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234th Season

Ferencz Liszt


Liszt, Ferencz [Franz Liszt] (baptized as Franciscus Liszt) (b Raiding, Hung., 1811; d Bayreuth, 1886). Hung. composer and pianist. A child prodigy, he gave his first pf. recital at age 9. Went to Vienna in 1821, having lessons from Salieri and Czerny. Played in Paris 1823 and London 1824 (where he was received by George IV). Returned to Eng. in 1825 and 1826; operetta Don Sanche was prod. in Paris, 1825, where he lived 1823-35, becoming friend of Berlioz and Chopin and of leading literary figures and painters. His fame as a virtuoso pianist, flamboyant in style and taste, was at its height. From 1833 he lived with Countess Marie d‘Agoult; of their 3 children, Cosima (b 1837) became the wife of Bulow and then of Wagner. He returned to Vienna in 1838 and to London in 1840 and 1841. Until 1847 he toured widely, incl. Russia, his mistress by now being Princess Carolyn Sayn-Wittgenstein.

In 1848 he became Kapellmeister at the Weimar court, staying until 1859. In this decade he made Weimar a pre-eminent mus. centre, conducting a vast number of works, notably by Berlioz and by his friend Wagner whom he had met in 1842. In 1850 he conducted the f.p. of Lohengrin. These were also rich years for Liszt‘s own work; he wrote his Faust and Dante syms., 12 symphonic poems, and much else. From 1860 Liszt lived in Rome in the Villa d‘Este, and in 1865 took minor orders, becoming the Abbe Liszt. He comp. much religious mus. at this period, incl. The Legend of St. Elizabeth and Christus. From 1869 he divided his time between Rome, Weimar, and Budapest, and his amorous adventures were still the talk of Europe. In the last 5 years of his life he concentrated on teaching, his pupils incl. Ziloti, Lamond, Rosenthal, and Weingartner, and entered a new and important compositional phase in which his harmonic innovations, always a significant feature, anticipated the ‘impressionism’ of Debussy, e.g. in Nuages gris and the Csбrdбs macabre. In 1886 he made a ‘jubilee tour’ to mark his 75th birthday, revisiting Paris and London.

As a pianist, Liszt was, from all reliable accounts, among the greatest, if not the greatest, there has ever been. His comps. have taken longer to win a rightful place, but they are now recognized as occupying a high place for their own virtues as well as for their undoubted influence on Wagner, R. Strauss, and subsequent composers. The pf. works are in a category of their own, the symphonic poems developed a new art-form, the syms. are compelling and imaginative, the religious works are moving and visionary, and the songs hold their own in high company. He remains a romantic enigma of mus., a genius with a touch of the charlatan, a virtuoso with the flair of an actor-manager, a man generous to colleagues and to the young. His championship of Wagner in the Weimar years, with its subsequent effect on Brahms and Schumann, thereby causing the great schism in 19th-cent. mus., had incalculable results on the art. Prin. works:

OPERA: Don Sanche (1824-5, collab. Paer).

SYMPHONIES: A Faust Symphony, for ten., male ch., orch. (1854-7, rev. 1880); Dante Symphony (1855-6, with choral Magnificat as last movt.).

SYMPHONIC-POEMS: Ce qu‘on entend sur la montagne (‘Bergsymphonie’) (What one hears on the mountain) (1848-9, orch. Raff, rev. 1850, 1854); Tasso: lamento e trionfo (1849, orch. Conradi, rev. 1850-1, orch. Raff, rev. 1854); Les Preludes (1848, rev. before 1854); Orpheus (1853-4); Prometheus (1850, orch. Raff, rev. 1855); Mazeppa (1851, orch. with Raff, rev. before 1854; based on 1840 pf. study); Festklange (1853); Heroпde funиbre (1849-50, orch. Raff, rev. c.1854); Hungaria (1854); Hamlet (1858); Hunnenschlacht (1856-7); Die Ideale (1857); Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe (From the Cradle to the Grave) (1881-2).

MISC. ORCH.: 2 Episodes from Lenau‘s Faust: 1. Der nachtliche Zug (The Night Ride), 2. Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke (Dance in the Village Inn, also Mephisto Waltz No.1) (before 1861); Mephisto Waltz No.2 (1880-1); Huldigungsmarsch (1853, rev. 1857, orig. for pf.); 3 Odes funиbres (Les Morts; La Notte; Le triomphe funиbre du Tasse (1860-6); Rбkуczy March (1865); 6 Hungarian Rhapsodies (orch., in collab. with F. Doppler, from pf. solos. Orch. No.1 is pf. No.14, No.2 (No.12), No.3 (No.6), No.4 (No.2), No.5 (No.5), No.6 (No.9, 2nd version) (date unknown).

