Date of Award
Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
Franz Liszt's transcriptions of his own works and the works of others represent a significant segment of his keyboard compositions. These transcriptions (and his numerous revisions of them) provide opportunities for studying the development of his compositional styles. For example, the four versions of three Petrarch sonnets reveal the manner in which he used his own basic musical material in two different areas of performance (that is, vocal and keyboard), and they illuminate the path he took that led to his late style. The purpose of this study was to examine Liszt's four versions of the sonnets (the 1838-39 tenor songs, the 1846 keyboard transcriptions, the 1858 keyboard revisions, and the 1861 baritone songs) from a historical and stylistic standpoint, examining in particular the characteristics that indicate a change in style which, in turn, pointed to his late works of 1869-86. Of the four sets, the 1858 piano transcriptions are particularly effective examples of their genre--the nineteenth-century character piece for piano. In them, Liszt's skillful and tasteful transference of extra-musical ideas to the keyboard can easily be grasped and appreciated. They have eclipsed the more virtuoso 1846 transcriptions to such a degree that the latter are rarely performed. The "operatic" 1838-39 songs, with their expansive accompaniments, display characteristics that have prompted criticisms of Liszt's early songwriting technique. Just as the 1858 piano revisions represent a refinement and sophistication in style, so do the 1861 song rewrites reveal a certain control and restraint. Characteristics are to be noted in them that predict the changes in Liszt's style that were to occur during the last seventeen years of his life. All four settings provide an interesting insight into the long compositional career of one of music's most fascinating personalities and most innovative composers. Each set is worthy of study and performance.
Ray, Brenda C., "Franz Liszt's Settings of Three Petrarch Sonnets." (1986). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 4322.