Author Topic: Franz Liszt (1811-86)  (Read 56724 times)

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Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #260 on: May 15, 2011, 07:44:59 PM »
or Beethoven's 6th, Mendelssohn Midsummer Night's Dream, Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, or Fingal's Cave.  If Liszt can claim anything it would be naming the existing genre "symphonic poem."

Berlioz is credited with that as well but I wouldn't know the original source where he may have used the term.

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Offline Luke

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #261 on: May 15, 2011, 08:29:55 PM »
Berlioz is credited with that as well but I wouldn't know the original source where he may have used the term.

ZB

I'm sitting here questioning my own knowedge, because I know that you are not one to say his sort of thing without good reason - but I really don't recall things that way at all. Nor do I think of any of Berlioz's works as being symphonic poems - Romeo et Juliette (a piece which I adore beyond words!) is a symphony with large choral/vocal narrative elements, but this is very differnet from a symphonic poem.

The wiki page on the subject - I know, I know, but this one actually looks well-researched (it seems to draw on Grove quite a bit) and relatively scholarly - unequivocally credits Liszt with the invention of the form and the term. Amongst the key passages it uses in this respect are:

Quote from: wikipedia
DEFINITION
A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral music in a single continuous section (a movement) in which the content of a poem, a story or novel, a painting, a landscape or another (non-musical) source is illustrated or evoked. The term was first applied by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt to his 13 works in this vein. In its aesthetic objectives, the symphonic poem is in some ways related to opera; whilst it does not use a sung text, it seeks like opera a union of music and drama...

BACKGROUND
Between 1845 and 1847, Franco-Belgian composer César Franck wrote an orchestral piece based on Victor Hugo's poem Ce qu'on entend sur le montagne. The work exhibits characteristics of a symphonic poem, and some musicologists, such as Norman Demuth and Julien Tiersot, consider it the first of its genre, preceding Liszt's compositions. However, Franck did not publish or perform his piece; neither did he set about defining the genre. Liszt's determination to explore and promote the symphonic poem gained him recognition as the genre's inventor. (this quotation, to me, emphasizes the rigour of this wiki entry and suggests that if Berlioz were in any way the progenitor of the form/the name, it would be mentioned here)

LISZT
The Hungarian composer Franz Liszt desired to expand single-movement works beyond the concert overture form. The music of overtures is to inspire listeners to imagine scenes, images, or moods; Liszt intended to combine those programmatic qualities with a scale and musical complexity normally reserved for the opening movement of classical symphonies. The opening movement, with its interplay of contrasting themes under sonata form, was normally considered the most important part of the symphony. To achieve his objectives, Liszt needed a more flexible method of developing musical themes than sonata form would allow, but one that would preserve the overall unity of a musical composition.

Liszt found his method through two compositional practices, which he used in his symphonic poems. The first practice was cyclic form, a procedure established by Beethoven in which certain movements are not only linked but actually reflect one another's content. Liszt took Beethoven's practice one step further, combining separate movements into a single-movement cyclic structure. Many of Liszt's mature works follow this pattern, of which Les Préludes is one of the best-known examples. The second practice was thematic transformation, a type of variation in which one theme is changed, not into a related or subsidiary theme but into something new, separate and independent. As musicologist Hugh Macdonald wrote of Liszt's works in this genre, the intent was "to display the traditional logic of symphonic thought;" that is, to display a comparable complexity in the interplay of musical themes and tonal 'landscape' to those of the Romantic symphony.

Thematic transformation, like cyclic form, was nothing new in itself. It had been previously used by Mozart and Haydn. In the final movement of his Ninth Symphony, Beethoven had transformed the theme of the "Ode to Joy" into a Turkish march. Weber and Berlioz had also transformed themes, and Schubert used thematic transformation to bind together the movements of his Wanderer Fantasy, a work that had a tremendous influence on Liszt. However, Liszt perfected the creation of significantly longer formal structures solely through thematic transformation, not only in the symphonic poems but in others works such as his Second Piano Concerto and his Piano Sonata in B minor. In fact, when a work had to be shortened, Liszt tended to cut sections of conventional musical development and preserve sections of thematic transformation.

While Liszt had been inspired to some extent by the ideas of Richard Wagner in unifying ideas of drama and music via the symphonic poem, Wagner gave Liszt's concept only lukewarm support in his 1857 essay On the Symphonic Poems of Franz Liszt, and was later to break entirely with Liszt's Weimar circle over their aesthetic ideals...