PIANO & ORCH.: conc. No.1 in Eb (1849, collab. Raff; rev. 1853, 1856), No.2 in A major (1839, rev. 1849-61); Malediction, pf., str. (c.1840); Fantasia on Themes from Beethoven‘s Ruins of Athens (?1852); Fantasia on Hungarian Folk Melodies (Hungarian Fantasia, based on Hungarian Rhapsody No.14 in F minor for solo pf.) (?1852); Totentanz (1849, rev. 1853, 1859); Rapsodie espagnole (c.1863 solo pf., orch. Busoni).

SACRED CHORAL: Die Legende von der heiligen Elisabeth, oratorio, sop., cont., ten., 3 bar., bass, ch., org., orch. (1857-62); Christus, oratorio, sop., cont., ten., bar., bass, ch., org., orch. (1862-7); Cantico del Sol di S. Francesco d‘Assisi, bar., male ch., org., orch. (1862, rev. 1880-1); Mass, 4 male vv., org. (1848, rev. 1859; 2nd version, 1869); Missa solemnis, sop., cont., ten., bass, ch., orch. (1855, rev. 1857-8); Missa Choralis, ch., org. (1865); Hungarian Coronation Mass, sop., cont., ten., bass, orch. (1867); Requiem, 2 ten., 2 bass, male vv., org., opt. brass (1867-8); Psalm 13, ten., ch., orch. (1855, rev. 1859); Psalm 116, male vv., pf. (1869); Ave verum corpus, ch., opt. org. (1871); St Christopher, bar., women‘s ch., pf., harmonium (after 1874); Via Crucis (1878-9); Rosario (1879); Psalm 129, bar., male vv., org. (1881); Qui seminant in lacrimis, mixed ch., org. (1884); Salve Regina, unacc. ch. (1885).

SECULAR CHORAL: Second Beethoven Cantata, sop., cont., ten., bass, double ch., orch. (1869-70); An die Kunstler, 2 ten., 2 bass, male ch., orch. (1853, orch. Raff, rev. 1853, 1856); Choruses from Herder‘s Entfesseltem Prometheus, sop., cont., 2 ten., 2 bass, double ch., orch. (1850, orch. Raff, rev. 1855); Hungaria 1848, cantata, sop., ten., bass, male vv., orch. (1848, orch. Conradi); Fur Mannergesang, 12 songs, some with acc. (1842-59).

CHAMBER MUSIC: Romance oubliee, pf. qt. (1880); La lugubre gondola, pf. trio (1882, also pf. solo); At Richard Wagner‘s Grave, str. qt., harp (1883).

PIANO: Etude en 12 Exercises (1826); 24 Grandes etudes (1837); Mazeppa (1840, orch. 1851); 6 etudes d‘execution transcendante d‘aprиs Paganini (1838, rev. 1851 as Grandes etudes de Paganini); 12 etudes d‘execution transcendante (Transcendental Studies) (1851); Apparitions (1834); Album d‘un voyageur (3 books, 1835-6); 3 Sonetti del Petrarca (?1839-46); Venezia e Napoli (c.1840, rev. 1859); Annees de pиlerinage, Book 1 ‘Switzerland’, 9 pieces (1848-54, all but 2 pieces based on Album d‘un voyageur), Book 2 ‘Italy’, 7 pieces (1837-49), Book 3, 7 pieces (1867-77); Harmonies poetiques et religieuses, 10 pieces (1845-52); 6 Consolations (1849-50); Grosses Konzertsolo (?1849, arr. 2 pf. c.1855 as Concerto pathetique, and for pf. and orch. as Grand Solo de Concert ?1850); Liebestraume—3 Notturnos (c.1850, transcr. of songs); Scherzo und Marsch (1851); Sonata in B minor (1852-3); Huldigungsmarsch (1853, arr. for orch. 1853, rev. 1857); Berceuse (1854, rev. 1862); 2 Concert Studies (Waldesrauschen, Gnomenreigen) (?1862-3); 2 Legendes (St Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds, St Francis of Paule walking on the waves) (1863); ‘Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen’ prelude (1859); Rapsodie espagnole (c.1863); Weihnachtsbaum, 12 pieces (1874-6); Nuages gris (1881); La lugubre gondola (1882); R.W.-Venezia (1883); Mephisto Waltz No.3 (1883); 4 Valses oubliees (1881-?1885); Csбrdбs macabre (1881-2); Mephisto Waltz No.4 (1885); Csбrdбs obstine (1886); 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies (1846-85, see also ORCH.) (No.1 in C#, 1846; No.2 in C#, 1847; No.3 in Bb; No.4 in Eb; No. 5 Heroпde-elegiaque in E minor; No.6 in Db; No.7 in D minor; No.8 in F#; No.9 in Eb, 1st version pubd. 1848, 2nd version pubd. 1853; No.10 in E; No.11 in A minor; No.12 in C#; No.13 in A minor; No.14 in F minor; No.15 Rбkуczy March, 1st version pubd. 1851, 2nd version pubd. 1871; No.16 in A minor, 1882; No.17 in D minor; No.18 in C#, 1885; No.19 in D minor, 1885).

