Liszt n : Hungarian composer and piano virtuoso (1811-1886) [syn: Franz Liszt]
During winter 1831-32, Liszt made the acquaintance of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Fréderic Chopin. Both of them arrived in Paris with a suitcase full of masterworks. In comparison with this, Liszt - neglecting his works as child prodigy - had not much more to offer than an oeuvre of a single piece, his Bride-fantasy. Their impression of Liszt is known from their letters. Chopin, in a letter to Titus Woyciechowski of December 12, 1831, wrote that "all Parisian pianists, including Liszt, were zeros in comparison with Kalkbrenner". Mendelssohn, in a letter to his sister Fanny of December 28, 1831, wrote, Liszt was the most dilletantic of all dilletantes. He played everything from memory, but with wrong basses, i.e. with wrong harmonies.
Important influence on Liszt also came from the sect of the religiously-oriented Père Enfantin fraction of the Saint-Simonists. As part of their ideology, contemporary forms of marriage were regarded as prison for women and in this sense as kind of crime. In the beginning of January 1832 they distributed a flyer according to which all artists should take part in the new religion. They should make better music than Beethoven and Rossini. On January 11, 1832, Liszt - himself follower of the Père Enfantin - told his student Valerie Boissier and her mother Auguste that he would cease giving lessons to concentrate all of his forces on his development as artist.
In spite of his announcement, Liszt continued giving lessons. After at end of March 1832 Valerie Boissier had returned to Geneva, Liszt received from her mother an invitation for a vacation. Although Liszt had very much liked to follow the invitation and made preparations to go together with Alexandre Dumas to Geneva, there were reasons of his private life because of which he actually could not dare to go to that very place. He kept staying in Paris where he took part in lectures, given by François-Joseph Fétis, on future possibilities of music. Much later, in a letter of September 17, 1859, Liszt wrote to Fétis, the theory of "Omnitonie" and "Omnirythmik", he had learnt at those lectures, had had an obvious influence on the direction he had taken as composer.
On April 20, 1832, Liszt attended a charity concert, for the victims of a Parisian cholera epidemic, by Niccolò Paganini. Liszt became determined to become as great a virtuoso on the piano as Paganini was on the violin. According to a letter to Pierre Wolff of May 2, 1832, he had for a whole fortnight practised, four to five hours a day, thirds, sixths, octaves, tremolos, repetitions of notes, cadenzas, etc. However, when the letter was delivered, Liszt's practising that much had already ended. According to a second part, written on May 8, he had left Paris, following an invitation by one family Reiset for a vacation in Ecoutebœuf, a small place near Rouen.
In Ecoutebœuf, Liszt started composing his "Grande Fantaisie de Bravoure sur La Clochette de Paganini" ("Grand Bravura Fantasy on Paganini's La Campanella") on a melody from the rondo finale of Paganini's second violin concerto. The early version of the Clochette-fantasy was not yet completed because Liszt fell ill in Ecoutebœuf. When on November 5, 1834, at a concert of Berlioz, he for the first time played the fantasy, it was a complete fiasco and taken as new proof that Liszt had no talent for composition at all. A shorter piece using the same melody as well as a melody from the finale of Paganini's first concerto was included in the 1838-39 "Etudes d'exécution transcendante d'après Paganini" ("Studies of Transcendental Execution after Paganini").
Since 1833, Liszt's relation with Marie d'Agoult was developing. In addition to this, at end of April 1834 he made the acquaintance of Felicité de Lamennais. Under the influence of both, Liszt's creative output exploded. Until May 1835 he had composed at least half a dozen works for piano and orchestra, a duo-sonata for piano and violin on a Mazurka by Chopin, a duo for two pianos on two of Mendelssohn's "Lieder ohne Worte" and much more. All this found a very abrupt end, after Liszt on June 1, 1835, had left Paris, travelling to Basel. Most of the works he had composed during summer 1832 - May 1835 were neither published nor performed. In a "Baccalaureus-letter" to George Sand, published in the Revue et Gazette musicale of February 12, 1837, Liszt wrote, he would throw them to the fire.
Caroline de Saint-CricqAs an integral part of the usual Liszt biography, a love affair with his pupil Caroline de Saint-Cricq must be mentioned, although the source situation is not only poor but desperate. Following a traditional line, Caroline must be described as to have been nothing less than a holy angel living on earth, without worldly desires of whatsoever kind. Besides, she was very beautiful and very rich. Liszt, who had not the least interest in those qualities, became her piano teacher in spring 1828 when he was 16 and she was 17. While exclusively talking about holy things, they very soon fell in love. Supported by Caroline’s mother, they wanted to marry. Shortly afterwards, on June 30 or July 1, 1828, the mother died. Caroline's father, French Minister of Commerce in the government of King Charles X, then acted as antagonist, showing Liszt the door. Caroline fell ill, and Liszt suffered a nervous breakdown. At age of 19, i.e. in 1830, Caroline married one Bertrand d'Artigaux. Together with her husband, she moved to Pau in southern France.
Unfortunately, no matter how touching the story is, until this day not a single author has given contemporary sources supporting it. Liszt's own comment in one of his early letters to Marie d'Agoult was: "I've been nothing else but a child, nearly a fool, for Caroline". The comment suits the story told by Schilling, authorized by Liszt. According to this, Liszt had left the girl without aggressions of any kind from the father's side. He had only presumed, Caroline's father would not like him as son-in-law. Concerning Liszt's nervous breakdown and his imagined absence from Parisian concert life for two years since winter 1828-29, it was already shown that it is not true. Until end of April 1830 he regularly took part in concerts. During the second half of 1829 he was not sitting opposite his mother as silent as a statue, staring at the table, but each day from 8:30 in the morning till 10:00 at night running around for the purpose of giving lessons.
A letter by Caroline to Liszt of July 1853 indeed gives an impression of a very religiously exalted character.
- Let me for ever and ever regard you as the only guiding star of my life and send my daily prayer for you towards Heaven: Reward him, my God, oh reward him superabundantly for his steadfast submission under your will.
Taking this as hint, there might be an explanation for Liszt's decision in his early youth. In 1829, at the height of the Saint-Cricq affaire, he had received his confirmation. As preparation, he had had to visit his church St. Vincent de Paul in order to take instructions. Following strictest Catholic rules, his confessional would have told him that he was not allowed to marry Caroline without her father's consent. Even wishing it would have been an evil sin. Liszt therefore might have believed, he had to steadfastly submit under God's will by leaving Caroline.
Adèle de LaprunarèdeA further love affair, as reported by Liszt's biographers, sounds even more adventurous. Following Alan Walker, after the revolution of 1830 a total change of Liszt's personality must have occurred. His nervous breakdown was forgotten, all holy ideas besides, and he was now hungry for whatever experiences life proffered. Together with Adèle de Laprunarède, very beautiful and very rich, although married, he enjoyed his first long love affair. Surrounded by snow and ice, with mountain roads impassable, they were marooned in the Castle Marlioz in the Savoy for the whole winter of 1832-33. However, also in this case the impression, taken from Liszt's own comment in one of his early letters to Marie d'Agoult, is different: "I've been nothing else but a cowardly and miserable poltroon for Adèle." In addition to this, there was still another lady, also very beautiful, together with whom Liszt went to the Savoy. Her name was "Mlle de Barré". Besides, Walker mentions ladies "Madame D..." and "Charlotte Laborie", who both wanted to get Liszt married.
Better sources indicate that "Madame D..." was Madame Didier, a very close friend of Liszt's mother. She also lived at Rue Montholon No.7 and wanted to marry her daughter Euphémie to Liszt. "Mlle de Barré" and "Charlotte Laborie" were identical. Madame Laborie wanted to get her daughter Charlotte married with Liszt. At end of 1830 or in the beginning of 1831, Liszt together with Charlotte went to Geneva. At a hotel in Geneva they met Adèle de Laprunarède. All three of them travelled to Adèle's Castle Marlioz in the Savoy, arriving on January 9, 1831. During the following three weeks, Liszt wrote several letters to his mother which were delivered in Paris. It shows that the mountain roads were not impassable, and Liszt was neither marooned in snow and ice.
During Liszt's stay in Marlioz, Adèle successfully tried to seduce him. However, the happy part of his affair with her was very short. On February 12, 1831, Liszt wrote in a letter to Euphémie Didier, he had already several days earlier arrived in Geneva. In two days he would leave for Paris and then be entirely hers. Still in Marlioz, Charlotte had in a letter informed her parents that she wished to return. Her father, leaving Paris on February 10, went to Switzerland in order to take his daughter together with Liszt back to Paris. Three days later he must have arrived in Geneva where he found his daughter together with Liszt. In the beginning of May 1831, Liszt for a further time returned to Geneva, putting a final end to his affaire with Adèle.
After Liszt's last return from Geneva, he had a time of struggle, of anguish, and of solitary torments. In order to forcefully destroy Adèle's love, he had affairs with other women, such as his student Hortense and one Madame Goussard. His mother, who found him behaving foolishly and wanted to soothe his excited nerves, suggested a marriage with Euphémie Didier. In August or in the beginning of September 1831 they became engaged, but six weeks later, in October, the engagement was cancelled from Liszt's side. Due to the breach of promise there were strong complaints, even threatening, from Euphémie's family. In March 1832, Liszt met Charlotte again and started together with her a new love affair. But he had to vow solemn oaths, never to return to Geneva.
In spring 1832, Liszt not only received an invitation by Valerie Boissier's mother, but also Adèle contacted him. While he had liked to follow the invitation, travelling to Geneva, he actually had to keep staying in Paris because of his new relation with Charlotte. He was suspected that he wanted to meet Adèle again. In the second part of his letter to Pierre Wolff of May 2/8, 1832, Liszt therefore wrote, he was mercilessly forbidden to go to Geneva. Liszt also wrote, he would demand a testimony from Wolff. It was meant in a sense, Wolff as witness should prove that Liszt's affaire with Adèle had already ended.
Reaching far into the year 1834, Liszt was showered with further invitations by Madame Boissier. But he could never follow them since he was not allowed to go to Geneva. In summer 1835, after a voyage together with Marie d'Agoult through parts of Switzerland, he actually went to that place. At this occasion he met Adèle again. In summer 1839, Liszt met Adèle in Italy.
Marie d'AgoultIn summer 1832, when Liszt started composing his Clochette-fantasy, he also made plans for further works. But he found no time for achieving them. At end of August 1832 he went to Bourges where his former student Rose Petit became married. On October 6 he returned to Paris. During the whole winter of 1832-33, i.e. until end of April 1833, he was involved in a plenty of social events, often returning at home in the early morning. For this reason only a single new work, a free transcription of Schubert's song "Die Rose", was published. On December 9, 1832, Liszt attended a concert at which Berlioz' Symphonie fantastique and - with brilliant success - for the first time the sequel "Lélio ou le Retour à la Vie" ("Lélio, or Returning to Life") were performed. The concert was also attended by Marie d'Agoult.
While Liszt, during his social activities, had emotions of an increasing aversion, Marie d'Agoult's situation was in this sense identical. She had in winter 1831-32, together with her husband Charles and their daughters Claire and Louise, travelled to Geneva where a crisis of the married couple occurred. In addition to this, one of Marie d'Agoult's girl cousins had in January 1832 committed suicide. While Marie d'Agoult herself had ideas of suicide and was attended at the sanatorium of one Dr. Coindet in Geneva, her husband together with the daughters returned to Paris. In April 1832, Marie d'Agoult's half-sister Auguste Ehrmann committed suicide. After Marie d'Agoult's own return to Paris, she started in December 1832 taking part in social life again, but found usual habits stupid and annoying. She planned to buy an estate with a Castle at Croissy, a small place near Paris. The contract of sale was concluded on April 18, 1833. Marie d'Agoult had to pay a sum of more than 300,000 Francs. She could afford it since her mother, whose first husband had been the banker Moritz Bethmann in Frankfurt am Main, was very rich.
According to Marie d'Agoult's Memoirs, written from a distance of more than 30 years, she had made Liszt's acquaintance at end of 1833 at a soiree at one Marquise le Vayer's home. But the Marquise already died on February 1, 1833, and Marie d'Agoult's correspondence with Liszt includes letters from spring 1833. The question of the precise beginning of their acquaintance is therefore open. Liszt performed at soirees of the same social circles which were frequented by Marie d'Agoult. An example is Count Rudolph Apponyi, Austrian ambassador in Paris, who on every Sunday arranged a private concert at his home. His wife was a close friend of Marie d'Agoult, who on December 23, 1832, visited the Apponyis. One week later, on December 30, Liszt performed at the same place. Liszt and Marie d'Agoult therefore might have met already at earlier occasions. However, Liszt himself, in a letter of July 17, 1834, gave a hint pointing for 18 months back to the past. In this sense, January 1833 might be regarded as their starting point.
Might it have been on a suggestion by the Marquise le Vayer or due to an advice by Countess Apponyi, in the beginning of 1833 Marie d'Agoult wrote a letter to Liszt for inviting him. He followed this and further invitations. Very soon he had in full details told the true story of his life. Marie d'Agoult had a very high standing musical education. She was herself a brilliant amateur pianist and had composed several pieces of music, among them a song after Heine's poem "Die Loreley". Liszt's early letters mention four handed piano works by Schubert which she will have played together with him. Besides, Marie d'Agoult sang songs by Beethoven, Schubert and Berlioz. One of her favourite songs was Schubert's "Erlkönig" which - sung by her - Liszt found impressing to the highest degree. Regarding the applause which Liszt used to gain as pianist, she was absolutely cold. While this part of him was nothing of her interest, she was convinced that he was an artist of genius who could compose immortal masterworks. In May 1833, Liszt composed for her a "petite harmonie lamartinienne sans ton ni mesure" (a "little Lamartinian harmony without key and mesure"), i.e. the piece "Harmonies poétiques et religieuses".