THE SYMPHONIC POEM IN FRANCE
While France was less concerned than other countries with nationalism, it still had a well-established tradition of narrative and illustrative music reaching back to Berlioz and Félicien David. For this reason, French composers were attracted to the poetic elements of the symphonic poem. In fact, César Franck had written an orchestral piece based on Hugo's poem Ce qu'on entend sur le montagne before Liszt did so himself as his first numbered symphonic poem.

The symphonic poem came into vogue in France in the 1870s, supported by the newly-founded Société Nationale and its promotion of younger French composers. In the year after its foundation... (etc)

 :)  :)

« Last Edit: May 15, 2011, 08:32:06 PM by Luke »

Scarpia

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #262 on: May 15, 2011, 08:32:30 PM »
I agree that Berlioz' Romeo and Juliet is not a symphonic poem, it is a really bad, really boring cantata.  But what of Mendelssohn Midsummer Night's Dream Overture, Fingal's Cave, Calm Sea and Safe Voyage.  I know he called them "Overtures" but why aren't they tone poems by another name?

Offline Luke

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #263 on: May 15, 2011, 11:06:57 PM »
Perhaps they are. But then you get into the question of titling - if I call a two note phrase tapped out on a xylophone a symphony is it therefore really a symphony? OTOH, if I write something that is resolutely in traditional symphonic form but doggedly refuse to call it a symphony in any way, is it therefore not a symphony? The composer's intentions have to mean something - Mendelssohn called those pieces Overtures, and in fact, that is a perfectly good description of them - the overture as a form is perfectly legitimate. There is also the question of form and program - The Midsummer Night's Dream overture doesn't follow a program, it is a classically proportioned and structured piece whose themes are also representative of characters and locations in the drama, but which don't follow the drama in their layout. That isn't really the best description of a symphonic or tone poem to me*. OTOH, Fingal's Cave is much more like a truly progammatic work, more like a symphonic poem, though one of compact scale.

Re the Berlioz. Call the choral bits boring if you wish. But there is no way that those central orchestral movements - Romeo Alone, the Scene d'amour and the Scherzo - can be put anywhere other than amongst Berlioz's finest works. The Scene d'amour, in his own opinion, was the finest thing he ever wrote, and I agree. It is a ravishing, astonishing piece of music.

*And there is also that question of what difference there is, if any, between tone poem and symphonic poem...
« Last Edit: May 15, 2011, 11:15:18 PM by Luke »

Scarpia

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #264 on: May 15, 2011, 11:16:56 PM »
Re the Berlioz. Call the choral bits boring if you wish. But there is no way that those central orchestral movements - Romeo Alone, the Scene d'amour and the Scherzo - can be put anywhere other than amongst Berlioz's finest works. The Scene d'amour, in his own opinion, was the finest thing he ever wrote, and I agree. It is a ravishing, astonishing piece of music.

The first movement is thrilling.  Then there is a small choir endlessly intoning the story we all know, then a vocal solo that seems to use only two notes.  I never got past those parts.   :-[

Offline Luke

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #265 on: May 15, 2011, 11:19:34 PM »
Just skip them and head for the orchestral movements. You're missing a treat. Berlioz's conception of this work causes difficulties, I know - he wants to sum up the whole pesky dramatic side of things at the beginning and at the end, leaving the central portions for instrumental mediations and so on. It's a difficult balance to pull off, and I think he succeeds, but I agree that it all sails close the wind and can quite understand anyone being put off. Head for the Scene d'amour, though....

karlhenning

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #266 on: May 16, 2011, 12:56:54 AM »
I agree that Berlioz' Romeo and Juliet is not a symphonic poem . . .

Yes.

. . . it is a really bad, really boring cantata.

No, no, no ; )

Offline Florestan

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #267 on: May 16, 2011, 03:35:13 AM »
Could you please elaborate a bit? What exactly do you feel it's wrong with the choral part?


After 70 minutes of glorious tone-painting of the characters in the story I don't see why that extremely successful procedure has to stop and be replaced by recitation of an unintelligible text.

I see. You do have a point --- but then again, for Liszt and his intended audience Latin was far from being unintelligible.  :)

“I compose music because I must give expression to my feelings, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts.”  --- Rachmaninoff

karlhenning

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #268 on: May 16, 2011, 03:51:18 AM »
After 70 minutes of glorious tone-painting of the characters in the story I don't see why that extremely successful procedure has to stop and be replaced by recitation of an unintelligible text.