PIANO TRANSCRIPTIONS: Liszt‘s transcr. of his own works are too numerous for listing here. A selective list follows of his transcr. of works by other composers (operatic transcr. are listed separately): J. S. BACH: Fantasia and Fugue in G minor (BWV 542) (1863); BEETHOVEN: Syms. Nos. 5, 6, and 7 (1837), remaining 6 (1863-4), Septet, Op.20 (1841); BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique (1833, finale rev. 1864-5), Harold en Italie (c.1836, rev. 1862), Danse des Sylphes (c.1860); CHOPIN: 6 Chants Polonais (1847-60); MENDELSSOHN: 7 Lieder (1840); PAGANINI: Grand Fantasia de bravoure sur La Clochette (on La Campanella from Violin Conc. in B minor, Op.7) (1831-2, rev. as No.3 of etudes d‘execution transcendante d‘aprиs Paganini, 1838); ROSSINI: 12 Soirees Musicales (1837), Ov., William Tell (1838); SAINT-SAЛNS: Danse macabre (1876); SCHUBERT: 12 Lieder (1837-8), Schwanengesang (1838-9), Winterreise (1839); SCHUMANN: Widmung (1848).

PIANO TRANSCRIPTIONS FROM OPERAS: BELLINI: Reminiscences des Puritains (1836), Hexameron (vars. on march from I Puritani, collab. with Thalberg, Pixis, Herz, Czerny, Chopin) (1837), Fantaisie sur les motifs favoris de l‘opera La Sonnambula (1839, rev. 1840-1), Reminiscences de Norma (1841); DONIZETTI: Reminiscences de Lucia di Lammermoor (1835-6), Reminiscences de Lucrezia Borgia (1840); HALeVY: Reminiscences de La Juive (1835); MEYERBEER: Grande Fantaisie sur des thиmes de l‘opera Les Huguenots (1836), Reminiscences de Robert le Diable (1841); MOZART: Reminiscences de Don Juan (1841); TCHAIKOVSKY: Eugene Onegin: Polonaise (1880); VERDI: Concert Paraphrase on Themes from Ernani (1847), Miserere du Trovatore (1859), Rigoletto: paraphrase de concert (1859), Don Carlos: Coro di festa e marcia funebre (1867-8), Reminiscences de Simon Boccanegra (1882); WAGNER: Phantasiestuck on themes from Rienzi (1859), Ov. Tannhauser (1848), 2 Pieces from Lohengrin (1854), Isoldes Liebestod (1867), Am stillen Herd from Die Meistersinger (1871), Feierlicher Marsch zum heiligen Gral, Parsifal (1882); WEBER: Fantasia on Themes from Der Freischutz (1840), Ov. Oberon (1843), Ov. Der Freischutz (1846).

ORGAN: Prelude and Fugue on the Name of Bach (1885, rev. 1870); Requiem (1879); At Richard Wagner‘s Grave (1883).

SONGS (selected list): Tre Sonetti di Petrarca (1838-9); Die Loreley (Heine) (1841); Mignons Lied (Goethe) (1842); Es war ein Kцnig in Thule (Goethe) (1842); Oh! quand je dors (Hugo) (1842); Du bist wie eine Blume (Heine) (c.1843); Jeanne d‘Arc au bыcher (Dumas) (1845, arr. v. and orch. 1858, rev. 1874); En ces lieux (Monnier) (1854); Die drei Zigeuner (Lenau) (1860); Go not, happy day (Tennyson) (1879); Verlassen (Michell) (1880).

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