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Music Franz Liszt
by
Jonathan Kregor

Introduction

Franz Liszt (1811–1886) was a central, though controversial, musical figure in the 19th century. Distinguished as a pianist, admired for his support of promising musicians and other artists, and criticized as a composer and author, Liszt personified many of the diverse pursuits of the age. As one of the preeminent virtuosos in the generation following Ludwig van Beethoven’s death, he left behind several hundred compositions for solo keyboard, many of which are still featured in modern concert programs. Although his reputation as a composer of symphonic and vocal music has been more erratic, his virtuosic profile and theories of programmatic composition were extremely influential on contemporaries and following generations. Because of his long life and widespread geographic reach, Liszt has figured prominently in musicological scholarship that seeks to elucidate aesthetic, historical, sociological, or philosophical currents in the 19th century.

Contemporary Biographies

Although contemporary biographers can hardly be characterized as objective toward their subject, their writings remain important. Recent scholarship has tended to mine them for the ways in which Liszt controlled his historical image (d’Ortigue 2006 and Rehding 2005), how he fit into his milieu (Hupfer 2001 and Keiler 2006), and how his life encouraged a particular type of biographical method (Deaville 2002). By far the most comprehensive biography to appear during his life is Ramann 1880–1894 (ideally read alongside Ramann 1983), although d’Ortigue 2006 and Rellstab (Keiler 2006) provide important insight into Liszt’s so-called Virtuoso Years. Although Liszt never produced an autobiography, he did assist these biographers to varying degrees.

  • Deaville, James. “Writing Liszt: Lina Ramann, Marie Lipsius, and Early Musicology.” Journal of Musicological Research 21.1–2 (2002): 73–97.

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    An important study of Ramann and La Mara (Marie Lipsius), who through their publications of Liszt’s biography and correspondence, respectively, did much to create his modern image. Deaville’s article not only provides important biographical information about these women, it also clarifies their unique musicological approach to their subject in an era when women were almost entirely forbidden from the discipline.

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  • d’Ortigue, Joseph. “The First Biography: Joseph d’Ortigue on Franz Liszt at Age Twenty-Three.” Edited by Benjamin Walton. Translated by Vincent Giroud. In Franz Liszt and His World. Edited by Christopher H. Gibbs and Dana Gooley, 303–334. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

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    One of the earliest biographies of Liszt (1835), and still useful. D’Ortigue, a colleague of Liszt and fellow Beethoven enthusiast, identifies in his subject a perennial tension between sensuality and spirituality that still inspires and plagues biographers to this day. Walton’s introduction and commentary provide ample context for d’Ortigue’s creation of such a contradictory artist.

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  • Hupfer, Thomi. Franz Liszt als junger Mann: Eine Leserei. Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang, 2001.

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    An eclectic, exciting selection of primary-source documents accompanied by Hupfer’s penetrating analyses. Examines Keiler 2006 and d’Ortigue 2006, among other early documents, and offers legitimate parallels to modern aesthetics of rock and film. An appendix of selected articles about Liszt is parsed thematically. Not recommended for casual consultation.

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  • Keiler, Allan, trans. “Ludwig Rellstab’s Biographical Sketch of Liszt.” In Franz Liszt and His World. Edited by Christopher H. Gibbs and Dana Gooley, 335–360. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

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    Rellstab’s biography appeared in 1842, and when read alongside d’Ortigue 2006, it is clear how invented story could quickly become historical fact. Rellstab vividly covers Liszt’s Berlin concerts and his early years and includes the first allusion to the famous Weihekuss (consecrating kiss) incident between the young Liszt and Beethoven. Rehding 2005 nicely complements this selection; excellent introduction by Keiler.

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  • Ramann, Lina. Franz Liszt als Künstler und Mensch. 3 vols. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1880–1894.

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    Because the author worked closely with her subject over a number of years, this is the most important contemporary biography on Liszt. With three volumes covering the whole of Liszt’s life and works, it has served as a model for modern biographers. Although it has also been an easy target for critics, Deaville 2002 has gone a long way in explaining the reasons for its eccentricities.

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  • Ramann, Lina. Lisztiana: Erinnerungen an Franz Liszt in Tagebuchblättern, Briefen und Dokumenten aus den Jahren 1873–1886/87. Edited by Arthur Seidl. Revised by Friedrich Schnapp. Mainz, Germany: Schott, 1983.

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    Containing notes, questionnaires, letters, and other documents related to her research on Liszt’s life and works, this should be used as a supplement to Ramann 1880–1894.

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  • Rehding, Alexander. “Inventing Liszt’s Life: Early Biography and Autobiography.” In The Cambridge Companion to Liszt. Edited by Kenneth Hamilton, 14–27. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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    Along with Deaville 2002, one of the few studies to consider the historiography of biography. Rehding argues that for Liszt, composition and performance are integral—at times, even primary—components of Liszt’s biography. Thus Rehding uncovers the truest autobiographical moments in Liszt’s “Beethoven” Cantata of 1845, which makes use of a quotation from Beethoven’s “Archduke” Piano Trio.

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Posthumous Biographies

Despite—or perhaps due to—Liszt’s international profile, scholarship on him remains decidedly parochial. Recent examinations of his life (and, occasionally, works) are no different: excellent biographies by prominent scholars exist in German, French, English, and Hungarian, although each rarely engages with the others in any serious manner. Thus, there is no single definitive biography of Liszt. Each of Liszt’s major posthumous biographers—Gut 2009, Raabe 1968, and Walker 1987–1997 (superseding Searle 1966)—presents his life and work differently, although each enlarges, corrects, and occasionally distorts its subject. Huré and Knepper 1987 and Williams 1990 paint Liszt’s life through contemporary sources, providing added contextual explanation only when necessary; similarly, Burger 1989 turns contemporary iconography of Liszt and his world into appealing biography.

  • Burger, Ernst. Franz Liszt: A Chronicle of His Life in Pictures and Documents. Translated by Steward Spencer. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989.

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    An outstanding presentation of paintings, photographs, manuscripts, and letters associated with Liszt and his vast network of family, friends, and even enemies. Although aimed at the general reader and lacking the detail of other biographers, the visual materials go a long way in proving Robert Schumann’s pronouncement that Liszt must be seen as well as heard. Helpful translations of foreign-language visual material in the appendix.

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  • Gut, Serge. Franz Liszt. 2d ed. Sinzig, Germany: Studiopunkt, 2009.

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    Revision and expansion in German of study first published in French (Paris: Editions de Fallois, 1989). Relatively short overview of Liszt’s life that nevertheless paints a successful picture of the virtuoso. Beneficial appendices, with major texts associated with the symphonic poems, an exhaustive chronology, a catalogue of works cross-listed with other major catalogues, and an annotated bibliography.

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  • Huré, Pierre-Antoine, and Claude Knepper, eds. Liszt en son temps. Paris: Hachette, 1987.

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    A compendium of extracts from a diverse array of reviews, journals, letters, and other documents involving Liszt and his world, some of which are not reproduced anywhere else. The book is a poor reference work, however, because its indices are inadequate in identifying the content of each document. Fortunately, the editors preface sections and selections with helpful biographical and contextual information.

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  • Raabe, Peter. Franz Liszt. Rev. ed. Felix Raabe. 2 vols. Stuttgart and Berlin: Cotta, 1968.

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    Volume 1, Liszts Leben, is useful for the light it sheds on Liszt’s career up through his tenure at Weimar but disappoints with meager coverage of the period 1869–1886. Raabe’s volume was originally published in 1931, and its revision concerns Liszt’s works more than his biography; as such, the biographical portion of this two-volume study is of limited significance today.

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  • Searle, Humphrey. The Music of Liszt. New York: Dover, 1966.

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    A slender biography that has been superseded in English by Walker 1987–1997 (and others). It remains important largely for championing the catalogue of Liszt’s works that bears the author’s name (“S”), a catalogue that has been updated several times in the intervening decades.

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  • Walker, Alan. Franz Liszt. Rev. ed. 3 vols. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987–1997.

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    Correcting many errors, sporting copious citations from Liszt’s output, and enlarging upon its predecessors, this elegantly written biography is the most comprehensive in English. Walker’s tone has been criticized as bordering on the hagiographic, and selected interpretations have been challenged by Gut 2009, among others. Still, Walker’s volumes have arguably done more to enhance Liszt’s profile with audiences than any other single publication.

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  • Williams, Adrian. Portrait of Liszt: By Himself and His Contemporaries. Oxford: Clarendon, 1990.

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    An impressive conspectus that follows a format similar to Huré and Knepper 1987 but focuses more on biographical rather than musical or sociological issues. Most of the entries have been published elsewhere, but the convenience of such a range of sources makes Williams’s volume appealing and beneficial to both scholar and casual reader.

