Blurring of National Boundaries

1837 Portrait of Franz Liszt by Ary Scheffer

Franz Liszt

As we move from the previous Segment focusing on the Romani, note the nationality of the composers we previously listed as being influenced by Czardas: Franz Liszt was Hungarian by birth but spent much of his time in Weimar, Germany (where, just before his death in 1886, he met with Claude Debussy, Paul Vidal and Victor Herbert); Johannes Brahms was German; Leo Delibes was French; Johann Strauss II was Austrian; and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was Russian.  

Liszt had a huge personal impact on the development and music of Frederic Chopin (Polish), Richard Wagner (German), Hector Berlioz (French), Camille Saint-Saens (French), Edvard Grieg (Norwegian) and Alexander Borodin (Russian).

Also, note the mix of symphonic and vocal music coming from these composers.  The impact was across national boundaries and types of composition.

We pull on one thread and find another attached to it.  Take Victor Herbert, for example.  Here we have an Irishman, born in Dublin in 1859, who studied music in Germany and was deeply impressed by Liszt.  Herbert came to America in 1886 and wrote an American operetta in 1898 (The Fortune Teller) that incorporated Romani style and the Czardas form into the body of his operetta (“Romany Life,” “Czardas” and “Gypsy Love Song”). Sony has made available the Jeanette MacDonald version of “Romany Life” which we include here.  

The blurring of national boundaries is well exemplified by a Romani guitarist Django Reinhardt, a frenchman who lost the use of two fingers of his left hand in a caravan fire but went on to be one of the world’s great jazz guitarists.

Library of Congress, William Gottlieb photo of Django Reinhardt at Aquarium jazz club NY

Django Reinhardt