Franz Liszt
By James Huneker

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95 chapters

8 hour read

FRANZ LISZT

36 minute read

BY JAMES HUNEKER WITH ILLUSTRATIONS NEW YORK CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 1911 COPYRIGHT, 1911, BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS Published September, 1911 TO HENRY T. FINCK " Génie oblige. "— F. Liszt...

I

11 minute read

Franz Liszt remarked to a disciple of his: "Once Liszt helped Wagner, but who now will help Liszt?" This was said in 1874, when Liszt was well advanced in years, when his fame as piano virtuoso and his name as composer were wellnigh eclipsed by the growing glory of Wagner—truly a glory he had helped to create. In youth, an Orpheus pursued by the musical Maenads of Europe, in old age Liszt was a Merlin dealing in white magic, still followed by the Viviens. The story of his career is as romantic as any by Balzac. And the end of it all—after a half century and more of fire and flowers, of proud, brilliant music-making—was tragical. A gentle King Lear (without the consolation of a Cordelia), following with resignation the conquering chariot of a man, his daughter's husband, who owed him so much, and, despite criticism, bravely acknowledged his debt,...

II

15 minute read

Liszt's Birthplace, Raiding The year 1811 was the year of the great comet. Its wine is said to have been of a richness; some well-known men were born, beginning with Thackeray and John Bright; Napoleon's son, the unhappy Duc de Reichstadt, first saw the light that year, as did Jules Dupré, Théophile Gautier, and Franz Liszt. There will be no disputes concerning the date of his birth, October 22d, as was the case with Chopin. His ancestors, according to a lengthy family register, were originally noble; but the father of Franz, Adam Liszt, was a manager of the Esterhazy estates in Hungary at the time his only son and child was born. He was very musical, knew Joseph Haydn, and was an admirer of Hummel, his music and playing. The mother's maiden name was Anna Lager (or Laager), a native of lower Austria, with German blood in her veins. The...

III

7 minute read

"While remaining itself obscure," wrote George Moore of L'Education Sentimentale , by Flaubert, "this novel has given birth to a numerous literature. The Rougon-Macquart series is nothing but L'Education Sentimentale re-written into twenty volumes by a prodigious journalist—twenty huge balloons which bob about the streets, sometimes getting clear of the housetops. Maupassant cut it into numberless walking-sticks; Goncourt took the descriptive passages and turned them into Passy rhapsodies. The book has been a treasure cavern known to forty thieves, whence all have found riches and fame. The original spirit has proved too strong for general consumption, but, watered and prepared, it has had the largest sale ever known." This particular passage is suited to the case of Liszt. Despite his obligations to Beethoven, Chopin and Berlioz—as, indeed, Flaubert owed something to Chateaubriand, Bossuet, and Balzac—he invented a new form, the symphonic poem, invented a musical phrase, novel in shape and...

I LISZT AND THE LADIES

9 minute read

The feminine friendships of Franz Liszt gained for him as much notoriety as his music making. To the average public he was a compound of Casanova, Byron and Goethe, and to this mixture could have been added the name of Stendhal. Liszt's love affairs, Liszt's children, Liszt's perilous escapes from daggers, pistols and poisons were the subjects of conversation in Europe three-quarters of a century ago, as earlier Byron was both hero and black-sheep in the current gossip of his time. And as Liszt was in the public eye and ubiquitous—he travelled rapidly over Europe in a post-chaise, often giving two concerts in one day at different places—he became a sort of legendary figure, a musical Don Juan. He was not unmindful of the value of advertisement, so the legend grew with the years. That his reputation for gallantry was hugely exaggerated it is hardly necessary to add; a man...

II A FAMOUS FRIENDSHIP

8 minute read

The perennial interest of the world in the friendships of famous men and women is proved by the never-ceasing publication of books concerning them. Of George Sand and her lovers how much has been written. George Eliot and Lewes, Madame de Récamier and Chateaubriand, Goethe and his affinities, Chopin and George Sand, Liszt and the Countess d'Agoult, Wagner and Mathilde—a voluminous index might be made of the classic and romantic liaisons that have excited curiosity from the time when the memory of man runneth not to the contrary down to yesteryear. Although Franz Liszt, great piano virtuoso, great composer, great man, has been dead since 1886, and the Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein since 1887, volumes are still written about their friendship. Indeed, in any collection of letters written by Liszt, or to him, the name of the princess is bound to appear. She was the veritable muse of the Hungarian, and...

III LATER BIOGRAPHERS

8 minute read

The future bibliographer of Liszt literature has a heavy task in store for him, for books about the great Hungarian composer are multiplying apace. Liszt the dazzling virtuoso has long been a theme with variations, and is, we suspect, a theme nearly exhausted; but Liszt as tone poet, Liszt as song writer, as composer for the pianoforte, as littérateur , the man, the wickedest of Don Juans, the ecclesiastic—these and a dozen other studies of the most protean musician of the last century have been appearing ever since the publication of Lina Ramann's vast and sentimental biography. Instead of there being a lack of material for a new book there is an embarrassment, not always of riches, from industrious pens, though few are of value. The Liszt pupils have had their say, and their pupils are beginning to intone the psalmody of uncritical praise. Liszt the romantic, magnificent, magnanimous, supernal,...

I

4 minute read

When Franz Liszt nearly three quarters of a century ago made some suggestions to the Erard piano manufacturers on the score of increased sonority in their instruments, he sounded the tocsin of realism. It had been foreshadowed in Clementi's Gradus, and its intellectual resultant, the Beethoven sonata, but the material side had been hardly realised. Chopin, who sang the swan-song of idealism in surpassingly sweet tones, was by nature unfitted to wrestle with the problem. The arpeggio principle had its attractions for the gifted Pole, who used it in the most novel combinations and dared the impossible in extended harmonies. But the rich glow of idealism was over it all—a glow not then sicklied by the impertinences and affectations of the Herz-Parisian school; despite the morbidities and occasional dandyisms of Chopin's style he was, in the main, manly and sincere. Thalberg, who pushed to its limits scale playing and made...

II

8 minute read

"The remembrance of his playing consoles me for being no longer young." This sentence, charmingly phrased, as it is charming in sentiment, could have been written by no other than Camille Saint-Saëns. He refers to Liszt, and he is perhaps better qualified to speak of Liszt than most musicians or critics. His adoration is perfectly comprehensible; to him Liszt is the protagonist of the school that threw off the fetters of the classical form (only to hamper itself with the extravagances of the romantics). They all come from Berlioz, the violent protestation of Saint-Saëns to the contrary notwithstanding. However this much may be urged in the favour of the Parisian composer; a great movement like the romantic in music, painting, and literature simultaneously appeared in a half dozen countries. It was in the air and evidently catching. Goethe summed up the literary revolution in his accustomed Olympian manner, saying to...

III

6 minute read

I possess, and value as a curiosity, a copy of Liszt's Etudes, Opus 1. The edition is rare and the plates have been destroyed. Written when Liszt was fresh from the tutelage of Carl Czerny, they show decided traces of his schooling. They are not difficult for fingers inured to modern methods. When I first bought them I knew not the Etudes d'Execution Transcendentale , and when I encountered the latter I exclaimed at the composer's cleverness. The Hungarian has taken his opus 1 and dressed it up in the most bewildering technical fashion. He gave these studies appropriate names, and even to-day they require a tremendous technique to do them justice. The most remarkable of the set—the one in F minor No. 10—Liszt left nameless, and like a peak it rears its head skyward, while about it cluster its more graceful fellows: Ricordanza , Feux-follets, Harmonies du Soir (Chasse-neige...

I ROME

9 minute read

The Roman candle has attracted many spiritual moths. Goethe, Humboldt, Platen, Winckelmann, Thorwaldsen, Gregorovius and Liszt—to mention only the first at hand—fluttered to Rome and ascribe to it much of their finer productivity. For Franz Liszt it was a loadstone of double power—the ideality of the place attracted him and its religion anchored his spiritual restlessness. Liszt liked a broad soul-margin to his life. Heine touched on this side of Liszt's character when he wrote of him: "Speculation has the greatest fascination for him; and still more than with the interests of his art is he engrossed with all manner of rival philosophical investigations which are occupied with the solution of all great questions of heaven and earth. For long he was an ardent upholder of the beautiful Saint-Simonian idea of the world. Later the spiritualistic or rather vaporous thoughts of Ballanche enveloped him in their midst; now he is...

II

21 minute read

Immediately after Liszt's separation from the Countess d'Agoult began a period of restless activity for him. The eight nomadic years during which he wandered up and down Europe, playing constantly in public, are the ones in which his virtuosity flourished. To-day we are inclined to mock at the mere mention of Liszt the virtuoso—we have heard far too much of his achievements, achievements behind which the real Liszt has become a warped and unrecognizable personality. But it was a remarkable tour nevertheless, and so wholesale a lesson in musical interpretation as Europe had never had before. Whenever and wherever he smote the keyboard the old-fashioned clay idols of piano playing were shattered, and however much it was attempted to patch them the pieces would not quite fit. Liszt struck the death-blow to unemotional playing, but he destroyed only to create anew: he erected ideals of interpretation which are still honored....

