Bound in a striking red and gold cover, a new edition of short piano pieces by Franz (Ferenc) Liszt has appeared through the collaboration of Editio Musica Budapest with the Stiftung Weimarer Klassik, Goetheund Schiller-Archiv. Only twenty-four pages in length, this new offering gives us a glimpse of some of the happy and more intimate moments in Liszt's personal life--that of his new relationship with Princess Carolyne Elisabeth Jeanne von Sayn-Wittgenstein (1819-1887) and her daughter, Princess Marie Pauline Antonia von Sayn- Wittgenstein (1837-1920)--and his approaching retirement from the concert stage.
The Budapest publication is an attractive quasi-replication of the red leather, gold embossed a]bum that originally contained seventy-two pages of music manuscript paper with decorative blue leaves awaiting to be filled with musical flowers. And musical flowers were to blossom from some of the most famous nineteenth-century composers. Excerpts or short original piano pieces not only from Liszt, but from Richard Wagner, Hector Berlioz, Bedrich Smetana, Hans von Bulow, Anton Rubinstein, Carl Tausig, Joseph Joachim, Pauline Viardot-Garcfa, to name a few of the fortyfour illustrious musicians, are also found, making this little album a very precious item indeed and calling to mind a similar idea behind the famed Hexameron or Liszt's Chopsticks Variations.
It is possible that Liszt actually bought the red leather album for the little princess, but this has not yet been proven. On the original back flyleaf (not reproduced in the edited version), the inscription in French reads, "Institute for aristocratic young ladies, Odessa, August 30, 1847," thus denoting both the elite girls' school in Odessa frequented by Marie as well as the date that Liszt left there for the final concerts of his career-in Elisabethgrad.
Marie reserved the first entries uniquely for Liszt. Only from 1855-59 did she allow some of Liszt's above-mentioned Weimar devotees to contribute to the album, after which she married Prince Constantin von Hohenlohe-Schillingsfurst and subsequently moved to Vienna. The special father-daughter-like relationship between Liszt and Marie endured throughout the composer's lifetime.
Liszt first met Marie when her mother invited him to their Woronince estate (located between Kiev and Odessa) for the celebration of the girl's birthday on 18 February 1847. Carolyne, who had heard Liszt perform in Kiev only two weeks earlier, was deeply moved by his playing and compositions. Their mutual attraction quickly developed into deep love, and the rest of Liszt's life was dominated by this relationship.
The Albumblatter fur Prinzessin Marie von Sayn-Wiettgenstein contains a set of four folk like pieces for piano new to the catalog of Liszt's works: "Lilie," "Hryc," "Mazurek," and "Krakowiak." In addition to the cleanly printed urtext edition, the publication includes a facsimile reproduction of each manuscript leaf on the left facing page for comparison. Essentially harmonizations of Podolian Polish and Ukrainian folk melodies from Woronince and the surrounding area (which Liszt heard and which Marie would also have known), these pieces were assumably composed during Liszt's second visit to Woronince late in 1847, when Carolyne invited a gypsy band to perform for Liszt's birthday on 22 October 1847. Another Liszt piano work, the three-movement Glanes de Woronince, also dedicated to Marie (and whose first movement Dumka" is based upon the old Ukrainian folk ballad that begins "Hryts, Do Not Go to the Party Tonight"--also the basis of the piano piece "Hryc"), dates from 1847 as well and reflects Liszt's birth day celebration.
The first piece of the Albumblatter, "Lilie" (C major, 4/4, and marked Andantino), begins sweetly with both hands in treble clef. Liszt indicates careful fingering for both hands at the beginning, expecting similar passages to follow the same scheme. The composer provided no pedal indications, articulations, or dynamics, but the dolce in the first measure sufficiently expresses the nature nf the piece. The musical structure follows an asymmetric pattern (A 3 mm. A' = 3 mm. B 2 + 2 mm. A" = 3 mm.), and although the words to all the original folksongs are absent, we may deduce that the uneven phrases of the A and B sections derive from distinctive traits of the Polish language and Polish music. Moreover, the melodic range spans only an octave. The folksong "Lilie" is similar to the French tune "Au clair de la lune," and Liszt's setting is somewhat reminiscent nf "Melodie" from Robert Schumann's Album fur die Jugend, op. 68, in which the left hand accompaniment consists of a rocking bass.
"Hyrc" (A minor, 2/4, with no tempo indication) is a soulful bipartite song, with only the second half repeated. Flowing sixteenth notes in the accompaniment against the charming tonic-dominant melody give this piece a graceful slant. Monothematic, the musical structure is A = 4 mm. A' = 4 mm. B (which is derived from A transposed to the relative major mode) = 4 mm. A" (only slightly varied from A') = 4 mm. The melodic range extends to a tenth (e-[g.sup.1]). Liszt Omits fingerings, dynamics, and pedal markings, but a sustained bass pedal point on the tonic during the first four measures makes pedaling imperative--an interpretative element, perhaps applicable to the entire piece.