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Collections

Articles on Liszt in major musicological journals are unfortunately rare, although many that appear in the Journal of the American Liszt Society are of high quality. Unlike the biographical situation, however, the collections of essays that have appeared in fits and spurts complement one another nicely, with various works and genres covered using a wide selection of evidence and methodologies. Recently edited collections have given in-depth treatment to individual works or genres (Gibbs and Gooley 2006), offered synoptic coverage (Arnold 2002), or attempted to synthesize both approaches (Hamilton 2005). In general, the authors whose works appear in these collections treat Liszt more critically than his biographers. Saffle 2009, in its third edition, offers the best book-length bibliographic resource, covering books, articles, editions, and other Lisztiana.

  • Arnold, Ben, ed. The Liszt Companion. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2002.

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    A fulsome overview of Liszt’s musical and literary output, organized by genre, by leading North American and English scholars. Features the only major accounts of Liszt’s organ music, chamber music, orchestral transcriptions, secular choral works, and melodramas in English. Complements Hamilton 2005.

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  • Gibbs, Christopher H., and Dana Gooley, eds. Franz Liszt and His World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

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    An innovative collection that blends academic essays with primary-source documents that are introduced by leading scholars in the field. Most of the selections gravitate toward the years 1830–1848, although important analyses by Felix Draeseke and biographical documents by Lina Ramann (cited under Contemporary Biographies) extend the chronological coverage. Liszt’s sacred music, however, goes almost entirely unmentioned. Along with Hamilton 2005, represents the best scholarship on Liszt available.

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  • Hamilton, Kenneth, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Liszt. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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    A rather conservatively organized collection of essays that focuses primarily on Liszt’s musical output. Commendable is the extensive coverage given to Liszt’s late piano works by James M. Baker, the sacred choral music by Dolores Pesce, and the art songs (Lieder) by Monika Hennemann. An excellent reference work that ranks alongside Gibbs and Gooley 2006 as the best scholarship on Liszt available.

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  • Journal of the American Liszt Society. 1977–.

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    Of the journals published by the various Liszt societies around the world, this is the most useful and wide-ranging. An issue normally contains scholarly articles, book and music reviews, editorials, and reports on Lisztiana at auction and in the general public sphere. Quality of content and presentation varies according to editor.

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  • Saffle, Michael. Franz Liszt: A Research and Information Guide. 3d ed. New York: Routledge, 2009.

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    With well over one thousand entries, offers an extensive list of books, articles, collections, music, and other paraphernalia from around the world that involves Liszt. Each entry contains a generally legitimate assessment that considers content, presentation, impact, and availability. The third edition dispenses with entries for most scholarship in Hungarian, because Saffle argues that the best Hungarian scholarship is usually republished in German- or English-language sources.

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Scholarly Editions of Music

Two significant, source-critical editions of Liszt’s works are in circulation (Liszt 1907–1936 and Liszt 1970–), although neither is complete. Although these editions necessarily serve the needs of scholars, several publications, especially those by Editio Musica Budapest (cf. Liszt 1997) and Henle Verlag (cf. Liszt 2004), offer volumes edited by Liszt specialists that meet the needs of performers and most scholars looking for a trustworthy, affordable text. A complete edition of his compositions was begun in 1907 but remains incomplete (Liszt 1907–1936), although its volumes of keyboard works have been superseded by Liszt 1970–. In the meantime, separate critical editions of high quality, such as Liszt 1985–1999, have appeared.

  • Liszt, Franz. Musikalische Werke. Edited by Ferruccio Busoni, Peter Raabe, et al. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1907–1936.

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    Although incomplete, offers the best source-critical editions of, among others, the Faust Symphony, symphonic poems, and a number of ensemble and solo vocal works. The volumes of solo keyboard works have been superseded by Liszt 1970–, but Busoni’s insights are still worthy of consideration by today’s scholars and performers.

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  • Liszt, Franz. Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke. Edited by Imre Mező, et al. Budapest: Editio Musica, 1970–.

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    Nominally a complete, source-critical edition in ten series of Liszt’s works; to date, only the solo piano works have been released. The edition has been criticized for its organization and for prioritizing the ultimate version of a work over earlier, ostensibly viable and complete works; this latter criticism partially addressed through supplemental volumes to series 1 and 2. Nevertheless, the most superior edition available.

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  • Liszt, Franz. Sämtliche Orgelwerke. Edited by Martin Haselböck. Vienna: Universal Editions, 1985–1999.

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    An excellent edition of Liszt’s original and arranged works for organ that caters to both performers and scholars. Volumes 1–9 feature straightforward introductions that give short historical descriptions of each work; volume 10 (in two parts) provides the critical apparatus.

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  • Liszt, Franz. Les Préludes. Edited by Rena Charnin Mueller. Budapest: Editio Musica, 1997.

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    An excellent study edition of a score edited by a noted Liszt scholar. Although the work is not yet available in Liszt 1970–, this edition features a useful preface and comprehensive critical report, in effect functioning as the definitive critical edition.

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  • Liszt, Franz. Études d’exécution transcendante. Edited by Ernst-Günter Heinemann. Preface by Mária Eckhardt. Munich: G. Henle, 2004.

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    An excellent, reasonably priced, critical edition of Liszt’s “Transcendental” Etudes that provides a helpful introduction to the text by a noted Liszt scholar, as well as a comprehensive critical report in German, English, and French.

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Catalogues of Works

Although Liszt oversaw the publication of two catalogues of works (1855 and 1877; discussed especially in Mueller 1992), substantial problems persist in fashioning a catalogue that meets the needs of modern-day performers and scholars. In particular, Liszt revised his works often, sometimes to the point that a legitimately new work was born. Dating such works and work complexes thus becomes an issue, and the alternative of organizing his works generically rather than chronologically raises other challenges (see Short and Saffle 2002). Finally, the manuscript sources are to be found around the world, and new sources are unearthed or resurface with surprising frequency. Consequently, three different catalogue systems—R, S, and LW—are in use today, respectively based on Raabe 1968, Short and Howard 2004, and Mueller and Eckhardt 2001. No comprehensive works list exists, although both Mueller and Eckhardt 2001 and Short and Howard 2004 have provided helpful contributions.

  • Mueller, Rena Charnin. “Liszt’s Catalogues and Inventories of His Works.” Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 34.3–4 (1992): 231–250.

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    A thorough description of the sources relating to Liszt’s own catalogues and an attempt to reconcile their discrepancies. Mueller’s scholarship is notable for its attention to detail, depth, and unparalleled command of Lisztiana; one of the few scholars to employ positivistic methodologies vis-à-vis Liszt with consistently strong results.

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  • Mueller, Rena Charnin and Mária Eckhardt. “Liszt, Franz: Works.” In The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 2d ed. Vol. 14. Edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell, 785–872. London: Macmillan, 2001.

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    The most accessible and thorough catalogue of Liszt’s works, building upon Mueller’s earlier scholarship (including Mueller 1992). Dispensing with earlier taxonomies, organizes Liszt’s music by instrumentation. A typical entry includes title, alternative title(s) if applicable, publication information, location in scholarly edition, and short commentary. No musical incipits; little information on associated manuscript sources. Cross-listed with “S” and “R.” Available at Oxford Music Online by subscription.

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  • Raabe, Peter. Franz Liszt. Rev. ed. Felix Raabe. 2 vols. Stuttgart and Berlin: Cotta, 1968.

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    Volume 2, Liszts Schaffen, provides a detailed analysis of many of Liszt’s major works, particularly those for orchestra. The basis for the “R” numbers, in use primarily in Europe, can be found on pp. 241–377.

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  • Short, Michael, and Leslie Howard. Franz Liszt: List of Works. Milan: Rugginenti, 2004.

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    A competing catalogue to Mueller and Eckhardt 2001, although one that does not respond to all of the criticisms of Short and Saffle 2002. This catalogue develops the “S” numbers, that is, maintaining generic distinctions, although the amount of renumbering, deletions, and additional content makes this decision questionable. Nevertheless, much new content appears here, particularly identification of numerous versions of the same works, album-leaves, and other fragmentary music.

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  • Short, Michael, and Michael Saffle. “Compiling Lis(z)ts: Cataloging the Composer’s Works and the New Grove 2 Works List.” Journal of Musicological Research 21.3 (2002): 233–262.

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    A history of the numerous attempts to catalogue Liszt’s works precedes a criticism of Mueller and Eckhardt 2001. In particular, the authors take issue with the chronology of Liszt’s works and the casual ways in which Liszt’s numerous versions of the same work have been dealt with, arguing that an exhaustively comprehensive “variorum”—unlike Mueller and Eckhardt 2001—is the only possible solution.

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Liszt as Author

Liszt was a prolific writer, penning more than ten thousand pieces of correspondence and several volumes of essays, analyses, and criticism. Although only a portion of his letters have been published—some in mutilated or incomplete form—and although the extent of his involvement in his literary endeavors has been called into question, no better corpus of material exists to learn about Liszt as a man and as a musician.

