The influence of Byron on Liszt was enormous, as is generally acknowledged. In particular the First Book of the Années de pèlerinage shows the poet’s influence in its choice of Byron epigraphs in English for four of the set of nine pieces. In his years of travel as a virtuoso pianist Liszt often referred to “mon byronisme.” The work by Byron that most affected Liszt is the long narrative poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage which was translated into many languages, including French. The word “pèlerinage” that replaced “voyageur” is a Byronic identity in Liszt’s thinking. The Byronic hero as Liszt saw him and imitated him in for example Mazeppa and Tasso is a figure who represented a positive force, suffering and perhaps a revolutionary, but definitely not a public enemy. Liszt’s life, viewed as a musical pilgrimage, led of course to Rome. Is it possible that Byron even influenced him in this direction? In this paper I try to give a portrait of the real Byron that hides behind the poseur of his literary works, and suggest that what drew Liszt to the English poet was precisely the man whom he sensed behind the artistic mask. Byron was not musical, but he was religious — as emerges from his life and his letters, a life which caused scandal to his English contemporaries. But today we can see that part of the youthful genius of the rebel Byron was his boldness in the face of hypocrisy and compromise — his heroism was simply to be true. In this we can see a parallel with the Liszt who left the piano and composed Christus. What look like incompatibilities are simply the connection between action and contemplation — between the journey and the goal. Byron, in fact, can help us follow the ligne intérieure which Liszt talked about in the 1830s.
The Mazeppa sketch, written on pages 20–18 of Liszt’s Sketchbook N6, was composed a considerable time before the well-known study entitled Mazeppa (1841; 1851). In the past Rudolf Kókai and Dieter Torkewitz have written a few words about this composition. However, neither Kókai nor Torkewitz understood that the sketch, after a lengthy deletion, was continued on pages 19 and 18. All in all there are around 30 bars of this work, enough to reconstruct it. The result is a quite interesting, wild ‘Galop,’ most probably composed on ‘31 Mai Ecorchebeuf,’ according to the date written at the bottom of page 18 through the notes. If this is right, it means that the Mazeppa sketch stems from 1832, for Liszt stayed from 8 May until shortly after 25 June 1832 in Normandy, in the village of Écorchebeuf. In the spring of that year Franz Liszt frequented the home of Victor Hugo (nowadays the museum Maison Victor Hugo); he met there the painter Boulanger a few times, too. Louis Boulanger (1806–1867) had, in 1827, already exhibited his splendid Le Supplice de Mazeppa in the ‘Salon du Louvre’. Hugo, who was closely befriended with Boulanger, was so impressed by this painting that he wrote shortly afterwards his poem Mazeppa, which appeared in 1829 in the collection Les Orientals. So, in 1832 Liszt had regular contact with people who were most profoundly infected by the Mazeppa virus and he will have read Hugo’s poem at that time, maybe at his holiday address in Écorchebeuf. It is quite likely that then, under the direct influence of Hugo’s poem, he tried to represent in music the hellish ride of the young Cossack on a Ukrainian horse.
Although Franz Liszt’s symphonic poems were inspired by works of literature, poetry, and painting, the resulting works are not mere replicas of the inspirational source. Rather, Liszt concentrates on themes of importance gleaned from the sources and uses these ideas to create a musical narrative. In this paper, I explore two distinct musical narratives in Liszt’s symphonic poems: the “conflict and resolution” narrative evident in Hunnenschlacht and the “suffering and redemption” narrative of Tasso, Lamento e Trionfo. Through these examples, I demonstrate that musical narrative is an organizing force in and of itself within Liszt’s symphonic poems; a narrative progression towards apotheosis propels the music forward and suggests Liszt’s programmatic inspiration in each work. Although some seek to fit the musical structure of Liszt’s symphonic poems into a preexisting model, this paper proposes that the program is their integral part, and that only through a combination of programmatic and formal analyses can one gain a deeper understanding of these works as a whole.
The first part of the present documentary publishes fifty-one autograph letters and five short notes of Ferenc Liszt from the collection of the Berlin State Library, written in French and German between 1836 and 1886. Some of those written to music publisher Hermann Härtel concern the edition of compositions such as Consolations and Études ďexécution transcendante, while others touch on his transcriptions. Other letters are addressed to various musicians, friends, lady-friends, etc., among them Richard Wagner and C. F. Weitzmann. In the second part there follow sixteen documents from the Library of the Frankfurt University, among them a receipt of 200 francs from the Duchess of Berry to the young artist in 1824.
