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The Cambridge Companion to Liszt
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  • 3 b/w illus. 20 music examples
  • Page extent: 300 pages
  • Size: 247 x 174 mm
  • Weight: 0.677 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 780/.92 B
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: ML410.L7 C25 2005
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Liszt, Franz,--1811-1886--Criticism and interpretation

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521622042 | ISBN-10: 0521622042)

The Cambridge Companion to Liszt

This Companion provides an up-to-date view of the music of Franz Liszt, its contemporary context and performance practice, written by some of the leading specialists in the field of nineteenth-century music studies. Although a core of Liszt’s piano music has always maintained a firm hold on the repertoire, his output was so vast, influential and multi-faceted that scholarship too has taken some time to assimilate his achievement. This book offers students and music lovers some of the latest views in an accessible form. Katharine Ellis, Alexander Rehding and James Deaville present the biographical and intellectual aspects of Liszt’s legacy; Kenneth Hamilton, James Baker and Anna Celenza give a detailed account of Liszt’s piano music, including approaches to performance; Monika Hennemann discusses Liszt’s Lieder; and Reeves Shulstad and Dolores Pesce survey his orchestral and choral music.

KENNETH HAMILTON is pianist-in-residence and senior lecturer in music at the University of Birmingham, UK. A virtuoso pianist with an international reputation, he is also an authority on Liszt and has a special interest in nineteenth-century performing techniques. He is the author of the Cambridge Music handbook Liszt: Sonata in B Minor.

The Cambridge Companion to


Edited by

Kenneth Hamilton

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 2RU, UK

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title:

© Cambridge University Press 2005

This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2005

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data
The Cambridge Companion to Liszt / edited by Kenneth Hamilton.
p. cm. -- (Cambridge companions to music)
Includes bibliographical references and indexes.
ISBN 0 521 62204 2 – ISBN 0 521 64462 3 (pb.)
1. Liszt, Franz, 1811–1886 – Criticism and interpretation. I. Hamilton, Kenneth, 1963-- II. Series.
ML410.L7C25 2004
780′.92 – dc22
[B] 2004040793

ISBN-13 978-0-521-62204-2 hardback
ISBN-10 0-521-62204-2 hardback

ISBN-13 978-0-521-64462-4 paperback
ISBN-10 0-521-64462-3 paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this book, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.


  List of illustrations [page vi]
  Notes on contributors [vii]
  Preface [ix]
  Acknowledgements [xi]
  Chronology [xii]
1   Liszt: the Romantic artist Katharine Ellis [1]
2   Inventing Liszt’s life: early biography and autobiography Alexander Rehding [14]
3   Liszt and the twentieth century James Deaville [28]
4   Liszt’s early and Weimar piano works Kenneth Hamilton [57]
5   Liszt’s late piano works: a survey James M. Baker [86]
6   Liszt’s late piano works: larger forms James M. Baker [120]
7   Liszt's piano concerti: a lost tradition Anna Celenza [152]
8   Performing Liszt's piano music Kenneth Hamilton [171]
9   Liszt's Lieder Monika Hennemann [192]
10   Liszt's symphonic poems and symphonies Reeves Shulstad [206]
11   Liszt's sacred choral music Dolores Pesce [223]
  Notes [249]
  Select bibliography [271]
  Index of Liszt's musical works [272]
  General index [276]



1.1   Josef Danhauser, Liszt am Flugel (1840), oil. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preuischer Kulturbesitz, Nationalgalerie/F.V. 42. Photo: Jurgen Liepe 9
7.1   ‘The Equality of Death’ from Hans Holbein’s Todtentanz 165
7.2   Trionfo della Morte, by Orcagna [sic] (Francesco Traini or Bonamico Buffalmacco) 166
7.3   First page of Liszt’s 1849 version of Totentanz (New York), Pierpont Morgan Library, Lehman Collection 168


