Ferruccio Busoni

Italian composer, pianist, conductor, editor, born 1866

Ferruccio (Dante Michelangelo Benvenuto) Busoni (April 1, 1866July 27, 1924) was an Italian composer, pianist, editor, writer, piano and composition teacher, and conductor.

Quotes edit

  • Music is the art of sounds in the movement of time.
    • The Essence of Music (1923)
  • Compared with this art, Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire is lukewarm lemonade.
    • On Alban Berg's Altenberg Lieder, Letter from Busoni to his wife, dated “(Paris, le), 23. Jn. 1913,” in Busoni: Briefe an seine Frau, ed. F. Schnapp (Erlenbach-Zürich/Leipzig: Rotapfel-Verlag, 1935), 279.

Quotes about Busoni edit

  • Moreover, most of the child composers known from the second half of the century composed relatively little: only Strauss (1864–1949) and Busoni (1866–1924) produced works in numbers that rival those of Mozart and Mendelssohn, with Bartók (1881–1945), Enescu (1881–1955), Prokofiev (1891–1953), Langgaard (1893–1952), and Korngold (1897–1957) some way behind.
    • Barry Cooper, Child composers and their works : a historical survey (2009), Ch. 2. Chronological Résumé from the Middle Ages to the Present Day, p. 15
  • Until the autumn of 1934 I had no harpsichord of my own. But a group of people in Boston made it possible for me to buy the Dolmetsch-Chickering instrument that had belonged to Busoni (illus.1). I used this instrument for the first time in Boston at the Harvard Musical Association. This concert began inauspiciously enough with my leaving behind the key to the instrument in Cambridge, and having to send someone to fetch it.
    • Ralph Kirkpatrick, Fifty Years of Harpsichord Playing, Early Music, Vol. 11, No. 1, Tenth Anniversary Issue (Jan., 1983), pp. 31-41
  • Busch suggested that Serkin should go to Berlin to study with Ferruccio Busoni (who, as it happens, was a close friend of Isidor Philipp’s). “The next day,” concludes Leonie Gombrich, “father Serkin came, and everything was settled.”
    • Stephen Lehmann and Marion Faber, Rudolf Serkin : a life (2003), p. 39
  • Berlin’s most eminent musical personality in the early interwar years was the great pianist and composer Ferruccio Busoni, who had returned there from Zurich in 1920, summoned, like Schreker, to help build the cultural life of the new Republic.
    • Stephen Lehmann and Marion Faber, Rudolf Serkin : a life (2003), p. 46-47
  • Serkin and Busch prepared Busoni’s second violin sonata for performance. Busoni gave them an audience and was pleased with their performance. (He told Serkin he was too old for lessons, but that he should attend as many concerts as possible and play with more pedal.) Shortly afterward, Serkin and Busch heard Busoni and Egon Petri play the same piece (on November 16, 1921 in the Beethoven-Saal, in an arrangement for two pianos) at twice their tempo.
    • Stephen Lehmann and Marion Faber, Rudolf Serkin : a life (2003), p. 47
  • Serkin began to record in the late 1920s. His first effort was on piano rolls with the Freiburg firm of Welte. Its Welte-Mignon recording and playing mechanisms had yielded over five thousand rolls since 1904, rendering ghostly, automated performances by many of the period’s best-known composers and pianists, including Saint-Saens, Grieg, Fauré, Mahler, Paderewski, Debussy, D’Albert, Strauss, Busoni, Scriabin, Ravel, Respighi, and Bartók.
    • Stephen Lehmann and Marion Faber, Rudolf Serkin : a life (2003), p. 65
  • Like Liszt, for whom he had a profound admiration, Ferruccio Busoni devoted a significant part of his output to arrangement in all its forms: straightforward reductions, transcriptions, fantasies on operatic themes, concert versions, and Nachdichtungen. Indeed, for many years, Busoni's name his been unfortunately associated more with his transcriptions, especially those of Johann Sebastian Bach's organ works, than with his original compositions.
    • Marc-André Roberge, "From Orchestra to Piano: Major Composers as Authors of Piano Reductions of Other Composers' Works", Notes, Second Series, Vol. 49, No. 3 (Mar., 1993), pp. 925-936
  • Despite the important ideas and stimuli for new works that his presence in the United States brought him, Busoni's interest in America appeared to be in the financial reward that he could reap from concert tours. Frequent performances and constant travel undoubtedly took precious time from his composing schedule, which might help to explain the negative comments that he made about the United States, its people, and the state of music-making in this country. Extended periods of absence from the cultural ambience of Europe, where he had been raised, was painful for him, as were the countless receptions that he attended with well-meaning amateurs, as well as the constant pressure for publicity by his agent and, above all, the cultural differences between Europe and America.
    • Marc-André Roberge, "Ferruccio Busoni in the United States", American Music, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Autumn, 1995), pp. 295-332
  • What most piano teachers mean by a beautiful tone is centered on bringing out the melody, and always setting the melody in high relief is characteristic of Viennese piano style. Ferrucio Busoni, ideologically more Viennese than Italian, once said that “any melody worth playing should be played mezzo forte”; in the end, this leads to the typical conservatory performance of a Bach fugue with the opening motif played louder than all the other voices each time it appears. Most theories about beautiful piano tone try to impose the same kind of sound on every style from Bach to Debussy.
    • Charles Rosen, "Lost Chords and the Golden Age of Pianism" in Freedom and the Arts (2012), p. 298
  • Another noteworthy fact is that Ferruccio Busoni, who also developed the Liszt piano tradition, began his teaching career at the Moscow Conservatoire. He worked there only one year (1889-90) but among his students was Yelena Gnesina.
    • Konstantin Zenkin, "The Liszt Tradition at the Moscow Conservatoire",Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, T. 42, Fasc. 1/2, Franz Liszt and Advanced Musical Education in Europe: International Conference (2001), pp. 93-108

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