THE BERG SYMPHONY

4 minute read

" Ce qu'on entend sur la montagne "—or, as it is more familiarly known, " Die Bergsymphonie "—is ranked among the earliest of Liszt's symphonic works. The first sketches of this symphonic poem were made as early as 1833-35, but they were not orchestrated until 1849, and the composition had its first hearing in Weimar in 1853. A German enthusiast says this work is the first towering peak of a mountain chain, and that here already—in the first of the list of Symphonic Poems—the mastery of the composer is indubitably revealed. The subject is not a flippant one, by any means: it touches on the relation of man to nature— das Welträtsel . Inspiration came directly from Victor Hugo's poem, " Ce qu'on entend sur la montagne. " The subject is that of Nature's perfection contrasted to Man's misery: Only when one withdraws from the hurdy-gurdy trend of life, only...

TASSO

6 minute read

For the Weimar centennial anniversary of Goethe's birth, August 28, 1849, Liszt composed his Tasso: Lamento e Trionfo . And this stands second in order of his symphonic poems. At the Weimar festival the work preceded Goethe's Tasso, being played as an overture. When the first part of this Tasso symphonic poem was written—there are two parts, as you will see later—Liszt was not yet bold as a symphonic poet, for he thought it necessary to define the meaning of his work in words and thus explain his music. Liszt's preface to Tasso is as follows: "I wished to define the contrast expressed in the title of the work, and it was my object to describe the grand antithesis of the genius, ill-used and misunderstood in life, but in death surrounded with a halo of glory whose rays were to penetrate the hearts of his persecutors. Tasso loved and suffered...

LES PRELUDES

2 minute read

The third of Liszt's symphonic poems, Les Préludes , was sketched as early as 1845, but not produced until 1854, and then in Weimar. Lamartine's Meditations Poétiques set the bells tolling in Liszt's mind, and he wrote Les Préludes . "What is life but a series of preludes to that unknown song whose initial solemn note is tolled by Death? The enchanted dawn of every life is love; but where is the destiny on whose first delicious joys some storm does not break?—a storm whose deadly blast disperses youth's illusions, whose fatal bolt consumes its altar. And what soul thus cruelly bruised, when the tempest rolls away, seeks not to rest its memories in the calm of rural life? Yet man allows himself not long to taste the kindly quiet which first attracted him to Nature's lap; but when the trumpet gives the signal he hastens to danger's post, whatever...

ORPHEUS

1 minute read

Of the origin of his Orpheus Liszt writes: "Some years ago, when preparing Gluck's Orpheus for production, I could not restrain my imagination from straying away from the simple version that the great master had made of the subject, but turned to that Orpheus whose name hovers majestically and full of harmony about the Greek myths. It recalled that Etruscan vase in the Louvre which represents the poet-musician crowned with the mystic kingly wreath; draped in a star-studded mantle, his fine slender fingers are plucking the lyre strings, while his lips are liberating godly words and song. The very stones seem moved to hearing, and from adamant hearts stinging, burning tears are loosing themselves. The beasts of the forests stand enchanted, and the coarse noise of man is besieged into silence. The song of birds is hushed; the melodious coursing of the brook halts; the rude laughter of joy gives...

PROMETHEUS

1 minute read

The same general plan of conception and interpretation, but of course much more heroic, has Liszt employed in the next symphonic poem, Prometheus. It is a noble figure that Liszt has translated into music, the Titan. The ideas he meant to convey may be summed up in " Ein tiefer Schmerz, der durch trotzbietendes Ausharren triumphiert ." Immediately at the opening the swirl of the struggle is upon us, and the first theme is the defiance of the Titan—a noble yet obstinate melody. The god is chained to the rock to great orchestral tumult. His efforts to break the manacles incite further musical riot, and then comes the wail of helpless misery: This recitative leads into a furious burst when the shackled one clenches his fists and threatens all Godhead. Even Zeus is defied: Then arises the belief in a deliverer, a faith motif which is one of those heartfelt...

MAZEPPA

3 minute read

The sixth of Liszt's symphonic poems, Mazeppa, has done more than any other to earn for its composer the disparaging comment that his piano music was orchestral and his orchestral music Klaviermässig . This Solomon judgment usually proceeds from the wise ones, who are aware that the first form of Liszt's Mazeppa was a piano étude which appeared somewhere toward the end of 1830. Liszt's orchestral version of Mazeppa was completed the middle of last century and had its first hearing at Weimar in 1854. Naturally this is a work of much greater proportion than the original piano étude; it is, as some one has said, in the same ratio as is a panoramic picture to a preliminary sketch. The story of the Cossack hetman has inspired poets and at least one painter. Horace Vernet—who, as Heine said, painted everything hastily, almost after the manner of a maker of pamphlets—put...

FESTKLÄNGE

5 minute read

There is no definite programme to Liszt's Festklänge . Several probing ones have been hot on the trail of such a thing. Pohl knew but would not tell. He wrote: "This work is the most intimate of the entire group. It stands in close relation with some personal experiences of the composer—something which we will not define more clearly here. For this reason Liszt himself has offered no elucidation to the work, and we must respect his silence. The mood of the work is ' Festlich '—it is the rejoicing after a victory of—the heart." This is mysterious and sentimental enough to satisfy any conservatory maiden. But Liszt died eventually, and then Pohl intimates that the incident which this composition was meant to glorify was the marriage of Liszt with the Princess Sayn-Wittgenstein—a marriage which never came off. Philip Hale has taken up the question in his interesting Boston Symphony...

THE BATTLE OF THE HUNS

46 minute read

Liszt's Hunnenschlacht was suggested by Wilhelm von Kaulbach's mural painting in the staircase-hall of the New Museum in Berlin. It was conceived in Munich in November, 1856, and written in 1857. When completed, it was put into rehearsal at Weimar in October, 1857, and performed in April, 1858. Its first performance in Boston, was under Mr. Theodore Thomas in 1872. The picture which suggested this composition to Liszt shows the city of Rome in the background; before it is a battle-field, strewn with corpses which are seen to be gradually reviving, rising up, and rallying, while among them wander wailing and lamenting women. At the heads of two ghostly armies are respectively Attila—borne aloft on a shield by Huns, and wielding a scourge—and Theodoric with his two sons, behind whom is raised the banner of the cross. The composition is perfectly free in form; one noteworthy feature being the interweaving...

DIE IDEALE

9 minute read

Die Ideale was projected in the summer of 1856, but it was composed in 1857. The first performance was at Weimar, September 5, 1857, on the occasion of unveiling the Goethe-Schiller monument. The first performance in Boston was by Theodore Thomas's orchestra, October 6, 1870. The symphonic poem was played here at a Symphony Concert on January 26, 1889. The argument of Schiller's poem, Die Ideale , first published in the Musenalmanach of 1796, has thus been presented: "The sweet belief in the dream-created beings of youth passes away; what once was divine and beautiful, after which we strove ardently, and which we embraced lovingly with heart and mind, becomes the prey of hard reality; already midway the boon companions—love, fortune, fame, and truth—leave us one after another, and only friendship and activity remain with us as loving comforters." Lord Lytton characterised the poem as an "elegy on departed youth."...

A FAUST SYMPHONY

5 minute read

Franz Liszt as a composer was born too soon. Others plucked from his amiable grasp the fruits of his originality. When Stendhal declared in 1830 that it would take the world fifty years to comprehend his analytic genius he was a prophet, indeed, for about 1880, his work was felt by writers of that period, Paul Bourget and the rest, and lived again in their pages. But poor, wonderful Liszt, Liszt whose piano playing set his contemporaries to dancing the same mad measure we recognise in these days, Liszt the composer had to knock unanswered at many critical doors for a bare recognition of his extraordinary merits. One man, a poor, struggling devil, a genius of the footlights, wrote him encouraging words, not failing to ask for a dollar by way of compensating postscript. Richard Wagner discerned the great musician behind the virtuoso in Liszt, discerned it so well that,...

SYMPHONY AFTER DANTE'S DIVINA COMMEDIA

6 minute read

The first sketches of this symphony were made during Liszt's stay at the country house of the Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein at Woronice, October, 1847—February, 1848. The symphony was finished in 1855, and the score was published in 1858. The first performance was at Dresden on November 7, 1857, under the direction of Wilhelm Fischer. The first part, Inferno, was produced in Boston at a Philharmonic Concert, Mr. Listemann conductor, November 19, 1880. The whole symphony was performed at Boston at a Symphony Concert, Mr. Gericke conductor, February 27, 1886. The work is scored for 3 flutes (one interchangeable with piccolo), 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, bass tuba, 2 sets of kettle-drums, cymbals, bass drum, gong, 2 harps, harmonium, strings, and chorus of female voices. The score is dedicated to Wagner: "As Virgil led Dante, so hast thou led me...