Assorted Correspondence

The most important corpus of letters remains those edited by La Mara (La Mara 1893–1902, La Mara 1895–1904), although these are slowly being supplanted by editions that employ more rigorous approaches to the sources (e.g., Liszt 1966, Liszt 2002, as well as the English translations of letters from La Mara’s volumes in Liszt 1998). Bory 1928 is an example of the numerous articles that have appeared over the years that contain unpublished correspondence by Liszt. Suttoni 1989 and 1999 is the definitive guide to such collections.

  • Bory, Robert. “Diverses lettres inédites de Liszt.” Schweizerisches Jahrbuch für Musikwissenschaft 3 (1928): 5–25.

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    Representative example of just one of the large number of miscellaneous articles that contain correspondence by and to Liszt. Bory’s article transcribes letters to the Boissier family and Olga Janina, as well as an extract from Liszt’s personal notes. See Suttoni 1989 and 1996 for similar resources.

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  • La Mara, ed. Briefe hervorragender Zeitgenossen an Liszt. 3 vols. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1895–1904.

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    A choice selection of letters addressed to Liszt from almost every notable artist of the 19th century. Despite its historical importance, this collection is ultimately of limited significance, because it does not establish Liszt’s relationship with, say, Carl Czerny or Clara Schumann, and because many of the letter writers have been well served by complete critical editions of their own correspondence. La Mara is the pseudonym of Marie Lipsius.

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  • Liszt, Franz. Briefe. 8 vols. Edited by La Mara. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1893–1902.

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    With more than one thousand letters that cover the whole of Liszt’s artistic career, an integral reference for the Liszt scholar. Nevertheless, as Suttoni 1989 and 1999 has documented, La Mara could take a heavy editorial hand to Liszt’s sometimes inelegant French (his preferred language) and German prose, resulting in distortions. Because of this, recourse to recent, source-critical editions (such as Liszt 2002) is advisable when possible.

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  • Liszt, Franz. Briefe aus ungarischen Sammlungen, 1835–1886. Edited by Margit Prahács. Kassel, Germany: Bärenreiter, 1966.

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    Although almost half a century old, Prahács’s collection is still an important resource. Most of the letters come from the last twenty-five years of Liszt’s life and thus nicely complement Dezső Legány’s Liszt and His Country, 1869–1886 (cited under Liszt’s Europe]. The critical apparatus is found in the back of the book, making reference a bit cumbersome, but Prahács’s commentary is extensive.

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  • Liszt, Franz. Selected Letters. Edited and translated by Adrian Williams. Oxford: Clarendon, 1998.

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    Excellent translation of over nine hundred letters from published sources, including Liszt 1893–1902. Williams interrupts the letters with his own biographical narrative and introduces each chapter with a list of compositions and writings completed by Liszt that year. Useful “Biographical Sketches” in the appendix.

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  • Liszt, Franz. Letters in the Library of Congress. Edited and translated by Michael Short. Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon, 2002.

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    A collection of several hundred letters, some of which have been published in Liszt 1893–1902 and elsewhere. Short provides a respectable English translation, supplements each letter with copious commentary, and transcribes the original text in a large appendix. An important source for Liszt’s dealings with publishers, especially Heinrich Schlesinger of Berlin.

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  • Suttoni, Charles. “Liszt Correspondence in Print.” Journal of the American Liszt Society 25 (1989) and 46 (1999).

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    Suttoni is the acknowledged expert in Liszt’s correspondence, and his two bibliographies—each spanning an entire issue—are indispensable for locating and vetting the large and diverse resources available to the researcher.

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Correspondence with Specific Individuals

Because they form such an important component of Liszt’s biography, most of his major sets of correspondence were published within twenty-five years of his death. Their merits notwithstanding, these editions are thankfully but gradually being superseded by scholarly collections that painstakingly transcribe Liszt’s original texts and, where applicable, supply translations and/or explanatory material. Klára Hamburger (Liszt 2000 and Liszt 1996) and Pauline Pocknell (Liszt and Street-Klindworth 2000) are outstanding editors of Liszt’s correspondence. Likewise, Liszt and d’Agoult 2001 and Liszt and Wagner 1988 are exemplary of current trends in presenting Liszt’s correspondence in as accurate a form as possible. On the other hand, Liszt and Ollivier 1936 and Liszt and von Bülow 1898, although of fundamental material importance, do not hold up to the same rigorous standards of modern text editing.

  • Liszt, Franz. Lettres à Cosima et à Daniela. Edited by Klára Hamburger. Sprimont, Belgium: Mardaga, 1996.

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    As with Hamburger’s other editions of Liszt’s correspondence (including Liszt 2000), each of his 150 letters to either his daughter Cosima or granddaughter Daniela is presented in a detailed, source-critical manner. A particularly important source for those interested in Cosima Wagner, née Liszt and formerly von Bülow, even though her letters to him are relatively rare.

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  • Liszt, Franz. Briefwechsel mit seiner Mutter. Edited by Klára Hamburger. Eisenstadt, Austria: Amt der burgenländischen Landesregierung, 2000.

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    An excellent presentation of letters exchanged between Liszt and his mother, Anna Maria. As usual, Hamburger’s transcriptions of the sources are exemplary and her commentary comprehensive, but the decision to present Franz’s and Anna Maria’s letters separately obscures the chronological unfolding and slightly undermines the notion of traditional correspondence. Letters originally written in French also provided in the German translation.

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  • Liszt, Franz, and Marie d’Agoult. Correspondance. Edited by Serge Gut and Jacqueline Bellas. Paris: Fayard, 2001.

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    Exemplary in every respect, superseding the two-volume edition published by Daniel Ollivier (Paris: Éditions Bernard Grasset, 1933–1934). With more than five hundred extant letters between the couple, the bulk of which was sent between 1833 and 1844, no single source provides better insight into Liszt’s development as artist during his virtuoso years.

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  • Liszt, Franz, and Émile Ollivier. Correspondance, 1842–1862. Edited by Daniel Ollivier. Paris: Editions Bernard Grasset, 1936.

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    In his correspondence with his eldest daughter, Liszt fathers from afar, instructing Blandine (and occasionally his other two children) in both domestic and musical affairs. An important window into Liszt’s family life. Edited by Liszt’s grandson from the original sources.

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  • Liszt, Franz, and Agnes Street-Klindworth. Correspondence, 1854–1886. Edited and translated by Pauline Pocknell. Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon, 2000.

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    Nominally an update of La Mara’s 1894 edition of Liszt’s Briefe an eine Freundin, Pocknell’s edition is a model of its kind, proving that Agnes Street-Klindworth was one of Liszt’s most colorful correspondents. Pocknell’s three separate introductions constitute a study in their own right, and her commentary and transcriptions of the French originals are exceptional, as is Pocknell’s entire scholarly output on Liszt and his world.

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  • Liszt, Franz, and Hans von Bülow. Briefwechsel. Edited by La Mara. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1898.

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    Contains letters between Liszt and one of his most indefatigable supporters. Unlike Liszt 1988 (see Assorted Correspondence), von Bülow and Liszt corresponded without interruption between 1851 and 1884, leaving a documentary legacy that fills in many lacunae from Liszt’s later years, particularly about compositional issues.

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  • Liszt, Franz, and Richard Wagner. Briefwechsel. Edited by Hanjo Kesting. Frankfurt am Main: Insel-Verlag, 1988.

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    One of the most important sets of correspondence from the 19th century, covering Wagner’s music dramas, Liszt’s ideas of program music, and the so-called War of the Romantics. Because Liszt’s and Wagner’s exchange remains almost completely intact, the Briefwechsel can be profitably read cover to cover. Kesting’s, whose readings follow the extant manuscript sources, provides straightforward commentary; German translations of Liszt’s French letters.

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Essays, Reviews, and Other Writings

Despite the availability of passable (Liszt 1880–1883) and exemplary (Liszt 1989–) editions, with the exception of Liszt 1989 and his essay on Berlioz’s Harold en Italie, Liszt’s writings have been almost completely ignored. Only recently have scholars moved past the issue of Liszt’s authorship (prompted by Haraszti 1947), leaving a rich site for further investigation.

  • Haraszti, Emile. “Franz Liszt—Author Despite Himself: The History of a Mystification.” Musical Quarterly 33.4 (1947): 490–516.

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    Haraszti forcefully argues that Liszt’s authorship of prose works bearing his name was dubious, having been born out of a mystification that does not hold up to scientific and aesthetic scrutiny. Although largely discredited today (see especially Liszt 1989 and Liszt 1989–), Haraszti’s article remains important for stimulating scholarly inquiry into Liszt’s activities as writer.

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  • Liszt, Franz. Gesammelte Schriften. 6 vols. Edited and translated by Lina Ramann. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1880–1883.

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    An encapsulation of Liszt’s public legacy as an author that covered two decades. Although slowly being superseded by Liszt 1989–, many essays are still only available in this collection. Accessible at Google Books.

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  • Liszt, Franz. An Artist’s Journey: Lettres d’un bachelier ès musique, 1835–1841. Edited and translated by Charles Suttoni. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989.

