The Ungarischer Romanzero comprises 18 transcriptions of Hungarian popular melodies, written in 1853 and preserved in a manuscript in Bayreuth, the first and fourth of these with Nos. 12 to 18 in a manuscript by Reményi, dedicated to Liszt.
Liszt’s Ungarische Nationalmelodien im leichten Stil bearbeitet (‘Hungarian National Melodies arranged in easy style’) were published in 1846. These three short pieces, the first two transposed a semitone down, offer a miniature version of Rapsodie hongroise No. 6, included in Liszt’s collection of Hungarian melodies of 1839/40. The first of the three short pieces ends with a cadenza. The second piece is a C major Animato, and the third, in B flat major, has an opening cadenza, an ascending chromatic scale, a simple melody and a triumphant conclusion, the whole set offering chances for the less skilled performer, more thoroughly tested in the third piece.
Liszt made varied use of the Rákóczi March, the unofficial national anthem of Hungary, its melody dating from the 1730s and commemorating Ferenc Rákóczi II, leader, in the earlier 18th century, of a rising against the Hapsburgs, who spent his final years in exile in Turkey. The march, a patriotic symbol of national identity enjoyed great popularity and was used by Berlioz in his La Damnation de Faust and by other composers.
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