Paris war Anfang der 1830er Jahre Treffpunkt junger Komponisten; Mendelssohn befreundete sich eng mit Frédéric Chopin und Ferdinand Hiller, die ein fröhliches Trio bildeten. Auch zu anderen Musikerkollegen bestand sehr freundschaftlicher Kontakt, insbesondere zu Franz Liszt. Im gemeinsamen Musizieren und Feiern tauschten sich die jungen Leute aus und schärften ihre Individualität. Die Briefe Mendelssohns sind von einer hellsichtigen Beobachtungsgabe geprägt, die ungewöhnliche Perspektiven und Charakterisierungen bietet. Das Verhältnis trübte sich später ein, die gegenseitige Hochachtung aber blieb erhalten. Die Briefe erlauben eine abgrenzende Charakteristik beider Persönlichkeiten und ihrer Musik.
‘Bear Dance’ (German ‘Bärentanz’) appears to have been a lesser-known nineteenth-century character piece exemplified by Schumann’s two related compositions in A minor,
Twelve Pieces for Four Hands
, op. 85, no. 2 and its early version, for piano solo, composed for the
Album for the Young
but left unpublished, as well as Mendelssohn’s F-major occasional piece. These pieces are all characterized by a very low ostinato-like tone-repetition in the base (recalling the clumsy movements of the bear in Schumann’s pieces while imitating the leader’s drumming in Mendelssohn’s) and a melody in high register in imitation of the leader’s pipe tune. Bartók must have had this particular genre in mind when composing his closing piece for the
Ten Easy Piano Pieces
(1908), herald of later fast ‘ostinato’ movements, in which the amusing topic, a market place event, is turned into something wild and eerie. The composition and publication history of the piece is reinvestigated on the basis of documents, letters and compositional manuscripts, partly unpublished so far. ‘Bear Dance’ is closely related to the compositions, such as
nos. 13 and 14, resulting from the composer’s personal crisis in 1908, due to his unrequited love to the violinist Stefi Geyer, and it also uses a version of the leitmotiv generally named after Geyer by theorists. The employment of characteristics derived from folk music (
[herdsman’s dance] or
rhythm, strophic structure, etc.) is analyzed as well as the composer’s modernist preference for harmonies integrating minor second/major seventh clash and large-scale tritonal tensions. Bartók’s encounter with a special (but distinctly different) musical type accompanying ritual peasant dances in Romanian villages of Transylvania is also briefly discussed as one of his arrangements of a violin piece, the second movement of the Sonatina for piano (1915) was also entitled as ‘Bear Dance’.
The salvation role of Gretchen, embodying the “Ewig-Weibliche,” has already been mentioned by several scholars analyzing Liszt’s “Faust” Symphony. According to them, Liszt found the most direct models to the characterization of the female protagonist of his work in Wagner’s operas. This interpretation can be made more differentiated in the view of another musical quotation of the “Gretchen” movement of the Symphony. I would like to go further on the basis of some concrete musical analogies, following the genesis of the composition and Liszt’s writings. I seek to answer the following questions: How much is Goethe’s Gretchen preserved in Liszt’s work? What are the influences of Gretchen’s contemporary musical characterizations known by Liszt, related to his own work? Last but not least, what kind of connections do exist between the Gretchen of the “Faust” Symphony and the other female characters in Liszt’s works?
Betrachtung des Todes
, a late little masterpiece by the composer, represents the simultaneity of the old and the new. The text is the second verse of Gellert’s fourteen-verse poem ‘Wie sicher lebt der Mensch, der Staub!’, No. 50 in the volume
Geistliche Oden und Lieder
, 1757. In the short catalogue at the end of the volume Gellert names the hymn ‘Herr Jesu Christ, meines Lebens Licht’, as the appropriate melody for the poem. Haydn’s vocal trio with
is perhaps the most extraordinary setting in the series of the
(Hob. XXVb:3). Its harmonies and key changes uncannily foreshadow the language of Schubert and Mendelssohn. The musical representation of the poetic lines, on the other hand, is full of rhetorical devices. Most startling is the presence of figured bass, as an anachronistic code for the keyboard accompaniment. Co-existence of Baroque and Romantic, or ‘First Viennese Modernism’ (James Webster): the roots of the composer’s professional education preserved in a highly innovative setting of an old Protestant poem, in the very last years of the eighteenth century.
In German literature Heinrich Heine is regarded as one of the founders of musical feuilleton, a genre that he developed to the highest mastery with the means of irony and satire. In his music reviews Heine discussed repeatedly many of his musical contemporaries; he met leading composers of his time like Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Meyerbeer, Berlioz, Chopin, Liszt, and Wagner personally. The fact that the relationship between Heine and Liszt (they got to know each other in 1831 in Paris) was not without problems, is a commonplace. Rainer Kleinertz describes it as ambivalent. The essay examines Heine’s musical judgements about Liszt, focussing on the question of Liszt’s interest in the fine arts. In the tenth letter from Über die Französische Bühne. Vertraute Briefe an August Lewald (1837), Heine accused Liszt of philosophical eclecticism, because he would change his beliefs like hobbyhorses. Are there contradictions and inconsistencies also in Liszt’s thinking about art and music that justified such an ambivalent attitude on the part of Heine? Finally, Liszt replied Heine in the seventh of his Lettres d’un bachelier ès musique, dated Venice, 15 April 1838.
listening, without having been brought up within its nurturing culture? Here Felix Mendelssohn’s words come to mind: People often complain that music is ambiguous, that their ideas on the subject always seem so vague, whereas everyone understands words; with
– examplary works are listed from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century composers such as Georg Friedrich Händel, Niccolò Jommelli, Johann Sebastian Bach, Joseph Haydn, Domenico Cimarosa, and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. 36 In contrast to the named examples