2.1   Liszt, Beethoven Cantata no. 1. Andante religioso 24
5.1a   Feuillet d’album No. 2, introduction 92
5.1b   Elegie, ‘Die Zelle in Nonnenwerth’, introduction 92
5.2a   Feuillet d’album No. 2, bars 26–30 93
5.2b   Elegie, bars 31–53 94
5.3a   Feuillet d’album, bars 64–7 95
5.3b   Elegie, bars 101–13 95
5.4a   Feuillet d’album No. 2, bar 108 to end 96
5.4b   Elegie, bar 128 to end 96
5.5a   Toccata, bars 1–20 104
5.5b   Toccata, bars 65–94 105
5.6a   Ungarischer Geschwindmarsch, bars 23–7 108
5.6b   Ungarischer Geschwindmarsch, bar 114 to end 108
5.7a   Csárdás macabre, bars 49–57 109
5.7b   Camille Saint-Saens, Danse macabre, bars 655–65 109
5.8a   Bagatelle ohne Tonart, bars 1–22 117
5.8b   Bagatelle ohne Tonart, bars 57–85 118
8.1   Reminiscences de Lucia di Lammermoor (Henselt Edition), bars 1–16 180
10.1   Tasso, bars 1–7 207
10.2   Faust, movement 1, bars 1–5 218


5.1   Liszt, Csárdás macabre, Form (harmonic functions expressed in terms of D minor) 110
7.1   Outline of Liszt’s Totentanz 164


5.1   Franz Liszt, late music for solo piano (1869–86) 100
7.1   Chronology of Liszt’s piano concerti and related works for piano and orchestra 155
10.1   Prometheus: Musical analysis and relationships between the symphonic poem and the choruses 211

Notes on contributors

James M. Baker is Professor of Music at Brown University. His current research interests include analysis and performance, chromaticism in tonal music, and tonal implication in twentieth-century music.

Anna Celenza, an Associate Professor of Musicology at Michigan State University, published her first book, The Early Works of Niels W. Gade: In Search of the Poetic, in 2001. Since then she has published several articles on Liszt, the most recent appearing in 19th-Century Music, and completed the manuscript for a second book entitled Hans Christian Andersen and Music: The Nightingale Revealed.

James Deaville is Associate Professor in the School of the Arts at McMaster University, Canada. He has published articles about Liszt in The Liszt Companion (Greenwood Press) and the Journal of Musicological Research, Canadian University Music Review and Notes, entries about Liszt's New-German colleagues in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, revised edition and Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, revised edition, and has co-edited (with Michael Saffle) Analecta Lisztiana II: New Light on Liszt and His Music.

Katharine Ellis is Reader in Music at Royal Holloway, University of London. She has published widely on aspects of musical culture in nineteenth-century France, including its music criticism, its performance traditions and questions of repertory and canon. She is currently finishing a monograph on the early music revival in nineteenth-century France. Recent and forthcoming articles focus on the Palestrina revival, issues in music education, and Berlioz's critical rhetorics. Katharine Ellis is a former editor of Music & Letters and now edits the Journal of the Royal Musical Association.

Kenneth Hamilton is a concert pianist and Senior Lecturer in Music at Birmingham University. His previous publications include Liszt: Sonata in B Minor (Cambridge University Press), and he has particular research and performance interests in nineteenth-century piano music and performance practice.

Monika Hennemann has been a member of the Musicology Faculty at Florida State University, the German Faculty at the University of Rhode Island, and most recently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Musicology at the College Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. She has written extensively on Mendelssohn and also published articles on Webern and on nineteenth-century reception history.

Dolores Pesce is Professor of Music at Washington University in St Louis. Her writings on Liszt have appeared in 19th-Century Music and in Nineteenth-Century Piano Music, ed. R. Larry Todd (Schirmer, 1990).

Alexander Rehding is Assistant Professor of Music at Harvard University. He is the author of Hugo Riemann and the Birth of Modern Musical Thought (2003) and co-editor of Music Theory and Natural Order from the Renaissance to the Early Twentieth Century (2001). He is currently working on a study of monumentality in nineteenth-century music.

Reeves Shulstad is the Director of the School of Music and Assistant Professor at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC. Her doctoral dissertation, `The Symbol of Genius: Franz Liszt's Symphonic Poems and Symphonies', an interdisciplinary study of a selection of Liszt's orchestral works within the context of the nineteenth-century definition of genius, will be published by Scarecrow Press, and she has presented numerous papers on topics concerning the relationship between music, philosophy and literature.


