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  • 1 Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg Zentrum für Europäische Geschichts- und Kulturwissenschaften, Musikwissenschaftliches Seminar Augustinergasse 7 D-69117 Heidelberg Deutschland
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The question how visual art absorbs music has been the subject of much investigation. The reverse question, namely how music absorbs visual art, has until now received little attention. Franz Liszt was perhaps the first to be inspired by visual art in his compositions. The starting point was his encounter with the art of Italy (Sposalizio and Il penseroso in book II of Années de pèlerinage), later followed symphonic poems (Hunnenschlacht based on Kaulbach and Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe probably based on Zichy); his Totentanz for piano and orchestra was inspired by Orcagna and Holbein. In Liszt it is a matter of the poetic content of music and the unification of the arts, where in principle music can be connected not just to literature, but to all branches of the arts. Linked with literature, it reflects the forms and structures of literature. The question is, therefore, whether all this is valid for visual art as well. Does Liszt just compose a ”story,“ or does he also take over the structures of art? And what influence did these works have on later composers?