ホーム > 作曲家 > 作曲家（クラシック） > フェルッチョ・ブゾーニ (Ferruccio Busoni)
Ferruccio Busoni’s parents were musical, his father a clarinettist of Corsican origin and his mother a pianist of German extraction. When Busoni was very young, his parents settled in Trieste, a base from which they toured together as musicians. Ferruccio grew up in a cosmopolitan atmosphere with no regular education, but his lessons at the piano came from his father who advocated Bach as an important staple of his tuition. Busoni’s earliest compositions were written when he was seven, and at the same time he began his concert performing career, two years later playing Mozart’s Concerto in C minor K. 491 in public. At the age of nine Busoni entered the Vienna Conservatory but, dissatisfied with the tuition, left two years later, resuming lessons with his father. By the age of twelve or thirteen Busoni was supporting his family by giving public performances, but from the end of 1879 he was able to have a more stable existence in Graz, where a local committee sponsored his education.
It was in 1881 that Busoni began to receive tuition in composition from Wilhelm Mayer, who also encouraged his interest in the music of Mozart and initiated him into the world of mysticism and oriental philosophy. At the age of seventeen Busoni gave a concert in Vienna which was not a critical success: his playing was wild and free, and his interpretation of Beethoven and Chopin unorthodox. He gave more concerts in Berlin and Leipzig but, again, was not a success with the critics, although they did accept his own compositions. He stayed in Leipzig where he met and befriended Mahler and Egon Petri. In September 1888 he readily accepted a year’s teaching post at the music conservatory in Helsingfors, Finland, which provided him with a steady income and time to compose. While in Finland he met Gerda Sjöstrand, whom he married in September 1890 in Moscow. At this time Busoni won the Anton Rubinstein Prize for composition and piano performance and accepted employment at the Moscow Conservatory. He still had financial difficulties, but his first concert in Moscow was a success, and the following year he and his wife left for the USA, where he was to take up a teaching position at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. As with Finland and Moscow, Busoni was disillusioned with Boston; he felt an alien, cut off from culture and friends. In the summer of 1892 he resigned his post and tried New York as a city in which to springboard his concert career. Nothing came of it, and after a year and a half the Busonis returned to Berlin, which from then on became Busoni’s permanent home.
During the early 1890s Busoni developed his piano technique, and by the age of thirty he was astounding audiences with his amazing virtuosity and orchestral conceptions. He began to tour more of Europe, travelling to Spain, Scandinavia, Russia and Italy, and by the end of the decade he had played in Britain. He gave master-classes in Liszt’s city of Weimar at the turn of the century and in 1904 returned to the USA for a three-month tour. He was playing a great deal now, finding less time to compose and becoming weary of the continual travelling. The performer’s life was a profession he did not enjoy, but followed out of necessity to support his family (he now had two sons). Obviously some concert projects were not taken only for this reason, and Busoni’s six recitals of works by Liszt, given in the composer’s centenary year of 1911, demonstrated not only his devotion to and admiration for Liszt, but also his mental and physical stamina. Another tour of the USA in 1910 was followed by yet another a year later, with the final four-month tour taking place in 1915. At its end Busoni was unable to return to Berlin due to World War I, and because he could not tolerate staying in the USA he travelled to Zürich. Disillusioned and exhausted with the life of a travelling virtuoso, Busoni nevertheless continued this life until 1922, making various tours of Britain. The final two years of his life saw an increasing deterioration of his already poor health and he was unable to perform in public.
Busoni had wanted to devote his life to composing, but although his works include four operas and a large piano concerto he spent most of his years as a concert performer. In performance he concentrated on Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, and latterly Mozart, for whose concertos he wrote some cadenzas. He also found time to edit a large amount of music by Bach and Liszt, his musical heroes. But the public wanted to hear him as a pianist and not as a composer.
Busoni was of an irascible and difficult nature and found recording a great ordeal. He entered the Columbia Studios in London for the first time in November 1919, where at least two takes were recorded of twelve sides. Probably for technical reasons, all of these were deemed unsatisfactory and none were published. Busoni wrote to his manager John Tillett, ‘…of course, if the gramophone people insist on repeating the records, I will have to do it some time, but…The one time I did the thing first, I tried my very best…I do not see the probability that the records should improve by repeating, the new ones may prove just as little “satisfactory” as the original ones. And then? Had we to begin over again a third time?’
It was on 27 February 1922 that a miserable Busoni returned to the Columbia Studios. Two days before, he had written to his manager, complaining that he felt ‘…tired, ill, unprepared and deprived of music for the records, that under these circumstances, the records would surely prove a repeated failure. Certainly I could not do anything this Monday…If I had not conscience of having tried my very best the first time (with no success) I should not feel so hopeless now.’ Just before the recording date, Busoni sent another letter to his manager. ‘I am so sorry to worry you again, but really I do not feel like playing for Mr Brooks (the Columbia engineer) on Monday; I am tired and not well, since ten days or more. The new records, under these circumstances, would be a failure again!’ Busoni went on to bemoan that he had expected to record in April, not February; the pieces he had to play were not under his hands or in his memory; and he did not even have the music in London.
Some titles recorded at the sessions in 1919 and 1922 were never published and are now lost, so we shall never hear Busoni play the Gounod–Liszt Waltz from Faust, Weber’s Perpetuum mobile, or certain pieces by Mozart and Liszt.
Concerning the actual process of recording, Busoni wrote to his manager, ‘The conditions are most unfavourable. The room, the piano, the chair not inviting. I have to start like a racehorse and to end before four minutes have elapsed. I have to manage the touch and the pedal differently from how I do it usually…What in heaven’s name can be the result of it? Not my own playing, take it for granted!’ And he wrote to his wife, ‘…my suffering over the toil of making gramophone records came to an end yesterday, after playing for three and a half hours! I feel rather battered today, but it is over. Since the first day, I have been as depressed as if I were expecting to have an operation. To do it is stupid and a strain. Here is an example of what happens. They wanted the ‘Faust’ Waltz (which lasts a good ten minutes) but it was only to take four minutes! That meant quickly cutting, patching and improvising, so there should still be some sense left in it; watching the pedal (because it sounds bad); thinking of certain notes that had to be stronger or weaker in order to please this devilish machine; not letting oneself go for fear of inaccuracies and being conscious the whole time that every note was going to be there for eternity: how can there be any question of inspiration, freedom, swing, or poetry?’
So what are these records like? From Busoni’s description one would think them to be a disaster. As a pianist Busoni is thought by some today to be one of the greatest to have lived, and his recordings are some of the most important historical piano records we have. For all he said, Busoni’s recordings give a fair representation of his playing of Chopin as described by the many critics who heard him. Many found it unacceptable and cold, with Busoni taking too many liberties with the text, and his playing of the Étude Op. 25 No. 5 gives a good idea of how he approached Chopin. His best disc is undoubtedly that of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 13, in which his bravura technique can be heard in this most extended of his recordings.
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