The Cambridge Companion to Liszt presents a survey and contextualisation of his music by some of the leading writers in the field. Few composers have benefited more than Liszt from the upsurge in interest in Romanticism over the last few decades, and the centenary of his death in 1986 gave extra impetus to re-evaluation of his importance. A volume such as this is very different from one that could have been written even twenty years ago. In the first place, a greater quantity of Liszt’s music is now in print. The New Liszt Edition (Editio Musica, Budapest) is gradually progressing through what must be one of the most dauntingly large work-lists of any composer, and many formerly overlooked or unpublished pieces are now easily available for study. In the second place, and at least as importantly, much more of Liszt’s music is actually being played and heard. If a central core of his achievement – mostly some piano pieces and a handful of symphonic poems – has always been in the standard repertoire, the rest has until recently remained on the periphery. Although it is still true that several masterpieces – the Gran Mass and Psalm XIII come immediately to mind – deserve much more frequent performance, artists are now including pieces on concert programmes or recordings that have hardly been heard since their creation. One pioneering project that must be mentioned specifically in this context is Leslie Howard’s astonishing achievement in committing all of Liszt’s piano music to disc (on the Hyperion label), including all significantly different versions and all available extant unpublished works. Owing to the success of this monumental undertaking, even the most obscure transcriptions or historically important `first attempts', like the early versions of the Dante Sonata, need no longer be only references on a page, but can be experienced directly by any interested music-lover, however shaky or non-existent their piano technique. Gradually more of Liszt’s output in other genres is also being recorded, and this will no doubt prompt further re-evaluation of his legacy. After all, even Wagner declared that he found it virtually impossible to judge Liszt’s symphonic poems from the printed page – he needed to hear them played.

   Many late twentieth-century landmarks in Liszt scholarship have also made this Companion more timely, accurate and easier to write. Fair mention of all of these would take up several pages, and would certainly include work by Maria Eckhardt and Detlef Altenburg, but only a few more general items can be cited by name here. Alan Walker’s magisterial three-volume study of Liszt’s life and work (New York: Knopf, 1983–96) has unearthed much new material and provided a strong stimulus for further research. His other publications, including the recent The Death of Franz Liszt (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002), an edition of the diary of Liszt’s pupil Lina Schmalhausen, who helped to nurse the composer through his final illness, are also thought-provoking reading for Liszt specialists and enthusiasts. Michael Saffle’s essential Franz Liszt – A Guide to Research (New York: Garland, 1991, revised edition, 2004) is no doubt on every Liszt scholar’s writing-desk, as should be Adrian Williams’s splendid Portrait of Liszt by Himself and His Contemporaries (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), which gathers together a vast number of judiciously chosen and important primary sources, presented chronologically with extensive annotations. Williams’s other collection Franz Liszt: Selected Letters (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998) is scarcely less useful. Finally, Derek Watson’s perceptive and concise Liszt (London: Dent, 1989) shows that it is possible to condense a vast subject into a single volume without jeopardising either accuracy or an elegant prose style.

   The first three chapters of this Companion help to place Liszt in the context of his own time and of twentieth-century reception history. A chronology gives a brief run-through of the most important events of his life, but with so much fine biographical writing on the composer already existing (some of it mentioned above) there seems little need for another straightforward re-telling of a well-known saga. The chapters that follow survey the major genres of Liszt’s music, and attempt to balance range of reference with depth of discussion, always a problem with a composer like Liszt, who simply wrote so much. To the sacrificial altar have gone some of the organ music (although the most important pieces are touched upon in my chapter `Piano Music: Early and Weimar Periods'), the small amount of chamber music (much of which consists of arrangements of piano pieces, and the rest of which is simply not very good) and the few melodramas. Liszt’s own writings are left to speak for themselves in the quotations that abound throughout this volume. As will be obvious, all the contributors to the Companion discuss their allotted areas in their own style and in their own way. I see it as no part of an editor’s duty to impose uniformity on a subject teeming with such richness and variety.


To save Penny Souster having to read any more of this book, the first sentence is entirely devoted to singing the praises of her legendary patience as a commissioning editor, and to wishing her a long and happy retirement. I should also like to thank the copy-editor, Sue Dickinson, whose deft eye for detail has considerably improved both the layout and the readability of this volume. Music examples have been taken from: New Liszt Edition, Edito Musica Budapest, reproduced with kind permission of the publisher. Copyright permission to reproduce the Plates is gratefully acknowledged as follows: Plate 1.1, Josef Danhauser, Liszt am Flugel (1840), Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preuischer Kulturbesitz, Nationalgalerie/F. V. 42, photo: Jurgen Liepe; Plate 7.1 Hans Holbein, The Equality of Death, woodcut from Todtentanz, Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Plate 7.2, Orcagna, Trionfo della Morte, fresco, Museo dell' Opera del Duomo, Pisa; Plate 7.3, first page of Liszt's 1849 version of Totentanz, Piermont Morgan Library, Lehman Collection, New York.