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    An amply annotated English edition of Liszt’s Lettres d’un bachelier ès musique. Chronological tables and excerpts from Liszt’s private correspondence help contextualize the “Bachelor Letters,” which Suttoni also supplements with materials by George Sand, Heinrich Heine, and Hector Berlioz. Suttoni’s concluding essay, “Liszt as Author,” is the most concise and levelheaded defense of Liszt’s involvement in his own literary enterprises and thoroughly refutes Haraszti 1947.

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  • Liszt, Franz. Sämtliche Schriften. Edited by Detlef Altenburg. Wiesbaden, Germany: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1989–.

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    This new series offers two significant benefits over Liszt 1880–1883: several appendices of commentary and, when possible, original-language texts. Edited by European Liszt scholars, each volume utilizes the best available manuscript and print sources and provides dizzyingly detailed commentary on every aspect of the text’s genesis, context, dissemination, and reception. (Volume 1 painstakingly dismantles Haraszti 1947.)

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Liszt as Composer

With well over one thousand works, Liszt’s compositional output is significant. Given that the majority of his creations feature the keyboard, most scholarship has, not surprisingly, focused on his original piano works, transcriptions, and concertos. The largest portion of his oeuvre still yet to be investigated is the choral music, for which Garratt 2002 and Merrick 2008provide tentative introductions (see Genre Studies and Individual Works). Liszt’s fascination with Hungarian (or, more accurately, Gypsy) music has generated a number of studies, as has his purported role in fashioning a musical style of the future. Due to its variety, source problems, and relationship to his life and larger world, Liszt’s music evades generalities; hence no suitable overview of his complete compositional output exists.

Genre Studies and Individual Works

Liszt’s most popular works—such as the B-minor Sonata (Hamilton 1996) or the Faust Symphony (Redepenning 1988)—have been capably covered by scholars, as have specific genres (e.g., symphonic poems [Johns 1997] or religious music [Merrick 2008]). Rarely, however, do such book-length works factor into a larger discussion of contemporary music life. Articles, such as those on Liszt’s use of harmony in his late years (Berry 2004), aesthetics during his middle years (Garratt 2002), and compositional development during his early years (Trippett 2008) do, however, tend to bring Liszt’s music into a larger, contemporary discourse.

  • Berry, David Carson. “The Meaning(s) of ‘Without’: An Exploration of Liszt’s Bagatelle ohne Tonart.” 19th-Century Music 27.3 (2004): 230–262.

    DOI: 10.1525/ncm.2004.27.3.230Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A sobering discussion that counters the oft-made but rarely developed claim that Liszt’s Bagatelle ohne Tonart was decades ahead of its time. Berry makes the important distinction between atonality and tonal unfulfillment, the latter quality better fitting into the theoretical world of the 1880s. Indeed, Berry’s analytic frameworks might profitably be ported to other works and genres of Liszt’s late years, many of which have been either stylistically stigmatized or historically idealized.

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  • Garratt, James. Palestrina and the German Romantic Imagination: Interpreting Historicism in Nineteenth-Century Music. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511481796Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Although nominally devoted to the resurgence of interest in Palestrina’s music in the 19th century, Garratt’s study provides one of the sharpest discussions of Liszt’s sacred music available (see pp. 133–213) and, unlike Merrick 2008, places it in the larger context of the Catholic Caecilian church reform movement of the period.

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  • Hamilton, Kenneth. Liszt: Sonata in B Minor. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511620133Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An easy-to-read, comprehensive consideration of one of Liszt’s most famous piano works by an exceptional pianist and scholar. This slim volume covers the compositional history, formal structures, programmatic interpretations, analytic permutations, and performance practice of the Sonata.

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  • Johns, Keith T. The Symphonic Poems of Franz Liszt. Edited by Michael Saffle. Rev. Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon, 1997.

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    The starting point for any research on this ubiquitously Lisztian genre. Johns surveys the characteristics of Liszt’s musical topics, covers the performance and reception of the symphonic poems during Liszt’s Weimar years, and details associated sources. Attention given almost exclusively to the music rather than the textual material that ostensibly stimulated their creation.

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  • Merrick, Paul. Revolution and Religion in the Music of Liszt. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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    Originally published in 1987. Despite Liszt’s considerable output of religious music, Merrick’s is the only monograph devoted to this genre. Drawing largely upon Liszt’s published correspondence, Merrick paints Liszt as an intellectually minded church composer who sought to balance tradition (especially that of Palestrina) and innovation. Some of Merrick’s programmatic readings on Liszt’s use of fugue, motives, and keys have met with skepticism.

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  • Redepenning, Dorothea. Franz Liszt: Faust-Symphonie. Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1988.

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    A lively Konzertführer through Liszt’s largest orchestral work. Redepenning narrates the genesis of the work and considers its relationship to the neighboring symphonic poems before delving into a thorough analysis—replete with music examples in both the main text and appendix—that elucidates not only form and motivic development but also Liszt’s approach to program music. Supplemented with an excellent selection of contemporary assessments from Wagner, Brendel, Hanslick, and others.

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  • Samson, Jim. Virtuosity and the Musical Work: The Transcendental Studies of Liszt. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511481963Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study that does not shy away from the tough questions that Liszt’s most famous set of etudes pose. Samson juggles so many balls at once—the work concept, revision, virtuosity, aspects of performance, unity of all types—that his book should be read from start to finish. Although dense and imposing, Virtuosity and the Musical Work is worth the toil, as it represents a worthy methodological model.

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  • Trippett, David. “Après une lecture de Liszt: Virtuosity and Werktreue in the ‘Dante’ Sonata.” 19th-Century Music 32.1 (2008): 52–93.

    DOI: 10.1525/ncm.2008.32.1.052Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines how Liszt’s “twin identities” as composer and virtuoso contributed to the tortured compositional history of the “Dante” Sonata. Along the way, and using a similarly catholic methodology as Samson 2003, Trippett explores the important precompositional phase of improvisation and, in incipient form, the compositional technique of thematic transformation. An altogether commendable study.

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National Idioms

Liszt’s multicultural upbringing—born into a German-speaking household in Hungary though maturing artistically in France—makes pinpointing his national allegiance challenging. Although scholars have gravitated toward Liszt’s Hungarian-themed music (Bárdos 1976 and Hamburger 1997, with important methodological redirection in Loya 2006), more recent investigations have sought to situate Liszt within a (largely anachronistic) pan-European environment that has been fittingly characterized as “cosmopolitan” (especially Altenburg and Oelers 2008 and Redepenning 1996).

  • Altenburg, Detlef, and Harriet Oelers, eds. Liszt und Europa. Laaber, Germany: Laaber-Verlag, 2008.

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    A somewhat misleading title, as this edited volume is primarily concerned with the dissemination of the New German School abroad. Most of the contributions treat, say, Liszt’s reception in Austria or program music in France topically rather than through detailed musical analysis, making Altenburg and Oelers’s volume useful for providing a foundation for this expansive topic.

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  • Bárdos, Lajos. “Die volksmusikalischen Tonleitern bei Liszt.” In Franz Liszt: Beiträge von ungarischen Autoren. Edited by Klára Hamburger, 168–196. Budapest: Corvina, 1976.

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    An important investigation of music by Liszt that employs modes and other synthetic scales outside of the Western system (e.g., “Indolydian”). Unlike many Hungarian scholars before him, Bárdos does not necessarily equate Liszt’s compositional practices with his Hungarian background. As such, an important stimulus for Loya 2006.

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  • Hamburger, Klára. “Program and Hungarian Idiom in the Sacred Music of Liszt.” In New Light on Liszt and His Music: Essays in Honor of Alan Walker’s 65th Birthday. Edited by Michael Saffle and James Deaville, 239–251. Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon, 1997.

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    Identifies “Hungarian” elements in a number of Liszt’s sacred works. The arguments at times are somewhat forced, with Hamburger suggesting Liszt’s almost unconscious application of Hungarian stylistic markers. When read in light of Loya 2006, a number of conclusions need to be attenuated.

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  • Loya, Shay. “The Verbunkos Idiom in Liszt’s Music of the Future: Historical Issues of Reception and New Cultural and Analytical Perspectives.” PhD diss., London: King’s College, 2006.

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    Liszt’s engagement with Hungarian musical styles, be they mainstream or peripheral, has generated significant controversy. Loya’s study situates much of Liszt’s ethnic music within the Hungarian-Romani tradition of “verbunkos,” an ideal idiom to complement Liszt’s compositional practices. A useful but hard-to-find dissertation, some of Loya’s arguments appear in his article “Beyond ‘Gypsy’ Stereotypes: Harmony and Structure in the Verbunkos Idiom,” Journal of Musicological Research 27 (2008): 254–280.

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  • Redepenning, Dorothea. “Liszt und die russische Symphonik.” In Liszt und die Nationalitäten. Edited by Gerhard J. Winkler, 138–150. Eisenstadt, Austria: Burgenländische Landesmuseen, 1996.

