Florian Noack | Lyapunov | Douze études d’exécution transcendante

Florian Noack is a pianist born in 1990 in Belgium. In 2013 and 2014 he published two CDs featuring Lyapunov’s works. This new CD published in 2021 presents Lypaunov’s “douze études d’exécution transcendante”. Lyapunov is definitely a composer that we don’t hear a lot. His music is a real challenge for pianists, as it is almost unplayable. Critics also often complain about his lack of personal style. Yet, it is a shame that this composer should be forgotten. Noack’s CD is in my January 2022 Studio Playlist that you can listen to here.

Sergei Mikhailovich Lyapunov

Lyapunov was born in Yaroslavl in 1859.On the recommendation of Nikolai Rubinstein, the Director of the Moscow Conservatory of Music, he enrolled in that institution in 1878. He graduated in 1883, more attracted by the nationalist elements in music of the New Russian School than by the more cosmopolitan approach of Tchaikovsky and Taneyev. In 1893, the Imperial Geographical Society commissioned Lyapunov to gather folksongs from the regions of Vologda, Vyatka (now Kirov) and Kostroma. With two other collaborators, they collected nearly 300 songs, which the society published in 1897. Lyapunov arranged 30 of these songs for voice and piano and used authentic folk songs in several of his compositions during the 1890s.

From 1904, Lyapunov made appearances as a conductor, mounting the podium by invitation in Berlin and Leipzig in 1907. He also enjoyed a successful career as a pianist. He succeeded Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov as assistant director of music at the Imperial Chapel, became a director of the Free Music School, then its head, as well as a professor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1911. After the Revolution, he emigrated to Paris in 1923 and directed a school of music for Russian émigrés, but died of a heart attack the following year. For many years the official Soviet line was that Lyapunov had died during a concert tour of Paris, no acknowledgement being made of his voluntary exile. (source)

Douze études d’exécution transcendante

Lyapunov is largely remembered for his Douze études d’exécution transcendente. This set completed the cycle of the 24 major and minor keys that Franz Liszt had started with his own Transcendental Études but had left unfinished. Not only was Lyapunov’s set of études as a whole dedicated to the memory of Franz Liszt, but the final étude was specifically titled Élégie en mémoire de François Liszt. (source)

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