Franz Liszt’s innovations and personality Franz Liszt was a complicated figure in the history west classical music. His influence on composition, pianism and teachings continue to echo throughout the musical world. He is known for his innovative choices and his rich life. Liszt was a prolific writer. His works include keyboard music, both for organ and piano, as well as lieder. Liszt is best known for his piano compositions. These can be separated into two types: transcriptions as well as original works. His piano music contains the most original pieces. Annees de Pelirinage is one example of his original works. His virtuosic transcriptions also include concert paraphrases and Schumann and Schubert lieder. Liszt is known for his beautiful vocal compositions. They are also progressive in terms experimenting in harmony and indeterminate climaxes. It is important to note that both the Annees of Pelirinage, as well as his songs, include some of Liszt’s musical innovations.
Liszt was a traveller throughout his entire life. He also settled in many different locations for long periods. His love for cultural and artistic treasures, such as poetry and art from different countries, has influenced his worldview. These factors influenced his compositional outputs. They also helped scholars organize Liszt’s works chronologically. These are the first, middle, and last years. Liszt has been known to experience many different worlds. Other than his role as composer and pianist Liszt also served as a prolific conductor/teacher, writer, and religious leader. Although Liszt was already a strong believer in Roman Catholicism, his deeper relationship with the religion only grew over time. Liszt was deeply influenced by his faith as evidenced in his works, such as Harmonies poetiques und religieuses. He was a minor religious order and was considered almost saintly. He had many human qualities, including vanity and love affairs. Despite the many ironies and contrasts that his life presented, he was still a rockstar. Czerny’s direct descendant, Beethoven, Liszt promoted classicism and romanticism. Richard Wagner, who was then a member the avant-garde New German School, was the composer’s most important relationship. Both were openly open to the other’s influence. Harmony was the most common influence. Liszt was often credited with the Weimar symphonic compositions that influenced the chromaticism and triadic natures of Tristan und Isolde. Both men experimented with Liszt’s theories of “poetical periods” and sonata, as well as Wagner’s forms. His ideas were influential in the development of future radical composers like Strauss and Busoni. Liszt was a pioneer in many compositional methods. He was passionate about the development programmatic music. These were compositions that were inspired by extra-musical sources. Mazeppa, Mephisto Waltz are two examples. Along these lines, he is also credited with the symphonic poetry, an orchestral piece that usually consists of one continuous movement and evokes non-musical content such as poetry and short stories.
Liszt employed two compositional strategies in the symphonic poems. The first was the cycle form. These movements were meant to reflect each other’s content and combine separate movements into one cyclic-movement. Thematic transformation, which is a type variation in which one or more themes are transformed into an independent and new theme, was the second practice. These two techniques were not new to Liszt but he cultivated them and elevated their quality. His Second Piano Concerto and huge Piano Sonata are both excellent examples.
Liszt’s B-minor sonata has a high level of intrigue that draws piano music scholars to it. Music scholars are still fascinated by this work’s lack of a title programmatic, considering the numerous Liszt compositions that have extra-musical names. Different interpretations have been given to the main theme of this sonata because of the intricate details found throughout. It was thought to be a portrait of Faust’s legend, which includes Gretchen, Mephisto, and Faust themes. It was thought to be the Garden of Eden. The themes represented God, Lucifer Adam, Eve, and the serpent. Louis Kohler was one of those who saw the sonata to be a battle for the heroic spirit of a world that is full of strife. Liszt, however, was seen as indirectly the hero. One interpretation that is more current is that Liszt’s name and Carolyne von Seen-Wittgenstein were hidden in the main themes’ notes.
Liszt composed the work in February 1853. It took four years for it to be performed publicly. Schumann was honoured with the dedication of the work published the next year. Schumann dedicated previously his Fantasy in C Major, Op. 17 to Liszt’s in 1839. It was not well received by the music world and was ignored for quite some time. The publication was preceded and followed by two private performances. Liszt gave the first performance before a small group of Altenburg friends. Brahms was there, but he fell asleep during performance. Karl Klindworth performed the second for Wagner’s private London show. Wagner, however, gave praise to the work and called them a “stunning” performance. Hans von Bulow, one Liszt’s most renowned students, gave the work its first public performance on January 22, 1857. The work was immediately condemned by critics and the media. It received negative reactions from many famous pianists throughout the 19th-century. Clara Schumann declined to perform the sonata, dismissing it as “merely blind noise” after the score arrived at Schumann’s home. After the Second World War, the piece gained a new audience and became more popular. Bela Bartok said that the piece had a tendency to slowly reveal its secrets. It took quite some time for the sonata’s entry into the piano standard repertoire. The piano music has been a favorite of pianists and musicians throughout the twentieth century. Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy was an obvious influence on Liszt, which he discovered when he was a touring pianist. He became a passionate fan of the work and made many arrangements for piano and orchestra. The Wanderer Fantasy served as a template for Liszt’s compositional style and structure. Liszt was influenced by the four movements that were linked by the metamorphosis and final fugue. Liszt’s most notable achievement is gluing the sonata structure together through thirty minutes continuous music. The sonata’s dual-purposed structure, which is a sonata within a sonata, is another important feature of the piece. The piece can be seen from one angle to contain four movements. You can deduce the larger setting of the Sonata form, consisting of an exposition and development as well as recapitulation. The different themes of the sonata are constantly supported by the material in the whole sonata. This work is Liszt’s most important in terms of utilizing thematic transform in a longer structure. Liszt’s ability combine two forms to create a huge work is what sets this sonata apart in the Wanderer Fantasy.