Due to a scandal adventure in August 1833 in the cathedral Notre Dame, there were rumours which found way even to Geneva. In order to listen to Liszt's playing the organ, Marie d'Agoult had asked Théophile de Ferrière to negotiate that Liszt together with some male companions was allowed to enter the cathedral in the evening. The male companions were Marie d'Agoult herself and the Marquise Catherine de Gabriac, both disguised as men. However, as opposite to the rumours, nothing dangerous had happened until then. In autumn 1833 there was a break of two months with absolute silence on Marie d'Agoult's side. On November 24, 1833, she attended a concert of Berlioz at which Liszt played Weber's "Konzertstück". From then on a new phase of their relation commenced.
In winter 1833-34 Liszt rented the "Ratzenloch". For several times Marie d'Agoult visited him, taking a disguise as "Comte de la B...". Also, Liszt visited her at Croissy. He made friends with her daughters who gave him the nickname "Bon Vieux" ("Good Old"). Since April 28, 1834, Liszt was in Paris alone again, while Marie d'Agoult had retired to Croissy. In May 1834, he had a dispute with Madame Laborie. She presumed, he was still in love with Adèle de Laprunarède, and tried to force him to give Adèles letters to her. On May 16 Liszt left Paris, following an invitation by one Madame Haineville to Castle Carentonne near Bernay in the Normandy. While he was in Carentonne, Marie d'Agoult found some of his old letters to Euphémie Didier, suspecting they were written to Adèle and Liszt had become engaged with her.
Returning from Carentonne, Liszt arrived on June 22, 1834, in Paris. A couple of days later Marie d'Agoult left, travelling to Mortier, an estate of her mother, where she kept staying for two months. As present state of summer 1834 it was clear that Liszt and Marie d'Agoult were a couple of lovers. But their affaire had a colour of a very particular kind. Liszt's letters of spring and summer 1834 are full of complaints about his illness and depressiveness. Still in letters of July 1834 he described Marie d'Agoult as a woman whom he desired, for whom he always had to run, but without ever getting her.
Marie d'Agoult's stay in Mortier had already been planned in spring 1834. She had invited Liszt to join her in Mortier, but he had refused it.In April 1834 he had made the acquaintance of the Abbé de Lamennais. Liszt planned, together with Charles Saint-Beuve and Joseph d'Ortigue, in July 1834 to visit La Chênaie ("The Oak-forest"), a colony of the Abbé near Dinant in the Bretagne. However, a large delay occurred. According to Liszt's letter to Marie d'Agoult of August 28, 1834, he had received a letter of the Abbé according to which he was awaited around September 3 or 7. Liszt asked her for a week's stay in Croissy. Since September 3 till September 9 he spent a week in Croissy. After his return to Paris a further delay occurred, since he had to visit a dentist. On September 13 he left Paris for La Chênaie, arriving on September 16.
On September 15, in Alençon near Rennes, in the first part of a letter to Marie d'Agoult, Liszt took German language as their "secret language" of love. In most passionate style, surpassing everything he had written in earlier letters to her, he wrote: "O, wie heiss, wie glühend ist noch dein letzter Kuss auf meinen Lippen! Wie himmlisch, wie göttlich dein Seufzer in meinem Busen... Ja, dir, Herzliebste, für dich alles!" The change of style indicates that shortly before an important event, the beginning of their sexual life, had occurred. After a stay of three weeks in La Chênaie Liszt returned to Paris. Passing Alençon again on October 11, he wrote a new letter to Marie d'Agoult. For this time he quoted from an old announcement of the magistrate of Croissy. It was concerning a married couple, being honoured with unanimous applause for giving not souls but corps to the Republic. Had Liszt insofar expected he would continue living with Marie d'Agoult as he had left her, he very soon learnt that he was totally wrong.
In the letter from Alençon of October 11, Liszt announced that two days later he would arrive at the "Ratzenloch" in Paris. After he had arrived in the early morning of October 13, he hoped to find a message of Marie d'Agoult, but there was nothing. He wrote himself a letter to her, assuring his love and begging, she might remain being his. But his next letter, of October 16, is of a different, very polite and formal style, without indicating own emotions of any kind. Marie d'Agoult was now addressed as "Madame". Following her orders, Liszt had several hours after his arrival in Paris visited Nourrit, who unfortunately could not take part in a private concert at Croissy, planned by Marie d'Agoult for one of the following Sundays. Besides, already for a very long time Nourrit had ceased singing for money at concerts. Liszt himself might be allowed to ask Marie d'Agoult for reminding Monsieur d'Agoult of him and to hope, she would indicate her next return to Paris. While it is not clear whether the arrival in Paris, as mentioned by Liszt, was meant as his returning from La Chênaie or from a visit at Croissy, the letter shows that regarding his relation with Marie d'Agoult there was a severe break.
In October 1834 still another catastrophe occurred. Marie d'Agoult's daughter Louise fell ill. She was by her mother transported to Paris where a doctor diagnosed an inflammation of the brain. During the night of December 10 to 11, or on December 11, Louise died. She was buried on December 12.
George SandIn autumn and winter 1834-35, Liszt made the acquaintace of George Sand. He had in the Revue des Deux Mondes of May 15, 1834, read her first Lettre d’un voyageur on her impressions of Italy, which he found magnificent. In a letter to Marie d'Agoult of August 25, 1834, he wrote, he had two days earlier met Alfred de Musset. Musset had told him much about George Sand. Liszt had asked Musset to introduce him to her when Musset for the next time met George Sand.
George Sand had during winter and spring 1833-34 togther with Musset travelled in Italy. In February 1834, in Venice, she had started a love affair with the doctor Roberto Pagello. At end of March 1834, Musset had left Italy, returning to Paris on April 10. On August 14, George Sand and Pagello had arrived in Paris. George Sand had met Musset on August 17. On August 24, Goerge Sand left for her estate at Nohant and Musset for Baden-Baden, while Pagello kept staying in Paris. From October 6 or 7 until December 5, 1834, and afterwards from January 2 to March 6, 1835, George Sand was staying in Paris. On October 13, George Sand met Musset again, and on October 23 or 25, Pagello left for Venice. George Sand and Musset started a new phase of their love affair, but new storms occurred. Around November 10, George Sand had a further break with Musset, who did not respond to her letters.
Liszt and George Sand met at end of October or in the beginning of November 1834. Like Liszt himself, she was fond of Saint-Simonian ideology. She also took interest in the Abbé de Lamennais, whom she had wanted to visit at La Chênaie. Due to the crisis in her love affaire with Musset, the voyage was cancelled. In letters of November 20 and 21, she also cancelled portrait sittings with Delacroix. In a letter to Musset she threatened, she would commit suicide, cut her hair and enter a monastery.
In a letter to Liszt of November 22, 1834, George Sand wrote, attending the concert of Berlioz on the following day at which Liszt would perform, was absolutely impossible for her. She would therefore give back tickets for the concert. After some days of retreating she would return. Liszt, in his answer, wrote:
- I might be permitted to hope that after your return you will please count myself among the five or six persons who very voluntarily will receive you in the days of tears.
On November 28, George Sand met Heine. Afterwards, in the late evening until the early morning, she had a long conversation with Liszt. On December 5, she left Paris for Nohant, arriving on December 7. It is unknown whether until then a further contact with Liszt had occurred.
Liszt had been announced for a concert on November 22 at the church St. Vincent de Paul. Together with Chrétien Urhan he would play Beethoven's "Kreutzer-Sonata". But the audience waited in vain for him. While according to an official excuse he had been involved in repetitions for the concert of Berlioz on November 23, he neither performed at that concert. His behaviour can be understood, when looking at the present state of his relation with Marie d'Agoult.
Following a traditional line of Liszt biographic, it is to be presumed that until March 1835 there was a break of six months, during which Liszt and Marie d'Agoult did not meet at all. However, a letter by Liszt, of November 29, 1834, shows that it is not true.
- Until 2 o'clock in the morning I had a meeting tête à tête with
Mme Sand; she is suffering horribly. We will be talking about it
tomorrow. I was wearing your cravat, which seemed to me as not
beeing too elegant for "Thoughtful".
- Here are the letters of Urhan; your commission concerning Erard will be done in the evening. I'll spend the evening at Rue de Mail.
- Adieu. "God bless you."
- Morgen halb 1 Uhr.
- Here are the letters of Urhan; your commission concerning Erard will be done in the evening. I'll spend the evening at Rue de Mail.
The "letters of Urhan" were pieces „A elle, quatre lettres pour le piano“ ("To her, four letters for piano") by Chrétien Urhan, being announced in Le Pianiste of November 20, 1834. A motto by Lamartine was: "Peut-être dans la foule, une âme que j’ignore aurait compris mon âme et m’aurait compris." Liszt had met Urhan on November 24. In order to make good his not talking part on November 22 at the church St. Vincent de Paul, he had together with Urhan played the "Kreutzer-Sonata". The letter to Marie d'Agoult shows that Liszt had visited her and told her of the pieces by Urhan. On November 30, they met for a further time. In his answer to George Sand's letter of November 22, Liszt wrote, he would very voluntarily receive her in the days of tears. While this was primarily meant as allusion to George Sand's problems regarding her affair with Musset, Liszt could as well have thought of his own situation. There is a further letter of him to Marie d'Agoult which must have been written in the second half of November 1834. At the letter's beginning Liszt wrote, since the beginning of winter, he had for a very long time hesitated to give an answer to Marie d'Agoult's last letter. For him himself, nothing had changed during the previous months. He still would not mind opinions of the society, her family or the world. While it was exclusively a matter of God and conscience, he would willingly stand own pain and bear hers besides. But it had been her letters which were killing him. For several times the word of separation had been pronounced between them, and that word was never being used in vain. He had only a single weakness left and would promise to God that it was his very last. At an occasion of her choice, as soon as it was possible for her, they should for a last time meet again.
Since the date of that last meeting was exclusively depending on Marie d'Agoult's choice, and Liszt had to wait for a message of her, he had good reasons to regard his taking part in the concerts of November 22 and 23 as being less important for him. According to the letter of November 29, Liszt and Marie d'Agoult actually met. Liszt had reached a progress, although the letter of November 29 has nothing of a love letter style. It could as well have been written to a good friend. In early December 1834, during the critical last phase of Louise's illness, Liszt had no chance to meet Marie d'Agoult. He asked her chambermaid for information. According to a letter with date "Lundi minuit" ("Monday, midnight"), meant as December 15, Liszt had received a letter by Marie d'Agoult, written shortly after Louise's funeral. With much astonishment as well as happiness he had read that she had always been thinking of him. However, his letter includes no hint to a further meeting being planned, and no sources indicate that during the second half of December 1834 a further meeting occurred.
In a letter to Charles Saint-Beuve of December 22, 1834, Liszt wrote, he would very soon leave Paris for a voyage. But for the following three weeks he was still in Paris. On December 24, he dined together with some of his friends, and on December 25 and 28, he took part in concerts of François Stoepel and Berlioz. On January 3, 1835, he dined together with Marie d'Agoult. A letter to Marie d'Agoult, written in the early morning of January 4, shows that tensions must have occurred. Liszt had received a billet of Marie d'Agoult with complaints about his lack of emotions and his egoism. In the letter of January 4, Liszt assured, he had not met George Sand. He was insofar right, but he met George Sand on January 5. George Sand had invited him and Heine for a dinner. In the letter of January 4, Liszt also wrote, he would wait for Marie d'Agoult's return. Accordingly, she had retreated to Croissy.
Regarding George Sand's relation with Musset, they had in the beginning of January 1835 a phase of peace. But new problems evolved from her meeting Liszt. There were rumours, Liszt and George Sand had a love affair of a more than intimate kind. In the second half of January 1835, in order to defend herself, George Sand tried to find Liszt whom she wanted to take as witness for her innocence. But her search as well as two letters she wrote to him was in vain. In letters to the Abbé de Lamennais and to Marie d'Agoult of January 14, Liszt had announced, he would on the following day leave Paris for a voyage. Afterwards, for the whole period of January 15 until end of February 1835, he had disappeared without leaving traces in direct sources of any kind.
Since the beginning of March 1835, Liszt was staying in Paris again. According to entries in his pocket calendar, he met Marie d'Agoult on March 3, 10, 15, 16, 18, 21 and 22. For the date of March 22 he wrote, "8 ½ Marie rue de Provence", meaning that at half past 8 p.m. he together with Marie d'Agoult had visited his mother's apartment at Rue de Provence 61. After March 22, several blank pages are following. For April 9, there is a note concerning Liszt's concert at the Hôtel de Ville. After further blank pages, for May 28 the entry, "Départ de M[arie]" can be read.
The gap between April 9 and May 28 can in parts be filled with a letter by Liszt to George Sand of April 20, 1835. According to the letter, he had had storms of heart and mind. George Sand, answering in a letter of April 21, invited him. Responding to this, Liszt wrote, he would on May 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8, knock at her door, for the purpose of simply telling that he loved her. In a further letter to George Sand, Liszt mentioned an "exprincesse Mirabella", with whom Marie d'Agoult was meant. It shows that in Liszt's relation with Marie d'Agoult a further crisis had occurred. George Sand left Nohant on May 3, travelling to Paris.
On April 17, the Abbé de Lamennais had arrived in Paris. While Liszt was ill during parts of April, he met the Abbé at end of April or in the beginning of May. In a letter to Marion of May 5, 1835, the Abbé wrote, Liszt and one David Richard would together with him return to La Chênaie. On May 11, together with George Sand, Liszt visited the Abbé for a further time. In a letter to Marion of May 18, 1835, the Abbé once again wrote, Richard would go to La Cênaie. But Liszt's name was missing now. An important event had occurred, forcing him to give an entirely new direction to his life.
At end of April or in the beginning of May, Marie d'Agoult must have recognized that she was pregnant. In a letter to her mother she announced, she would leave her husband Charles. Her mother, according to her answer of May 6, was not surprised. Already during the previous years there had been tensions in her daughter's marriage. As momentary solution she suggested, Marie should in Paris consult the doctor Koreff. They would afterwards meet for a cure in Ems or Baden-Baden. In the end, mother and daughter negotiated, they would meet on June 1 in Basel. Until then, Marie d'Agoult's mother had no knowledge of her daughter's pregnancy nor of her wishing to live with Liszt.