1811 – Liszt born on 22 October in Raiding, in a largely German-speaking part of Hungary. His father, Adam Liszt, is a superintendent of sheep on the Esterhazy estates, his mother, Maria Anna Lager, is a former chambermaid.
1818 – Begins piano lessons with his father, and soon shows signs of prodigious musical talents.
1819 – Visits Vienna with his father and plays to Czerny, who agrees to accept him as a pupil.
1820 – First concerts in Oedenburg and Pressburg. After the latter a group of Hungarian noblemen offer an allowance to enable him to move to Vienna for lessons with Czerny.
1821 – Move to Vienna delayed as his father seeks permission for leave of absence from the Esterhazy estates.
1822 – The family arrive in Vienna, where Liszt takes composition lessons from Salieri, in addition to his piano studies with Czerny. His first published composition: a variation on a waltz by Diabelli.
1823 – Liszt meets Beethoven. Concerts in Vienna, Pest and several German towns. The family travel to Paris hoping to enrol Liszt in the Conservatoire there, but he is refused admission on the grounds that he is a foreigner.
1824 – Studies composition privately with Paer, and makes a successful Paris debut. Begins his association with the Erard family, who organise a tour of England for him, and their pianos.
1825 – Tours England for a second time, and gives concerts in southern France. The opera Don Sanche -- written in collaboration with Paer – is premiered in Paris.
1826 – Tours France and Switzerland. Composition lessons with Reicha. Etude en douze exercises published.
1827 – Death of Liszt's father.
1828 – First love, with his piano-pupil Caroline de Saint-Cricq. After the relationship is forcibly ended by her father, Liszt becomes depressed. He abandons public performance, and immerses himself in Romantic literature and the Catholic religion.
1829 – Teaches and reads voraciously. Nurtures thoughts of entering priesthood.
1830 – The revolution in Paris shakes Liszt out of his melancholy. Meets Berlioz, Lamartine, Hugo and Heine.
1831 – Liszt hears Paganini, and is astonished by his mastery of the violin. This spurs him to obsessive study of the technique of his own instrument.
1832 – Friendship with Chopin, whose Paris debut is made this year.
1833 – Begins relationship with Marie d'Agoult. Transcribes Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique for the piano.
1834 – Composes Harmonies poetiques et religieuses, three Apparitions and an essay `On the Future of Church Music'.
1835 – Elopes with Marie d'Agoult to Switzerland, where he takes up a position teaching piano at the Geneva Conservatoire. Their first child, Blandine, is born in December. Writes essay `On the Position of Artists'.
1836 – Composes several opera fantasias. Returns twice to Paris, where rivalry develops with Thalberg.
1837 – Several Paris concerts, including famous `duel' with Thalberg in the salon of Princess Christina Belgiojoso. Composes 12 Grandes Etudes. Travels with Marie d'Agoult to Italy, where their second child Cosima is born.
1838 – Concerts in Vienna, partly in aid of Pest flood victims. Arranges Etudes d'apres Paganini.
1839 – Gives first `musical soliloquy' -- a concert entirely without supporting artists – in Rome. Son Daniel born. Beginning of regular tours as a virtuoso. Slow decline of the relationship with d'Agoult.
1840 – Presented with Hungarian sword of honour in Pest, where he also makes his debut as a conductor. First meetings with Schumann and Wagner. Tours of Germany and England.
1841 – Feverish round of concerts, both in Britain and continental Europe. Composes fantasies on, among other operas, Don Giovanni, Norma and Robert le Diable.
1842 – Visits Russia. Given post of honorary Kapellmeister in Weimar, a position that allows him to continue his concert tours.
1843 – Debut in Breslau as an opera conductor. First songs published.
1844 – Final separation from Marie d'Agoult.
1845 – Conducts his First Beethoven Cantata at the unveiling of the Beethoven Monument in Bonn.
1846 – Tours of France, Germany and Eastern Europe. Increasing disillusionment with his virtuoso career.
1847 – Meets Princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, and sojourns at her Woronince estate. Soon after his trip to Constantinople, where he plays before the Sultan, Liszt abandons his concert tours to concentrate on composition. He thereafter refuses all offers of fees for public performances.