Considering the "unintelligible" charge answered . . . why, in any event, is this a "cop-out"? ; )

Scarpia

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #269 on: May 16, 2011, 05:00:57 AM »
Considering the "unintelligible" charge answered . . . why, in any event, is this a "cop-out"? ; )

Actually, I thought the text in Faust was from Goethe, and in German. 

Because he was expressing everything beautifully using abstract musical means, then all of a sudden he is reciting the text, as though the music was insufficient. 

Offline Florestan

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #270 on: May 16, 2011, 05:08:42 AM »
Actually, I thought the text in Faust was from Goethe, and in German. 

Gosh, I'm ashamed of making such a blunder, but I actually thought you were talking about the Dante Symphony.  :(

Mea maxima culpa! Apologies!  0:)
“I compose music because I must give expression to my feelings, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts.”  --- Rachmaninoff

karlhenning

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #271 on: May 16, 2011, 05:09:36 AM »
Actually, I thought the text in Faust was from Goethe, and in German. 

Because he was expressing everything beautifully using abstract musical means, then all of a sudden he is reciting the text, as though the music was insufficient.

At some point in the discussion, it must have seemed that the topic was the Dante Symphony, I am guessing.

I see your point, I think; though I don't see that "alternative ending" as a philosophical assertion of the insufficiency of the music.  I think it's a musical choice, adding the timbre of the chorus/tenor soloist.  So I think of it as another expression of Liszt's experimental, inquiring spirit.

Scarpia

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #272 on: May 16, 2011, 05:09:44 AM »
Gosh, I'm ashamed of making such a blunder, but I actually thought you were talking about the Dante Symphony.  :(

Mea maxima culpa! Apologies!  0:)

Accepted, but Dante would be in Italian, no?

karlhenning

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #273 on: May 16, 2011, 05:11:15 AM »
At some point in the discussion, it must have seemed that the topic was the Dante Symphony, I am guessing.
Gosh, I'm ashamed of making such a blunder, but I actually thought you were talking about the Dante Symphony.  :(

Mea maxima culpa! Apologies!  0:)

Accepted, but Dante would be in Italian, no?

Crossed!

Yes, only the text set at the close of the Purgatorio movement is the Magnificat, hence, Latin.

Scarpia

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #274 on: May 16, 2011, 05:11:45 AM »
At some point in the discussion, it must have seemed that the topic was the Dante Symphony, I am guessing.

I see your point, I think; though I don't see that "alternative ending" as a philosophical assertion of the insufficiency of the music.  I think it's a musical choice, adding the timbre of the chorus/tenor soloist.  So I think of it as another expression of Liszt's experimental, inquiring spirit.


Plus, I just don't like the sound of bombastic choir and orchestra. 

Scarpia

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #275 on: May 16, 2011, 05:12:36 AM »
Crossed!

Yes, only the text set at the close of the Purgatorio movement is the Magnificat, hence, Latin.


I see, I haven't gotten around to hearing the Dante yet.

karlhenning

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #276 on: May 16, 2011, 05:16:28 AM »
Plus, I just don't like the sound of bombastic choir and orchestra. 

Right . . . I've been apt to forget that you're guarded in your appreciation of the Beethoven Ninth for that reason ; )

Reminds me that I must take your distaste for the Berlioz Opus 17 cum grano salis!

Offline Florestan

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #277 on: May 16, 2011, 05:48:43 AM »
Accepted, but Dante would be in Italian, no?

Actually, in Latin, as Karl said: Magnificat.

But... even in the case of the Faust Symphony, my point stands: German was certainly no unintelligible language for Liszt and his audience.  :)

I assume your gripe is more with the idea of chorus as such than with language.
“I compose music because I must give expression to my feelings, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts.”  --- Rachmaninoff

Scarpia

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #278 on: May 16, 2011, 05:53:48 AM »
Actually, in Latin, as Karl said: Magnificat.

But... even in the case of the Faust Symphony, my point stands: German was certainly no unintelligible language for Liszt and his audience.  :)

I assume your gripe is more with the idea of chorus as such than with language.

I would never be able to understand the words being sung no matter what language, but you are right, my main objection is to the use of chorus, and to the idea that the music has become insufficient and some sort of narration is necessary to finish the piece.  I wish someone would record the original version as an alternative.

karlhenning

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #279 on: May 16, 2011, 06:16:32 AM »
I would never be able to understand the words being sung no matter what language, but you are right, my main objection is to the use of chorus, and to the idea that the music has become insufficient and some sort of narration is necessary to finish the piece.  I wish someone would record the original version as an alternative.

Actually, I get the sense that the instrumental version has been recorded as often (or oftener).

Give this one a go, Scarps: