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Henri IV - An unfinished reign

Listen to the the music tracks

Vive Henri IV

Franz Liszt

Source : ‘Liszt: Fantasies, paraphrases and transcriptions of National Songs and Anthems’ (The Complete Music for solo Piano – vol. 27); Leslie Howard, piano; Hyperíon CDA66787 (1994) (Abeille Musique).


During the 19th century, the eminently French musical theme of "Vive Henri IV" enjoyed a singular destiny.
We know little about the origins of this short piano piece by Franz Liszt, which stands out sharply in the opus of the virtuoso Hungarian pianist. The only known source (an anonymous copy with annotations by the composer) appears to date from the 1870s. And yet, it was perhaps during his stay in Paris (1827–1834), under the reigns of Charles X and Louis-Philippe, that Liszt improvised short variations on the monarchist song "Vive Henri IV". He did so possibly for his students or during a soirée where he rubbed shoulders with such great artists as Hector Berlioz, George Sand, Frédéric Chopin, Alfred de Musset, Honoré de Balzac and Eugène Delacroix, among others.
It should be mentioned that Tchaikovsky developed the theme of "Vive Henri IV" into an orchestral version that formed the apotheosis of his ballet Sleeping Beauty, which was performed for the first time at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg on 15 October 1890.

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