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Franz Liszt wrote his Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2, catalogued as S. 244/2, in 1847, and it quickly became the most famous of his rhapsodies. Besides its clear nationalistic influences, it was a piece that offered pianists the chance to reveal their skills while providing the listener with an immediate musical appeal. Its inmediate succes led to the creation of orchestral and duet piano versions. By the late 19th century, the technical challenges of the piano solo version led to its unofficial acceptance as a standard by which every notable pianist could demonstrate his level. It had become an expected staple of virtually every performance of the greatest pianists. Most unusual is the composer's explicit invitation for the performer to improvise an original cadenza, an invitation most performers chose to decline. Marc-Andre Hamelin, Rachmaninoff and Horowitz have written notable cadenzas. This composition has enjoyed widespread use in animated cartoons, and its themes have served as the basis of several popular songs.
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