WEINGARTNER'S AND RUBINSTEIN'S CRITICISMS

5 minute read

In his The Symphony Since Beethoven, Felix Weingartner, renowned as a conductor and composer, has said some pertinent things of the Liszt symphonic works. It must not be forgotten that he was a pupil of the Hungarian composer. He has been discussing Beethoven's first Leonora overture and continues thus: "The same defects that mark the Ideale mark Liszt's Bergsymphonie , and, in spite of some beauties, his Tasso. Some other of his orchestral works, as Hamlet, Prometheus, Héroïde Funèbre , are inferior through weakness of invention. An improvisatore style, often passing into dismemberment, is peculiar to most of Liszt's compositions. I might say that while Brahms is characterised by a musing reflective element, in Liszt a rhapsodical element has the upper hand, and can be felt as a disturbing element in his weaker works. Masterpieces, besides those already mentioned, are the Hungaria, Festklänge the Hunnenschlacht , a fanciful piece of...

THE RHAPSODIES

7 minute read

Liszt wrote fifteen compositions for the pianoforte, to which he gave the name of Rhapsodies Hongroises ; they are based on national Magyar melodies. Of these he, assisted by Franz Doppler, scored six for orchestra. There is considerable confusion between the pianoforte set and the orchestral transcriptions, in the matter of numbering. Some of the orchestral transcriptions, too, are transposed to different keys from the originals. Here are the lists of both sets. The dedications remain the same as in the original set. August Spanuth, now the editor of the Signale in Berlin, wrote inter alia of the Rhapsodies in his edition prepared for the Ditsons: "After Liszt's memorable visit to his native country in 1840 he freely submitted to the influence of the gipsy music. The catholicity of his musical taste, due to his very sensitive and receptive nature as well as his cosmopolitan life, would have enabled him...

AS SONG WRITER

2 minute read

"It is not known exactly when Liszt began to compose songs," writes Henry T. Finck in his volume on Songs and Song Writers. "The best of them belong to the Weimar period, when he was in the full maturity of his creative power. There are stories of songs inspired by love while he lived in Paris; and he certainly did write six settings of French songs, chiefly by Victor Hugo. These he prepared for the press in 1842. While less original in melody and modulation than the best of his German songs, they have a distinct French esprit and elegance which attest his power of assimilation and his cosmopolitanism. These French songs, fortunately for his German admirers, were translated by Cornelius. Italian leanings are betrayed by his choice of poems by Petrarca and Bocella; but, as already intimated his favourite poets are Germans: Goethe, Schiller, Heine, Hoffmann von Fallersleben, Uhland,...

PIANO AND ORCHESTRA

6 minute read

This, the better known of Liszt's two pianoforte concertos, is constructed along the general lines of the symphonic poem—a species of free orchestral composition which Liszt himself gave to the world. The score embraces four sections arranged like the four movements of a symphony, although their internal development is of so free a nature, and they are merged one into another in such away as to give to the work as a whole the character of one long movement developed from several fundamental themes and sundry subsidiaries derived therefrom. The first of these themes [this is the theme to which Liszt used to sing, " Das versteht ihr alle nicht! " but, according to Von Bülow and Ramann, " Ihr könnt alle nichts! "] appears at the outset, being given out by the strings with interrupting chords of wood-wind and brass allegro maestoso leading at once to an elaborate cadenza...

THE DANCE OF DEATH

3 minute read

Liszt's Todtentanz is a tremendous work. This set of daring variations had not been heard in New York since Franz Rummel played them years ago, under the baton of the late Leopold Damrosch, although d'Albert, Siloti and Alexander Lambert have had them on their programmes—in each case some circumstance prevented our hearing them here. Harold Bauer played them with the Boston Symphony, both in Boston and Brooklyn, and Philip Hale, in his admirable notes on these concerts, has written in part: "Liszt was thrilled by a fresco in the Campo Santo of Pisa, when he sojourned there in 1838 and 1839. This fresco, The Triumph of Death, was for many years attributed to a Florentine, Andrea Orcagna, but some insist that it was painted by Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti." The right of this fantastical fresco portrays a group of men and women, who, with dogs and falcons, appear to be...

BURMEISTER ARRANGEMENTS

1 minute read

Richard Burmeister made an arrangement of Liszt's Concerto Pathétique in E minor by changing its original form for two pianos into a concerto for piano solo with orchestral accompaniment. Until now the original has remained almost an unknown composition; partly for the reason that it needed for a performance two first rank piano virtuosi to master the extreme technical difficulties and partly that Liszt had chosen for it such a rhapsodical and whimsical form as to make it an absolutely ineffective concert piece. Even Hans von Bülow tried in a new edition to improve some passages by making them more consistent, but without success. However, as the concerto contains pathetic musical ideas, among the best Liszt conceived and is of too much value to be lost, Mr. Burmeister ventured to give it a form by which he hopes to make it as popular as the famous E-flat major concerto by...

THE OPERATIC PARAPHRASES

2 minute read

"It is commonly assumed that the first musician who made a concert speech of the kind now so much in vogue was Hans von Bülow," says Mr. Finck. "Probably he was the first who made such speeches frequently, and he doubtless made the longest on record, when, on March 28, 1892, he harangued a Philharmonic audience in Berlin on Beethoven and Bismarck; this address covers three pages of Bülow's invaluable Briefe und Schriften . The first concert speech, however, was made by that many-sided innovator, Franz Liszt, who tells about it in an amusing letter he wrote from Milan to the Paris Gazette Musicale , in 1837. It was about this time that he originated the custom of giving 'piano recitals,' as he called them; that is, monologues by the solo pianist, without assisting artist or orchestra. In Italy, where he first took to this habit, it was particularly risky,...

THE ETUDES

7 minute read

The late Edward Dannreuther, who changed his opinion of Liszt, wrote a short introduction to his edition of the Transcendental Studies (Augener & Co.) which is of interest. "The Etudes, which head the thematic catalogue of Liszt's works, show, better than anything else, the transformation his style has undergone; and for this reason it may be well to trace the growth of some of them. Etudes en douze exercices, par François Liszt , Op. 1, were published at Marseilles in 1827. They were written during the previous year, Liszt being then under sixteen. The second set of Etudes, dédiées a Monsieur Charles Czerny , appeared in 1839, but were cancelled; and the Etudes d'exécution transcendante , again dedicated to Czerny, " en témoignage de reconnaissance et de respectueuse amitié de son élève ," appeared in 1852. The now cancelled copy of the Etudes which Schumann had before him in 1839,...

THE MASSES AND THE PSALMS

11 minute read

In his studies of Liszt's religious music, contributed to the Oxford History of Music, Edward Dannreuther, then no longer a partisan of Liszt, said of his mass: "Among Liszt's many contributions to the répertoire of Catholic church music the Missa solemnis, known as the Graner Festmesse , is the most conspicuous. Written to order in 1855, performed at the Consecration of the Basilica at Gran, in Hungary, in 1856, it was Liszt's first serious effort in the way of church music proper, and shows him at his best in so far as personal energy and high aim are concerned. 'More prayed than composed,' he said, in 1856, when he wanted to smooth the way for it in Wagner's estimation—'more criticised than heard,' when it failed to please in the Church of St. Eustache, in Paris, in 1866. It certainly is an interesting and, in many ways, a remarkable work. "Liszt's...

THE RAKOCZY MARCH

3 minute read

When Prince Franz Rakoczy II (1676-1735), with his young wife, the Princess Amalie Caroline of Hesse, made his state entry into his capital of Eperjes, his favourite musician, the court violinist Michael Barna, composed a march in honour of the illustrious pair and performed it with his orchestra. This march had originally a festive character, but was revised by Barna. He had heard that his noble patron, after having made peace with the Emperor Leopold I in 1711, was, in spite of the general amnesty, again planning a national rising against the Austrian house. Barna flung himself at the prince's feet and with tears in his eyes, cried "O gracious Prince, you abandon happiness to chase nothing!" To touch his master's heart he took his violin and played the revised melody with which he had welcomed the prince, then happy and in the zenith of his power. Rakoczy died in...

VON LENZ

10 minute read

The Russian councillor and the author of the well-known work, Beethoven et Ses Trois Styles , has contributed quite a small library of articles on Liszt, but as it is impossible to quote all of them, we select the following, which refers more particularly to his own intimacy and first acquaintance with the great musician: "In 1828 I had come to Paris, at the age of nineteen, to continue my studies there, and, moreover, as before, to take lessons on the piano; now, however, with Kalkbrenner. Kalkbrenner was a man of Hebrew extraction, born in Berlin; and in Paris under Charles X he was the Joconde of the drawing-room piano. Kalkbrenner was a Knight of the Legion of Honour, and the fair Camille Mock, afterward Madame Pleyel, who was not indifferent to Chopin or Liszt, was the favourite pupil of the irresistible Kalkbrenner. I heard her, between Kalkbrenner and Onslow,...

BERLIOZ

8 minute read

In the preface to Berlioz's published Correspondence, is the following account of Liszt's evenings with the great French composer and his first wife: "The first years of their married life were full of both hardship and charm. The new establishment, the revenues of which amounted, to begin with, to a lump sum of 300 francs, was migratory—at one time in the Rue Neuve Saint-Marc, at another at Montmartre, and then in a certain Rue Saint-Denis of which it is impossible now to find trace. Liszt lived in the Rue de Province, and paid frequent visits to the young couple; they spent many evenings together, when the great pianist would play Beethoven's sonatas in the dark, in order to produce a greater impression. In his turn, Berlioz took up the cudgels for his friend in the newspapers to which he was accustomed to contribute—the Correspondent , the Revue Européenne and, lastly,...

