Liszt and the Schubert Song Transcriptions

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p>In its representation as an ambivalently powerful voice in the German literature and music criticism of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, music aligned itself with the re-emerging concept of the daemonic. Goethe’s contemporaneous formulation of the daemonic consequently has wide-ranging significance for our understanding of the music and music aesthetics of that period. Literary representations of music establish the basic functions of and the key ideas associated with the daemonic: mediation of the supernatural and mundane realms, the possession of a human conduit, seduction and the violent relocation of the listener. Fundamental to such narratives is the frequent female gendering of Music, a move that variously serves to mediate supernatural revelation and to threaten the implicitly masculine listener and the social stability he polices. Music thus acquired its own powerful agency, bringing with it the need to consider the implications of the daemonic for both composer and performer. In both cases the result is a fluid relationship between submission to and mastery of an otherworldly musical voice. The composer both possesses the genius that works within him and is possessed by it, whilst the performer remains at once the embodiment of agency and an empty shell. The complex function of the daemonic within instrumental performance is investigated through Ernst’s ‘Erlkönig’ caprice. Transferred onto Music writ large and executed on the violin, the daemonic Erlking of Goethe’s ballad and Schubert’s setting exists in and comments on the matrix of the diabolic, the daemonic and violin playing. Nineteenth-century music criticism serves to elaborate many of the key ideas of the daemonic within the context of specific musical works. E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Beethoven reviews exemplify the interaction of the daemonic and the sublime and the challenge of the daemonic to the heroic paradigm in Beethoven’s instrumental music.</p
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Francis Poulenc’s Sonate pour violon et piano exists as something of a hybrid work. Dedicated to the memory of Spanish resistant poet Federico García Lorca, the sonata’s slow movement, the “Intermezzo”, is prepended with the opening line of Lorca’s “Las Seis Cuerdas”. As a consequence, the movement is imbued with a programmatic quality that causes it to sit somewhere inbetween Poulenc’s instrumental and vocal works. In this essay, I take advantage of this hermeneutic quality to explore the composer’s relation to Lorca and surrealism more generally, and how this manifests in the”“Intermezzo”. Ultimately, I argue that the movement is more than simply a lament over Lorca’s tragic death, and is in fact a broader expression of Poulenc’s despair towards a political and social climate that seeks to marginalize on the basis of sexual identity.
Several generations before Schubert, the Lied emerged as domestic entertainment destined to move beyond the home to the symphony hall. This introductory chronicle of this fascinating genre analyzes the Lied in its musical, literary, and cultural contexts--with chapters devoted to focal composers; influence of the Lied on other musical genres; use as a musical commodity and issues of performance. The volume includes a chronology and a comprehensive bibliography.
The art of piano transcription represents a lengthy historical trend spanning musical idioms as diverse as fourteenth-century keyboard intabulations and twentieth-century recompositions. Part of the piano transcription's development has been the insightful role of the genre as a vehicle of critical commentary, a purpose which the transcription fulfils in a manner different from all other modes of music criticism. It is a commentary on one artist's ideas through the creativity of another artist in what might be described succinctly as "music about music." A brief introductory section of the thesis documents the piano transcription's historical and terminological framework while the opening chapter describes the "practical purposes" of the genre, with emphasis on the factors contributing to the transcription's overwhelming prominence in the nineteenth century. Chapter Two discusses the artistic merit of the genre as an independent art form whose ultimate value must be judged not on preconceived biases, but rather on the intrinsic musical qualities of each work. Chapter Three documents the critical role of the piano transcription by: 1) outlining the historical development of the genre's critical potential, 2) describing the various compositional means by which the transcriber assumes the role of critic and 3) undertaking a detailed examination of several transcriptions fulfilling this unique function, including: a) J. S. Bach's transcription of Vivaldi's Violin Concerto in 0 major, Op. III, No.9; b) Franz Liszt's transcription of the song "Moja Pieszczotka," Op. 74, No. 12, by Frederic Chopin; and c) two operatic fantasies based on Georges Bizet's Carmen - the first by Ferruccio Busoni (Chamber Fantasy on Bizet's "Carmen", and the second by Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (Pastiche on The Habanera from "Carmen" by Bizet). By altering and recomposing the original models through various compositional means, piano transcriptions offer insightful commentary on the original works. The uniquely creative means of expressing such commentary enables the transcription to reveal provocative insights into the original works which may otherwise have remained latent and unexplored. It is for this reason, perhaps more than any other, that piano transcriptions continue to be valued to the present day.
The annals of music history are filled with minor musicians whose fame was ephemeral or whose influence was negligible. Among those who have rated barely a line in the standard reference works is the pianist and composer Anton Strelezki (1858–1906). Like Anton Schindler, who made his reputation as the ‘Ami de Beethoven’, Strelezki attempted to burnish his reputation through association with a famous musical contemporary. His 21-page pamphlet entitled Personal Recollections of Chats with Liszt, published after the death of its subject, purports to chronicle a close relationship with Franz Liszt over a period of decades, recounting lengthy conversations and reproducing extensive quotations from his famous contemporary. Because the book contains anecdotes not documented elsewhere in the Liszt literature, it demands close scrutiny for what it tells us about Liszt. It will be shown that Strelezki's story is suspect at best and probably completely fallacious, making the source unreliable for scholars of Liszt and related nineteenth-century musicians.
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