The Abbé de Lamennais heard from one of Marie d'Agoult's relatives of her decision to leave her husband. He visited Liszt and afterwards Marie d'Agoult. In a long conversation he tried to persuade Marie d'Agoult to keep staying in her marriage. But it was in vain. Much later, Liszt himself as well as the Abbé told Émile Ollivier that, regarding the last attempt to change Marie d'Agoult's mind, the initiative had come from Liszt's side. On May 28, Marie d'Agoult left Paris for Basel. Liszt left on June 1, following her. As official explanation for Liszt's leaving Paris, it was his plan to get new impressions for his artistic development by travelling in Switzerland, Italy and Sicily, eventually also in Spain.
Liszt in GenevaSince July 28, 1835, Liszt and Marie d'Agoult lived in an appartement of the building located in the angel between Rue Tabazan and Rue des Belles-Filles, now Rue Etienne Dumont No. 22. He was also teacher in the Conservatoire_de_musique_de_Genève.
Problematic beginningLooking at Liszt in autumn 1837, his situation was problematic in the highest sense. He had on September 6, together with Marie d'Agoult, arrived in Bellagio and had there started composing his masterworks. Until October 22, 1837, his 12 Grandes Etudes were achieved. Liszt had also commenced his Impressions et poésies which were destined to be published one year later as part of the Album d'un voyageur. Unfortunately his fame as composer was as bad as a composer's fame could possibly be. For this reason it was difficult for Liszt to find a publisher who was willing to take his masterworks.
Liszt contacted the publisher Mori in London and Haslinger in Vienna. The answers which he received from both were nearly identical. They requested that Liszt should first travel to London and Vienna and play his works in concerts there. In addition, Liszt received a letter from his former teacher Czerny who also suggested a voyage for concerts to Vienna.
While until the end of 1837 Liszt's arrival in Vienna was daily expected, he actually had to stay in Italy. He could not leave Marie d'Agoult because she was pregnant. On December 24 their daughter Cosima was born. Even worse, Liszt had his daughter Blandine left in Geneva. Liszt had asked a pastor Demelleyer to take care of his daughter while he himself was in Italy. But in autumn 1837 it turned out that Blandine had been treated in evil kinds and had become ill. As consequence, one of her parents would have to go to Geneva. Since this was impossible for Marie d'Agoult, it was Liszt who was in charge. He decided, he would in April 1838 go to Geneva and take Blandine to Italy.
In the beginning of April 1838, Liszt was together with Marie d'Agoult now living in Venice, he travelled for concerts to Vienna instead, taking a flood in Hungary as his chance. Had he negotiated with Marie d'Agoult, he would stay in Vienna for no longer than two weeks, he was actually absent for nearly two months. When at end of May 1838 he returned to Venice, he learnt that important new things had happened.
Marie d'Agoult had in the second half of April 1838 been ill. Since Liszt did not return, she started in May 1838 a love affair with a Count Emilio Malazzoni. She had made the Count's acquaintance at end of March 1838 when she together with Liszt visited the Baroness Wetzlar, the mother of Liszt's rival Thalberg. When Liszt returned to Venice, the Count threatened suicide. For this reason Liszt advised Marie d'Agoult to try a relationwhip with Malazzoni. The Count had in the meanwhile left Venice, travelling to Genoa. Liszt and Marie d'Agoult followed him there and afterwards to Milan. In Milan, at the beginning of September 1838, Marie d'Agoult lost her interest in Malazzoni.
When Liszt had left Vienna at end of May 1838, he had promised that he would return in September for concerts in Vienna and also in Hungary. In order to make it possible, he negotiated with Marie d'Agoult that they would together travel along the Danube to Constantinople. Although all preparations were made, Liszt’s plan did not work. Since the beginning of September 1838, Marie d'Agoult's chambermaid was for six weeks severely ill. In addition, Blandine was still in Geneva. Liszt therefore cancelled his plans for concerts in Vienna and announced in letters to friends that he would keep staying in Italy. Concerning Blandine, Marie d'Agoult asked in a letter Adolphe Pictet in Geneva for help. Blandine arrived on January 5, 1839, in Milan. On January 15 she joined her parents in Florence.
In Milan, Liszt had made many enemies. He had in the Parisian Revue et Gazette musicale published a Baccalaureus-letter about the Scala in Milan. The letter had in a translation to Italian been reprinted in La Moda of July 12, 1838. Since, according to Liszt, the Italians only liked the music of Italian composers such as Bellini and Donizetti, whereas the music of German composers like Mozart and Beethoven was completely unknown to them, they were all lacking higher education. In an ironical reply in the Figaro of July 21, 1838, it was stated that, without doubt, Liszt must have been right. Since he himself had been applauded in prior concerts in Milan, this could only be considered as proof of the Italian public's lack of education. There were much stronger reactions besides. As consequence, a charity concert which Liszt wanted to give on September 8 had to be cancelled. A concert which he gave on September 10 was boycotted by the leading members of the society. After those experiences, Liszt never gave a concert in Milan again. In the beginning of 1839 Liszt received new invitations for concerts in Vienna. As first reaction he told Marie d'Agoult in furious manners that he had lost all interest in that disgusting virtuoso job. However, a couple of days later he disclosed that he had already made negotiations, reaching far into the year 1840, for concerts in Vienna, in London and in several towns of Germany. Though Marie d'Agoult's first reaction was fury, the two nevertheless came to a peaceful resolution. Until autumn 1839 they made the plan that, commencing in winter 1839-40, Liszt would for a time of one and a half years give concerts at different places in Europe. He would try to gain as much money as he could. After those one and a half years had ended, he would return with Marie to Italy. They would settle there, and Liszt would continue composing his masterworks. On May 9, 1839, Liszt's son Daniel was born in Rome, and he started his virtuoso career as father of three children.
One and a half years
Trieste, Vienna, Pest, Prague, Dresden and LeipzigOn October 18, 1839, Liszt accompanied Marie d'Agoult to Livorno, from where she together with her daughters Blandine and Cosima went via Genoa, Marseille and Lyon to Paris, arriving on November 3. Daniel had been left behind in Italy where the painter Henri Lehmann took care of him. Liszt first travelled to Venice. Since Marie d'Agoult had given her diary to him, he took his chance and read in full details about her love adventure of spring 1838 with Emilio Malazzoni. From Venice he went to Trieste where he gave concerts on November 5 and 11. During his stay in Trieste, Liszt met Malazzoni again. After they had in friendly terms been talking about the past, Liszt gave Marie d'Agoult's Parisian address to the Count. Malazzoni wrote a letter to her with expressions like, "You have been admirable and admired", which she found even more stupid than the usual custom.
In Trieste, Liszt also met the singer Caroline Ungher. In former times, she had taken part in a concert which Liszt as a boy had on December 1, 1822, given in Vienna. During his stay in Italy, Liszt had seen her in Donizetti's operas "Lucrezia Borgia" and "Parisina". Marie d'Agoult, in letters of winter 1839-40, suspected that Liszt had had a love affair with the singer. Liszt denied it. In December 1841, at Schumann's home, Liszt met Caroline Ungher again. She had shortly before married the French writer Sabatier.
On November 19, 1839, Liszt gave a first concert in Vienna. He was afterwards ill for about a week. On and after November 27, Liszt gave further concerts in Vienna. They were huge successes. On December 5, 1839, Liszt performed at an own concert, playing for the first time his Sonnambula-fantasy, and at a "Concert Spirituel" at which he played Beethoven's Concerto in C Minor. He had learnt both works during the previous night. Liszt also took part in concerts of other artists, among them Camilla Pleyel with whom he had had a love affair several years before. They played a brilliant fantasy for four hands on Rossini's "Wilhelm Tell" by Herz.
On December 18 Liszt arrived in Pressburg where he was received as a kind of Hungarian national hero. After concerts on December 18 and 22 in Pressburg, he proceeded on December 23 to Pest. At a famous event on January 4, 1840, in the theatre of Pest, a group of Hungarian noblemen offered a "sabre of honour" to Liszt. Liszt gave a speech, expressing his deep patriotic emotions. Since German was forbidden in the theatre of Pest, Liszt spoke in French. During his stay in Hungary he gave several concerts. One of those concerts was a charity concert in favour of a National Hungarian Conservatory which was to be founded later. Liszt also visited Raiding.
On February 1, 1840, Liszt returned to Vienna where he gave further concerts. During the first half of March 1840, he played in Prague. Although until now the success of Liszt's concerts been sensational, his successes decreased after he left the city, travelling to Dresden and Leipzig. Especially in Leipzig, Liszt found an atmosphere of strong hostility. Schumann, who had met Liszt in Dresden, wrote reviews praising Liszt's concerts. Mendelssohn also tried to save the situation. To help Liszt, he organized a concert on March 30 in the Gewandhaus. Together with Liszt and Ferdinand Hiller, he played a concerto for three pianos by J. S. Bach. But when Liszt left Leipzig, he had still many enemies there.
Paris, London, Rhineland and first British tourIn the beginning of April 1840, Liszt travelled via Metz to Paris. In letters to Marie d'Agoult he had imagined his return as the triumphant beginning of a new period of his life. As a point of honour, he would give a series of concerts in Paris, earning at least 20,000 Francs from them. But after his arrival Liszt learnt that his successes in Vienna, Pest and Prague counted as nearly nothing in Paris. The "sabre of honour" brought less pleasure than pain to him. It evoked a flood of caricatures, sarcastic comments and polemical attacks in the press. Berlioz wrote in an article in the Journal des Debates, "We let Mozart and Beethoven starve to death, while giving a sabre of honour to Mr. Liszt."
Instead of giving a series of concerts, Liszt gave only a single matinee on April 20 at the Salons Erard. Besides he took part in a concert of sacral music, given by the Princess Belgiojoso. The matinee had had the character of a private concert, since Liszt himself had invited his audience. The sum he had earned in Paris was therefore zero. Even worse, Liszt was in reviews compared with his rival Thalberg, who had arrived in Paris a couple of weeks before Liszt. Although Thalberg gave no concert he was nevertheless regarded as leading piano virtuoso of the time. In contrast to Liszt, Thalberg was also praised as composer of genius.
Marie d'Agoult had the impression that Liszt's personality had changed. Had he in former times, with words, despised social rankings, his letters of winter 1839-40 had been full of boasting with social successes. It was now his pride that he (on his own expenses) was dining together with Barons and Princes. The highest standing persons were anxiously waiting whether they were allowed to listen to his divine playing. After his return to Paris he could no longer stand a conversation when he was not praised in most ridiculous exaggerations. Liszt, in a word, had turned into a social climber and was - at moment - behaving like the worst kind of a snob. Besides, there were rumours of love affairs he had had with innumerable ladies in Vienna and Pest.
In the beginning of May 1840 Liszt went to London. He had hoped, he could in London gain a victory over Thalberg by earning more money than his rival, but the financial result of his concerts was disappointing. Since June 7, 1840, Marie d'Agoult joined Liszt in England. She lived in Richmond, while Liszt was occupied with concerts in London. On June 20, an éclat occurred.
During winter 1839-40, Marie d'Agoult had written an autobiographical manuscript, reflecting her time together with Liszt in Italy. According to the manuscript, after his return from Vienna to Venice in spring 1838 Liszt had confessed that he had had love affairs with ladies in Vienna; he had said it would happen again and he couldn't change this. On June 20, 1840, Marie d'Agoult had sent the manuscript together with a letter to Liszt. In the letter she wrote, it would be best for her to live the rest of her life alone. After Liszt had read the letter and the manuscript, he wrote, concerning the manuscript, that Marie had well remembered his words. But he on his side would never forget, no matter how hard he would try, what she had said to him. With much anger she had called him "Don Juan parvenu". In their previous seven years together they had often experienced like conflicts.
After their stay in England they travelled together via Brussels to the Rhineland. For one and a half months, Liszt gave concerts in several towns. On August 12 Liszt played a charity event in Bonn. On that occasion a committee, responsible for a Beethoven memorial to be erected in summer 1841, received 10,000 Francs from him. Liszt, who was nominated as an honorary member of the committee, wanted to compose a cantata for the event.
On August 15, 1840, in Rotterdam, Liszt and Marie d'Agoult had to separate. While Marie d'Agoult returned to Paris, Liszt travelled to England. As a member of the troupe of Lewis Henry Lavenu he made a tour of England consisting of about 50 concerts covering the length and breadth of the country. Lavenu was the stepson of publisher and violinist Nicolas Mori. Accompanying them on the tour were Lavenu's half-brother Frank Mori, a pupil of Sigismond Thalberg, two singers, Louisa Bassano and Mlle. de Varny, and John Orlando Parry, a musician, singer and entertainer (who vividly recorded the tour in his diary). They started on August 17, giving concerts in Chichester and Portsmouth. Six weeks later, the tour ended with concerts on September 25 and 26 in Brighton. The success was only moderate. Lavenu lost a sum worth of 5,000 - 6,000 thousand Francs, but he negotiated with Liszt that during winter 1840-41 a second tour would be following.
Fontainebleau, Hamburg and second British tourAfter the end of Liszt's first tour in England he returned to Paris to meet Marie d'Agoult. They went for a vacation of two weeks to Fontainebleau and enjoyed another small isle of happiness. In later times both of them claimed, they never had had an idea of a wedding. But it is known from their letters that during their stay in Fontainebleau they became engaged. Marie d'Agoult, still wedded to her husband Charles, hoped she could follow the recent example of Princess Belgiojoso. The Princess, after several years of living separated from her husband, had just been divorced. Liszt might have thought of still another example. He admired Schumann, who had on September 12, 1840, married Clara Wieck.