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    Liszt’s influence on the “Mighty Handful” has long been recognized as significant, but the Russian-language barrier has prevented most scholars from developing this important topic. Redepenning’s comparative analyses are, as usual, strong, and her demonstration of Liszt’s musical presence within Russian music of the second half of the 19th century is convincing.

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Arrangements

Liszt was a discerning and prolific arranger, fashioning several hundred of his own arrangements from those of other composers. Most studies of Liszt’s arrangements tend to focus on a subset of this vast repertory, although Kregor 2010 has attempted a stylistic overview, whereas Huschke 1992 has documented the hermeneutical challenges these arrangements pose to the inherited notion of the work itself. Batta 1993 and Bromen 1997 employ comparative methodologies to arrive at their conclusions, whereas Domokos 1996 seeks to contextualize Liszt’s Beethoven arrangements through selected comparisons with Liszt’s predecessors and contemporaries. More thought-provoking are Bertagnolli 2003–2005, Eckhardt 1984, and Redepenning 1986, which go beyond straightforward comparisons between model work and arrangement, offering important and original methodological frameworks.

  • Batta, András. “Worte ohne Lieder? Franz Liszts Klavierdichtungen anhand der Schubert-Lieder.” Schubert durch die Brille 11 (1993): 65–90.

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    A useful introduction to Liszt’s arrangement of selected Schubert songs. Batta focuses on the themes of wandering that may have attracted the itinerant Liszt to Schubert’s music in the first place. For some tastes, perhaps too speculative. Kregor 2010 offers an alternative reading of much of the same material.

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  • Bertagnolli, Paul A. “Transcribing Prometheus.” Journal of the American Liszt Society 54–56 (2003–2005): 134–155.

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    One of the few studies to detail Liszt’s arrangement practices of his own music via four-hand and two-piano ensembles. Bertagnolli, an expert on Liszt’s symphonic poems, especially Prometheus, carefully shows how Liszt’s arrangements are also intimately bound to revisions of the orchestral score, thus helping to resolve vexing questions of the “Fassung letzter Hand” that still guides much modern editorial practice.

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  • Bromen, Stefan. Studien zu den Klaviertranskriptionen Schumannscher Lieder von Franz Liszt, Clara Schumann und Carl Reinecke. Sinzig, Germany: Studio, 1997.

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    A rather dry comparative analysis of Liszt’s arrangements of the songs of Robert and Clara Schumann. The study is restricted to printed materials and thus does not consider the compositional history (as borne out by the extant manuscripts) or alternative, unpublished versions of Liszt’s arrangements. Particularly dismissive of Clara Schumann’s productions.

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  • Domokos, Zsuzsanna. “‘Orchestrationen des Pianoforte’: Beethovens Symphonien in Transkriptionen von Franz Liszt und seinen Vorgängern.” Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 37.2–4 (1996): 249–341.

    DOI: 10.2307/902379Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An impressive consideration of Liszt’s efforts to “orchestrate” Beethoven’s symphonies for the solo piano. Particularly useful for contextualizing Liszt’s advancements, as Domokos presents his solutions alongside those of Czerny, Diabelli, Gelinkek, and Hummel. Copious musical examples.

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  • Eckhardt, Mária. “Liszts Bearbeitungen von Schuberts Märschen: Formale Analyse.” Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 26.1–4 (1984): 133–147.

    DOI: 10.2307/902301Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using a specific subset of works, Eckhardt convincingly demonstrates the compositional lengths that Liszt took in order to transform Schubert’s four-hand marches into two-hand showpieces. Her conclusions could serve to stimulate further scholarship on similar arrangements from the virtuoso years, especially those of a dancelike or memorial character.

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  • Huschke, Wolfram. “Termini technici im Feld der Bearbeitungen bei Liszt.” Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 34.3–4 (1992): 267–274.

    DOI: 10.2307/902281Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The only study to offer a theoretical taxonomy of Liszt’s arrangements. Huschke’s solution is more overwhelming than necessary, but his main argument that arrangement occupies a position between composing and interpretation has been influential on Bertagnolli 2003–2005, Domokos 1996, and Kregor 2010.

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  • Kregor, Jonathan. Liszt as Transcriber. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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    Considers selected arrangements by Liszt against his changing attitudes toward improvisation, composition, revision, and his artistic relationship with past (Schubert and Beethoven) and contemporary (Berlioz, Wagner, and the Russian Mighty Five) composers. Suggests transcription to be a flexible tool that allowed the transcriber to assume roles of collaborator, propagandist, philosopher, and artist. Employs close readings of individual works using manuscript sources where available; covers only piano solo arrangements.

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  • Redepenning, Dorothea. “‘Zu eig’nem Wort und eig’ner Weis’…’: Liszts Wagner-Transkriptionen.” Die Musikforschung 39.4 (1986): 305–317.

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    A short but substantive introduction to Liszt’s arrangements of excerpts from Wagner’s operas. Although Redepenning’s analyses are largely comparative, her observations about the programmatic subtexts coursing through Liszt’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Parsifal arrangements are thought-provoking.

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Style

Liszt’s compositions and writings betray an elusive style, one that rarely fits neatly into the trends of the day. Particularly hard to penetrate are the works from the 1830s (Kroó 1986 and Protzies 2004) and 1880s (Ackermann 1987 and Cannata 1997)—that is, those that came into being at the extremes of Liszt’s career. The works from his Weimar period (late 1840s–late 1850s) are often coupled with those of Wagner, although more stylistic distinction between the two is still needed (Kleinertz 2006 is an important model).

  • Ackermann, Peter. “Alte und neue Musik im Spätwerk Franz Liszts.” In Alte Musik als ästhetische Gegenwart: Bericht über den internationalen musikwissenschaftlichen Kongreß Stuttgart 1985. Vol. 2. Edited by Dietrich Berke and Dorothee Hanemann, 251–255. Kassel, Germany: Bärenreiter, 1987.

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    Attempts to establish a stylistic link between Liszt’s late works and earlier periods. His point of departure is not the young Liszt of the 1830s and 1840s, but rather the Weimar Liszt who dabbled in the works of Bach, 16th-century vocal music, and Gregorian chant. Interesting thesis that could be developed much further.

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  • Cannata, David Butler. “Perception and Apperception in Liszt’s Late Piano Music.” Journal of Musicology 15.2 (1997): 178–207.

    DOI: 10.1525/jm.1997.15.2.03a00020Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A sophisticated reading that highlights the blurred boundaries between composition, arrangement, and allusion and highlights the overall intertextual elements of Liszt’s late style. Cannata identifies a series of interlocking arch forms—a “Double Arch Form”—in the third book of Liszt’s Années de pèlerinage that helps illuminate thematic and mystical confluences between the Années and Liszt’s piano pieces R.W. Venezia and Am Grabe Richard Wagners. See Kleinertz 2006 for a complementary analytic model.

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  • Kleinertz, Rainer. “Liszt, Wagner, and Unfolding Form: Orpheus and the Genesis of Tristan und Isolde.” In Franz Liszt and His World. Edited by Christopher H. Gibbs and Dana Gooley, 231–254. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

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    A structural analysis of influence by way of Liszt’s Orpheus and Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. Kleinertz identifies an organizational device that uses small, “open forms” rather than “closed forms” or concrete “form model.” Although Kleinertz cautions about overemphasizing similarities between Liszt’s symphonic poem and Wagner’s music drama, his methodology can usefully complement Cannata 1997, among others.

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  • Kroó, György. “‘La ligne intérieure’: The Years of Transformation and the ‘Album d’un voyageur.’” Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 28.1–4 (1986): 249–260.

    DOI: 10.2307/902425Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Often overlooked by scholars, Liszt’s years of transformation bridged an experimental period of composition (c. 1830–1835) and his concert career. Kroó highlights the changing role Liszt gives to compositions vis-à-vis transcription using the Album d’un voyageur, a set of pieces that formed the compositional marrow of the more well-known Années de pèlerinage. Some of Liszt’s compositional goals from this period resurface in Cannata 1997 and Kleinertz 2006.

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  • Protzies, Günther. “Studien zur Biographie Franz Liszts und zu ausgewählten seiner Klavierwerke in der Zeit der Jahre 1828–1846.” PhD diss., Ruhr-Universität Bochum, 2004.

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    A dense, rewarding life-and-works study of the young Liszt. Although the biographical portion of Protzies’s study is solid, it provides little new information. His discussion of Liszt’s concert fantasies and arrangements, however, fills an important void in the study of Liszt’s so-called years of transformation (see Kroó 1986).

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Liszt as Performer

Liszt conquered Europe first and foremost as a performer on the piano, and even after his retirement from the concert stage, his legacy as pianist undermined his efforts as composer while bolstering his reputation as teacher. Following in the footsteps of his model Nicolò Paganini, Liszt brought virtuosity into the aesthetic—rather than merely technical—realm, in turn creating a wholly new approach to composition and performance, elements of which still pervade modern practice.