D'ORTIGUE

46 minute read

D'Ortigue, who is better known as a theorist than a composer and musical critic, was a great admirer of Liszt, as may be seen by the following extract from his writings: "Beethoven is for Liszt a god, before whom he bows his head. He considered him as a deliverer whose arrival in the musical realm has been illustrated through the liberty of poetical thought, and through the abolishing of old dominating habits. Oh, one must be present when he begins with one of those melodies, one of those posies which have long been called symphonies! One must see his eyes when he opens them as if receiving an inspiration from above, and when he fixes them gloomily on the ground. One must see him, hear him, and be silent. "We feel here only too well how weak is the expression of our imagination. He conquers everything but his nerves; his...

BLAZE DE BURY

55 minute read

Baron Blaze de Bury, in a musical feuilleton contributed to the Revue des Deux Mondes , no doubt more in fun than ill feeling, wrote as follows on Liszt and his Hungarian sword: "We must have dancers, songstresses, and pianists. We have enthusiasm and gold for their tour de force. We abandon Petrarch in the streets to bring Essler to the Capitol; we suffer Beethoven and Weber to die of hunger, to give a sword of honor to Mr. Liszt." Liszt was furious when this met his eye, and wrote immediately a long letter to the editor of the Revue , of which the following is the essential passage: "The sword which has been given to me at Pesth is a reward awarded by a nation under a national form. In Hungary—in this country of ancient and chivalrous manners—the sword has a patriotic significance. It is the sign of manhood...

OSCAR COMMETTANT

1 minute read

Oscar Commettant, in one of his works, gives the following satirical sketch of Liszt in the height of his popularity in the Parisian concert rooms: "A certain great pianist, who is as clever a manager as he is an admirable executant, pays women at a rate of 25 frs. per concert to pretend to faint away with pleasure in the middle of a fantasia taken at such a rapid pace that it would have been humanly impossible to finish it. The pianist abruptly left his instrument to rush to the assistance of the poor fainting lady, while everybody in the room believed that, but for that accident, the prodigious pianist would have completed the greatest of miracles. It happened one night that a woman paid to faint forgot her cue and fell fast asleep. The pianist was performing Weber's Concertstück . Reckoning on the fainting of this female to interrupt...

LEON ESCUDIER

2 minute read

The once celebrated musical publisher and director of the Parisian Italian Opera season gives the following description of Danton's statuette of Liszt, which was exhibited in the Paris salon half a century ago: "The pianist is seated before a piano, which he is about to destroy under him. His fingers multiply at the ends of his hands; I should think so—Danton made him ten at each hand. His hair like a willow floats over his shoulders. One would say that he is whistling. Now for the account. Liszt saw the statue, and made a grimace. He found that the sculptor had exaggerated the length of his hair. It was a criticism really pulled by the hair. Danton knew it. "But after Liszt had gone he went again to work and made immediately a second statuette. In this, one only sees a head of hair (the pianist is seen from the...

MOSENTHAL

1 minute read

Anton Rubinstein's librettist, in some reminiscences of his collaborateur says: "It must have been in 1840 that I saw Rubinstein for the first time, when scarcely ten years old; he had travelled in Paris with his teacher, and plucked his first laurels with his childish hands. It was then that Franz Liszt, hearing the boy play, and becoming acquainted with his first compositions, with noble enthusiasm proclaimed him the sole inheritor of his fame. The prediction has been fulfilled; already in the fulness of his activity, Liszt recognised in Rubinstein a rival on equal footing with himself, and since he has ceased to appear before the public he has greeted Rubinstein as the sole ruler in the realm of pianists. When Rubinstein was director of the Musical Society in Vienna, 1876, and the élite of the friends of art gathered every week in his hospitable house, I once had the...

MOSCHELES

5 minute read

There are several allusions to Liszt in Moscheles' Diary. Liszt visited London in 1840, and Moscheles records: "At one of the Philharmonic Concerts he played three of my studies quite admirably. Faultless in the way of execution, by his talent he has completely metamorphosed these pieces; they have become more his studies than mine. With all that they please me, and I shouldn't like to hear them played in any other way by him. The Paganini studies too were uncommonly interesting to me. He does anything he chooses, and does it admirably; and those hands raised aloft in the air come down but seldom, wonderfully seldom, upon a wrong note. 'His conversation is always brilliant,' adds Mrs. Moscheles. 'It is occasionally dashed with satire or spiced with humour. The other day he brought me his portrait, with his hommages respectueux written underneath; and what was the best "hommage" of all...

DWIGHT

1 minute read

John S. Dwight, the Boston musical critic, in an article on Dr. von Bülow, written while travelling in Germany with a friend, relates the following interview with Liszt: "It was in Berlin, in the winter of 1861, that we had the privilege of meeting and hearing Bülow. We were enjoying our first and only interview with Liszt, who had come for a day or two to the old Hôtel de Brandebourg , where we were living that winter. On the sofa sat his daughter, Mrs. von Bülow, bearing his unmistakable impress upon her features; the welcome was cordial, and the conversation on the part of both of them was lively and most interesting; chiefly of course it was about music, artists, etc., and nothing delighted us more than the hearty appreciation which Liszt expressed of Robert Franz, then, strange as it may seem, but very little recognised in Germany. Of...

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN

5 minute read

The author of the charming fairy tales, which are still admired by young as well as old people, in his usual graceful style, gives a description of a Liszt concert in 1840: "In Hamburg, at the City of London Hotel, Liszt gave a concert. In a few minutes the hall was crowded. I came too late, but I got the best place—close upon the orchestra, where the piano stood—for I was brought up by a back staircase. Liszt is one of the kings in the realm of music. My guide brought me to him, as I have said, up a back stair, and I am not ashamed to acknowledge this. The hall—even the side rooms—beamed with lights, gold chains and diamonds. Near me, on a sofa, reclined a young Jewess, stout and overdressed. She looked like a walrus with a fan. Grave Hamburg merchants stood crowded together, as if they...

HEINE

7 minute read

There are several reminiscences of Liszt to be found in the collected works of the great German author. Heine, writing in 1844 at Paris, says: "When I some time ago heard of the marvellous excitement which broke out in Germany, and more particularly in Berlin, when Liszt showed himself there, I shrugged my shoulders and thought quiet, Sabbath-like Germany does not want to lose the opportunity of indulging in a little 'permitted' commotion; it longs to stretch its sleep-stiffened limbs, and my Philistines on the banks of the Spree are fond of tickling them selves into enthusiasm, while one declaims after the other, 'Love, ruler of gods and men!' It does not matter to them, thought I, what the row is about, so long as it is a row, whether it is called George Herwegh (the "Iron Lark"), Fanny Essler or Franz Liszt. If Herwegh be forbidden we turn to...

CAROLINE BAUER

3 minute read

The lady whose revelations in her Mémoires about various royal and princely personages furnished the contributors of "Society" papers with a large amount of "copy" at the time of its publication, writes as follows concerning Liszt's intimacy with Prince Lichnowsky in 1844: "I had heard a great deal in Ratibor of mad Prince Felix Lichnowsky, who lived at his neighbouring country seat, and who furnished an abundant daily supply for the scandal-mongers of the town. Six years before that time the prince had quitted the Prussian service, owing to his debts and other irregularities, and had gone to Spain to evade his unhappy creditors, and to offer his ward to the Pretender, Don Carlos. Three years afterward he had returned from Spain with the rank of Carlist brigadier-general, and now he lived in his hermitage, near Ratibor, by no means a pious hermit. And then, one evening, shortly before the...

FANNY KEMBLE

1 minute read

Mrs. Kemble, in her chatty book, Records of Later Life, relates a pleasant incident in September, 1842: "Our temporary fellowship with Liszt procured for us a delightful participation in a tribute of admiration from the citizen workmen of Coblentz, that was what the French call saisissant . We were sitting all in our hotel drawing-room together, the maestro, as usual, smoking his long pipe, when a sudden burst of music made us throw open the window and go out on the balcony, when Liszt was greeted by a magnificent chorus of nearly two hundred men's voices. They sang to perfection, each with his small sheet of music and his sheltered light in his hand; and the performance, which was the only one of the sort I ever heard, gave a wonderful impression of the musical capacity of the only really musical nation in the world." Mrs. Kemble also gives her...

LOLA MONTEZ

2 minute read

The once notorious actress, who, after a series of adventures caused some uproar at Munich, met Liszt during his travels in Germany, and her biographer relates how they divided honours at Dresden in 1842. "Through the management of influential friends an opening was made for her at the Royal Theatre at Dresden, where she met the celebrated pianist, Franz Liszt, who was then creating such a furore that when he dropped his pocket handkerchief it was seized by the ladies and torn into rags, which they divided among themselves—each being but too happy to get so much as a scrap which had belonged to the great artist. The furore created by Lola Montez' appearance at the theatre in Dresden was quite as great among the gentlemen as was Liszt's among the ladies." Lola Montez, during the last few years of her life, devoted herself to lecturing in various European cities,...

