Letters Of Franz Liszt, Volume 1,
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Letters Of Franz Liszt, Volume 1, "From Paris To Rome:

Years of Travel as a Virtuoso"

By Franz Liszt; letters collected by La Mara and translated by Constance Bache

CONTENTS

BRIEF BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH DEDICATION PREFACE TO THE ENGLISH EDITION, BY CONSTANCE BACHE TABLE OF LETTER CONTENTS THE LETTERS OF FRANZ LISZT, VOL. 1 INFO ABOUT THIS E-TEXT EDITION

BRIEF BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

The Austrian composer Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was a pianistic miracle. He could play anything on site and composed over 400 works centered around "his" instrument. Among his key works are his Hungarian Rhapsodies, his Transcendental Etudes, his Concert Etudes, his Etudes based on variations of Paganinini's Violin Caprices and his Sonata, one of the most important of the nineteenth century. He also wrote thousands of letters, of which 260 are translated into English in this first of a 2-volume set of letters.

Those who knew him were also struck by his extremely sophisticated personality. He was surely one of the most civilized people of the nineteeth century, internalizing within himself a complex conception of human civility, and attempting to project it in his music and his communications with people. His life was centered around people; he knew them, worked with them, remembered them, thought about them, and wrote about them using an almost poetic language, while pushing them to reflect the high ideals he believed in. His personality was the embodiment of a refined, idealized form of human civility. He was the consummate musical artist, always looking for ways to communicate a new civilized idea through music, and to work with other musicians in organizing concerts and gatherings to perform the music publicly. He also did as much as he could to promote and compliment those whose music he believed in.

He was also a superlative musical critic, knowing, with few mistakes, what music of his day was "artistic" and what was not. But, although he was clearly a musical genius, he insisted on projecting a tonal, romantic "beauty" in his music, confining his music to a narrow range of moral values and ideals. He would have rejected 20th-century music that entertained cynical notions of any kind, or notions that obviated the concept of beauty in any way. There is no Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Cage, Adams and certainly no Schoenberg in Liszt's music. His music has an ideological "ceiling," and that ceiling is "beauty." It never goes beyond that. And perhaps it was never as "beautiful" as the music of Mozart, Bach or Beethoven, nor quite as rational (Are all the emotions in Liszt's music truly "controlled?"). But it certainly was original and instructive, and it certainly will linger.

DEDICATION

To the Memory of MY BROTHER WALTER, AND TO OUR DEAR AND HONORED FRIEND A.J. HIPKINS, ESQ., I DEDICATE THIS TRANSLATION.

- C.B.

PREFACE TO THE ENGLISH EDITION, BY CONSTANCE BACHE

In writing a few words of Preface I wish to express, first and foremost, my appreciation of the extreme care and conscientiousness with which La Mara has prepared these volumes. In a spirit of no less reverence I have endeavored, in the English translation, to adhere as closely as possible to all the minute characteristics that add expression to Liszt's letters: punctuation has, of necessity, undergone alteration, but italics, inverted commas, dashes and other marks have been strictly observed. It may be objected that unnecessary particularity has been shown in the translation of various titles, names of Societies or newspapers, quotations, etc.; but there are many people who, while understanding French, do not read German, and vice versa, and therefore it has seemed better to translate everything. Where anything has been omitted in the printed letters I have adhered to the sign . - . employed by La Mara to indicate the hiatus. It has seemed best to preserve the spelling of all proper names as written by Liszt, and not to Anglicise any, as it is impossible to do all; and therefore, even at the risk of a seeming affectation, the original form of the name has been preserved. In the same spirit I have adhered to the correct form of the name of our adopted composer Handel, and trust I may be pardoned for so doing on the strength of a little joke of Liszt's own "The English," he said, "always talk about Gluck and Handel!"

La Mara says in her Preface that this collection can by no means be considered a complete one, as there must exist other letters - to Liszt's mother, to Berlioz, Tausig, etc. - which it is hoped may yet be some day forthcoming. In like manner might there not also be letters to his daughter Madame Ollivier (not to mention his still-living daughter Madame Wagner)? [Another volume of Liszt's letters, of a still more intimate character, addressed to a lady friend, will be published later on.]

The English edition is increased by four letters one to Peter Cornelius, No. 256A in Vol. I., which is interesting in its reference to the "Barbier"; and, in Vol. II., a kind letter of introduction which the Master gave me for Madame Tardieu, in Brussels; one letter to Walter Bache, and one to the London Philharmonic Society (Nos. 370A and 370B); one of these, it is true, is partially quoted in a footnote by La Mara, but at this distance of time there is no reason why these letters should not be inserted entire, and they will prove of rather particular interest, both to my brother's friends, and also as having reference to that never-to-be-forgotten episode - Liszt's last visit to England.

This visit, which took place in 1886, a few months before the Master's death, was for the purpose of his being present at the performance of his Oratorio of St. Elizabeth (see Letter 370 and subsequent letters).

More than forty years had elapsed since Liszt's previous visit to our shores; times had changed, and the almost unknown, and wholly unappreciated, had become the acknowledged King in a realm where many were Princes.

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