The Virtuoso

Because virtuosity was a topic consciously avoided until the late 1990s (Jankélévitch 1979 being a notable exception), it has, somewhat paradoxically, become a topic that has produced consistently outstanding scholarship. In a ten-year period, the virtuoso Liszt has been examined from a number of diverse perspectives, including the social (Gibbs 2006 and Gooley 2004), political (Moysan 2009), propagandistic (Deaville 1997), visual (Kramer 2002 and Leppert 1999), and technical (Hamilton 2008).

  • Deaville, James. “The Making of a Myth: Liszt, the Press, and Virtuosity.” In New Light on Liszt and His Music: Essays in Honor of Alan Walker’s 65th Birthday. Edited by Michael Saffle and James Deaville, 181–196. Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon, 1997.

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    Although Moysan 2009, Gooley 2004, and Kramer 2002 consider Liszt’s virtuosity as an inherently intrinsic facet of his artistry, Deaville argues that the press—especially German press—of the 1840s and 1850s did much to solidify an image of the virtuoso Liszt that made his rebranding as a composer in Weimar challenging, and—with reference to stars such as Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson—still resonate in the larger public sphere.

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  • Gibbs, Christopher H. “‘Just Two Words. Enormous Success’: Liszt’s 1838 Vienna Concerts.” In Franz Liszt and His World. Edited by Christopher H. Gibbs and Dana Gooley, 167–230. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

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    Covers the inauguration of Liszt’s concert years. Most biographies generally describe these concerts as being mounted in order to aid Hungarian flood victims, but Gibbs questions the motives behind Liszt’s concerts, arguing instead that the models of self-fashioning that Liszt established in Vienna remained prominent for the next decade. Includes useful documentation about Clara Wieck’s concerts from the same season.

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  • Gooley, Dana. The Virtuoso Liszt. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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    An exploration of the constituent elements of early Romantic virtuosity. Gooley wisely circumvents the secondary literature and biographies in order to uncover the virtuoso Liszt who was as calculating as commending, self-serving as he was selfless—characteristics highlighted in his duel with Sigismond Thalberg, the Hungarian “Saber of Honor” episode, and the Lisztomanic concerts at Berlin in 1841–1842. Coverage ends at 1843.

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  • Hamilton, Kenneth. After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    In covering the 19th-century recital, improvisation/preluding, performance from memory, and the integrity of the score, Hamilton challenges the monopoly of modern performance practice on romantic repertory. Liszt is the feature of the final two chapters, in which Hamilton’s experience as both scholar and performer combine to break down a number of persistent myths. A practical complement to Gooley 2004 and Moysan 2009.

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  • Jankélévitch, Vladimir. Liszt et la rhapsodie: Essai sur la virtuosité. Paris: Plon, 1979.

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    Often overlooked due to its lingering in the philosophical plane, Jankélévitch’s study lays the groundwork for most recent considerations of virtuosity, including—but not limited to—Liszt’s. The author jumps around frequently, parsing Greek terms alongside Liszt’s “Transcendental” Etudes. Notable is the connection made between Liszt’s virtuosity and that of his Russian colleagues. In general, an extraordinarily creative work in need of a virtuosic interpreter.

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  • Kramer, Lawrence. “Franz Liszt and the Virtuoso Public Sphere: Sight and Sound in the Rise of Mass Entertainment.” In Musical Meaning: Toward a Critical History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

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    Relishing the dualism of the typical Lisztian concert, which oscillates between the demonic and the pious, Kramer attempts to recreate the world of 19th-century virtuosity in prose. An ambitious essay that touches on topics also explored by Deaville 1997, Moysan 2009, and Leppert 1999, its conclusions are uneven, especially when tested against a piece such as the Sonata in B Minor. (see pp. 68–99).

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  • Leppert, Richard. “Cultural Contradiction, Idolatry, and the Piano Virtuoso: Franz Liszt.” In Piano Roles: Three Hundred Years of Life with the Piano. Edited by James Parakilas, 252–281. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999.

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    A worthwhile complement to Kramer 2002, in that Leppert develops the virtuoso Liszt as a figure as much “looked at” as heard. The author’s forte is in the explication of visual artworks, and Leppert’s study is useful for its synthesis of disparate Liszt iconography. A nice addition to an excellent book.

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  • Moysan, Bruno. Liszt: Virtuose subversif. Lyon, France: Symétrie, 2009.

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    A sophisticated treatment of Liszt’s most definitive virtuosic genre: the concert fantasy. Moysan envisions the Lisztian fantasy as a poetic dialogue with his Parisian audiences, affording a mediation between operatic and instrumental music, art, and politics that was untenable in other musical genres. Despite nominally covering the same ground as Gooley 2004, the two studies share almost nothing in common.

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Liszt as Teacher

Liszt enjoyed a European (if not worldwide; see Fay 1965) reputation as an unorthodox though highly effective teacher. Rather than focusing on technique or a standard interpretation, Liszt taught groups of students through the medium of the master class, an approach that he invented. His advice was notated by diligent students such as Boissier 1927, Stradal 1929, Lachmund (Walker 1998), and Göllerich (Zimdars 1996). These documents provide important information on Liszt’s pedagogical and performance preferences, elements that Hamilton 2005 (jumping off from Ramann 1901) and Ott 1992 have sought to synthesize for the modern pianist.

  • Boissier, Auguste. Liszt pédagogue: Leçons de piano données pas Liszt à Mademoiselle Valérie Boissier à Paris en 1832. Paris: Honoré Champion, 1927.

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    The most significant eyewitness account of Liszt the teacher-performer. Ostensibly a diary of Liszt instructing a pupil in 1832 Paris, it is really the narrative of Liszt maturing into an artist, where transcendental technique and Romantic philosophical impulses fuse at the keyboard. Indispensable.

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  • Fay, Amy. Music Study in Germany. New York: Dover, 1965.

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    One of the most famous music memoirs of the 19th century. Fay classically describes Liszt (pp. 205–280), Carl Tausig, Theodor Kullak, Clara Schumann, Richard Wagner, and other European musical titans. Although Liszt is painted with equal candor by Boissier 1927, Stradal 1929, and Walker 1998, Fay’s account did more to solidify his pedagogical reputation abroad than any other and still resonates with the modern reader.

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  • Hamilton, Kenneth. “Performing Liszt’s Piano Music.” In The Cambridge Companion to Liszt. Edited by Kenneth Hamilton, 171–191. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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    An amalgamation of information on Liszt’s performance aesthetics, pianos, and pedagogy by an authoritative scholar-performer. Hamilton’s main source of information comes from Ramann 1901, which he supplements with important observations on pedaling, tempo, and—most provocatively—the performer’s duties to the score.

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  • Ott, Bertrand. Lisztian Keyboard Energy: An Essay on the Pianism of Franz Liszt. Translated by Donald H. Windham. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 1992.

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    A compendium of Liszt’s pedagogical notes, observations by his famous students, and synthesis by Ott. The author casts a wide net as to what constitutes legitimate source material, accepting caricatures as readily as, say, Boissier 1927. Generally more interested with the fashioning of a Lisztian technique than in its application to specific works by Liszt (as in Stradal 1929 or Zimdars 1996). Uneven study but worth consultation.

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  • Ramann, Lina, ed. Liszt-Pädagogium. Klavierkompositionen Franz Liszts nebst noch unedirten Veränderungen, Zusätzen und Kadenzen. 5 vols. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1901.

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    An important set of documents that provides alternative passages to a number of Liszt’s works. Authorized by the composer, these variants shed light on Liszt’s own performance practice and form an important section of some of Hamilton 2005. Some of this material appears in selected volumes of the New Edition of Liszt’s piano works.

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  • Stradal, August. Erinnerungen an Franz Liszt. Bern, Switzerland, and Leipzig: Paul Haupt, 1929.

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    Along with Göllerich (see Zimdars 1996), Stradal provides one of the most detailed documents of Liszt’s activities as teacher between 1884 and 1886. Stradal’s memoir is a mix of biography and pedagogy and, unlike those of his colleagues, functions as a poor reference work. Nevertheless, a helpful source on Liszt the teacher and a useful primer for getting to know Stradal, who distinguished himself as an arranger in the Lisztian mold.

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  • Walker, Alan, ed. Living with Liszt: From the Diary of Carl Lachmund, an American Pupil of Liszt, 1882–1884. Rev. ed. Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon, 1998.

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    Originally published in 1995. Chronologically sandwiched between Fay 1965 and Stradal 1929 and Zimdars 1996, Lachmund’s diaries present a similarly vivid account of Liszt in his later years. Unlike the other accounts, however, Lachmund’s work benefits handsomely from Walker’s many editorial additions, including transcriptions of several of Lachmund’s papers that illustrate the development of the Liszt School in America during the late 19th century.

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  • Zimdars, Richard Louis, ed. and trans. The Piano Master Classes of Franz Liszt, 1884–1886: Diary Notes of August Göllerich. Edited by Wilhelm Jerger. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1996.

