Ferruccio Busoni  
Ferruccio Busoni
Ferruccio Busoni, in full Ferruccio Dante Michelangelo Benvenuto Busoni (born April 1, 1866, Empoli, Tuscany [now in Italy]—died July 27, 1924, Berlin, Ger.), pianist and composer who attained fame as a pianist of brilliance and intellectual power.

The son of an Italian clarinetist and a pianist of German descent, Busoni was taught by his mother. He appeared as a child prodigy and later completed his studies in Vienna and Leipzig. In 1889 he became professor of piano at Helsingfors, Fin. (now Helsinki), and from there he moved to Moscow and later to the United States. From 1894 to 1914 (and again from 1920 until his death) he lived in Berlin, conducting a series of orchestral concerts containing music by his contemporaries and making concert tours devoted mainly to Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Liszt. During World War I, divided in his loyalty between Italy and Germany, he retired to Zürich. His most ambitious work was the unfinished opera Doktor Faust, based not on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s work but on earlier versions of the Faust legend. It was completed by his pupil Philipp Jarnach and performed in Dresden in 1925. Two other short operas, Arlecchino and Turandot, composed at Zürich, attempted to revive the commedia dell’arte in modern form. Busoni’s piano works include an immense concerto with choral finale; six sonatinas, which contain the essence of his musical thought; and the great Fantasia Contrappuntistica on an unfinished fugue by Bach (two versions, 1910; one version, 1912; fourth version for two pianos, 1922), which sums up his lifelong experience of Bach’s music.

Busoni made transcriptions for piano of Bach organ works, notably of the Fantasie and Fugue in A Minor, and he made arrangements of such Liszt piano pieces as La Campanella and La Chasse that added polyphony to them. He wrote many piano solo pieces, and, in addition to the piano concerto, he wrote the Konzertstück (1890) and Indianische Fantasie (1914), both for piano and orchestra. Orchestral works include incidental music for Carlo Gozzi’s play Turandot (which preceded the opera) and an orchestral suite and symphonic poem. He was also the author of the highly-regarded Ästhetik der Tonkunst (1907; Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music).

Encyclopædia Britannica

Portrait of Ferruccio Busoni, 1916
by Umberto Boccioni
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome

Busoni was born to musical parents near Florence in Italy. He showed much early promise and at the age of 12 conducted one of his own compositions. In 1881 he went to the Reale Accademia Filarmonica at Bologna, where his talents were quickly noticed. He composed intensively during his youth and in 1883 produced an oratorio, Il sabato de villaggio, that received great acclaim. However, he became more self-critical and his output diminished as he subjected many works to substantial revision.

In 1886 Busoni studied with Carl Reinecke in Leipzig. There he met a host of important musicians, including Tchaikovsky, Grieg, Mahler, and Delius. The following year he visited Helsinki, where he met Sibelius. Shortly afterwards he toured the United States, consolidating his reputation as a virtuoso pianist.

In 1894 Busoni settled in Berlin, which except for the war years was his home for the rest of his life. Busoni absorbed and contributed to the progressive spirit of this city, renowned as a centre of artistic excellence. In 1902 he organized a series of orchestral concerts designed to promote the work of modern composers; he premiered pieces by Bartok, Debussy, Delius, and Sibelius, as well as his own works.

The following year he started work on a Piano concerto, which clearly shows the influence of Liszt. The piano part, although fiercely difficult, does not rely on displays of virtuosity and often takes a subordinate role to the orchestra. The music's intensity becomes almost frenzied and culminates in the introduction of a male voice choir in the final movement.

In 1907 Busoni published a forward-looking treatise entitled Outline of a Sew Aesthetic of Music, in which he propounded his idea of a modern but understandable style of composition. His own work, unfortunately, was often badly received and denounced by Berlin critics for its use of Italian rather than German traditions.

In the closing days of 1909 he set sail for the United States once more, where he undertook a hectic schedule of concerts. Despite this he found time to write another large-scale piano work, Fantasia contrappuntistica. This takes the form of a gigantic fugue (a highly structured musical form requiring great compositional skill) modelled on Bach's Art of fugue.

In his last years Busoni became increasingly interested in the stage and began work on a setting of Goethe's Faust. The resulting intensely expressive and concentrated work, Doktor Faust, attained a degree of spirituality and mysticism unique in opera. The work was unfinished when Busoni died; but in 1925, at a posthumous performance of a completed version, it was revealed as embodying the struggle between tradition and innovation that epitomized Busoni's life's work.


C. Breemer
Sonatina No.3 (Ad usum infantis Madeline M. Americane)
C. Breemer
Sonatina No.4 (In Diem Nativitatis Christi MCMXVII)
Boris Giltburg 
Busoni - Bach
Chaconne from Partita for violin solo in D minor, BWV

Leonald Kaidja
Busoni - 
Choral prelude "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland" BWV 659

Cecile Licad
Mephisto Waltz No. 1 for piano, S. 514
Busoni, Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39
Marc-André Hamelin piano. Sibelius Hall, Lahti / 31st March 2001.
Brendel plays Busoni Toccata K.287
Busoni: Toccata K.287
Preludio - Fantasia - Ciaccona

Alfred Brendel, live in Vienna, 1979.