1848 – Settles in Weimar, where he is soon joined by Carolyne. Devotes most of his time to duties as Kapellmeister, and begins to work on what will later become his series of Symphonic Poems.
1849 – Conducts Tannhauser, and gives brief shelter to Wagner, who is fleeing Germany after the failure of the Dresden uprising. Completes Italian volume of Annees de Pelerinage, and makes sketches for an opera, Sardanapale.
1850 – Composes the Fantasia and Fugue for Organ on ‘Ad nos, ad salutarem undam’ , and conducts premiere of Lohengrin.
1851 – Completes several orchestral works, including Mazeppa, and makes final versions of his two sets of piano studies. Book on Chopin, and some articles, all ghost-written by Carolyne.
1852 – Conducts premiere of revised version of Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini.
1853 – Sonata in B Minor, Ballade in B Minor and Festklange completed. Brahms visits Weimar.
1854 – Finishes initial version of Faust Symphony.
1855 – Gran Mass and Psalm XIII completed. First performance of Piano Concerto in E, conducted by Berlioz with Liszt as soloist.
1856 – Completes Dante Symphony. Premieres of the Gran Mass and Hungaria.
1857 – Premieres of Piano Concerto in A Minor, Ce qu’on entend sur la montagne (final version), Sonata in B Minor, Faust Symphony, Die Ideale, Dante Symphony, Heroïde funebre and Hunnenschlacht.
1858 – Hamlet completed. Following vociferous opposition to the performance of Cornelius’s Barber of Baghdad in Weimar, Liszt resigns from his post as Kapellmeister.
1859 – Writes, in collaboration with Carolyne, the book The Gypsies and their Music in Hungary. Liszt’s son Daniel dies at the age of 20.
1860 – Carolyne leaves Weimar for Rome, where she will remain for the rest of her life. Two Episodes from Lenau’s Faust composed. Liszt’s first grandchild Daniela von Bulow born.
1861 – First Allgemeiner Deutscher Musikverein festival in Weimar. Liszt’s planned marriage to Carolyne in Rome thwarted at the last minute by opposition from the Vatican.
1862 – Oratorio St Elisabeth finished. Liszt’s daughter Blandine dies after complications following the birth of her son, Daniel.
1863 – During Liszt’s stay at the monastery of the Madonna del Rosario, a visit from the Pope prompts him to think once more about a role in the Catholic church.
1864 – Sojourn at the Villa d’Este in Tivoli, which he will subsequently visit repeatedly. Trip to Paris, where he sees his mother for what will be the last time.
1865 – Premieres of Totentanz, St Elisabeth and Deux Legendes. Liszt takes minor orders in the Catholic church.
1866 – Death of Liszt’s mother. Last meeting with Marie d’Agoult.
1867 – Premiere of Hungarian Coronation Mass. Completion of oratorio Christus.
1868 – Cosima now openly leaves her husband Hans von Bulow to live with Wagner, causing a breach in relations with Liszt.
1869 – Begins his `vie trifurquee' where he spends parts of the year respectively in Weimar, Rome and Budapest.
1870 – Cosima marries Wagner.
1871 – Estrangement from Wagner and Cosima continues. Scandal involving Liszt and his pupil Olga Janina.
1872 – Rapprochement with the Wagners. Liszt visits Bayreuth.
1873 – Premiere of Christus.
1874 – Completes The Bells of Strassburg Cathedral, and begins the oratorio St Stanislaus.
1875 – Liszt made president of the Budapest Academy of Music.
1876 – Premiere of Hamlet. Liszt present at first Bayreuth festival.
1877 – Completes the third book of Annees de pelerinage. Plays Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto and Choral Fantasia at a concert in Vienna marking the fiftieth anniversary of Beethoven’s death – the young Busoni is among the audience.
1878 – Composes Via Crucis.
1879 – Ossa arida composed, and several transcriptions.
1880 – Attends various concerts of his music. Continues work fitfully on St Stanislaus.
1881 – Premiere of Second Mephisto Waltz. A fall down stairs in Weimar precipitates the decline of Liszt’s health.
1882 – Composes final symphonic poem -- From the Cradle to the Grave. Attends premiere of Parsifal in Bayreuth.
1883 – Death of Wagner sends Liszt into increasing despondency.
1884 – Premiere of Salve Polonia. Attends Parsifal performances in Bayreuth.
1885 – Debussy visits Liszt in Rome. Various piano pieces composed, including completion of Hungarian Historical Portraits.
1886 – Liszt received with great enthusiasm on visit to England. Gives last concert in Luxembourg before travelling to Bayreuth, where he hears Tristan and Parsifal. Dies at Bayreuth on 31 July.

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