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Chapter 30 - Liszt and the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

from Part IV - Reception and Legacy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 September 2021

Joanne Cormac
Affiliation:
University of Nottingham
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Summary

Ma seule ambition de musicien était et serait de lancer mon javelot dans les espaces indéfinis de l’avenir – comme nous disions autrefois dans le journal de Brendel. Pourvu que ce javelot soit de bonne trempe et ne retombe pas à terre – le reste ne m’importe nullement!

My only ambition as a musician was and will be to throw my javelin into the indefinite spaces of the future – as we once said in Brendel’s journal. Provided that this javelin is of good temper and does not fall to the ground – the rest does not matter to me!

Letter to Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein, 9 February 1874, in La Mara, ed., Franz Liszt’s Briefe, vol. 7.
Considering Liszt’s legacy, one should consider his multifaceted influence in the following fields: Firstly, Liszt was the ‘inventor’ of the symphonic poem. This new genre, which connects music and literature (or other arts), had a significant impact on symphonic music, mainly outside Germany. Schoenberg and Bartók, who both wrote symphonic poems at the beginning of their careers, were the first to give an assessment of Liszt’s significance for the twentieth century. Secondly, Liszt’s pianistic style (as composer and arranger) gave a model for virtuoso piano writing. Thirdly, some special characteristics of his compositions, in particular, the technique of thematic transformation in connection with large-scale form during the Weimar period, and advanced harmonic progressions becoming more obvious in the late works after 1872, have led musicologists to label him as a forerunner of twentieth-century new music. Finally, as the twenty-first century has approached, some composers have continued to draw on the works of the late Liszt for concrete inspiration.

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Liszt in Context , pp. 282 - 289
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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