Academic journal article Notes

The "Liszt Year" 2011: Recent, Emerging, and Future Liszt Research

Academic journal article Notes

The "Liszt Year" 2011: Recent, Emerging, and Future Liszt Research

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Liszt scholarship as an academic specialty has evolved steadily since 1911, when the first "Liszt year" was celebrated in Europe. Although the composer's reputation declined during the decades following World War I, it began to rise again during the 1950s and 1960s. Today the field boasts a number of specialized periodicals and a wealth of miscellaneous publications, including important books, monographs, musical editions, and sound recordings issued during the years since author Michael Saffle's Franz Liszt: A Research and Information Guide (New York: Rout-ledge, 2009) was prepared for publication. The present article cites and very briefly describes many, although by no means all, of the Liszt studies issued between 2008 and early 2011. Among the most important publications mentioned are Jonathan Kregor's Liszt as Transcriber (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and Kenneth Hamilton's After the Golden Age (Oxford University Press, 2008); two first-ever editions of orchestral and keyboard works underwritten by the Istituto Liszt (Bologna); and new or revised monographs by Ernst Burger, Serge Gut, Klara Hamburger, Laurence Le Diagon-Jacquin, Bruno Moysan, and Alexander Rehding. It also presents an introduction to Liszt-year activities, including celebrations and scholarly conferences held or--as of January 2011--scheduled to take place in Athens (Georgia), Budapest, Heidelberg, Lucca, New York, Ottawa, Utrecht, Weimar, and three French cities (Dijon, Rennes, and Strasbourg). Finally, it comments on the most important lacunae in contemporary Liszt literature, and it speculates on future directions in Liszt research, especially those associated with ongoing Internet and YouTube projects.

Franz Liszt (1811-1886) lived seventy-five years. Consequently, every twenty-fifth year since his death has been hailed as a Liszt anniversary year. Anniversaries inspire retrospection and self-evaluation as well as speculation about what lies ahead, and each of the last four "Liszt years" has provided enthusiasts with an excuse as well as an opportunity for celebrating their subject's (and their own) past accomplishments, current activities, and plans for the future. Nevertheless, the centenary in 1911 of Liszt's birth produced relatively little in the way of enduring scholarship. (1) Perhaps, in one sense, commemoration was considered unnecessary: prior to World War I Liszt's reputation probably reached its apogee. (2) Furthermore, especially from the perspective of pre-1914 scholars, a number of apparently authoritative Liszt studies had only recently appeared in print; Lina Ramann's authorized biography and several collections of correspondence edited by Marie Lipsius (who published under the pen name "La Mara") were among the most important. (3)

After World War I, however, Liszt's reputation declined, and little of significance about him appeared in print even in 1936, the fiftieth anniversary of his death. (4) The 1930s especially witnessed the demise of the collected edition, or Gesamtausgabe (GA), with Liszt's compositions begun in 1907. (5) They also witnessed the publication of Ernest Newman's bitter, debunking "character study": an opinion piece that proved more influential, especially in the English-speaking world, than Peter Raabe's intelligent but cautious two-volume monograph and works list. (6) Then, during and immediately after World War II, Liszt briefly but almost entirely vanished from scholarly sight. The 1940s were the years in which Hollywood several times celebrated Liszt--mostly, however, in terms of his Rapsodie hongroise no. 2 and most successfully in Rhapsody Rabbit and The Cat Concerto (both 1946): animated short subjects featuring, respectively, Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry in send-ups of "serious" concert performances. (7) During the 1950s, however, Hungarian scholars published editions of otherwise unknown Liszt works, (8) while Humphrey Searle produced a new catalog of Liszt's output as well as a brief but insightful study of his music. …

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