The article offers a definition of the concept of anti-modernity, based at first on Antoine Compagnon’s 2005-volume Les antimodernes, de Joseph de Maistre à Roland Barthes. The role of the mundane sociability of the aristocracy, returned from emigration, and of the aesthetic culture of political legitimism is examined in the acclimatization process of German Romanticism in France during the Empire, the Restoration, and the first years of the July Monarchy. A hypothesis is proposed about the connections between Liszt’s interpretation of the Faust myth as it is exposed in the poems of Goethe and Lenau, on the one hand, and the political, aesthetical, and ideological resistance of French artists from the first half of the 19th century, directed against modernity, liberal individualism, the upheavals of the 1789 Revolution, and the rationalist constructivism of the Enlightenment, on the other. A survey of the aesthetics of negativity and its musical implications in Liszt’s compositions inspired by Faust reveals that the composer distanced himself from the “naive modernism” (Compagnon) of many of his contemporaries and came close to the flamboyant aesthetic of Chateaubriand’s Christian Vanity as well as to the scepticism, related in our post-modernist era with the idea of progress and of the completed work. Thus, Liszt’s relationship to the myth and the character of Faust becomes much more complex and ambiguous than it usually appears in the French literature, where Liszt’s view on the Faustian freedom is associated systematically and rather simplistically with the modern and liberal process of the individual’s emancipation.
Liszt followed the education of his own children through letters, but he rarely saw them while they were young. The education that Marie Sayn-Wittgenstein received in Weimar, when her mother settled there with Liszt, was completely different. The young princess was only ten years old and she read many classic and modern writers; she even translated some of them. Greek mythology had a privileged place in her education. She attended several concerts. Private teachers gave her lessons in drawing, history, and art history. She travelled with her mother to Berlin and Paris in order to visit artists’ ateliers, art galleries, and museums. Liszt gave them names and addresses of personalities to visit. Special orders of portraits sometimes followed these visits. The young princess served as a model for some of these painters. Princess Carloyne Sayn-Wittgenstein possessed a personal collection of drawings and paintings, and the young girl was encouraged to do the same. This can be seen in the letters that Liszt wrote to the young princess before her marriage.
E.T.A. Hoffmann, Franz Liszt and George Sand share the same vision of art and in particular of music. Is this similarity fortuitous? Up to which extent did Liszt and Sand know Hoffmann and could discuss on his work? Anyhow after meeting Liszt, Sand gets a deeper knowledge of Hoffmann, and develops her theories about art: to that point, meeting the Hungarian musician was probably critical.
Among Franz Liszt’s symphonic poems, Hunnenschlacht (“The Battle of the Huns,” 1857) and Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe (“From the Cradle to the Grave,” 1883) were inspired by the visual arts. With these works, Liszt attempted to translate painterly figurations into music; this intention is particularly embodied in his symphonic transformation of Wilhelm Kaulbach’s monumental fresco, Hunnenschlacht. Liszt was attracted by the idea of religious devotion and at the same time identified himself with the Huns. This paper considers the ways in which Liszt expressed the narrative plot and imitated the visual qualities of the Hunnenschlacht fresco by deploying innovative instrumental techniques and a progressive formal structure. This work illustrates Liszt’s interest in combining different art forms, and the prominent use of an apotheosis is an expression of the Beethovenian symphonic model. Liszt shared with early-nineteenth-century Romantics such as E. T. A. Hoffmann an interest in synaesthesia, associating colors with sounds. In Hunnenschlacht, he used the graphic illustration of the fresco as his primary source, yet he also attempted to convey the various tone colors associated with the figures. This interpretative process is explained in his preface to the score, in which Liszt describes the lights and colors associated with the Huns, the Romans, and the Cross. The peculiar treatment of instrumentation, including the use of wooden and sponge drum sticks, organ, unusual combinations of instruments, and an audacious treatment of dynamics, vibrantly depict the distinct colors or lights that envelop the principal figures in the painting.
The connections between Lamartine’s collection of poetry Harmonies poétiques et religieuses and the piano cycle with the same title by Liszt are very complex — sometimes even enigmatic. However, because of the great progress made in recent years regarding the genesis of Liszt’s cycle spanning over twenty years it is now possible to provide some clarification on the influences exerted by Lamartine’s poems on the corresponding pieces by Liszt. Each piece of Liszt’s three successive piano cycles is examined in terms of the influence due to Lamartine’s collection.
The following study starts out from the examination of two fragmentary piano compositions by Liszt:
Introduction des variations sur une marche du Siège de Corinthe
, which were based on two Rossini operas,
Le Siège de Corinthe
, respectively. Since the literature has tended to confound the sources related to these two works, I strive to clarify and reinterpret the intricate connections between the two fragments and their different manuscript sources. I propose that the “Maometto — Mosè Fantasy,” the
Valse à capriccio sur deux motifs de Lucia et Parisina
Variations de bravoure pour piano sur des thèmes de Paganini
Fantasie über Motive aus Figaro und Don Juan
God Save the Queen. Paraphrase de concert
all reflect the composer’s intense concern with the integration of themes of different origins in a single work — an aesthetic problem that haunted him for decades, and remained unresolved in most of the above cases. Liszt appears to have been able to solve this problem satisfactorily only if he could rely on some kind of “outside” musical help, like the common genre of the waltz in the
Valse à capriccio
; or if he succeeded in “sublimating” one of the themes, as in the case of
God Save the Queen
. For want of such extraordinary solutions, all other compositions that experimented with the integration of themes of different origins in the late 1830s and early 1840s were eventually buried in oblivion by Liszt himself.