The Symphonic Poems of Franz Liszt

The Symphonic Poems of Franz Liszt

The Symphonic Poems of Franz Liszt

The Symphonic Poems of Franz Liszt

Excerpt

During the 1980s and early 1990s Keith Johns established himself as one of the best-known and most insightful students of Franz Liszt’s music. As early as 1986, for example, he submitted a doctoral dissertation on Liszt’s symphonic poems to the Faculty of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong, Australia. Several years later he published several substantial articles on the reception of individual symphonic poems at the socalled “Singakademie” and “Gewandhaus” concerts of December 1855 and February 1857. He also published articles dealing with Liszt manuscripts (including the “Tasso” sketchbook owned today by the Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv, Weimar) and some of with Liszt’s lesser-known works for piano and orchestra. Most of these publications are identified in the bibliography that concludes this study.

Prior to his death in February 1993, however, Keith was unable to complete his magnum opus. I offered to complete it for him and see his work through press. It appears here under the title he gave it: The Symphonic Poems of Franz Liszt. Part of what follows, of course, is necessarily my own work, but most of what follows is Keith’s. With the exception of the introduction, my contributions are primarily editorial rather than conceptual. On the other hand, I must assume responsibility for selecting the musical examples cited in Part One, for interpolating some of the observations found throughout Parts One, Two, and Three, and for substantially revising Keith’s bibliography. In a few cases I have chosen either to disagree specifically with what Keith had to say about certain issues, or to draw the reader’s attention to certain of Keith’s own publications. These editorial asides and source citations may be found in bracketed blocktexts scattered throughout the pages that follow.

No one, not even Keith Johns, could say everything there is to be said about Liszt’s symphonic poems. Nor did he aspire to. Keith never claimed his book was a comprehensive study of those works and their first performances in Europe and the United States. Instead, what he hoped to do was to break new ground with regard to these masterful compositions, especially in terms of semiotic analysis and Rezeptionsgeschichte. I believe he succeeded admirably. It now remains for other scholars to take up where Keith himself was forced to leave off, and to probe ever more deeply into the music he loved so profoundly and wrote about with such insight and care.

Readers of this book should be advised that individual pitches are identified in quotation marks; thus, “C,” “D,” and so on. Major and minor keys are identified, respectively, through the use of upper- and lower-case letters; thus C Major, csharp minor, and so on. Occasionally, and especially in diagrams, keys are identified only by upper- or lower-case letter name; thus C, c-sharp, and so on.

Michael Saffle July 1996 . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.