MRS. ELLET

2 minute read

This lady, in an account of an autumn holiday on the Rhine, relates: "Liszt, with his wonted kindness, had offered to give a concert in Cologne, the proceeds of which were to be appropriated to the completion of the Cathedral; the Rhenish Liedertafel resolved to bring him with due pomp from the island of Nonnenwerth, near Bonn, where he had been for some days. A steamboat was hired expressly for this purpose, and conveyed a numerous company to Nonnenwerth at 11 in the morning. The Liedertafel then greeted the artist, who stood on the shore, by singing a morning salute, accompanied by the firing of cannons and loud hurrahs. They then marched with wind-instruments in advance to the now empty chapel of the cloister of Nonnenwerth, where they sang, and thence to Rolandseck, where an elegant dinner was prepared for the company. All eyes were fixed on Liszt; all hearts...

MINASI

2 minute read

Minasi, the once popular painter, who sketched a portrait of Thalberg during his first sojourn in London, also wrote an account of an interesting conversation about Liszt: "The purpose of my requesting an introduction to M. Thalberg was, first, to be acquainted with a man of his genius; and next, to request the favour of his sitting for his portrait, executed in a new style with pen and ink. His total freedom from all ceremony and affectation perfectly charmed me. He appointed the next morning at 9 for his first sitting; and in my eagerness to commence my task, and make one of my best studies, I was in his breakfast room a quarter of an hour before my time. While he was taking his breakfast I addressed him in my own language; and when he answered me with a most beautiful accent I was delighted beyond measure. I felt...

MACREADY

24 minute read

The once popular novelist, the Countess of Blessington, on May 31, 1840, invited many distinguished personages to her London house to meet Liszt, and among those who came were Lord Normanby, Lord Canterbury, Lord Houghton (then Mr. Monckton Milnes), Chorley, Rubini, Stuart Wortley, Palgrave Simpson, and Macready, the famous tragedian. Liszt played several times during the evening, and created an impression on all those present, especially on Macready, who notes in his diary: "Liszt, the most marvellous pianist I ever heard; I do not know when I have been so excited."...

AN ANONYMOUS GERMAN ADMIRER

6 minute read

The following recollections of Liszt's first visit to Stuttgart were published in a periodical many years ago. Though they appeared without any signature, the author seems to have been on intimate terms with the great musician: "Liszt played several times at court, for which he received all possible distinctions which the King of Wurtemberg could confer upon an artist. The list of honours was exhausted when the royal princesses wished to hear once more this magician of the piano keys quite privately in their own apartments. Liszt, our truly chivalric artist, accepted with delight such an invitation, expecting less to show himself as an artist than to express his thanks for the many honours received. It must have been rare enjoyment for a royal family which recognised in art only a graceful pastime and a delightful intoxication of the sense, with an agreeable excitement of the sentiments; for no artist...

GEORGE ELIOT

4 minute read

The English novelist visited Liszt at Weimar in 1854 and records some pleasing recollections: "About the middle of September the theatre opened. We went to hear Ernani. Liszt looked splendid as he conducted the opera. The grand outline of his face and floating hair was seen to advantage, as they were thrown into the dark relief by the stage lamps. Liszt's conversation is charming. I never met a person whose manner of telling a story was so piquant. The last evening but one that he called on us, wishing to express his pleasure in G——'s article about him, he very ingeniously conveyed that expression in a story about Spontini and Berlioz. Spontini visited Paris while Liszt was living there and haunted the opera—a stiff, self-important personage, with high shirt collars—the least attractive individual imaginable. Liszt turned up his own collars and swelled out his person, so as to give us...

AN ANONYMOUS LADY ADMIRER

3 minute read

This lady relates a touching incident about Liszt and a young music mistress: "Liszt was still at Weimar, and no one could venture to encroach upon his scant leisure by a letter of introduction. I saw him constantly at the mid-day table d'hôte. His strange, impressive figure as he sat at the head of the table was a sight to remember; the brilliant eyes that flashed like diamonds, the long hair, in those days only iron gray, the sensitive mouth, the extraordinary play of expression, once seen, could never fade from memory. Everything, indeed, about him was phenomenal—physiognomy, appearance, mental gifts; last, but not least, amiability of character and an almost morbid terror of inflicting pain. This characteristic, of course, led him into many embarrassments, at the same time into the committal of thousands of kind actions; often at the sacrifice of time, peace of mind, and, without doubt, intellectual...

LADY BLANCHE MURPHY

1 minute read

Lady Blanche gives an interesting account of Liszt's sojourn at the Monastery on Monte Mario in 1862, shortly after he became an abbé of the Roman Catholic Church. After describing the scenery of the place she says: "Here Liszt had taken up his abode, renting two bare white-walled rooms for the summer, where he looked far more at home than among the splendours of the prelate's reception room or the feminine elegancies of the princess' boudoir. He seemed happier, too—more cheerful, and light-hearted. He said he meant to be a hermit this summer, and the good Dominican lay brother attended to all his creature comforts, while he could solace himself by hearing the daily mass said in the early morning in the little chapel, into which he could step at any moment. His piano stood in one corner of his little cell, his writing table was piled with books and...

KARL KIRKENBUHL

9 minute read

This author, in his Federzeichnungen aus Rom , describes a visit to Liszt in 1867: "The building in which Liszt resides in Rome is of unpretending appearance; it is, and fancy may have pictured such a place as Liszt's 'Sans Souci,' a melancholy, plain little monastery. But by its position this quiet abode is so favoured that probably few homes in the wide world can be compared to it. Situated upon the old Via Sacra, it is the nearest neighbour of the Forum Romanum, while its windows look toward the Capitol, the ruins of the Palatine Palace and the Colosseum. In such a situation a life of contemplation is forced upon one. I mounted a few steps leading to the open door of the monastery, and all at once grew uncertain what to do, for I saw before me a handsome staircase adorned with pillars, such as I should not...

B. W. H.

6 minute read

An American lady who signs herself "B. W. H.," and wrote some reminiscences of the great musician at Weimar in 1877, calls her contribution An Hour Passed with Liszt: "How much more some of us get than we deserve! A pleasure has come to us unsought. It came knocking at our door seeking entrance and we simply did not turn it away. It happened in this fashion: A friend had been visiting Liszt in Weimar and happened to mention us to the great master, who promised us a gracious reception should we ever appear there. To Weimar then we came, and the gracious reception we certainly had, to our satisfaction and lasting remembrance. "After sending our cards, and receiving permission to present ourselves at an appointed and early hour, we drove to the small, cosy house occupied by Liszt when here, on the outskirts of the garden of the Duke...

ERNEST LEGOUVÉ

12 minute read

"I am about to make a very bold profession of faith—I adore the piano! All the jests at its expense, all the anathemas that are heaped upon it, are as revolting to me as so many acts of ingratitude, I might say as so many absurdities. "To me the piano is one of the domestic lares, one of our household gods. It is, thanks to it, and it alone, that we have for ourselves and in our homes the most poetic and the most personal of all the arts—music. What is it that brings into our dwellings an echo of the Conservatory concerts? What is it that gives us the opera at our own firesides? What is it that unites four, five or six harmonious voices in the interpretation of a masterpiece of vocal music, as the trio of Don Juan, the quartet of Moses, or the finale of the...

ROBERT SCHUMANN ON LISZT'S PLAYING

2 minute read

"Liszt is now [1840] probably about thirty years old. Every one knows well that he was a child phenomenon; how he was early transplanted to foreign lands; that his name afterward appeared here and there among the most distinguished; that then the rumour of it occasionally died away, until Paganini appeared, inciting the youth to new endeavours; and that he suddenly appeared in Vienna two years ago, rousing the imperial city to enthusiasm. Thus he appeared among us of late, already honoured, with the highest honours that can be bestowed on an artist, and his fame already established. "The first concert, on the 17th, was a remarkable one. The multitudinous audience was so crowded together that even the hall looked altered. The orchestra was also filled with listeners, and among them—Liszt. "He began with the Scherzo and Finale of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony. The selection was capricious enough, and on many...

LISZT IN RUSSIA

6 minute read

"Liszt visited Russia for the first time in 1842," writes Rose Newmarch. "I do not know whether this journey was part of the original scheme of his great two years' tour on the continent (1840-1842), or if he only yielded to the pressing invitations of several influential Russian friends. Early in 1839, among the many concerts which he gave in Rome, none was more brilliant than the recital organised by the famous Russian amateur, Count Bielgorsky, at the house of Prince Galitsin, Governor-General of Moscow, who was wintering in the Italian capital. During the fol lowing year, Liszt spent three days at Ems, where he was presented to the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, to whom he played every evening during his brief visit. The Empress was fascinated by his genius, and enjoined him to visit Russia without delay. "The phenomenal success of the twenty-two concerts which Liszt gave in Berlin during...