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    A detailed account of master classes conducted by Liszt during his last years. Göllerich carefully records Liszt’s comments on a wide variety of compositions—thus preserving an important record of the “Liszt tradition” in practice—that Zimdars keenly interprets and supplements with copious music examples and a wide-ranging glossary. Some of Göllerich’s material has been integrated into recent volumes of Franz Liszt, Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke (cited in Scholarly Editions of Music), but in piecemeal fashion.

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Liszt and His Times

Liszt met Beethoven and Debussy, attended the premieres of the Symphonie fantastique and Parsifal, toured most of the Continent, was the driving force behind important exponents of new music such as the Allgemeiner deutscher Musikverein, wrote about musical aesthetics and the future of church music, and prefigured—or at least kept pace with—innovations in harmony, form, and even instrumentation. Those faced with investigating Liszt’s involvement with the artistic and social movements of his time have opted to focus on specific events, stimuli, or contemporaries.

Aesthetic, Historical, Social, and Philosophical Impulses

Liszt attempted to keep current with the many trends of his day, musical and otherwise. Although some of these were mainstream, such as program music (see Altenburg 1994) or a Hegelian teleological view of history (but see Botstein 2006), some were more esoteric and personalized, especially on issues of religion (Ellis 2005). At the same time, Liszt was rarely passive on such matters, his positions often generating more criticism (Garratt 2010 and Kramer 2001–2002) than praise. Although frequently characterized as a musician dedicated exclusively to the future of music, Liszt was also interested in composers of the more distant past, especially Bach (see Heinemann 1995) and Mozart.

  • Altenburg, Detlef. “Franz Liszt and the Legacy of the Classical Era.” 19th-Century Music 18.1 (1994): 46–63.

    DOI: 10.1525/ncm.1994.18.1.02a00050Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A significant article by a revered scholar of the period that considers Liszt’s mingling of world literature (as inherited from Goethe and Schiller) and “freely interpreted formal categories” (embodied predominantly in the symphonic poems) during the Weimar years. Among the article’s many virtues, features large excerpts of Liszt’s writings translated—and superbly elucidated by Altenburg—into English. Can be read in tandem with Garratt 2010.

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  • Botstein, Leon. “A Mirror to the Nineteenth Century: Reflections on Franz Liszt.” In Franz Liszt and His World. Edited by Christopher H. Gibbs and Dana Gooley, 517–565. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

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    An unusual yet thought-provoking essay, in that it contentiously maintains that Liszt adopted a Mozartian compositional aesthetic in his early professional career, whereby melody—as opposed to motives or themes—framed and unified the work. In short, Liszt was far less of a Romantic composer than Ellis 2005 and even Altenburg 1994 contend.

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  • Ellis, Katharine. “Liszt: The Romantic Artist.” In The Cambridge Companion to Liszt. Edited by Kenneth Hamilton, 1–13. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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    An elegant essay on the desiderata of the Romantic artist. Ellis draws unusual but compelling parallels, especially between Liszt and Hoffmann, and situates Liszt’s music-based Romanticism within a milieu that was predominantly literary (including Berlioz). As a result, Liszt as the complicated artist/priest/charlatan/philosopher emerges.

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  • Garratt, James. Music, Culture and Social Reform in the Age of Wagner. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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    Although not exclusively about Liszt (or Wagner), a sophisticated treatment of their writings from the 1850s. Garratt contrasts the anti-aesthetic, anarchic Wagner with the less politically fractious Liszt, who favored universal topics and gestures in his Weimar orchestral works in order to facilitate accessibility with the public, thus showing himself to be more concerned with artistic progress than social issues.

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  • Heinemann, Michael. Die Bach-Rezeption von Franz Liszt. Cologne: Studio, 1995.

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    A definitive study of the topic. Unlike those with other artists of the past (see Altenburg 1994), Liszt’s engagements with J. S. Bach was very circumscribed, allowing Heinemann to investigate Liszt’s performances, transcriptions, and editions of Bach’s music against the changing attitude toward music of the past that took place around 1850.

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  • Kramer, Lawrence. “Contesting Wagner: The Lohengrin Prelude and Anti-anti-Semitism.” 19th-Century Music 25.2–3 (2001–2002): 190–211.

    DOI: 10.1525/ncm.2001.25.2-3.190Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Along with Garratt 2010, recognition that Liszt and Wagner rarely saw eye to eye on most issues. Kramer considers Wagner’s anti-Semitism and Liszt’s reaction thereto, focusing not on the notorious text itself but rather Liszt’s attenuation—perhaps even refutation—of its core message in his essays on Tannhäuser and Lohengrin. Kramer further argues that Liszt’s interpretation has become the prominent one, a reminder of the success of his propagandistic enterprises vis-à-vis Wagner’s music, though not his ideology.

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Liszt’s Europe

Liszt lived during a period of European history that witnessed the rise and fall of several governments. Against this torrid political backdrop, he was constantly on the move. Geographically bounded studies of Liszt are numerous and often include essential details on Liszt’s concert activities and other engagements (Dufetel and Haine 2007, Légany 1984, and Saffle 1994). However, the level of detail can sometimes border on the arcane, making such resources more attractive to the specialist than the general reader (Chiappari 1997, Huschke 1982, Keeling 1987–1987, and Légany 1983–1992). On the other hand, Bory 1930, Chiappari 1997, and portions of Légany 1983 constitute definitive biographical documents that are delivered in highly readable prose.

  • Bory, Robert. Une retraite romantique en Suisse: Liszt et la comtesse d’Agoult. Lausanne, Switzerland: Éditions SPES, 1930.

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    An older, but still extremely useful, resource that covers Liszt’s peregrinations in Switzerland with Marie d’Agoult in the 1830s. Bory had access to a number of then-unpublished documents about this period in Liszt’s life, making his volume the richest available. At the same time, Bory provides no critical apparatus to help aid the researcher, and the presentation of his text (blending commentary and primary sources without clear distinction) makes selected reading difficult.

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  • Chiappari, Luciano. Liszt a Como e Milano. Ospedaletto, Italy: Pacini, 1997.

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    As in his earlier work on Liszt in Italy (Liszt a Firenze, Pisa e Lucca [Pisa, Italy: Pacini, 1989]), Chiappari paints a vivid picture of Liszt’s journeys in northern Italy during his early virtuoso years. Appendix of primary-source materials is especially welcome, as is the quantity of illustrations, some of which appear only in this hard-to-find book.

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  • Dufetel, Nicolas, and Malou Haine, eds. Franz Liszt: Un saltimbanque en province. Lyon, France: Symétrie, 2007.

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    With many of the major European centers covered, recent publications have moved outward. This volume is an excellent model for such a trend, bringing together a number of almost exclusively French experts to cover Liszt’s exploits in the countryside. Each chapter is rich in tables and other summary illustrative materials, making the volume a handy resource overall. Commendable introductory essay.

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  • Huschke, Wolfram. Musik im klassischen und nachklassischen Weimar, 1756–1861. Weimar, Germany: Böhlau, 1982.

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    A goldmine of information for Liszt’s years as Kapellmeister-in-Extraordinary at Weimar (see pp. 116–185). Huschke provides information about performances, personnel, and Liszt’s successes and setbacks, particularly in his efforts to popularize the works of Wagner and Berlioz. A helpful appendix provides complete concert programs, excerpts from Liszt’s program notes, and other documents relating to Weimar musical life. Still the richest work available on this decisive period in European music history.

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  • Keeling, Geraldine. “Liszt’s Appearances in Parisian Concerts, 1824–1833.” Liszt Society Journal 11 (1986): 22–34.

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    Still the best source for Liszt’s performances in Paris. Although space precludes much commentary, Keeling provides the scholar with all the references needed to assemble a full picture—program, performers, and reception—of any given performance. Part 2 of the article, covering 1834–1844, is in Liszt Society Journal 12 (1987): 8–22.

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  • Legány, Dezső. Liszt and His Country, 1869–1886. Translated by Elizabeth Smith-Csicsery-Rónay and Paul Merrick. 2 vols. Budapest: Corvina Kiadó, 1983–1992.

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    An excellent account of Liszt’s relationship with Hungary. Ideal for students of Hungarian musical life, Liszt’s Hungarian colleagues, and the reception of Liszt’s late music, but perhaps too detailed for the casual reader. Legány takes a decisive stance on Liszt’s nationality, with “country” simultaneously serving to represent Liszt’s native land of Hungary and the land of music.

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  • Legány, Dezső. Franz Liszt: Unbekannte Presse und Briefe aus Wien, 1822–1886. Vienna: Böhlau, 1984.

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    Part reception history, part documentary supplement, with press clippings of Liszt’s concert activities in Vienna from 1822 to 1846 and over two hundred letters that Liszt wrote to Viennese citizens. Although some material has been previously published, Legány’s use of Liszt’s manuscript materials makes his volume the most authoritative. With commentary following every entry and a strong index, this is an ideal reference work.

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  • Saffle, Michael. Liszt in Germany, 1840–1845: A Study in Sources, Documents, and the History of Reception. Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon, 1994.