"Mazurek" (A major, 3/8, and marked Allegretto) is a typical Polish mazurka. The right-hand motif outlines a second inversion A-major chord with upper appogiatura for two measures in a dotted rhythm with a strong first beat. This first chordal call is repeated four times, always with a different response in the dominant, to form the sixteen-measure A section. The symmetrical B section (which is repeated) begins with the same rhythmic motif in the dominant and alternates with tonic responses. Here Liszt indicates fingering in the tricky transitions of sixths and thirds in the right hand. The accompaniment consists nf bass note plus blocked chords in the first section and bass note plus broken chords in the second. There are no dynamics or pedal indications.
"Krakowia" (F major, 2/4, with no tempo indication) suggests its origin, Krakow, from its name. The editor has added Vivace to indicate the tempo of the staccato melody in running eighth notes (over a chordal accompaniment) spiced with an occasional syncopation. This small deviation from Liszt's manuscript raises a question about how the piece (and the original song) should be performed--namely, whether or not the monothematic piece should retain the same tempo or whether it might begin slowly, then accelerate to a very fast tempo by the fourth eight-measure phrase. The musical form is a large A B A with Liszt's indication of "Da Capo a l'infinito" to suggest that "Krakowia" can continue as long as the performer likes, and the dynamics range from piano-crescendo--piu forte in the first section to piano-crescendo molto-fortissimo in the second. Liszt has meticulously marked the fingering in the first three measures to set the pattern, but pedaling is not indicated anywhere in the piece.
The first piece that now opens the album, a short, twenty-one measure piano transcription of Liszt's Lied aus Egmont ("Freudvoll und leidvoll") on a text by Goethe, was actually pasted in later from Liszt's "Tasso" sketchbook. Liszt composed the song in 1844, with the transcription following three years later dedicated to Marie's maternal grandmother, Pauline von Iwanowska (born Podowska), a gifted singer and former student of Gioachino Rossini: "Written for Madame Iwanowska, in memory of Woronince, March '47. F. Liszt." An edition published in the Albumhi atter as Appendix 1 marks yet another new addition to Liszt's catalog of works.
A two-measure introduction opens "Freudvoll und leidvoll" (A[MUSICAL NOTES NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] major, 6/8, marked "Andantino"), and a coupling of enharmonic chord changes and the rhythmic tension of a four-note figure against a six-note accompaniment marks the second phrase of the song melody. A pseudo repetition of the entire A section features a surprising harmonic twist briefly into B major, followed by a smooth transition back to A[MUSICAL NOTES NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in the four-measure coda. Liszt indicates no pedaling or dynamics, but it seems abundantly clear that the smooth legato texture and cantabile style must caress something like a barcarolle. Two other appendixes include several of Liszt's folksong sketches and variations from the Tasso sketchbook, including the "Hyrc" ballad in G minor, rather than the A minor of Marie's piece, and a rough draft of "Krakowiak."
The Tasso sketchbook, used by Liszt between 1845-48 during his Ukrainian, Romanian, Hungarian, and Transylvanian travels, contains many folk and popular tunes heard at the time. Currently held at the Stiftung Weimarer Klassik, Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv, it is the subject of at least one dissertation (Rena Charnin Mueller, "Liszt's 'Tasso' Sketchbook: Studies in Sources and Revisions" [New York University, 1986]). The sources for Lilie and Mazurek are also noted in the Tasso sketchbook. Liszt confirms the Polish origin of Mazurek by citing its opening phrase, "Gdy w czystem polu ... (When on the clean earth...). A very close version of the folksong used in Lilie was later published in 1857 in a Polish collection by Oskar Kolberg (Piesni ludu Polshiego, ser. 1 [Warsaw: Nakladem wydawcy; reprint (as vol. 1 of Kolberg's Dziela wszystkie), Wroclaw: Polskie Towarzystwo Ludoznawcze, 1961, 1974]).
Small editorial details--such as the writing out of measures marked by Liszt to be repeated, or the addition of accidentals, which due to the performance practice of the day could be left out--enhance the legibility of the published edition. Fidelity to Liszt's specific fingering indications is maintained. The edition contains excellent critical notes in Hungarian, German, and English by Maria Eckhardt, dated June 2000. Because Liszt's method book has been lost and we only have his technical exercises to peruse, his compositions intended for a child are indeed illuminating. Had he written an instructional book for children, perhaps Liszt, like Bela Bartok, would have chosen his path through the wealth of eastern European folksong.
The story of the little red leather album does not end here. After Marie inherited the Liszt bequest upon her mother's death in 1887, she gave the majority to the Archducy of Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach to form the basis of a Liszt museum. She kept the album for herself, however, until 1913, when she gave it at Christmas to her granddaughter, Marie Lamberg, as documented by the second front flyleaf. In 1926, six years after grandmother Marie's death, the album was auctioned in Berlin, passing through the Swiss hands of Louis Koch, coming to public light at an exhibition in Basel in 1975, and finally being laid to rest at the Stiftung Weimarer Kiassik, Goetheund Schiller-Archiv on 31 March 1999.
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|Author:||HARPER, NANCY LEE|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2001|
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