LISZT IN ENGLAND

15 minute read

"The visits of great musicians to our shores have furnished much interesting material to the musical historian," wrote the Musical Times . "Those of Mozart and Haydn, for instance, have been fully and ably treated by the late Carl Ferdinand Pohl, in two volumes which have never been translated, as they deserve to be, into the English language. No less interesting are the sojournings in London and the provinces of Spohr, Weber, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Berlioz, Verdi, and Wagner. 'The King of Pianists' has not hitherto received the attention due to him in this respect, and the following chit-chat upon his English experiences is offered as a small contribution to the existing biographical information concerning a great man. "Franz was a boy of twelve years of age, when he made his first appearance in London in the year 1824. At that time Rossini shone as the bright particular star in the...

EDVARD GRIEG

2 minute read

Grieg himself played his piano concerto at a Leipsic Gewandhaus concert in 1879, but it had already been heard in the same hall as early as February 22, 1872, when Miss Erika Lie played it, and the work was announced as new and "in manuscript." Before this time Grieg had shown the concerto to Liszt. The story is told in a letter of Grieg quoted in Henry T. Finck's biography of the composer: "I had fortunately just received the manuscript of my pianoforte concerto from Leipsic, and took it with me. Besides myself there were present Winding, Sgambati, and a German Liszt-ite whose name I do not know, but who goes so far in the aping of his idol that he even wears the gown of an abbé; add to these a Chevalier de Concilium and some young ladies of the kind that would like to eat Liszt, skin, hair,...

RICHARD HOFFMAN'S RECOLLECTIONS

2 minute read

"I think it was in 1840 or 1841, in Manchester, that I first heard Liszt, then a young man of twenty-eight," wrote the late Richard Hoffman in Scribner's Magazine . "At that time he played only bravura piano compositions, such as the Hexameron and Hungarian March of Schubert, in C minor, arranged by himself. I recollect his curious appearance, his tall, lank figure, buttoned up in a frock coat, very much embroidered with braid, and his long, light hair brushed straight down below his collar. He was not at that time a general favourite in England, and I remember that on this occasion there was rather a poor house. A criticism of this concert which I have preserved from the Manchester Morning Post will give an idea of his wonderful playing. After some introduction it goes on to say: 'He played with velocity and impetuosity indescribable, and yet with a...

HENRY REEVES

1 minute read

In Henry Reeves's biography I found this about Liszt: "Liszt had already played a great fantasia of his own, and Beethoven's Twenty-seventh Sonata in the former part of the concert. After this latter piece he gasped with emotion as I took his hand and thanked him for the divine energy he had shed forth. At last I managed to pierce the crowd, and I sat in the orchestra before the Duchesse de Rauzan's box, talking to her Grace and Madame de Circourt, who was there. My chair was on the same board as Liszt's piano when the final piece began. It was a duet for two instruments, beginning with Mendelssohn's Chants sans Paroles and proceeding to a work of Liszt's. We had already passed that delicious chime of the Song Written in a Gondola, and the gay tendrils of sound in another lighter piece, which always reminded me of an...

LISZT'S CONVERSION

7 minute read

"Have you read the story of Liszt's conversion as told by Emile Bergerat in Le Livre de Caliban ?" asks Philip Hale. "I do not remember to have seen it in English, and in the dearth of musical news the story may amuse. I shall not attempt to translate it literally, or even English it with a watchful eye on Bergerat's individuality. This is a paraphrase, not even a pale, literal translation of a brilliant original. The Conversion of The Abbé Liszt "And so he will not play any more. "Well, a pianist cannot keep on playing forever, and if Liszt had not promised to stop, the Pope would never have pardoned him—no, never. For the pianist turned priest because he was remorseful, horror-stricken at the thought of his abuse of the piano. His conversion is a matter of history. When one takes Orders, he swears to renounce Satan, his...

I WEIMAR

8 minute read

After rambling over Weimar and burrowing in the Liszt museum, one feels tempted to pronounce Liszt the happiest of composers, as Yeats calls William Morris the happiest poet. A career without parallel, a victorious general at the head of his ivory army; a lodestone for men and women; a poet, diplomat, ecclesiastic, man of the world, with the sunny nature of a child, loved by all, envious of no one—surely the fates forgot to spin evil threads at the cradle of Franz Liszt. And he was not a happy man for all that. He, too, like Friedrich Nietzsche had dæmonic fantasy; but for him it was a gift, for the other a curse. Music is a liberation, and Nietzsche of all men would have benefited by its healing powers. In Weimar Liszt walked and talked, smoked strong cigars, played, prayed—for he never missed early mass—and composed. His old housekeeper, Frau...

II BUDAPEST

4 minute read

My first evening in Budapest was a cascade of surprises. The ride down from Vienna is not cheery until the cathedral and palace of the primate is reached, at Gran, a superb edifice, challenging the valley of the Danube. Interminable prairies, recalling the traits of our Western country, swam around the busy little train until this residence of the spiritual lord of Hungary was passed. After that the scenery as far as Orsova, Belgrade, and the Iron Gates is legendary in its beauty. To hear the real Hungarian gipsy on his own heath has been long my ambition. In New York he is often a domesticated fowl, with aliens in his company. But in Budapest! My hopes were high. The combination of that peppery food, paprika gulyas, was also an item not to be overlooked. I soon found an establishment where the music is the best in Hungary, the cooking...

III ROME

20 minute read

The pianoforte virtuoso, Richard Burmeister, and one of Liszt's genuine "pet" pupils, advised me to look at Liszt's hotel in the Vicolo Alibert, Rome. It is still there, an old-fashioned place, Hotel Alibert, up an alley-like street off the Via Babuino, near the Piazza del Popolo. But it is shorn of its interest for melomaniacs, as the view commanding the Pincio no longer exists. One night sufficed me, though the manager smilingly assured me that he could show the room wherein Liszt slept and studied. A big warehouse blocks the outlook on the Pincio; indeed the part of the hotel Liszt inhabited no longer stands. But at Tivoli, at the Villa d'Este, with its glorious vistas of the Campagna and Rome, there surely would be memories of the master. The Sunday I took the steam-tramway was a threatening one; before Bagni was reached a solid sheet of water poured from...

TAUSIG

6 minute read

Over a quarter of a century has passed since the death of Karl Tausig, a time long enough to dim the glory of the mere virtuoso. Many are still living who have heard him play, and can recall the deep impressions which his performances made on his hearers. Whoever not only knew Karl Tausig at the piano, but had studied his genuinely artistic nature, still retains a living image of him. He stands before us in all his youth, for he died early, before he had reached the middle point of life; he counted thirty years at the time of his death, when his great heart, inspired with a love for all beauty, ceased to beat; when those hands, Tes mains de bronze et des diamants , as Liszt named them in a letter to his pupil and friend, grew stiff in death. It was through many wanderings and perplexities...

ROSENTHAL

2 minute read

"You, I presume, do not wish for biographical details—of my appearances as a boy in Vienna and later in St. Petersburg, of my early studies with Joseffy and later with Liszt," asked the great virtuoso. "You would like to hear something about Liszt? As a man or as an artist? You know I was with him ten years, and can flatter myself that I have known him intimately. As a man, I can well say I have never met any one so good and noble as he. Every one knows of his ever-ready helpfulness toward struggling artists, of his constant willingness to further the cause of charity. And when was there ever such a friend? I need only refer you to the correspondence between him and Wagner, published a year ago, for proof of his claims to highest distinction in that oft-abused capacity. One is not only compelled to admire...

ARTHUR FRIEDHEIM

6 minute read

Arthur Friedheim was born of German parentage in St. Petersburg, October 26, 1859. He lost his father in early youth, but was carefully reared by an excellent mother. His musical studies were begun in his eighth year, and his progress was so rapid that he was enabled to make his artistic début before the St. Petersburg public in the following year by playing Field's A-flat major concerto. He created a still greater sensation, however, after another twelve months had elapsed, with his performance of Weber's difficult piano concerto, reaping general admiration for his work. Despite these successes, the youth was then submitted to a thorough university education, and in 1877 passed his academical examination with great honours. But now the musical promptings of his warm artist soul, no longer able to endure this restraint, having revived, Friedheim with all his energy again devoted himself to his musical advancement, including the...

JOSEFFY

2 minute read

Descent counts for much in matters artistic as well as in the breeding of racehorses. "Tell me who the master is and I will describe for you the pupil," cry some theorists who might be called extremists. How many to-day know the name of Anton Rubinstein's master? Yet the pedagogue Villoing laid the foundation of the great Russian pianist's musical education, an education completed by the genial Franz Liszt. In the case, however, of Rafael Joseffy he was a famous pupil of a famous master. There are some critics who claim that Karl Tausig represents the highest development of piano playing in this century of piano-playing heroes. His musical temperament so finely fibred, his muscular system like steel thrice tempered is duplicated in his pupil, who, at an age when boys are gazing at the world across the threshold of Toy-land, was an accredited artist, a virtuoso in knee-breeches! Rafael...