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    The most exhaustive chronicle of Liszt’s concert activities available. Saffle sifts through playbills, correspondence, and reviews in order to arrive at a list of almost three hundred performances that Liszt gave between March 1840 and October 1845. The remainder of the book provides material on Liszt’s Germany, Saffle’s sources, Liszt’s German tours, and—most perceptively—Saffle’s explanation for Liszt’s choice of repertoire.

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Contemporaries

A number of studies have provided context for Liszt’s relationships with the most outstanding artists of his day. Although most of the studies are rather passive (Bailbé 1987, Habets 1895, Kabisch 1984, and Schröter 1999 all follow the “Liszt and composer X” model), several reflect on the implications of those relationships as they played out in Liszt’s compositions, writings, contemporary reputation, and historical legacy. Hamilton 2009 does not seek to attenuate the harsher elements of the Lisz-Wagner relationship; similarly, Móricz 1993–1994 and Seibold 2005 wonder at Liszt’s persistent support of artists who were so aggressive toward him and his music. Although Liszt never met Carl Maria von Weber, Tusa 1999 recognizes the importance of Weber’s music in Liszt’s self-fashioning as a virtuoso.

  • Bailbé, Joseph-Marc. “Liszt et Berlioz: Une poétique du voyage.” La Revue musicale 405–407 (1987): 167–176.

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    Surprisingly, this short essay is the only one to consider one of the defining musical relationships of Liszt’s life. Bailbé focuses on “intertextual” matters common to the two and brings into the discussion the theme of voyage, Schubert’s music, and the art of orchestration. Despite significant recourse to published primary sources, Bailbé rarely cites their location, making follow-up difficult.

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  • Habets, Alfred. Borodin and Liszt. Translated by Rosa Newmarch, 2d ed. London: Digby, Long, 1895.

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    Borodin’s letters to his wife comprise a portion of this volume, and although the composer is perhaps not the ideal representative of Liszt’s influence on the Russian School, Habets’s volume is the most expansive one outside of sources only available in Russian.

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  • Hamilton, Kenneth. “Wagner and Liszt: Elective Affinities.” In Richard Wagner and His World. Edited by Thomas S. Grey, 27–64. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009.

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    Discusses the Liszt-Wagner relationship by means of their correspondence, operatic endeavors, and Liszt’s transcriptions of excerpts of Wagner’s works in an effort to detail Wagner’s influence on Liszt and Wagner’s responses to Liszt’s changing stylistic profile during his Weimar years. What sets Hamilton apart from others who have covered this topic is his willingness to discuss the arrogance, ineptitude, and less than heroic agendas that sometimes characterized their famous friendship.

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  • Kabisch, Thomas. Liszt und Schubert. Munich: E. Katzbichler, 1984.

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    A wide-ranging introduction that seeks ultimately to establish compositional parallels between the two men. Kabisch identifies common variation techniques that Liszt primarily learned through the arranging of several dozen Schubert songs and, to a lesser degree, his editorial work. Kabisch is concerned far more with the technical elements of Liszt’s Schubert-infused style rather than the social issues that gave rise to Liszt’s interest in Schubert’s music.

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  • Móricz, Klára. “The Ambivalent Connection Between Theory and Practice in the Relationship of F. Liszt and F.-J. Fétis.” Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 35.4 (1993–1994): 399–420.

    DOI: 10.2307/902315Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Rather than painting Fétis as a natural enemy to Liszt’s (and Berlioz’s) musical progressivism, Móricz demonstrates the important model that Fétis set for Liszt as a composer in the 1830s and arguably beyond. Fétis is slowly becoming recognized as an important figure in early Romantic musical aesthetics, a trend that Móricz’s article anticipates.

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  • Schröter, Axel. “Der Name Beethoven ist heilig in der Kunst”: Studien zu Liszts Beethoven-Rezeption. Sinzig, Germany: Studio, 1999.

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    The best single resource on Liszt’s manifold relationship with Beethoven’s life and work. Schröter explores the Parisian Beethoven reception during the 1830s (still an under-researched topic), Liszt’s promotion of Beethoven on stage, and the numerous transcriptions of Beethoven’s ensemble music that Liszt produced. The second volume is helpful for its appendices, although the lack of index makes navigating the first volume difficult.

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  • Seibold, Wolfgang. Robert und Clara Schumann in ihren Beziehungen zu Franz Liszt. 2 vols. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2005.

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    A study that puts to rest a number of persistent arguments made about Liszt and the Schumanns, whose relationship went from mutual admiration in the 1830s to utter contempt on Clara Schumann’s part by the late 1850s. Seibold is the first to assemble all the extant materials—especially the scattered correspondence among the three—in order to tell this unfortunate story. Useful appendices in the second volume.

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  • Tusa, Michael C. “Exploring the Master’s Influence: Liszt and the Music of Carl Maria von Weber.” Journal of the American Liszt Society 45 (1999): 1–33.

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    An excellent overview of this often-overlooked model for Liszt by a noted Weber specialist. Tusa systematically covers Liszt’s performances, arrangements, and editions of Weber’s music, as well as general stylistic traits of Weber that Liszt amalgamated into his own.

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Contemporary and Posthumous Reception

Liszt is constantly being reinterpreted. Although a number of judgments pronounced during his lifetime have endured, for better or worse, into the present, several considerations of the man and his music from the generation following his death have been especially influential. Among Liszt’s most vocal, though levelheaded, defenders are Busoni 1965 and Saint-Saëns 2008; Wagner 1978–1980 is perhaps the harshest and most notorious. Even among this material, however, the amount of misinterpretation and misdirection could be significant. Lenz 1872 contextualizes the virtuoso Liszt within a western European artistic milieu, whereas Zenkin 2001 expands Liszt’s influence to Russia. Schoenberg 1984 is representative of the generation of Austro-German composers at the beginning of the 20th century that tended to criticize Liszt the composer or to remain ambivalent about his legacy.

  • Busoni, Ferruccio. The Essence of Music and Other Papers. Translated by Rosamond Ley. New York: Dover, 1965.

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    Although often grouped together with Liszt’s many hagiographic students, Busoni was in fact an extraordinarily original thinker on Liszt’s music. His essays concerning Liszt (pp. 138–166) cover, among other things, Liszt’s etudes and fantasies, the Schubert arrangements, and issues in editing Liszt’s music. Worthwhile reading for both pianists and researchers.

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  • Lenz, Wilhelm von. Die grossen Pianoforte-Virtuosen unserer Zeit aus persönlicher Bekanntschaft: Liszt, Chopin, Tausig, Henselt. Berlin: B. Behr’s Buchhandlung, 1872.

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    A rather dated publication that gives little information about the details of Liszt’s performance. Rather, it is useful for establishing the vocabulary of Lisztian discourse that began in the second half of the century by his admirers. Lenz also penned these memoirs almost forty years after the fact, and his reminiscences have not always held up to historical scrutiny.

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  • Saint-Saëns, Camille. On Music and Musicians. Edited and translated by Roger Nichols. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    This edition, highly readable and with excellent commentary by Nichols, proves Saint-Saëns to be, along with Debussy, one of the most interesting critics of the Third Republic. His essays on Liszt (pp. 88–100), whom he saw as something of a father figure, concern the performance of Liszt’s orchestral music, which had long been a misunderstood repertory in France, especially when held up against Wagner’s works.

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  • Schoenberg, Arnold. “Franz Liszt’s Work and Being.” In Style and Idea. Translated by Leo Black. Edited by Leonard Stein, 442–447. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984.

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    A short essay, written on the occasion of the bicentennial of Liszt’s birth, that nevertheless establishes important connections between Schoenberg and Liszt, although not the kind often suggested; here, Schoenberg develops criticism of Liszt’s theories and application of program music as found primarily in the symphonic poems, not in the late works that ostensibly create a bridge between Liszt and Schoenberg’s atonal revolution.

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  • Wagner, Cosima. Diaries. 2 vols. Edited by Martin Gregor-Dellin and Dietrich Mack. Translated by Geoffrey Skelton. New York and London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978–1980.

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    Liszt’s daughter Cosima, married to Richard Wagner since 1870, transcribed her husband’s statements during the last fourteen years of his life. Published in unabridged form only in 1976, these diaries paint a debilitating picture of Liszt, in which he is at times characterized by Richard as nothing less than a compositional lunatic. Nevertheless, with Liszt’s ongoing efforts to support Wagner’s music until his death in 1886, a source impossible to neglect.

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  • Zenkin, Konstantin. “The Liszt Tradition at the Moscow Conservatory.” Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 42.1–2 (2001): 93–108.

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    One of the few scholars to cover this important topic, Zenkin focuses on the early years of the Moscow Conservatory, with special emphasis given to the Rubinstein brothers. Further argues that the flourishing of Romanticism that climaxed at the end of the 19th century in Russian composers such as Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, and Medtner was caused by the wholehearted embrace of Liszt’s pianistic and aesthetic models.

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LAST MODIFIED: 06/29/2011

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199757824-0022

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