During the stay in Fontainebleau, Liszt tried to return to his former ideals. He started reading the Bible again and also made new plans concerning his masterworks. He wanted to complete his "24 Grandes Etudes" and the "Harmonies poétiques et religieuses". Instead of the cycle "Marie", projected in November 1835 in Geneva, Liszt wanted to publish three volumes of "Années de Pèlerinage". They should be volumes "Suisse", "Italie" and "Allemagne" ("Switzerland", "Italy" and "Germany"), reflecting the voyages Liszt had made together with Marie d'Agoult. The volume "Suisse" was already complete, since Liszt could take the still unpublished "Impressions et poésis". Of the volume "Italie", four pieces on Italian melodies and the "Dante-fragment", an early version of the "Dante-Sonata", had been finished. About two or three additional pieces for the volume "Italie" and the pieces for the volume "Allemagne" were still to be composed. The "24 Grandes Etudes", the "Harmonies poétiques et religieuses" and the first two volumes of the "Années de Pèlerinage" should be published during 1841. In Fontainebleau, Liszt made sketches for the piece "Hymn de l'enfant à son réveil" ("Hymn of the child at its awakening"), as part of the “Harmonies poétiques et religieuses”.
Liszt planned to give concerts from Fontainebleau to Hamburg. After, he would go to Berlin. During the winter he would play in Great Britain, travelling one again with Lavenu's troupe. In January 1841 he would return via Brussels to Paris. Together with Robert and Clara Schumann, they would then play St. Petersburg and Moskow. In May and June 1841 he would give concerts in London. After this last stay, his tours would have ended. Together with Marie d'Agoult he would travel via Geneva to Italy, where a stay with a long fermata would follow. In order to avoid further struggling, Liszt had promised he would in all important questions obey Marie d’Agoult’s advice.
Liszt left on October 19. He first returned to Paris, visiting the music publishers Bernard Latte and Maurice Schlesinger. At Schlesinger’s office he met by chance his later son-in-law Richard Wagner. It was a very fugitive first acquaintance and left no traces. From Paris, Liszt travelled to Hamburg, arriving on October 26. His first concert was on October 28. The program included some pieces of vocal music, but it turned out that the singers were not allowed to take part in the concert. In a short speech Liszt declared, he would play further solo pieces instead. His second concert, on October 31, was a greater success. On November 2 he took part in a concert of his pupil Hermann Cohen. While Liszt had planned to leave on November 4 for Berlin, he took his chance in Hamburg, giving an additional "last concert" on November 6. On that day he received a letter by Lavenu according to which he was on November 22 awaited in London. Since not enough time was left for a voyage for concerts to Berlin, Liszt gave on November 10 a further "Farewell concert". He afterwards went to Dunkirk where he lived together with Marie d'Agoult for some days.
Because of a calm on the Channel, it was not until November 23 that Liszt arrived in Dover. Still another delay occurred, since Liszt missed his train to London. Lavenu's troupe had on November 23 already given a first concert in Reading. Since Liszt, announced as a superstar, was absent, most of the 140 people in the audience had left in anger. A concert in Newbury, also announced for November 23, was therefore cancelled. Lavenu travelled to London where he met Liszt on November 24. That evening, Liszt arrived in Oxford and took part in his first concert of the tour. During the following months the troupe was with a carriage travelling through ice and snow, usually giving two concerts at different places every day, with Sundays being free. At large cities such as Dublin they had an easier life. They performed at several concerts and could stay for some days. But this was an exception. After a last concert on January 29, 1841, in Halifax, it turned out that the financial result was catastrophic. Liszt himself had lost a sum of more than 15,000 Gulden, i.e. more than 43,000 Francs. The troupe returned to London where Liszt was lent money from Ignaz Moscheles and the publisher Beale of Cramer & Co.
Besides performing at concerts, Liszt had during the tour composed several dozens of pages of music. In the second half of December, he had remembered Marie d'Agoult's birthday, which was on December 31. For this reason he had made a new version of his transcription of Beethoven's love song "Adelaide". Marie d'Agoult had taken this name five years earlier, after she had in Geneva given birth to her daughter Blandine. Liszt had also composed fantasies on Mozart's "Don Juan" and Weber's "Freischütz", as well as some further pieces. During the stay in Hamburg, he had composed the first version of his Lucrezia-fantasy.
Belgium, Paris and LondonOn February 3, 1841, Liszt took part in a concert in London given by Jules Benedict. The next day he left, travelling to Brussels. He had already on December 15, 1840, in Liverpool, written a letter to Fétis, director of the Conservatoire in Brussels, who in spring 1837 had been his antagonist with regards of Thalberg. Liszt had announced, he would on February 7 or 8 arrive for concerts in Brussels. He had suggested reconciliation and had asked Fétis for help. Fétis, who had agreed, organized a concert on February 9.
Liszt had to cross the Channel again and was for a further time late. Much ice was on the sea, and the captain of Liszt's ship had to wait until he could dare to enter the harbour of Ostend. When in the late evening of February 9 Liszt arrived in Brussels, the concert had already ended five hours before. Fétis organized a private concert on February 11 at which Liszt performed in front of an audience of 150 persons. Liszt afterwards gave concerts on February 13 in Liège, February 16 in Brussels, February 19 in Liège, February 20 in Ghent, February 24 in Liège and February 26 in Brussels. On March 2 and 4 he gave concerts in Antwerp. After a last concert on March 13 in Brussels, Liszt returned to Paris. In comparison with his former plans, he arrived with a delay of two months. His plan of a voyage to St. Petersburg and Moscow was therefore cancelled.
The success of Liszt's concerts in Belgium had been sensational. Most important for Liszt, Fétis had been very enthusiastic. Concerning Liszt's financial result, a Brussels correspondent of the Revue et Gazette musicale estimated, Liszt had earned a sum of 15,000 - 20,000 Francs. However, it is uncertain how much of that money Liszt still owned. According to an account of Charles Dubois, a banker in Liège, Liszt had lived a very luxurious life. As soon as he had earned money, he had thrown it away in banquets for admirers and friends. In a later letter to Marie d'Agoult, of June 19, 1841, Liszt wrote, he had in Brussels still debts of 120 Louis d'ors, i.e. of 2,400 Francs.See: Liszt-d'Agoult: Correspondence II, p.162.
Liszt's stay in Paris turned out to be his most successful season since his time as child prodigy. His rival Thalberg, who had had announced own concerts in Paris, had changed his plans. He travelled for concerts via Frankfurt-am-Main and Leipzig to Warsaw. Liszt gave concerts on March 27 and on April 13 and 25. On March 27 he played his fantasy on "Robert le Diable" which was a huge success. More important, taking Liszt's own perspective, was the concert on April 25. It was a charity concert in favour of the Beethoven memorial in Bonn. After Beethoven's Overture "Zur Weihe des Hauses" op.124 had been performed, Liszt played the concerto in E-flat Major. It was followed by a recitation in honour of Beethoven. Liszt then played the new version of his transcription of the "Adelaide". As he wanted to proceed with the "Kreutzer-Sonata" op.47, some persons of the audience demanded the fantasy on "Robert le Diable", which Liszt played. He then played, together with Lambert Massard, the "Kreutzer-Sonata". At the program's end, the Pastoral-Symphony under the direction of Berlioz was performed. On April 3 Liszt gave an additional concert in Rouen and on April 28 a concert in Tours. On May 5 he left Paris, travelling via Boulogne to London. At moment he was convinced that he had at last gained the position in Paris he had wished to gain.
In London, Liszt performed at several private soirees and at concerts of other artists. On May 17 he took part in a concert of Jules Benedict. At the end of a monstrous program, Liszt played together with Benedict a four handed version of Thalberg's Norma-Fantasie op.12. But after some weeks he had the impression, he could not earn much money with concerts. Because of a political crisis, it was in May 1841 to be feared that most of the leading persons of the society would leave for the countryside. Liszt announced for June 5 an own concert. The concert had to be cancelled because of an accident. Returning from Norwood to London in the night of May 31 to June 1, Liszt had been thrown from his carriage to the street and sprained his left hand. On June 5 he took part in a charity matinee in favour of Polish refugees. Using only his right hand, he played together with Jules Benedict a duo. On June 12 he gave an own concert, playing with much pain his Sonnambula-fantasy and some further pieces. On June 14 he played at a Philharmonic concert Hummel's Septet.
While Liszt's reputation as virtuoso was steadily increasing, his financial result in London was very poor. In order to solve his financial problems, Liszt was reflecting an offer he had received from Hamburg. According to this, he should on July 7 take part in a concert of a North German music festival. Around July 10 he should give an own concert in Hamburg besides. Regarding this, he wrote in a letter to Marie d'Agoult of June 16,
- ''The deficiency of money, in which at moment I am finding myself, is completely controlling me. If I had gained 10,000 Francs at this place, I would have refused. But now, at least if you are not saying the contrary to me, I must follow that rough and commanding voice which shouts to me: "Go marching vagabond!"''
At one of the following days, Liszt's financial situation was getting even worse. In his letter to Marie d'Agoult of June 19 Liszt wrote, an evil scene with Moscheles had occurred. Liszt had entirely paid the money he had lent from Moscheles as well as from Beale. Until the end of his stay in London, Liszt received several letters of Marie d'Agoult with objections against his new ideas. But his decision had already been made. On July 1, after he had performed at a soiree of Lady Ashbourne, Liszt left London, travelling to Hamburg. He performed at the concert on July 7 and gave on July 9 an own concert.
NonnenwerthAfter his concert in Hamburg, Liszt received an invitation to Copenhagen. He played on July 15 at the Danish court and afterwards gave several concerts. During Liszt's stay in Copenhagen he negotiated with Marie d'Agoult, they would meet around August 4 at Nonnenwerth, a small island in the Rhine near Bonn. Marie d'Agoult arrived on August 4 on the island. In the following night also Liszt arrived. At Nonenwerth, they lived at a hotel which in former times had been a monastery.
In June 1841, still in London, Liszt had in letters to Marie d'Agoult painted their future in colours as attractive as he possibly could. It was his highest wish to live together with her in solitude. Depending on her choice, they would go to Venice, Florence, Albano, or whatever place she liked. Nothing more than only a couple of further days of courage was needed until they would arrive in a paradise of happiness. In a letter of July 10 from Hamburg he had asked her, to bring the sketches of the "Hymn de l'enfant à son réveil" he had made in Fontainebleau. Apparently, he wanted to continue composing his masterworks. But, nothing of all this was realized.
In contrast to his letters to Marie d'Agoult, Liszt had in a letter to Simon Löwy of May 20, 1841, already announced, he would in November 1841 start for Berlin and pass the whole next winter in Russia. On August 4, shortly before he had arrived at Nonnenwerth, Liszt wrote in a letter to Count Alberti, he would for the whole time of his stay in the Rhineland keep bombarding the left bank and the right bank of the Rhine with concerts. As consequence, the time of Liszt's living together with Marie d'Agoult in solitude and happiness was very short.
When Liszt had arrived at the island, he was ill. But after some days of recovery, on August 7, he made a first trip to Bonn. During Liszt's absence, his friends Felix Lichnowski and Emile Girardin arrived. When Liszt returned from Bonn, he brought further friends. A couple of days later, the leader of the Beethoven committee, Breidenstein, together with some thirty additional persons came. For several hours Liszt played waltzes to them. Very soon, his promised solitude had turned into a permanent party. Since Liszt paid all bills, plenty of money was needed. His bombarding the Rhine banks with concerts had insofar become a necessity.
Had Marie d'Agoult hoped, Liszt would continue composing his masterworks, he put the sketch from Fontainebleau aside. His "24 Grandes Etudes" were never completed. Of the "Années de Pèlerinage", the first volume "Suisse", much earlier already achieved, had in June 1841 been published in a Parisian edition. But the second volume "Italie" was left incomplete, and the third volume "Allemagne" was never composed. During his stay at Nonnenwerth, Liszt concentrated on composing novelties for his planned concerts in Berlin and St. Petersburg instead. He also composed male chorus pieces such as his "Rheinweinlied" after Herwegh and his "Das deutsche Vaterland" after Ernst Moritz Arndt. At Nonennwerth Liszt told Marie d'Agoult, he would for additional two years continue travelling for concerts.
Regarding the stay on the island, Marie d'Agoult wrote another one of her autobiographic manuscripts. The title "Nonnenwerth, Suicide" was meant as the end of her dreaming of Liszt as composer of immortal masterworks. Altogether with this, it was now her own fate, to vanish to obscurity after her death.
Liszt at Nonnenwerth was occupied with his transcription of Meyerbeer's song "Le Moine" ("The Monk"). He had in May 1841 asked Marie d'Agoult to send the original song to London. Until June 1 he had received it. In a letter to Maurice Schlesinger of October 9, 1841, written at Nonnenwerth, Liszt announced, he would after some days send the transcription to Paris.
The title "The Monk" is identic with "Frater", a nickname given to Liszt by his mother. From his letters to his mother it is known that an ironical component was included. Liszt was a "Frater" of problematic character. Meyerbeer's "Monk" is in his monastery cell detesting his oath. "Arrière, arrière impitoyable chaîne" Remembering Liszt's own promises in his letters to Marie d'Agoult from London, and comparing them with reality, a further kind of resemblance might be detected. There are words, "Maudit le jour où cette voix impie a prononcé le terrible serment. Elle a menti! le monde c’est ma vie!" The "Monk's" imagined future is of the following kind. "A moi les chants dans les folles orgies, les cris d’amour à moi! je suis maudit!" However, as characteristic for Liszt, the voice of conscience is also present. It is in the refrain with words, "Marie, ô sainte mère! Priez pour l’insensé; désarmez la colère du Seigneur offensé!"
Liszt in WeimarIn 1847, Liszt gave up public performances on the piano and in the following year finally took up the invitation of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia to settle at Weimar, where he had been appointed Kapellmeister Extraordinaire in 1842, remaining there until 1861. During this period he acted as conductor at court concerts and on special occasions at the theatre, gave lessons to a number of pianists, including the great virtuoso Hans von Bülow, who married Liszt's daughter Cosima in 1857 (before she was married to Wagner). He also wrote articles championing Berlioz and Wagner, and produced those orchestral and choral pieces upon which his reputation as a composer mainly rests. His efforts on behalf of Wagner, who was then an exile in Switzerland, culminated in the first performance of Lohengrin in 1850.