OSCAR BERINGER

1 minute read

"To Franz Liszt, who towers high above all his predecessors, must be given pride of place. "In 1870 I had the good fortune to go with Tausig to the Beethoven Festival held at Weimar by the Allgemeiner Musik Verein , and there I met Liszt for the first time. I had the opportunity of learning to know him from every point of view, as pianist, conductor, composer, and, in his private capacity, as a man—and every aspect seemed to me equally magnificent. "His remarkable personality had an indescribable fascination, which made itself felt at once by all who came into contact with him. This wonderful magnetism and power to charm all sorts and conditions of men was illustrated in a delightful way. He was walking down Regent Street one day, on his way to his concert at the St. James' Hall. As he passed the cab-rank, he was recognised, and...

CLARA NOVELLO

39 minute read

There are interesting anecdotes of great musicians. Rossini was her intimate friend and adviser for years. In Paris she knew Chopin, who came to the house often and would only play for them if " la petite Clara would recite Peter Piper Picked." She remembered waltzing to his and Thalberg's playing. Later, when she was studying in Milan and knew Liszt, she sang at one of his concerts when no one else would do so, because he had offended the Milanese by a pungent newspaper article. He gave her courage to have a tooth out by playing Weber's Concertstück . She remembered hearing Paganini play when that arch-trickster took out a pair of scissors and cut three of the strings of his violin so that they hung down loose, and on the fourth performed his Witches' Dance, so that "the lights seemed to turn blue."...

BIZET

2 minute read

We are not accustomed to thinking of the composer of Carmen as a pianist, but the following anecdote from the London Musical Standard throws new light upon the subject: "It may not be generally known that the French composer, Bizet, possessed to a very high degree two artistic qualities: a brilliant technique and an extraordinary skill in score reading. On various occasions he gave proof of this great ability. One of the most interesting is the following: "Bizet's fellow-countryman, the composer Halévy, who filled the position of secretary to the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris, had gathered a few of his friends at his house for a little supper. In the circle were Liszt and Bizet. After they had finished their repast, the company went to the host's music room. Gathered around the fireplace, which increased the charm or comfort, and with cigars and coffee, the guests gave themselves...

SGAMBATI

3 minute read

"One of the pioneers of classical music in Italy, and one of its most talented composers of chamber music and in symphonic forms, is Giovanni Sgambati, born in Rome, May 18, 1843," writes Edward Burlingame Hill, in the Etude . "His father was a lawyer; his mother, an Englishwoman, was the daughter of Joseph Gott, the English sculptor. There had been some idea of making a lawyer of young Sgambati, but the intensity of his interest in music and his obvious talent precluded the idea of any other career. When he was but six years old, his father died, and he went with his mother to live in Trevii, in Umbria, where she soon married again. Even at this early age he played in public, sang contralto solos in church, and also conducted small orchestras. When a little older he studied the piano, harmony and composition with Natalucci, a pupil...

BACHE

2 minute read

Walter Bache died April, 1888, and the London Figaro gives the following sketch of this artist: "The awfully sudden death of poor Walter Bache on Monday night sent a shock through the whole of the London world of music. Some of his most intimate friends were present at the final popular concert on that evening, but none of them knew anything at all of the death. We have it on the authority of a member of his family that not even those whom he held most dear were in the slightest degree aware that he was in any danger. Only a few days ago he was present at a concert in St. James' Hall. But it seems he caught a chill. Next day he became worse, the cold doubtless settled upon his lungs, and the third day he died. Notification of the death did not reach even the daily papers...

RUBINSTEIN

1 minute read

"Antoine Rubinstein, of whom no one in Paris had ever heard before, for this great artist had the coquettish temerity to disdain the assistance of the press, and no advance notice, none at all, you understand, had announced his apparition," has written Saint-Saëns, "made his appearance in his concerto in G major, with orchestra, in the lovely Herz concert room, so novel in construction and so elegant in aspect, of which one can no more avail himself to-day. Useless to say, there was not a single paying hearer in the room, but next morning, nevertheless, the artist was celebrated, and at the second concert there was a prodigious jam. I was there at the second concert, and at the first notes I was overthrown and chained to the car of the conqueror. "Concerts followed one another, and I did not miss a single one. Some one proposed to present me...

VIARDOT-GARCIA

42 minute read

With the exception of the Bachs, who were noted musicians for six generations, and the Viennese branch of the Strauss dynasty, there is perhaps no musical family that affords a more interesting illustration of heredity in a special talent than the Garcias. The elder Garcia, who was born in 1775, was not only a great tenor and teacher, but a prolific composer of operas. His two famous daughters also became composers, as well as singers. Madame Viardot (who died in 1910) was so lucky as to be able to base her operettas on librettos written by Turgenev. Liszt said of her that "in all that concerns method and execution, feeling and expression, it would be hard to find a name worthy to be mentioned with that of Malibran's sister," and Wagner was amazed and delighted when she sang the Isolde music in a whole act of his Tristan at sight....

LISZT AS A FREEMASON

1 minute read

Memorial tablets have been placed on each of the two houses at Weimar in which Liszt used to reside. He first lived at the Altenburg and later on at the Hofgärtnerei . The act of piety was undertaken by the Allgemeiner Deutscher Musikverein , of which organisation Liszt was the president up to the time of his death. It has been asserted that Liszt was a Freemason after his consecration as a priest. This has been contradicted, but the following from the Freemason's Journal appears to settle the question: "On the 31st of July last one of the greatest artists and men departed at Bayreuth for the eternal east, who had proved himself a worthy member of our brotherhood by his deeds through his whole eventful life. It is Brother Franz Liszt, on whose grave we deposit an acacia branch. Millions of florins Franz Liszt had earned on his triumphal...

A LISZT SON?

1 minute read

A letter from Paris to the Vienna Monday Review says that in the salon of the Champ de Mars a picture is on exhibition, called Italian Bagpiper. While its artistic points are hardly worthy of special mention the striking resemblance of this work by Michael Vallet to the facial traits of Franz Liszt puzzled the jury not a little, and will doubtless create much interest among the visitors of the gallery. The model for the subject was a boat-hand of Genoa named Angelo Giocati-Buonaventi, fifty-six years of age. It was while strolling about the Genoese wharves that Vallet noticed the sparse form of Angelo, whose beardless face recalled to him at once Franz Liszt's. Angelo consented willingly to pose for the piper, but all questions as to his family extraction were answered with a laconic Chi lo sa? Vallet, by making inquiries in other directions, learned that Angelo came originally...

LISZT ON VIRTUOSITY

2 minute read

In these days of virtuosity let us hear what Liszt, the master of all virtuosi, says: "What, then, makes the virtuoso on an instrument?" asks the master, and we gain on this occasion the most comprehensive and the most decisive information on the point ourselves. Is he really a mere spiritless machine? Do his hands only attend to the office of a double winch on a street organ? Has he to dispense with his brain and with his feelings in his mechanical execution of the prescribed performance? Has he to supply the ear only with a photograph of the object before him? Such representations bring him to the somewhat proud remark: "We know too well how many amongst those who enjoy great praise, unable to translate even to the letter the original that is on the desk before them, degrade its sense, carrying on the art as a trade, and...

LISZT'S FAVOURITE PIANO

1 minute read

LETTER FROM DR. FRANZ LISZT " Weimar , November, 1883 . " Mr. Steinway : " Most Esteemed Sir : Again I owe you many and special thanks. The new Steinway Grand is a glorious masterpiece in power, sonority, singing quality, and perfect harmonic effects, affording delight even to my old piano-weary fingers. Ever continuing success remains a beautiful attribute of the world-renowned firm of Steinway & Sons. In your letter, highly esteemed sir, you mention some new features in the Grand Piano, viz. , the vibrating body being bent into form out of one continuous piece, and that portion of the strings heretofore lying dormant being now a part of and thus incorporated as partial tones into the foundation tones. Their utility is emphatically guaranteed by the name of the inventor. Owing to my ignorance of the mechanism of piano construction I can but praise the magnificent result in...

LISZT AS TEACHER

3 minute read

"While Liszt has been immensely written about as pianist and composer, sufficient stress has not been laid upon what the world owes him as a teacher of pianoforte playing," writes Amy Fay. "During his life-time Liszt despised the name of 'piano-teacher,' and never suffered himself to be regarded as such. 'I am no Professeur du Piano ,' he scornfully remarked one day in the class at Weimar, and if any one approached him as a 'teacher' he instantly put the unfortunate offender outside of his door. "I was once a witness of his haughty treatment of a Leipsic pupil of the fair sex, who came to him one day and asked him 'to give her a few lessons.' He instantly drew himself up and replied in the most cutting tone: "'I do not give lessons on the piano; and,' he added with a bow, in which grace and sarcasm were...

VON BÜLOW CRITICISES

2 minute read

"I look forward eagerly," Bülow wrote to a friend, "to your Chopin, that immortal romanticist par excellence, whose mazurkas alone are a monument more enduring than metal. Never will this great, deep, sincere, and at the same time tender and passionate poet become antiquated. On the contrary, as musical culture increases, he will appear in a much brighter light than to-day, when only the popular Chopin is in vogue, whereas the more aristocratic, manly Chopin, the poet of the last two scherzi, the last two ballads, the barcarole, the polonaise-fantaisie, the nocturnes, Op. 9, No. 3; Op. 48; Op. 55, No. 2, etc., still awaits the interpreters who have entered into his spirit and among whom, if God grants me life, I should like to have the pride of counting myself. "You know from my introduction to the études how highly I esteem Chopin. In his pieces we find Lenau,...