Alan Walker’s formal analysis shows that the different movements of the piece are: introduction, exposition. Development, fugue. Capitulation. The Lento Assai and Allegro sections make up the introduction. In the introduction, three of the most important themes are introduced. The Lento A, the first theme, opens the Lento minor scale. The second, Theme, starts in Theme A. Then, Theme B begins in Theme energico. The third, Theme, follows. The repetition of eighth notes, which resemble Jesus Christ being tied to the cross, makes the third theme known as “hammer blasts”. The introduction’s key signature has an unclear key. 32 measures later, the clear and confident arrival in B minor (measure 32) signals the start of the explanation. The exposition begins with the primary subject, which is a combination of themes C and B. It then proceeds through a series virtuosic keyboard writings before reaching a glorious crescendo. This is when the music transforms theme A into the secondary subject in D minor. The secondary theme, which is marked Grandioso by Liszt, is one of the most heroic and noble melodies. This melody is thematically derived of the plainchant Crux fiedelis, which symbolizes the struggle against evil. In the second section, there are three additional themes. These themes showcase the various sonorities that a piano can produce. The exposition concludes in e major with the somber juxtaposition in left hand of Theme C and right hand of Theme C. The sonata’s development section is the slow, compound ternary movement. This section of the Andante sostenuto in F-sharp major offers listeners and performers a moment to take a deep breath and replenish their energy. This section has a contemplative, ethereal quality that is reminiscent of Beethoven’s slow sonatas.
F-sharp major is the Liszt key. It’s a sacred and religious key, often representing something impossible to achieve. The movement’s first section is calm and reflective. The second part starts with the Crux fiedelis in Fsharp major. From there, the writing becomes more Wagnerian and passionate. Crux fidelis, now in G minor, is once again mentioned. A vast chromatic descent, derived form Theme A, occurs in the lefthand until it reaches F-sharp major and modulates. Many Liszt scholars agree that measure 395 marks triple forte the sonata’s peak. As if it was fading away, this movement concludes with Theme A in F-sharp Major: Hammer blows. In the final section, a statement from Theme A in triplepiano appears. This is an indication of future uncertainty. The recapitulation is accompanied by a fugue move in G flat major. This section is quite long and shows both the influence of Schubert’s fugue from the Wanderer Fantasy, as well Beethoven’s love for fugal movement in his final sonatas.
The fugue uses Themes B & C. The fugue’s first two pages were written in piano. The exposition’s octave measure are reproduced in order to provide a reference to the exposition. The fugue in G-flat minor can be considered a big dominant for B minor. The recapitulation is in measure 533. This section contains the same material and the beginning of exposition. The sonata’s only instance in which the key of B major appears again after its beginning is this moment. The recapitulation of the exposition is a concise version with some secondary themes omitted. The coda opens with Theme B in challenging octaves. Thetissimo then culminates in a triple forte, followed by a dramatic stop. There is an Andante sustenuto section which can be interpreted as a blessing from God before death or when you arrive on another plane. The sonata finishes with Theme A as its opening theme. Now in B major, it is marked Lento assai. The same marking was used at the beginning. The seventh measure is a set of chords which, in a way, signify the passage of a spirit into the afterlife by its chromatic ascension. Interpretation and Performance Learning the Lisztsonata was a huge task.
There are many temptations in music and it is easy to get distracted by too many lingerings. The worst performances of a piece are those who focus too much on details, rather than the overall goal. To bring the piece alive and allow the music to shine through, interpretative choices like phrasing and rubato, accents and tone, pedaling and character were all considered. The sections’ tempos were selected to enhance the overall structure. These were determined based on the character of the section and the location. To better prepare for arrivals, ritardandos that were not written were also used to begin new sections. These ritardandos could also be used to end sections that Liszt had not written but was artistically required. This helps to balance the form and makes it more appealing. Accents are a key aspect of timing.
Liszt is a well-known accent and articulation marker. The accent markings were either dynamic or agogic and made sense within the context of the phrase. The theme’s needs and the character dictated the color choice. You will need a broad range of sounds for the piano to complete this piece. Tone is a challenge because you must keep the singing line intact. Liszt is an orchestral man who loves sounds other than the piano. The general sound palette is more romantic. Fugue color and character were important decisions. Due to Allegro Energico and piano dynamic marking, the fugue’s character and color is now cold and dry. This enhances the irony of the fugue and adds a sense of danger. According to his students Liszt was strict about pedaling. He advocated clarity in pedaling decisions and efficiency. The damper was used liberally to enhance the sounds and bring out the textures. It was also used to create better crescendos or diminuendos. Some parts, like the Mendelssohn leggiero Mendelssohn figurines, required less pedal to make a distinctive sound. Both the una chorda and damper pedals were intentionally used to enhance the theme material’s clarity.
Alan Walker’s Reflections on Liszt Kenneth Hamilton’s Liszt Sonata in B minor Franz Liszt and His World edited by Christopher H. Gibbs and Dana Gooley https://www.britannica.com/biography/Franz-Liszt