Among his compositions written during his time at Weimar are the two piano concertos, No. 1 in E flat major and No. 2 in A major, the Totentanz, the Concerto pathetique for two pianos, the Piano Sonata in B minor, a number of Etudes, fifteen Hungarian Rhapsodies, twelve orchestral symphonic poems, the Faust Symphony and Dante Symphony, the 13th Psalm for tenor solo, chorus and orchestra, the choruses to Herder's dramatic scenes Prometheus, and the Graner Fest Messe. Much of Liszt's organ music also comes from this period, including the well-known Fantasy and Fugue on the chorale Ad nos, ad salutarem undam and Fantasy and Fugue on the Theme B-A-C-H (the latter also arranged for solo piano). Also in 1847, while touring in Ukraine, Liszt met Princess Carolyne von Sayn-Wittgenstein. The Princess was an author, whose major work was published in 16 volumes, each containing over 1,600 pages. Her long-winded writing style had some effect on Liszt himself. His biography of Chopin and his chronology and analysis of Gypsy music were both written in the Princess's loquacious style (Grove's Dictionary says that she undoubtedly collaborated with him on this and other works). Princess Carolyne lived with Liszt during his years in Weimar.
In 1851 he published a revised version of his 1837 Douze Grandes Etudes, now titled Etudes d'Execution Transcendante, and the following year the Grandes Etudes de Paganini (Grand etudes after Paganini), the most famous of which is La Campanella (The Little Bell), a study in octaves, trills and leaps.
The Princess wished to marry Liszt, but since she had been previously married and her husband was still alive, she had to convince the Roman Catholic authorities that her former marriage had been invalid. After huge efforts in a monstrous process she was successful until September 1860. It was then planned that the couple would get married on October 22, 1861, Liszt's 50th birthday, in Rome. But after Liszt had arrived in Rome, on October 21, 1861 the Princess refused in the late evening to marry him. Much later, in a letter of May 30, 1875, she wrote to Eduard Liszt that she had found Liszt to have been ungrateful. While she had spent her money and had lost nearly all of her former fortune, it had been several millions, he had had during all the time of the Weimar years love affairs with other women. Especially in September 1860 there had been an affaire with the singer Emilie Genast. For this reason she had decided that the planned wedding should be cancelled.
The question whether the Princess was correct in her accusations against Liszt, remains open. Regarding Emilie Genast, in the second half of September 1860 she had for a time of about two weeks visited Liszt in Weimar, on his invitation. In the beginning of October she left, travelling to the Rhineland. Liszt composed for her the love song "Wieder möcht' ich Dir begegnen" ("I'm wishing to meet you again"). Besides, he made a new version of his song "Nonnenwerth" as well as orchestrations of the songs "Die junge Nonne", "Gretchen am Spinnrade" and "Mignon" by Schubert. While they were now all dedicated to Emilie Genast, they had in Liszt's youth been strongly correlated with his affair with Marie d'Agoult. "Mignon" has words "Dahin!, dahin möcht' ich mit dir, o mein Geliebter, ziehn!" (She wants to go together with her darling to Italy.) Reflecting this, Liszt also made a new version of his song "Es rauschen die Winde" with words "Dahin, dahin, sind die Tage der Liebe dahin!" ("the days of love are gone"). From those hints no certain conclusion can be drawn, but Liszt seems to have detected a kind of resemblance between Emilie Genast and the young Marie d'Agoult. However, nearly all of Liszt's letters to Emilie Genast, at least 98, have survived, but are still unpublished; so nothing more can be said.
Might the suspicion of the Princess regarding Emilie Genast insofar have been true or false, it is sure that she was not altogether wrong. It is known from Liszt's correspondence with his mother that in the beginning of 1848 he was in Weimar living together with a Madame F... from Frankfurt-am-Main, a former mistress of Prince Wittgenstein. In March 1848, after Liszt had received a letter of the Princess in which she announced her arrival, Madame F... was very hastily transported to Paris. She visited Liszt’s mother as well as his former secretary Belloni and received an amount of money, telling them that she was pregnant by Liszt. In November 1848 she claimed, she had had an abortion, and disappeared. In 1853 or 1854, Liszt's main mistress was in secret Agnes Street-Klindworth. Liszt visited her for a last time in autumn 1861 in Brussels. It is suspected that the father of some of her children was Liszt.
Liszt in RomeThe 1860s were a period of severe catastrophes of Liszt's private life. After he had on December 13, 1859, already lost his son Daniel, on September 11, 1862, also his daughter Blandine died. In letters to friends Liszt afterwards announced, he would retreat to a solitary living. A more precise impression of his ideas can be gained by looking at his works. On October 22, 1862, his 51st birthday, Liszt took his arrangement of the Overture to Wagner's opera "Tannhäuser" and cut the music illustrating Tannhäuser’s living with “Frau Venus” and her ladies away. He had good reasons for identifying him himself with "Tannhäuser". One year earlier he had like "Tannhäuser" travelled from Thuringia to Rome. Like "Tannhäuser", also his sins had not been forgiven, as can be seen from his failed marriage. It was Liszt's conclusion that his sexual life had been the cause of his bad luck. He considered a living of continence and resignation as the only appropriate choice for him. There is little doubt that he was insofar following Princess Wittgenstein's advice. It was her opinion that sexuality was the worst of all evils in the world.
Liszt also searched for an adequate environment. He found it at the monastery Madonna del Rosario, just outside Rome, where on June 20, 1863, he took up quarters in a small, Spartan apartment. He had on June 23, 1857, already joined a Franciscan order. On April 25, 1865, he received from Gustav Hohenlohe the tonsure and a first one of the minor orders of the Catholic Church. Three further minor orders followed on July 30, 1865. Until then, Liszt was Porter, Lector, Exorcist, and Acolyte. While Princess Wittgenstein tried to persuade him to proceed in order to become priest, he did not follow her. In his later years he explained, he had wanted to preserve a rest of his freedom. By chance, there was a worldly counterpoint to Liszt's becoming ecclesiastic. In the second half of 1865 his two "Episoden aus Lenaus Faust" appeared. The first piece, the "1st Mephisto-Waltz", musically paints a vulgar scene in a village inn. Was this coincidence merely an accident, the transcriptions of the pieces "Confutatis maledictis" and "Lacrymosa" of Mozart's Requiem, which Liszt made on January 21, 1865, were in a better sense characteristic for him. As child prodigy he had been compared and equalled with the child Mozart. While this aspect of his personality had died, he had in 1865 a rebirth as "Abbé Liszt".
During the 1860s in Rome, Liszt's main works were sacral works such as the oratorios "Die Legende von der heiligen Elisabeth" and "Christus" as well as masses such as the "Missa choralis" and the "Ungarische Krönungsmesse". For many of his piano works Liszt also took sacral subjects. Examples are the piece "À la Chapelle Sixtine" on melodies by Mozart and Allegri, the two pieces "Alleluja" and "Ave Maria d'Arcadelt", and the two Legends "St. François d'Assise" and "St. François de Paule, marchant sur les flots". The two pieces "Illustrations de l'Africaine" on melodies by Meyerbeer are at least in parts of a sacral style. The same goes for the transcription of a scene of Verdi's opera "Don Carlos". But, besides, Liszt still composed works on worldly subjects. Examples of this kind are the concert etudes "Waldesrauschen" and "Gnomenreigen" as well as the fantasy on Mosonyi's opera "Szep Ilonka" and the transcription of the final scene "Liebestod" of Wagner's opera "Tristan und Isolde". Further examples are the pieces "Rêverie sur un motif de l'opéra Roméo et Juliette" and "Les sabéennes, Berceuse de l'opéra La Reine de Saba" after Gounod.
At some occasions, Liszt took part in Rome's musical life. On March 26, 1863, at a concert at the Palazzo Altieri, he directed a program of sacral music. The "Seligkeiten" of his "Christus-Oratorio" and his "Cantico del Sol di Francesco d'Assisi", as well as Haydn's "Die Schöpfung" and works by J. S. Bach, Beethoven, Jornelli, Mendelssohn and Palestrina were performed. On January 4, 1866, Liszt directed the "Stabat mater" of his "Christus-Oratorio", and on February 26, 1866, his "Dante-Symphony". There were several further occasions of similar kind, but in comparison with the duration of Liszt's stay in Rome, they were exceptions. Bódog Pichler, who visited Liszt in 1864 and asked him for his future plans, had the impression that Rome's musical life was not satisfying for Liszt.
Liszt returned to Weimar in 1869. He began a series of piano master classes there, which he would teach a few months every year. From 1876 he also taught for several months every year at the Hungarian Music Academy at Budapest. He continued to live part of each year in Rome, as well. Liszt continued this threefold existence, as he is said to have called it, for the rest of his life.
Last yearsFrom 1876 until his death he also taught for several months every year at the Hungarian Conservatoire at Budapest. On July 2, 1881, Liszt fell down the stairs of the Hofgärtnerei in Weimar. Though friends and colleagues had noted swelling in Liszt's feet and legs when he had arrived in Weimar the previous month, Liszt had up to this point been in reasonably good health, his body retained the slimness and suppleness of earlier years. The accident, which immobilized him eight weeks, changed all this. A number of ailments manifested—dropsy, asthma, insomnia, a cataract of the left eye and chronic heart disease. The last mentioned would eventually contribute to Liszt's death.
Seven weeks after the fall, on August 24, 1881, Liszt wrote the piano work Nuages Gris. With its dark tone, its compositional austerity and an ending which drifts away into nothingness, the piece could be taken as a soundscape of desolation: Liszt had expected to make a quick recovery, but his condition was now compounded by dropsy, failing eyesight and other difficulties. Liszt would become increasingly plagued with feelings of desolation, despair and death—feelings he would continue to express nakedly in his works from this period. As he told Lina Ramann, "I carry a deep sadness of the heart which must now and then break out in sound."
He died in Bayreuth on July 31, 1886, officially as a result of pneumonia which he may have contracted during the Bayreuth Festival hosted by his daughter Cosima. At first, he was surrounded by some of his more adoring pupils, including Arthur Friedheim, Siloti and Bernhard Stavenhagen, but they were denied access to his room by Cosima shortly before his death at 11:30 p.m. He is buried in the Bayreuth cemetery. Questions have been posed as to whether medical malpractice played a direct part in Liszt's demise. At 11:30 Liszt was given two injections in the area of the heart. Some sources have claimed these were injections of morphine. Others have claimed the injections were of camphor, shallow injections of which, followed by massage, would warm the body. An accidental injection of camphor into the heart itself would result in a swift infarction and death. This series of events is exactly what Lina Schmalhaussen describes in the eyewitness account in her private diary, the most detailed source regarding Liszt's final illness.
Piano recitalLiszt has most frequently been credited to have been the first pianist who gave concerts with programs consisting only of solo pieces. An example is a concert he gave on March 9, 1839, at the Palazzo Poli in Rome. Since Liszt could not find singers who - following the usual habit of the time - should have completed the program, he played four numbers all alone. Also famous is a concert on June 9, 1840, in London. For this occasion, the publisher Frederic Beale suggested the term "recital" which is still in use today.
Some remarks are needed for the purpose of avoiding misunderstandings. The term "recital", as suggested by Beale, was not meant as connotation of a solo concert. It can also be found in announcements of the concerts given by the troop of Lavenu in 1840-41 in Great Britain, in which Liszt took part. The announcements show that "recital" was meant in a sense that Liszt "recited" his pieces instead of just "playing" them. "Recital" in this sense was meant as specific kind of playing a single piece. The programs included further pieces besides, which were played or sung by other artists, sharing the stage with Liszt. But it is true, that on June 9, 1840, in London, Liszt played his program all alone.
Searching for earlier examples, there is a concert which Liszt gave on May 18, 1836, at the Salons Erard in Paris. He had in the beginning of May given concerts in Lyon, and then travelled to Paris where he arrived on May 13. On the following days he met some of his friends, among them Meyerbeer. He invited them to the Salons Erard, for the purpose of playing some of his new compositions to them. The meeting had a duration of an hour during which Liszt played his fantasy on melodies from Bellini’s opera "I Puritani", his fantasy on melodies from Halévy's opera "La Juive" and his fantasy "La serenata e l'orgia" on melodies from Rossini's "Soirées musicales". Might this be regarded as early example for a solo concert, it was an exception of the rarest kind. As usual case at that time, also Liszt's concert programs included not only solo pieces, but further instrumental or vocal pieces besides. Until spring 1840, at his concerts in Prague, Dresden and Leipzig, Liszt kept doing it that way.
On April 20, 1840, at a soiree at the Salons Erard in Paris, Liszt played another exclusive solo program. While this was an exception again, since Liszt himself had invited his audience, the success can be regarded as reason for which on June 9, 1840, Liszt did the same in London. By doing it that way, he could avoid the usual trouble when trying to find other artists who were willing to take part in his concerts. He could also hope to gain more money, since there was no need to share it with anyone.
During the following years of his tours, Liszt gave concerts of different types. He gave solo concerts as well as concerts at which other artists joined him. In parts of his tours he was accompanied by the singer Rubini, later by the singer Ciabatta, with whom he shared the stage. At occasions, also other singers or instrumentalists took part in Liszt's concerts. For the case that an orchestra was available, Liszt had made accompanied versions of some of his pieces, among them the "Hexameron". Most frequently he also played Weber's "Konzertstück" F Minor as well as Beethoven's concerto E-Flat Major ("Emperor") and the Fantasy for piano, chorus and orchestra op.80. Besides, he played some pieces of chamber music, among them Hummel's Septet as well as Beethoven's "Kreutzer-Sonata" op.47, the Quintet in E-flat op.16 and the "Archduke-Trio" op.97.
Regarding Liszt's solo repertoire, his own catalogue of the works he had played in public during 1838-48 is strongly exaggerating. Taking the transcriptions of Schubert songs as examples, no less than 50 pieces are mentioned. In reality Liszt had in the vast majority of all his concerts only played the pieces "Erlkönig", "Ständchen (Serenade)" and "Ave Maria". Since spring 1846 he had added one of his two transcriptions of the "Forelle" to his regularly played repertoire. Another example can be found under the headline "Symphonies". While Beethoven's fifth, sixth and seventh symphonies are listed, Liszt had in public only played the last three movements of his arrangement of the sixth symphony. He did it for a last time on January 16, 1842, in Berlin and afterwards dropped it since it was not successful.
