Why do we have recitals? You can thank one man: Franz Liszt. Before Liszt, it was believed that a piece written for solo piano would not be able to hold an audience's attention. In 1839, Liszt set out on a European tour to change that idea.

The Reason for Recitals

Why do we have recitals? You can thank one man: Franz Liszt. Before Liszt, it was believed that a piece written for solo piano would not be able to hold an audience’s attention. In 1839, Liszt set out on a European tour to change that idea.

Liszt revolutionized the art of performance. He realized that in order to hold attention, the performance needed to be theatrical. Liszt introduced many of the modern conventions seen in recitals today. He was the first to place the piano in profile so you could see the performer’s face. He was also the first performer to walk out from the wings of the stage before starting to play. He actually even coined the term, “recital“!

Liszt is the reason why we play recital songs from memory. He was the first to do it. In the 1800s, it was seen as almost arrogant to play without the score. Many composers and teachers thought it was in bad taste and  suggested you composed the score.

So we can blame Liszt for our modern day recitals. However, while recitals can be nerve-wracking, they are very beneficial for music students. When children have the opportuity to showcase their skills in a recital setting, they can feel a huge boost in self esteem from the recognition of their hard work. Recitals also give your child a chance to see be able to see “where they can go” by watching more advanced students perform. Seeing these students can be very motivating to your child. Most importantly, recitals give your child a chance to see that you value music and their musical education.

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