WEINGARTNER AND LISZT

1 minute read

Weingartner's reminiscences of Liszt throw many interesting lights on the personality of that great composer and greatest of teachers. The gathering of famous artists at his house are well described, and his own mannerisms excellently portrayed. His playing was always marked by the ripest perfection of touch. He did not incline to the impetuous power of his youthful days, but sat almost without motion before the keyboard. His hands glided quietly over the keys, and produced the warm, magnetic stream of tone almost without effort. His criticism of others was short, but always to the point. His praise would be given heartily, and without reserve, while blame was always concealed in some kindly circumlocution. Once, when a pretty young lady played a Chopin ballade in execrable fashion, he could not contain ejaculations of disgust as he walked excitedly about the room. At the end, however, he went to her kindly,...

AS ORGAN COMPOSER

45 minute read

Liszt's importance in this field is not overlooked. "In Germany, the land of seriousness, organ music had acquired a character so heavy and so uniformly contrapuntal that, by the middle of last century, almost any decently trained Capellmeister could produce a sonata dull enough to be considered first-rate. There were, doubtless, many protests in the shape of unorthodox works which left no mark; but two great influences, which are the earliest we need notice, came in the shape of Liszt's Fantasia on the name of Bach and Julius Reubke's Sonata on the Ninety-fourth Psalm. Without minute analysis we may say that the former, though not an entirely great work, was at all events something entirely new. It showed the possibility of freedom of form without shapelessness, of fairly good counterpoint without dulness, of the adaptation of piano technic to the organ in a way never before attempted; and the whole...

LISZT'S TECHNIC

6 minute read

Rudolf Breithaupt thus wrote of the technical elements in Liszt's playing in Die Musik : "What we hear of Liszt's technic in his best years, from 1825 to 1850, resembles a fairy tale. As artists, Liszt and Paganini have almost become legendary personages. In analysing Liszt's command of the piano we find that it consists first and foremost in the revelation of a mighty personality rather than in the achievement of unheard of technical feats. Though his admirers will not believe it, technic has advanced since his day. Tausig excelled him in exactness and brilliancy; Von Bülow was a greater master of interpretation: Rubinstein went beyond him in power and in richness of tone-colour, through his consummate use of the pedal. Even contemporary artists, e.g. , Carreño, d'Albert, Busoni, and in part, Godowsky, are technically equal to Liszt in his best days, and in certain details, owing to the improved...

BUSONI

1 minute read

Busoni is preparing a complete edition of Liszt's compositions, to be published by Breitkopf & Härtel. Concerning the studies, which are to appear in three volumes, he says: "These études, a work which occupied Franz Liszt from childhood on up to manhood, we believe should be put at the head of his piano compositions. There are three reasons for this: the first is the fact that the études were the first of his works to be published; the second is that in Liszt's own catalogue of his works (Themat. Verz. Br. H. 1855), he puts the études at the very beginning; and the third and most patent is that these works in their entirety reflect as do no others Liszt's pianistic personality in the bud, shoot, and flower. "These fifty-eight piano pieces alone would serve to place Liszt in the ranks of the greatest piano composers since Beethoven—Chopin, Schumann, Alkan,...

LISZT AS A PIANOFORTE WRITER

4 minute read

"Nothing is easier than to estimate Liszt the pianist, nothing more difficult than to estimate Liszt the composer. As to Liszt the pianist, old and young, conservatives and progressives, not excepting the keyboard specialists, are perfectly agreed that he was unique, unsurpassed, and unsurpassable," says Professor Niecks. "As to Liszt the composer, on the other hand, opinions differ widely and multifariously—from the attribution of superlative genius to the denial of the least talent. This diversity arises from partisanship, individuality of taste, and the various conceptions formed of the nature of creative power. Those, however, who call Liszt a composer without talent confess themselves either ignorant of his achievements, or incapable of distinguishing good from bad and of duly apportioning praise and blame. Those, on the other hand, who call Liszt a creative genius should not omit to observe and state that his genius was qualitatively unlike the genius of Haydn,...

SMETANA

27 minute read

Frederick Smetana, the greatest of Bohemian composers, founded in the year 1848 the institute which he conducted for the teaching of the piano in Prague. In this year it was that the composition for piano named Morceaux Caractéristiques , he dedicated to Liszt (which dedication Liszt accepted with the greatest cordiality, writing him a most complimentary letter), was the means of his becoming personally acquainted with Liszt, whom he until this time only knew by report. He obtained for the young composer an introduction to the publisher Kistner, in Leipsic, who brought out his six piano pieces called Stammbuchblaetter ....

RIMSKY-KORSAKOFF

1 minute read

"Of all the Slav composers Rimsky-Korsakoff is perhaps the most charming, and as a musician the most remarkable," writes the music-critic of the Mercure de France . "He has not been equalled by any of his compatriots in the art of handling timbres, and in this art the Russian school has been long distinguished. In this respect he is descended directly from Liszt, whose orchestra he adopted and from whom he borrowed many an old effect. His inspiration is sometimes exquisite; the inexhaustible transformation of his themes is always most intelligent or interesting. As all the other Russians, he sins in the development of ideas through the lack of cohesion, of sustained enchainment, and especially through the lack of true polyphony. The influence of Berlioz and of Liszt is not less striking in his manner of composition. Sadko comes from Liszt's Ce qu'on entend sur la montagne , Antar and...

HIS PORTRAITS

1 minute read

Last Picture of Liszt, 1886, Aged Seventy-five Years Many artists have immortalised "that profile of ivory." They are, Ingres who was a friend of Liszt, and of whom he always had a tender recollection; in his best days it was Kaulbach and Lenbach. William Kaulbach's portrait is celebrated for the grand look; the chivalrous and fine-gentleman character of the artist is expressed in it in a masterly way. Not less remarkable is a marble bust by the famous Bartolini, souvenir of the master's visit to Florence in 1838. The painter Leyraud shows us Liszt at the time when he took orders. He depicts him as a thin, thoughtful man, leaning against a piano, his arms crossed, and looking at the world from the height of his wisdom. David d'Angers has made a very fine medallion of him. "We have several portraits by Kriehuber, one, among others—Liszt in a travelling cloak—drawn...

IX MODERN PIANOFORTE VIRTUOSI

22 minute read

Artistic pianoforte playing is no longer rare. The once jealously guarded secrets of the masters have become the property of conservatories. Self-playing instruments perform technical miracles, and are valuable inasmuch as they interest a number of persons who would otherwise avoid music as an ineluctable mystery. Furthermore, the unerring ease with which these machines despatch the most appalling difficulties has turned the current toward what is significant in a musical performance: touch, phrasing, interpretation. While a child's hand may set spinning the Don Juan Fantasie of Liszt, no mechanical appliance yet contrived can play a Chopin ballade or the Schumann concerto as they should be played. I mention purposely these cunning inventions because I do not think that they have harmed the public interest in pianoforte recitals; rather have they stimulated it. Never before has the standard of execution and interpretation been so high. The giant wave of virtuosity that...

INSTEAD OF A PREFACE

3 minute read

This book, projected in 1902, was at that time announced as a biography of Liszt. However, a few tentative attacks upon the vast amount of raw material soon convinced me that to write the ideal life of the Hungarian a man must be plentifully endowed with time and patience. I preferred, therefore, to study certain aspects of Liszt's art and character; and as I never heard him play I have summoned here many competent witnesses to my aid. Hence the numerous contradictions and repetitions, arguments for and against Liszt in the foregoing volume, frankly sought for, rather than avoided. The personality, or, strictly speaking, the various personalities of Liszt are so mystifying that they would require the professional services of a half-dozen psychologists to untangle their complex web. As to his art, I have quoted from many conflicting authorities, hoping that the reader will evolve from the perhaps confusing pattern...

BOOKS BY JAMES HUNEKER

7 minute read

Published by CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS PROMENADES of an IMPRESSIONIST $1.50 net Contents : Paul Cézanne—Rops the Etcher—Monticelli—Rodin—Eugene Carrière—Degas—Botticelli—Six Spaniards—Chardin—Black and White—Impressionism—A New Study of Watteau—Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec—Literature and Art—Museum Promenades. "The vivacity of Mr. Huneker's style sometimes tends to conceal the judiciousness of his matter. His justly great reputation as a journalist critic most people would attribute to his salient phrase. To the present writer, the phrase goes for what it is worth—generally it is eloquent and interpretative, again merely decorative—what really counts is an experienced and unbiassed mind at ease with its material. The criticism that can pass from Goya, the tempestuous, that endless fount of facile enthusiasms, and do justice to the serene talent of Fortuny is certainly catholic. In fact, Mr. Huneker is an impressionist only in his aversion to the literary approach, and in a somewhat wilful lack of system. This, too, often seems less temperamental...