Liszt's legendary reputation as "transcendental virtuoso" was based primarily on repeated performances of fewer than two dozen compositions written or arranged by himself or by Beethoven, Chopin, Hummel, Rossini, Schubert, or Weber. Among the most frequently played pieces of this primary repertoire were the Grand Galop chromatique, the Hexameron, the arrangement of the Overture "Guillaume Tell", the Andante final de Lucia di Lammermoor, and the Sonnambula-fantasy. In many of Liszt's programs also the "Réminiscences des Puritains" can be found. In this case it is uncertain whether he actually played the entire fantasy or only a part of it. The last part was in 1841 separately published as "Introduction et Polonaise". When playing this, Liszt used to take a Mazurka by Chopin or his transcription of the Tarantelle from Rossini's "Soirées musicales", in some cases both, as introduction.
Liszt's most frequently played solo pieces by Beethoven were the Sonatas op.27,2 ("Moonlight") and op.26, of which he usually only played the first movement "Andante con variazione". His repertoire of Baroque music was very small. Of Scarlatti, for example, he played for all of his life just a single piece, the "Katzenfuge". His Handel repertoire was restricted to two, and his Bach repertoire to a handful of pieces. The piano works of Haydn and Mozart did not exist in his concerts. While in letters to Schumann Liszt assured, Schumann's and Chopin's piano works were the only ones of interest for him, for all of his life he actually played not more than a single piano work by Schumann in public, and this only at a single event. It was on March 30, 1840, in Leipzig, when he played a selection of 10 pieces of the Carnaval.
Looking at Liszt in his later years, in the 1870s a new development of classical concert life commenced. It was Liszt's former student Hans von Bülow who more and more concentrated on "serious" music. As consequence, nearly all of Liszt's fantasies and transcriptions and even the Hungarian Rhapsodies disappeared from Bülow’s programs. While the impact of von Bülow's new concert style was very strong, Liszt did not take part in this development. Whenever he played in public, he still chose a repertoire most resembling the style which had been in fashion during the time of his youth. Calling Liszt the father of the modern piano recital, as it has frequently been done, would therefore be wrong. His musical habits and also his taste were different from those of our times.
Performing styleLiszt's career as concertizing pianist can be divided into several periods of different characteristics. There was a first period, his time as child prodigy, ending in 1827 with his father's death. Liszt's playing during this period was in reviews described as very brilliant and very precise, like a living metronome. While he was frequently criticized for a lack of expressiveness, contemporaries hoped, he would improve in later times. His repertoire consisted of pieces in the style of the brilliant Viennese school, concertos by Hummel and brilliant works by his former teacher Czerny. It was exactly this style in which also his own published works were written. Liszt's Bride-fantasy, composed in the beginning of 1829, can be regarded as his last work of that style.
In 1832, Liszt started piano practising and composing again. According to a letter to Princess Belgiojoso of October 1839, it had been his plan, to grow as artist so that in the beginning of 1840 he could start a musical career. While much happened which Liszt could not predict, the development of his relation with Marie d'Agoult and the Thalberg encounter, his guess concerning his own development turned out to be correct. During winter 1839-40 his career as travelling virtuoso commenced. In a letter to Marie d'Agoult of December 9, 1839, he wrote, he started playing admirably.
During the early 1830s, with respect of his performing style, Liszt was by contemporaries accused to behave like a charlatan, a bad actor of the province who wanted effects at any cost. With expressions of his face he was pretending he had strong emotions. Looking to heaven, he tried to act as if he was seeking inspiration from above. When playing the first movement of Beethoven's Sonata op.27,2 ("Moonlight"), he added cadenzas, tremolos and trills. By changing the tempo between Largo and Presto, he turned Beethoven's Adagio into a dramatic scene. In his Baccalaureus-letter to George Sand from the beginning of 1837, Liszt admitted that he had done so for the purpose of gaining applause. He promised, he would from now on follow letter and spirit of a score. However, as soon as he had left Paris, it turned out that not much had changed. Especially in Vienna he was praised for the "creativity" with which he "interpreted" the music he played, finding effects of which the composer himself had had no idea.
During the same time, Liszt's development as composer of concert pieces reached from the Clochette-fantasy op.2, composed 1832-34, to the Lucia-fantasy op.13, composed in autumn 1839. While the Clochette-fantasy was composed in a very eccentric style, without much hope of gaining applause from a contemporary audience, the style of the Lucia-fantasy is different. Especially in the first part, as "Andante final" one of Liszt's most frequently played pieces of his concert repertoire, his own creativity as composer was only small. He took a popular scene, the famous Sextet, and made a transcription of it. To this he added a short introduction and a brilliant cadenza as very short middle section. In the second part he made use of the thumbs melody accompanied by large arpeggios, a most successful device of his rival Thalberg's Moïse-fantasy. According to a letter to Tito Ricordi, Liszt wrote the Lucia-fantasy for the purpose of gaining an easy commercial success.
In comparison with the "Andante final", some of the pieces of Liszt's stay in Geneva during 1835-36 are more interesting. An example is the Puritans-fantasy. Large parts were composed with techniques usually being used in the development section of a sonata form. A long middle section leads from the key E-flat Major of the first main part to the key D Major of the Polonaise-finale. It is a sophisticated modulation from A-flat Minor to D Major, while the D Major triad is strictly avoided. However, as it seems, Liszt found not much resonance with it. He more and more skipped the middle section, playing both main parts as separate fantasies instead. In the end, he restricted himself to playing only the last part as "Introduction et Polonaise".
During the tours of the 1840s, Liszt's Glanzzeit, it was never disputed that his technical skills were astonishing. But he was merely considered as fashionable virtuoso entertainer with missing inspiration. While Thalberg's fame as composer was very strong and even Theodor Döhler was quite well recognized, nothing of this kind can be said of Liszt. An example which illustrates it is a review in London's Musical world of Liszt's Fantasy on "Robert le Diable": "We can conceive no other utility in the publication of this piece, than as a diagram in black and white of M. Liszt's extraordinary digital dexterity." The Leipziger Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, in a review of the Sonnambula-fantasy, sentenced, it was at least not to be feared that any other artist would follow Liszt on his adventurous path.
Liszt himself, in parts of his career, may have been on error when regarding the impression he had made at his concerts. In December 1841 in Leipzig, for example, he thought, his success had been complete. No further opposition was possible at that place. However, the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, in a review, complained about missing emotions and eccentricities of his playing style. Clara Schumann, in a letter to her friend Emilie List, wrote, it was astonishing that Liszt was not liked in Leipzig. While people had applauded him, nobody had been really charmed. With all his seeking for effects and applause, she for herself could not regard him as true artist.
As soon as Liszt's career as travelling virtuoso had ended, he himself took a critical point of view regarding his former concert activities. Much of his critique can be found in his book about Chopin. According to this, persons had not attended his concerts for the purpose of listening to his music, but in order to have attended them and to be able to talk about them as social events. A couple of measures of a waltz and a fugitive reminding of an emotion had been sufficient for them.
Liszt's virtuosity and technical innovationsLiszt's playing was described as theatrical and showy, and all those who saw him perform were stunned at his unrivalled mastery over the piano. Perhaps the best indication of Liszt's piano-playing abilities comes from his Douze Grandes Etudes and early Paganini Studies, written in 1837 and 1838 respectively, and described by Schumann as "studies in storm and dread designed to be performed by, at most, ten or twelve players in the world". To play these pieces, a pianist must connect with the piano as an extension of his own body (Walker, 1987).
Liszt claimed to have spent ten or twelve hours each day practicing scales, arpeggios, trills and repeated notes to improve his technique and endurance. All of these piano techniques were frequently applied in his compositions, often resulting in music of extreme technical difficulty (his Transcendental Etude No.5 "Feux follets" is an example). He would challenge himself and his immaculate fingering by presenting random problems to his playing.
Perhaps a large contributing factor to Liszt's affinity for extreme technical difficulty was the structure of his own hands. An original 19th century plaster cast of Liszt's right hand has been reproduced, and is now held in the Liszt House at Marienstrasse 17 (also known as the Liszt Museum). The plaster cast reveals that while Liszt's fingers were undoubtedly slender, they were of no exceptionally abnormal length. However, the small "webbing" connectors found between the fingers of any normal hand were practically nonexistent for Liszt. This allowed the composer to cover a much wider span of notes than the average pianist, perhaps even up to 12 whole steps.
During the 1830s and 1840s — the years of Liszt's "transcendental execution" — he revolutionised piano technique in almost every sector. Figures like Rubinstein, Paderewski and Rachmaninoff turned to Liszt's music to discover the laws which govern the keyboard.
While revolutionary and famously spectacular, Liszt's playing was far from mere flash and acrobatics. He also was reported to have played with a depth and nobility of feeling that would move sturdy men to tears. It seems that this quality to his playing may have continued to develop during his life, overtaking the youthful fire and bravura. Indeed, reports of his playing in old age include observations that it was surprisingly and distinctly subtle and poetic, with great purity of tone and effortlessness of execution; in contrast to the more tumultuous so-called "Liszt school" of playing, which by then had already started to become traditional in Europe. Examination of the late piano works seems to back up this expressive requirement, where the composer deliberately rejects the showiness of his earlier works.
Liszt was also a brilliant sight reader and stunned Edvard Grieg in the 1870s by playing his Piano Concerto perfectly by sight. The year before, Liszt played Grieg's violin sonata from sight. Decades earlier Liszt had played Chopin's studies at sight, prompting Chopin to write that he was consumed by envy, and wished to steal from Liszt his manner of playing his own pieces. This is all the more remarkable when one remembers that Liszt was playing at sight from a hand-written manuscript.
- For a list of works, see main articles: List of compositions by Franz Liszt (S.1 - S.350) and also (S.351 - S.999)
Musical worksAlthough Liszt provided opus numbers for some of his earlier works, they are rarely used today. Instead, his works are usually identified using one of two different cataloging schemes:
- More commonly used in English speaking countries are the "S" or "S/G" numbers (Searle/Grove), derived from the catalogue compiled by Humphrey Searle for Grove Dictionary in the 1960s.
- Less commonly used is the "R" number, which derives from Peter Raabe's 1931 catalogue Franz Liszt: Leben und Schaffen.
TranscriptionsLiszt's piano works are usually divided into two classes. On the one hand, there are "original works", and on the other hand "transcriptions", "paraphrases" or "fantasies" on works by other composers. Examples for the first class are works such as the piece Harmonies poétiques et religieuses of May 1833 and the Klaviersonate in h-Moll ("Piano Sonata B Minor"). Liszt's transcriptions of Schubert songs, his fantasies on operatic melodies, and his piano arrangements of symphonies by Berlioz and Beethoven are examples for the second class. As special case, Liszt also made piano arrangements of own instrumental and vocal works. Examples of this kind are the arrangement of the second movement "Gretchen" of his Faust Symphony and the first "Mephisto Waltz" as well as the "Liebesträume" and the two volumes of his "Buch der Lieder".
Liszt's composing music on music, being taken as such, was nothing new. As opposite, for several centuries many of the most prominent composers, among them J. S. Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, had done it before him. An example from Liszt's time is Schumann. He composed his Paganini-studies op.3 and op.10. The subject of his Impromptus op.5 is a melody by Clara Wieck, and that of the Etudes symphoniques op.13 a melody by the father of Ernestine von Fricken, Schumann's first bride. The slow movements of Schumann's piano sonatas op.11 and op.22 are paraphrases of own early songs. For the finale of his sonata op.22, Schumann took melodies by Clara Wieck again. His last compositions, written at the sanatorium at Endenich, were piano accompaniments for violin Caprices by Paganini.
After this, it should not be considered as extraordinary when Liszt, although in a different style, did the same. However, he was frequently criticized. A review in the Leipziger Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung of Liszt's concerts in St. Petersburg of spring 1843 may be taken as characteristic example. After Liszt had in highest terms been praised regarding the impression he had made when playing his fantasies, it was to be read:
- ''To an artist of such talents we must put the claims, being with right enforced on him by the world, at a higher level than that which until now has been reached by him - why is he only moving in properties of others? why does he not give creations of himself, more lasting than those fugitive reminiscences of a prevailing taste are and can be? [...] An artist of that greatness must not pay homage to the prevailing taste of a time, but stand above it!!''
Also Liszt's mistresses Marie d'Agoult and Princess Wittgenstein wished him to be a "proper" composer with an oeuvre of original pieces. Liszt himself, as it seems, shared their opinion. For many times he assured, his fantasies and transcriptions were only worthless trash. He would as soon as possible start composing his true masterworks. While he actually composed such works, his symphonies after Dante and Faust as well as his Piano Sonata are examples for it, he kept making fantasies and transcriptions until the end of his life.
There is no doubt that it was an easier task for Liszt to make fantasies and transcriptions than composing large scale original works. It was this reason for which Princess Wittgenstein frequently called him "fainéant" ("lazy-bones"). But, nevertheless, Liszt invested a particular kind of creativity. Instead of just overtaking original melodies and harmonies, he ameliorated them. In case of his fantasies and transcriptions in Italian style, there was a problem which was by Wagner addressed as "Klappern im Geschirr der Perioden". Composers such as Bellini and Donizetti knew that certain forms, usually periods of eight measures, were to be filled with music. Occasionally, while the first half of a period was composed with inspiration, the second half was added with mechanical routine. Liszt corrected this by modifying the melody, the bass and - in cases - the harmonies.
Many of Liszt's results were remarkable. The Sonnambula-fantasy for example, a concert piece full of charming melodies, could certainly not have been composed neither by Bellini nor by Liszt alone. Outstanding examples are also the Rigoletto-Paraphrase and the Faust-Walzer. The most delicate harmonies in parts of those pieces were not invented by Verdi and Gounod, but by Liszt. Hans von Bülow admitted, that Liszt's transcription of his Dante Sonett "Tanto gentile" was much more refined than the original he himself had composed.