Ferruccio Busoni - Toccata and Fugue in d minor, BWV 565, BV B 29b
Toccata and Fugue in d minor, BWV 565, BV B 29b, by Ferruccio Busoni, with animated score.
Ferruccio Busoni, Indian Fantasy for piano and orchestra (Part 1)
From 1904

Andante con molto, quasi marcia

Jeffrey Swann, piano

Ferruccio Busoni, Indian Fantasy for piano and orchestra (Part 2)
From 1904

Andante, quasi lento

Jeffrey Swann, piano

Ferruccio Busoni, Indian Fantasy for piano and orchestra (Part 3)
From 1904

Piu vivamente

Jeffrey Swann, piano

Busoni Ferruccio, Doktor Faust, T. Hampson, Gregory Kunde
Ferruccio Busoni,"Turandot".
Opera in two acts,composed in 1917.

Turandot, daughter of the Emperor, challenges all suitors for her hand with three riddles. She will marry the one who answers correctly, but those who fail are executed. Kalaf, an exiled prince in disguise, takes up the challenge.

Act 1.
Scene 1:
Kalaf comes upon the picture discarded by an earlier executed suitor, and determines to win Turandot.
Scene 2:
Emperor Altoum complains of Turandot's intransigence. Kalaf says he would rather die than fail to win Turandot. Turandot enters with her maid Adelma who recognises the Prince, but remains silent. Kalaf correctly answers the three riddles, and challenges Turandot to discover his name and parentage; if she does so, he will depart.
Act 2.
Scene 1:
Slave girls dance to a wordless choral version of "Greensleeves".[18] Turandot confesses her mixed feelings for the Prince. Adelma says she knows the Prince's name, and will tell Turandot if she can have her freedom; Turandot agrees.
Scene 2:
Turandot announces Kalaf's name to general consternation, and he makes ready to depart. But Turandot stops him, saying he has awakened her heart. The work closes with a final ensemble 'Was ist das alle Menschen bindet?' ("What is it that rules all men?") to which is the reply 'Die Liebe' ("Love").

Andreas Daum , Hans de Vries , Friedemann Röhlig , Sebastian Holecek , Nicholas Clapton , Arnold Bezuyen , Anthony Robins , Marten Smeding , Janny Zomer , Ellen Schuring , Johanna Duras , Claudia Patacca, Oxana Arkaeva , Anke Vondung , Boguslav Fiksinsky , Jasper Schweppe , Groot Omroepkoor, Christoph Stephinger , Tina Kiberg , Anke Vondung.
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic/Gerd Albrecht.

Ferruccio Busoni - Berceuse Elegiaque
Berceuse élégiaque, for orchestra, Op. 42, KiV 252a (1909)

Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra
Samuel Wong

Busoni wrote his Berceuse élégiaque for orchestra (1909) as a memorial to his mother, who died in May of that year. The work, subtitled "Des Mannes Wiegenlied am Sarge seiner Mutter" (The Man's Cradle Song at His Mother's Coffin), also carries the inscription "The child's cradle rocks, the hazard of his fate reels; life's path fades, fades away into the eternal distance."

In the Berceuse, Busoni makes one of his first ventures into the realm of atonality, exhibiting a highly original style that is all the more moving and impressive for its resolutely quiet nature. The orchestration is delicate, exploiting the possibilities of tone color in a manner similar to that in Schoenberg's Five Pieces for Orchestra, written in the same year, but not performed until 1912.

The Berceuse élégiaque was premiered in New York City on February 21, 1911 in a concert conducted by the ailing Gustav Mahler. The occasion was, as it turns out, the great composer/conductor's final public appearance.

Busoni - Fantasia contrappuntistica - Petri
Fantasia contrappuntistica
Preludio corale 0:00
Fuga I
Fuga II
Fuga III
Variazione I
Variazione II
Variazione III
Fuga IV

Egon Petri

BUSONI Violin Sonata No.1 Op.29 | C.Rossi, M.Vincenzi | 1991
Violin Sonata No.1 in E minor, Op.29, BV 234 (1889, published 1891)
0:10 / I. Allegro deciso — Vivace — Poco sostenuto [7'52'']
8:04 / II. Molto sostenuto — Più lento, Andante sostenuto — Tempo I° — Tempo II° — Più sostenuto [6'57'']
15:05 / III. Allegro molto e deciso — Vivace — Tempo I° — In frischem Tempo — nicht schleppen — Tempo I° — Con fuoco [7'47'']
Cristiano Rossi, violin
Marco Vincenzi, piano
BUSONI Violin Sonata No.2 Op.36a | C.Rossi, M.Vincenzi | 1991
Violin Sonata No.2 in E minor, Op.36a, BV 244 (1898/1900, publ. 1905)
0:10 / I. Langsam — a tempo un poco più andante — Poco con moto, assai deciso — Adagio - [8'19'']
8:29 / II. Presto - [2'54'']
11:23 / III. Andante, piuttosto grave — |14:17| Thema. Andante con moto (Choralgesang von J.S.BACH: "Wie wohl ist mir, o Freund der Seelen, Wenn ich in deiner Liebe ruh'!") — |15:42| Var.1 Poco più andante — |17:22| Var.2 Alla marcia, vivace — |18:22| Var.3 Lo stesso movimento — |19:17| Var.4 Andante — |23:15| Var.5 Tranquillo assai — |25:43| Var.6 Allegro deciso, un poco maestoso - Più lento — |28:06| Coda: Più tranquillo, apoteotico - Tempo del Tema - Adagio [18'16'']
Cristiano Rossi, violin
Marco Vincenzi, piano
Horowitz, Bach-Busoni "Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland"
Liszt-Busoni-Horowitz - Mephisto Waltz No. 1 (Horowitz)
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