with Heisser’s transcription for 2 pianos of the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique (Harmonia Mundi) have been released.
Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was a Hungarian composer, piano virtuoso, and educator, now regarded as one of the greatest pianists in history and a leader in the Romantic movement. His father was an amateur musician who began teaching Liszt the piano after noticing the young boy’s strong interest in music. It was apparent from an early age that Liszt’s talent was prodigious; by age eight, he had mastered most of the major piano works and had begun composing. Liszt’s father sacrificed his own work to take his son to study the piano with Carl Czerny in Vienna and to perform in concerts around Austria and Hungary. By 1823, Liszt had published his first composition and established a reputation for himself as a virtuoso.
In 1827, Liszt’s father unexpectedly died, leading to an aimless period in Liszt’s life where he taught piano for money but did little composing or performing. In 1830, after witnessing the French “July Revolution” and becoming acquainted with Berlioz and his music, particularly Symphonie Fantastique, Liszt was newly inspired as a musician. In 1832, he heard Paganini perform at a benefit concert, causing him to commit to becoming as successful a pianist as Paganini was a violinist.
Liszt toured Europe as a pianist for many years, achieving celebrity status in Europe and establishing a precedent for performance that pianists would follow for many years to come. In 1848, after meeting and falling in love with the Polish Princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, he was persuaded to give up his performance career and take on the position of Kapellmeister at Weimar. There, he worked as a conductor, establishing many techniques that conductors still use today, helped promote the careers of composers such as Berlioz and Wagner, and composed. It was during this time that he created the form of a symphonic poem, a one-movement dramatic work with roots in sonata form and opera, and the compositional method “transformation of themes.” He also composed his B minor Sonata for piano, perhaps his best-known work.
After the death of two of his children, Liszt left Weimar for Rome, where he lived a quiet life in a monastery, becoming deeply involved in the church. However, he was eventually offered teaching posts in both Weimar and Budapest, leading him to split his time between those two cities and Rome. He never charged money for his lessons and became passionate about reforming musical education, particularly in Hungary. In 1881, Liszt’s health took a turn for the worse, leading to a period of depression, reflected in his compositions. He died of pneumonia in 1886, though his legacy in composition, education, and conducting all live on.