Notwithstanding such qualities, during the first half of the 20th century nearly all of Liszt's fantasies and transcriptions disappeared from the usually played repertoire. Some hints for an explanation can be found in Béla Bartók's essay "Die Musik Liszts und das Publikum von heute" of 1911. Bartók started with the statement, it was most astonishing that a considerable, not to say an overwhelming part of the musicians of his time could not make friends with Liszt's music. While nearly nobody dared to put critical words against Wagner or Brahms, it was common use to call Liszt's works trivial and boring. Searching for possible reasons, Bartók wrote:
- ''During his youth he [Liszt] imitated the bad habits of the musical dandies of that time - he "rewrote and ameliorated", turned masterworks, which even a Franz Liszt was not allowed to touch, into compositions for the purpose of showing brilliance. He let himself getting influenced by the more vulgar melodic style of Berlioz, by the sentimentalism of Chopin, and even more by the conventional patterns of the Italian style. Traces of those patterns come to light everywhere in his works, and it is exactly this which gives a colouring of the trivial to them.
Following Bartók's lines, in Liszt's Piano Sonata'' the "Andante sostenuto" in F-Sharp Minor was "of course" banal, the second subject "cantando espressivo" in D Major was sentimentalism, and the "Grandioso" theme was empty pomp. Liszt's Piano concerto in E-flat Major was in most parts only empty brilliance and in other parts salon music. The Hungarian Rhapsodies were to be rejected because of the triviality of their melodies.
It is obvious that Bartók himself did not like much of Liszt's piano works. Taking his point of view, the agreeable part was very small. All fantasies and transcriptions on Italian subjects were, of course, to be neglected. But traces of conventional patterns of the Italian style can also be found in works by Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, as treated by Liszt. Examples are Mozart's opera "Don Giovanni" and songs like Beethoven's "Adelaïde" and Schubert's "Ave Maria". Liszt's works on French subjects, among them his fantasies on melodies by Meyerbeer were to be suspected to be as vulgar as the style of Berlioz. Everything reminding of Chopin's sentimentalism was as well to be put aside. After this, of Liszt's huge transcriptions oeuvre not much more remained than his arrangements of Beethoven's symphonies, his transcriptions of organ works by Bach, and a selection of his Wagner transcriptions.
As characteristic for tendencies of the early 20th century, there were not only stylistic objections against Liszt's fantasies and transcriptions. Fantasies and transcriptions were in general considered as worthless and not suiting for a "severe" concert repertoire. An example which shows it is the edition of the "Elsa Reger Stiftung" of Max Reger's "complete" piano works. All of Reger's transcriptions of songs by Brahms, Wolff, Strauss and others as well as his arrangements of Bach's organ works were excluded. Liszt's posthumous fate was of similar kind. In 1911, when Bartók wrote his essay, a complete edition of the "Franz Liszt Stiftung" was in work. Of the series projected to include Liszt's fantasies and transcriptions only two volumes were published. They were a first volume with Liszt's arrangements of Beethoven's symphonies, and a second volume with his Wagner transcriptions. All the rest of Liszt's piano works on works by other composers, i. e. several hundreds of pieces, was excluded.
Original songsLiszt composed about six dozens of original songs with piano accompaniment. In most cases the lyrics were in German or French. But there are also some songs in Italian and in Hungarian. A single song, "Go not, happy day" after Alfred Tennyson, is in English. In several cases, Liszt took lyrics which were also composed by Schumann. Examples are the songs "Am Rhein, im schönen Strome", "Morgens steh ich auf und frage", "Anfangs wollt' ich fast verzagen" and "Über allen Wipfeln ist Ruh'".
Liszt had already 1839 in Italy composed the song "Angiolin dal biondo crin".The lyrics were taken from an Italian poem by Marchese Cesare Bocella who had become a close friend of Liszt and Marie d'Agoult. With that "Little angel with blond hair", Liszt's daughter Blandine was meant. The child had hummed a simple melody of which Liszt had made the song. In 1841 Liszt started composing additional songs. His first ones were "Die Lorelei" after Heine, composed on November 20, 1841, in Cassel, and "Oh! quand je dors" ("Oh! when I'm dreaming") after Victor Hugo, composed at end of December 1841 in Berlin. Both songs were composed for Marie d'Agoult.
Until 1844 Liszt had composed about two dozen songs. Some of them had been published as single pieces. Besides, there was a series "Buch der Lieder" which had been projected for three volumes, consisting of six songs each. The first two volumes were published in 1843. In 1844 a third volume appeared, but this volume's title was only "6 Lieder". Liszt also made piano transcriptions of the first two volumes. While the transcriptions of the first volume was published 1846, Liszt did not publish the transcriptions of the second volume.
The songs of the first volume of the "Buch der Lieder" were "Die Lorelei", "Am Rhein im schönen Strome", "Mignons Lied", "Der König von Thule", "Der du vom Himmel bist", and "Angiolin dal biondo crin". The lyrics of the first two songs were by Heine, those of the following three songs by Goethe. The second volume consisted of songs with lyrics by Hugo. They were "Oh! quand je dors", "Comment, disaient-ils", "Enfant, si j'etais roi", "S'il est un charmant gazon", "La tombe et la rose", and "Gastibelza", a Bolero.
The third volume should have included the song "O lieb so lang du lieben kannst", of which Liszt's piano transcription is famous and well known as third "Liebestraum". But Liszt had to change his plan since in the beginning of 1844, when the volume was printed, he could not find the manuscript. The printed volume consisted of the songs "Du bist wie eine Blume", "Dichter, was Liebe sei", "Vergiftet sind meine Lieder", "Morgens steh' ich auf und frage", "Die todte Nachtigall", and "Mild wie ein Lufthauch im Mai". The volume was dedicated to the Princess of Prussia whom Liszt visited in March 1844 in Berlin for the purpose of giving a copy to her. The lyrics of "Dichter, was Liebe sei" were by Charlotte von Hagn who also lived in Berlin.
Although Liszt's early songs are nearly never sung, they are interesting pieces of music. They show him in much better light than works such as the paraphrase "Gaudeamus igitur" and the Galop after Bulhakow, both of them composed 1843. The transcriptions of the two volumes of the "Buch der Lieder" can be counted among Liszt's finest piano works. However, the contemporaries had much to criticize with regard of the style of the songs. Further critical remarks can be found in Peter Raabe's Liszts Schaffen.
Liszt's contemporary critics measured his songs with expectations derived from Lieder by Schubert and other German masters. According to this, a Lied should have a melody which for itself was expressing a single mood and could be sung without much effort. The harmonies, supporting that mood, should be comparatively simple, without strong modulations. It was also presumed, that the piano accompaniment was easy to play. Since Liszt had in many cases offended against those rules, he was accused, he never had had a proper grasp of the German Lied. While all this might have been true, it is obvious that Liszt had by no means tried to write German Lieder, sounding like those by Schubert. His "Oh! quand je dors", for example, has French lyrics and music in Italian style.
Raabe tried to show that - in cases - Liszt's declamation of the German lyrics was wrong. "Mignons Lied", for example, was composed in 4/4 time. Of the words "Kennst du das Land", "du" was put on a first, and "Land" on a third beat. Raabe imagined this as if only "du" was stressed while "Land" was not stressed. Of the next verse "wo die Zitronen blühn", "die" was put on a first, and the second syllable of "Zitronen" on a third beat. It could be imagined as if "die" was stressed, and the second syllable of "Zitronen" was not stressed. Singing it this way would indeed sound strange, not to say ridiculous. But Raabe forgot that 4/4 time was by nearly all composers treated as composed time, consisting of two equivalent halves. There are examples where the stress on the third beat equals the stress on the first beat or is even stronger. An example of this kind is Schubert's Lied "Das Wirtshaus" of his cycle "Die Winterreise". More examples can be found in further works by Schubert as well as in works by Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Wolff, Strauss, Reger and others.
Also, Liszt had occasionally treated his lyrics with some freedom, especially by adding repetitions of important words. In "Der du vom Himmel bist", for example, he had changed Goethe's "Süßer Friede, komm, ach komm in meine Brust" into "Süßer Friede, süßer Friede, komm, ach komm in meine Brust". While Raabe criticized this as unforgivable sin, he had better done, taking a careful look at Lieder by German masters such as Schubert and Schumann who both had treated their lyrics with similar kinds of freedom.
Liszt and program musicLiszt, in some of his works, supported the idea of program music. It means that there was a subject of non-musical kind, the "program", which was in a sense connected with a sounding work. Examples are Liszt's Symphonic Poems, his Symphonies after Faust and Dante, his two Legends for piano and many others. This is not to say, Liszt had invented program music. In his essay about Berlioz and the Harold-Symphony, he himself took the point of view that there had been program music in all times. In fact, looking at the first half of the 19th century, there had been Beethoven's Pastoral-Symphony and overtures such as "Die Weihe des Hauses". Beethoven's symphony "Wellingtons Sieg bei Trafalgar" had been very famous. Further examples are works by Berlioz and overtures such as "Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt" by Mendelssohn. In 1846, César Franck composed a symphonic work "Ce qu'on entend sur la montagne", based on a Victor Hugo poem. The same poem was shortly afterwards taken by Liszt as subject of a symphonic fantasy, an early version of his Symphonic Poem Ce qu'on entend sur la montagne.
As far as there was a radical new idea in the 19th century, it was the idea of "absolute music". This idea was supported by Eduard Hanslick in his thesis "Vom musikalisch Schönen" which was 1854 published with Liszt's help. In a first part of his book, Hanslick gave examples in order to show that music had been considered as language of emotions before. In contrast to this, Hanslick claimed that the possibilities of music were not sufficiently precise. Without neglecting that a piece of music could evoke emotions or that emotions could be an important help for a composer to get inspiration for a new work, there was a problem of intelligibleness. There were the composer's emotions at the one side and emotions of a listener at the other side. Both kinds of emotions could be completely different. For such reasons, understandable program music was by Hanslick regarded as impossible. According to him, the true value of a piece of music was exclusively dependent on its value as "absolute music". It was meant in a sense that the music was heard without any knowledge of a program, as "tönend bewegte Formen" ("sounding moving forms").
An example which illustrates the problem might be Liszt's "La Notte", the second piece of the Trois Odes funèbres. Projected 1863 and achieved 1864, "La Notte" is an extended version of the prior piano piece Il penseroso from the second part of the Années de pèlerinage. According to Liszt's remark at the end of the autograph score, "La Notte" should be played at his own funeral. From this it is clear that "La Notte" ("The night") means "Death". "Il penseroso", "The thinking", could be "Thoughtful" in English. "Thoughtful", the English word, was a nickname, used by Liszt for him himself in his early letters to Marie d'Agoult. In this sense "Il penseroso", i. e. "Thoughtful", means "Liszt". When composing "La Notte", Liszt extended the piece "Il penseroso" by adding a middle section with melodies in Hungarian czardas style. At the beginning of this section he wrote "...dulces moriens reminiscitur Argos" ("...dying, he is sweetly remembering Argos.") It is a quotation from Vergil's Aeneid. Antor, when he dies, thinks back to his homeland Argos in Greece. It was obviously meant in a sense that Liszt wished to be imagined as a person who, when dying, was remembering his own homeland Hungary. There is no doubt that all this was important for Liszt, but hardly anybody, without explanations just listening to the music, will be able to adequately understand it.
Liszt's own point of view regarding program music can for the time of his youth been taken from the preface of the Album d'un voyageur (1837). According to this, a landscape could evoke a certain kind of mood when being looked at. Since a piece of music could also evoke a mood, a mysterious resemblance with the landscape could be imagined. In this sense the music would not paint the landscape, but it would match the landscape in a third category, the mood.
In July 1854 Liszt wrote his essay about Berlioz and the Harold-Symphony which can be taken as his reply to the thesis by Hanslick. Liszt assured that, of course, not all music was program music. If, in the heat of a debate, a person would go so far as to claim the contrary, it would be better to put all ideas of program music aside. But it would be possible to take means like harmonization, modulation, rhythm, instrumentation and others in order to let a musical motif endure a fate. In any case, a program should only be added to a piece of music if it was necessarily needed for an adequate understanding of that piece.
Still later, in a letter to Marie d'Agoult of November 15, 1864, Liszt wrote:
- ''Without any reserve I completely subscribe the rule of which you so kindly want to remind me, that those musical works which are in a general sense following a program must take effect on imagination and emotion, independent of any program. In other words: All beautiful music must at first rate and always satisfy the absolute rules of music which are not to be violated or prescribed''.
This last point of view is very much resembling Hanslick's opinion. It is therefore not surprising that Liszt and Hanslick were not enemies. Whenever they met they did it with nearly friendly manners. In fact, Hanslick never denied that he considered Liszt as composer of genius. He just did not like some of Liszt's works as music.
With some works from the end of the Weimar years a development commenced during which Liszt drifted more and more away from the musical taste of his time. An early example is the melodrama "Der traurige Mönch" ("The sad monk") after a poem by Nikolaus Lenau, composed in the beginning of October 1860. While in the 19th century harmonies were usually considered as major or minor triads to which dissonances could be added, Liszt took the augmented triad as central chord.
More examples can be found in the third volume of Liszt's Années de Pèlerinage. "Les Jeux d'Eaux à la Villa d'Este" ("The Fountains of the Villa d'Este"), composed in September 1877 and in usual sense well sounding, foreshadows the impressionism of pieces on similar subjects by Debussy and Ravel. But besides, there are pieces like the "Marche funèbre, En mémoire de Maximilian I, Empereur du Mexique" ("Funeral march, In memory of Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexico"), composed 1867, without any stylistic parallel in the 19th and 20th centuries.
At a later step Liszt experimented with "forbidden" things such as parallel 5ths in the "Csardas marcabre" and atonality in the Bagatelle sans tonalité ("Bagatelle without Tonality"). In the last part of his "2de Valse oubliée" ("2nd Forgotten waltz") Liszt composed that he could not find a lyrical melody. Pieces like the "2d Mephisto-Waltz" are shocking with nearly endless repetitions of short motives. Also characteristic are the "Via crucis" of 1878 as well as pieces such as the two Lugubrious Gondolas, Unstern! and Nuages Gris of the 1880s.
Besides eccentricities of such kinds, Liszt still made transcriptions of works by other composers. They are in most cases written in a more conventional style. But also in this genre Liszt arrived at a problematic end. An example from 1885 is a new version of his transcription of the "Pilgerchor" from Wagner's "Tannhäuser". Had the earlier version's title been "Chor der jüngeren Pilger", it was now "Chor der älteren Pilger". In fact, the pilgrims of the new version have become old and very tired. In the old complete-edition of the "Franz Liszt Stiftung" this version was omitted since it was feared, it might throw a bad light on Liszt as composer.
Liszt's last song transcription was on Anton Rubinstein's "Der Asra" after a poem by Heine. No words are included, and the keyboard setting is reduced nearly to the absurd. In several parts the melody is missing. One of those parts is that with words, "Deinen Namen will ich wissen, deine Heimath, deine Sippschaft!" ("I want to know your name, your homeland, your tribe!") The answer is given at the song's end, but again without melody, i.e. with unspoken words. "Mein Stamm sind jene Asra, die sterben, wenn sie lieben." ("My tribe are those Asras, who are dying when they love.") Even more hidden, Liszt implemented still another answer in his piece. To the part with the question he put an ossia in which also the original accompaniment has disappeared. As own melody by Liszt, the solitary left hand plays a motive with two triplets, most resembling the opening motive of his Tasso. The key is the Gypsy or Hungarian variant of g-Minor. In this sense it was Liszt's answer that his name was "Tasso", with meaning of an artist of outstanding creativity. His true homeland was art. But besides, he was until the grave "in heart and mind" Hungarian.
Several of Liszt's pupils of the 1880s left behind records from which the pieces played by themselves and their fellow students are known. With very few exceptions, the composer Liszt of the 1870s and 1880s did not exist in their repertoire. When a student, nearly always August Stradal or August Göllerich, played one of his late pieces, Liszt used to give sarcastic comments to it, of the sense, the composer had no knowledge of composition at all. If they would play such stuff at a concert, the papers would write, it was a pity that they had wasted their talents with music of such kinds. Further impressions can be drawn from the edition in twelve volumes of Liszt's piano works at Edition Peters, Leipzig, by Emil Sauer.
Sauer had studied under Liszt in his latest years. But also in his edition the composer Liszt of this time does not exist. In the volume with song transcriptions, the latest pieces are the second version of the transcription of Eduard Lassen's "Löse Himmel meine Seele" ("Heaven, let my soul be free") and the transcription of Schumann's "Frühlingsnacht" ("Night in spring"). Liszt had made both in 1872. In a separate volume with the Années de Pèlerinage, the only piece of Liszt's third volume is "Les Jeux d'Eaux à la Villa d'Este", while all of the rest was excluded. Of Liszt's transcriptions and fantasies on operatic melodies, the "Feierliche Marsch zum Heiligen Gral" of 1882 is present. However, also in this case a problematic aspect is to be found. In the original edition at Edition Schott, Mainz, Liszt - in a note at the bottom of the first page - had asked the player to carefully take notice of the indications for the use of the right pedal. In Sauer's edition, the footnote is included, but Liszt's original pedal indications were substituted with pedal indications by Sauer. There is little doubt that Sauer, as well as several further of Liszt's prominent pupils, was convinced that he himself was a better composer than his old master.
Literary worksBesides his musical works, Liszt wrote essays about many subjects. Most important for an understanding of his development is the article series "De la situation des artistes" ("On the situation of the artists") which 1835 was published in the Parisian Gazette musicale. In winter 1835-36, during Liszt's stay in Geneva, about half a dozen further essays were following. One of them, it should have been published under the name "Emm Prym", was about Liszt's own works and is lost. In the beginning of 1837, Liszt published a review of some piano works of Sigismond Thalberg. The review evoked a huge scandal. In this time Liszt also commenced the series of his "Baccalaureus-letters". After the series had ended in 1841, Liszt planned to publish a collection of revised versions of the "Baccalaureus-letters" as book. But the plan was not realized.
During the Weimar years, Liszt wrote a series of essays about operas, leading from Gluck to Wagner. Also this series should have been published as book; and also this plan was not realized. Besides, Liszt wrote essays about Berlioz and the symphony "Harold in Italy", Robert and Clara Schumann, John Field's nocturnes, songs of Robert Franz, a planned Goethe-Foundation at Weimar, and other subjects. In addition to these essays, Liszt wrote a book about Chopin as well as a book about the Gypsies and their music in Hungary.
While all of those literary works were published under Liszt's name, it is not quite clear which parts of them he had written himself. It is known from his letters that during the time of his youth there had been collaboration with Marie d'Agoult. During the Weimar years it was the Princess Wittgenstein who helped him. In most cases the manuscripts have disappeared so that it is difficult to decide which of Liszt's literary works actually were works of his own. However, until the end of his life it was Liszt's point of view that it was him who was responsible for the contents of those literary works.
During the 1870s Lina Ramann collected the essays published under Liszt's name. Together with a new version of the book about Chopin, translated by La Mara (Maria Lipsius) from French to German, the essays and the book about the Gypsies were in six volumes published in translations by Ramann. After the edition had for a long time been used in Liszt research, it turned out that many translation errors and other defects had occurred. To this comes that Ramann had not detected all of the essays published under Liszt's name. In one case, a review of Charles Alkan's etudes op.15, it is to be suspected that the essay was omitted because it did not suit to the picture Ramann had made herself of Liszt. For reasons of such kind, a new edition, under the leadership of Detlef Altenburg, Weimar, is in work
In his youth, during his stay in Geneva, Liszt wrote a "Manual of Pianoforte Technique" for the Geneva Conservatoire. Although in newer time Alan Walker claimed that the Manual was unlikely to ever have existed, it is well known from Liszt's letters to his mother and further sources that he wrote and completed it. The work is nevertheless lost. In his later years Liszt wrote voluminous "Technische Studien" ("technical exercises") which are now in three volumes available at Editio musica, Budapest. Taking them as music, they are disappointing because Liszt gave nothing more than a collection of technical exercises. Lots of exercises of similar kind by composers such as Herz, Bertini and MacDowell existed besides. Carl Tausig's "Tägliche Studien" are, without doubt, of better use than Liszt's.
Liszt also worked until at least 1885 on a treatise for modern harmony. Pianist Arthur Friedheim, who also served as Liszt's personal secretary, remembered seeing it among Liszt's papers at Weimar. Liszt told Friedheim that the time was not yet ripe to publish the manuscript, titled Sketches for a Harmony of the Future. Unfortunately, this treatise has been lost.
LegacyLiszt helped found the Liszt School of Music Weimar http://www.hfm-weimar.de/v1/index.php?file=/v1/seite.php&lang=en as well as the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest. Throughout his later years Liszt took on many private students and his influence as a pedagogue was immense. Among his students were Eugen d'Albert, Arthur Friedheim, Sophie Menter, Moriz Rosenthal, Emil von Sauer, and Alexander Siloti. Currently Liszt is admired for his flamboyant and diffucult style of composing.
- Bory, Robert: Diverses lettres inédites de Liszt, in: Schweizerisches Jahrbuch für Musikwissenschaft 3 (1928).
- Bory, Robert: Une retraite romantique en Suisse, Liszt et la Comtesse d'Agoult, Lausanne 1930.
- Burger, Ernst: Franz Liszt, Eine Lebenschronik in Bildern und Dokumenten, München 1986.
- Chiappari, Luciano: Liszt a Firenze, Pisa e Lucca, Pacini, Pisa 1989.
- d’Agoult, Marie (Daniel Stern): Mémoires, Souvenirs et Journaux I/II, Présentation et Notes de Charles F. Dupêchez, Mercure de France 1990.
- Dupêchez, Charles F.: Marie d’Agoult 1805-1876, 2e édition corrigée, Paris 1994.
- Gut, Serge: Liszt, De Falois, Paris 1989.
- Jerger, Wilhelm (ed.): The Piano Master Classes of Franz Liszt 1884-1886, Diary Notes of August Gollerich, translated by Richard Louis Zimdars, Indiana University Press 1996.
- Jung, Franz Rudolf (ed.): Franz Liszt in seinen Briefen, Berlin 1987.
- Keeling, Geraldine: Liszt’s Appearances in Parisian Concerts, Part 1: 1824-1833, in: Liszt Society Journal 11 (1986), p.22ff, Part 2: 1834-1844, in: Liszt Society Journal 12 (1987), p.8ff.
- Legány, Deszö: Franz Liszt, Unbekannte Presse und Briefe aus Wien 1822-1886, Wien 1984.
- Liszt, Franz: Briefwechsel mit seiner Mutter, edited and annotated by Klara Hamburger, Eisenstadt 2000.
- Liszt, Franz and d'Agoult, Marie: Correspondence, ed. Daniel Ollivier, Tome 1: 1833-1840, Paris 1933, Tome II: 1840-1864, Paris 1934.
- Marix-Spire, Thérése: Les romantiques et la musique, le cas George Sand, Paris 1954.
- Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Felix: Reisebriefe aus den Jahren 1830 bis 1832, ed. Paul Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Leipzig 1864.
- Ollivier, Daniel: Autour de Mme d’Agoult et de Liszt, Paris 1941.
- Óvári, Jósef: Ferenc Liszt, Budapest 2003.
- Protzies, Günther: Studien zur Biographie Franz Liszts und zu ausgewählten seiner Klavierwerke in der Zeit der Jahre 1828 - 1846, Bochum 2004.
- Raabe, Peter: Liszts Schaffen, Cotta, Stuttgart und Berlin 1931.
- Ramann, Lina: Liszt-Pädagogium, Reprint of the edition Leipzig 1902, Breitkopf & Härtel, Wiesbaden, 1986.
- Ramann, Lina: Lisztiana, Erinnerungen an Franz Liszt in Tagebuchblättern, Briefen und Dokumenten aus den Jahren 1873-1886/87, ed. Arthur Seidl, text revision by Friedrich Schnapp, Mainz 1983.
- Redepenning, Dorothea: Das Spätwerk Franz Liszts: Bearbeitungen eigener Kompositionen, Hamburger Beiträge zur Musikwissenschaft 27, Hamburg 1984.
- Rellstab, Ludwig: Franz Liszt, Berlin 1842.
- Sand, George: Correspondence, Textes réunis, classés et annotés par Georges Lubin, Tome 1 (1812-1831), Tome 2 (1832-Juin 1835), Tome 3 (Juillet 1835-Avril 1837), Paris 1964, 1966, 1967.
- Saffle, Michael: Liszt in Germany, 1840-1845, Franz Liszt Studies Series No.2, Pendragon Press, Stuyvesant, NY, 1994.
- Schilling, Gustav: Franz Liszt, Stuttgart 1844.
- Vier, Jacques: Marie d’Agoult - Son mari – ses amis: Documents inédits, Paris 1950.
- Vier, Jacques: La Comtesse d’Agoult et son temps, Tome 1, Paris 1958.
- Vier, Jacques: L’artiste - le clerc: Documents inédits, Paris 1950.
- Walker, Alan: Franz Liszt, The Virtuoso Years (1811-1847), revised edition, Cornell University Press 1987.
- Walker, Alan: Franz Liszt, The Weimar Years (1848-1861), Cornell University Press 1989.
- Walker, Alan: Franz Liszt, The Final Years (1861-1886), Cornell University Press 1997.
- Walker, Alan (ed.): The Death of Franz Liszt: Based on the Unpublished Diary of His Pupil Lina Schmalhausen by Lina Schmalhausen, edited and annotated by Alan Walker, Cornell University Press 2002.
- Walker, Alan: Article "Franz Liszt" in: Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (Accessed November 5, 2007), (subscription access).
- The Love Affairs of Great Musicians, Volume 2 by Rupert Hughes, full-text from Project Gutenberg
- Franz Liszt Project - A comprehensive Liszt site with searchable databases.
- Letters of Franz Liszt
- Concert programme for September 16, 1840 at The Centre for Performance History
- Old cylinder recordings of orchestral arrangements of Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodies, from the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.
- International Franz Liszt Piano Competition - official page
- Catalogue of the Complete Liszt Recording by Leslie Howard
- Liszt in Limerick, The Old Limerick Journal, Richard Ahern
- Sausage Lynx Franz Liszt Page,Frenetically filled with fascinating Franz Liszt information
- Liszt Archive
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Liszt in Georgian: ფერენც ლისტი
Liszt in Swahili (macrolanguage): Franz Liszt
Liszt in Latin: Franciscus Liszt
Liszt in Luxembourgish: Franz Liszt
Liszt in Lithuanian: Ferencas Listas
Liszt in Hungarian: Liszt Ferenc
Liszt in Macedonian: Франц Лист
Liszt in Mongolian: Ференц Лист
Liszt in Dutch: Franz Liszt
Liszt in Japanese: フランツ・リスト
Liszt in Norwegian: Franz Liszt
Liszt in Norwegian Nynorsk: Franz Liszt
Liszt in Occitan (post 1500): Franz Liszt
Liszt in Polish: Ferenc Liszt
Liszt in Portuguese: Franz Liszt
Liszt in Romanian: Franz Liszt
Liszt in Quechua: Franz Liszt
Liszt in Russian: Лист, Ференц
Liszt in Albanian: Franz Liszt
Liszt in Simple English: Franz Liszt
Liszt in Slovak: Franz Liszt
Liszt in Slovenian: Franz Liszt
Liszt in Serbian: Франц Лист
Liszt in Serbo-Croatian: Franz Liszt
Liszt in Finnish: Franz Liszt
Liszt in Swedish: Franz Liszt
Liszt in Thai: ฟรานซ์ ลิซท์
Liszt in Vietnamese: Franz Liszt
Liszt in Turkish: Franz Liszt
Liszt in Ukrainian: Ліст Ференц
Liszt in Chinese: 弗兰兹·李斯特