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Liebesträume (German for Dreams of Love) is a set of three solo piano works (S.541/R.211) by Franz Liszt, published in 1850. Originally the three Liebesträume were conceived as lieder after poems by Ludwig Uhland and Ferdinand Freiligrath. In 1850, two versions appeared simultaneously as a set of songs for high voice and piano, and as transcriptions for piano two-hands.

The two poems by Uhland and the one by Freiligrath depict three different forms of love. Uhland's Hohe Liebe (exalted love) is saintly or religious love: the "martyr" renounces worldly love and "heaven has opened its gates". The second song Seliger Tod (blessed death) is often known by its first line ("Gestorben war ich", "I had died"), and evokes erotic love; "dead" could be a metaphor here referring to what is known as "la petite mort" in French ("I was dead from love's bliss; I lay buried in her arms; I was wakened by her kisses; I saw heaven in her eyes"). Freiligrath's poem for the famous third Notturno is about unconditional mature love ("Love as long as you can!", "O lieb, so lang du lieben kannst").

Liebestraum No. 3[edit]

Performed by Martha Goldstein on an 1851 Érard piano

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Liebestraum No. 3 is the last of the three that Liszt wrote, and the most popular, and can be considered as split into three sections, each divided by a fast cadenza requiring dexterous finger work and a very high degree of technical ability.

The same melody is used throughout the entire piece, each time varied, especially near the middle of the work, where the climax is reached. A sample of this melody from the opening bars, adapted from an engraving by Kistner,[1] is as follows:

\header {
  tagline = ##f

tempoMark = {
  \once \override Score.RehearsalMark #'self-alignment-X = #-1
  \once \override Score.RehearsalMark #'break-align-symbols = #'(time-signature key-signature)
  \once \override Staff.TimeSignature #'break-align-anchor-alignment = #-1
  \mark \markup \bold "Poco Allegro, con affetto."

global = {
  \key as \major
  \time 6/4
  \partial 4

\parallelMusic #'(voiceA voiceB voiceC voiceD) {
  % Anacrusis
  r4   |
  s4   |
  ees4 |
  r4   |
  % Bar 1
  r8 ees [\( aes c aes ees\)] r ees [\( aes c aes ees\)] |
  c2.                         s                          |
  aes,4      s     s          c'2.                       |
  s4         r     r          r2.                        |
  % Bar 2
  r8 e   [\( bes' c bes e,  \)] r e   [\( bes' c bes e,  \)] |
  c2.                       ( c2  )              s4          |
  s2.                         s2                 c4          |
  g4         r     r          r2.                            |

right = {
    \relative c' \voiceA
    \relative c' \voiceB

left = {
    \relative c \voiceC
    \relative c \voiceD
    \new Dynamics {
      s4 | \repeat unfold 2 { s4\sustainOn s1 s8 s8\sustainOff | }

\score {
  \new PianoStaff <<
    \new Staff = "right" \with {
      midiInstrument = "acoustic grand"
    } \right
    \new Staff = "left" \with {
      midiInstrument = "acoustic grand"
    } { \clef bass \left }
  \layout { }
  \midi {
    \context {
      tempoWholesPerMinute = #(ly:make-moment 100 4)

Liebestraum No. 3 is a standard repertoire piece, and most concert pianists will have studied or performed it.

Further use and recorded versions[edit]

  • The Melachrino Orchestra conductor George Melachrino recorded the piece in London on December 9, 1945. It was released by EMI on the His Master's Voice label as catalogue numbers B 9527, EA 3736 and TG 105.
  • The Quintet of the Hot Club of France, with Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli, recorded a rather oblique version in Paris on 26 April 1937.
  • The Baltimore-based experimental band Animal Collective sampled Liebestraum No. 3 in A Flat Major for the song "Cuckoo Cuckoo" of their 2007 album Strawberry Jam
  • Liebestraum No. 3 in A-flat major was featured in an episode of the popular Cartoon Network series Courage the Cowardly Dog entitled "McPhearson Phantom".
  • It was published with version 2 of the scorewriter software Sibelius as an example score.
  • It made two important appearances in the film All About Eve – firstly played on the piano at the party when Margo is sitting with the pianist, and later heard on the car radio.
  • Spike Jones recorded an unforgettably frantic cover of Liebestraum No. 3 early in his career.
  • Another infamous rendition, this time for violin, was performed by actor Werner Klemperer for the Hogan's Heroes episode "Kommandant Gertrude".
  • Liebestraum No. 3 is played by a character in the film Lost in the Desert and from this becomes an important theme in the soundtrack.
  • Victor Borge played a version for his album Caught in the Act. When he announced he was about to play it, the audience applauded. He stopped them with "Don't be too happy about it...I hate that number! Can't stand it. I play it with both hands; that way I get through with it a little faster!"
  • It has been used in the anime series Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning.
  • It was used in the video game Haunting Ground.
  • It is played by Ryotaro Tsuchiura in the special episode of the anime Kin'iro no Corda.
  • It appeared in the movie Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector as the song to which Larry's female partner kept switching his truck radio.
  • It was recorded by western swing band Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys in 1941, with steel guitar, saxophone, clarinet, trumpets, and drums. The version was unissued at the time but was included in Sony's 2006 anthology, Legends of Country Music: The Best of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys
  • In 1962 an uptempo version by the Swedish singer Little Gerhard was released on the single Karusell KFF 390. Entitled "Liebstraum Twist", it was credited to Wolfgang Weinzierl, Leo Rieden and Gusten.
  • Ken Russell's Lisztomania uses this piece quite frequently - the film version was reworked with English lyrics by The Who's Roger Daltrey (who played Liszt in the film), and arranged by Rick Wakeman, the keyboardist from 70s prog band Yes, who did the film's soundtrack.
  • In 1975, songwriter/performer Richard O'Brien and his wife Kimi recorded a version of the song, with new lyrics by O'Brien, as their proposed third single as vocal duo, Kimi and Ritz. However, it was never released.
  • In December 2004 it was played at the memorial service of Gene A. Dwyer, a multi-instrumentalist who played in many famous bands of the 1930s and 1940s. Though Dwyer was known more for his work with big band and jazz music, he enjoyed the classics, and Liszt in particular.
  • It is currently used in many test portfolios, and comes recommended in The Royal Conservatory of Music's level 10 Piano repertoire.
  • Ilia Kulik skated to piano/violincello version of the song during 1997 Japan Open LP
  • Japanese skater Mao Asada used Richard Clayderman's arrangement for her 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 long program.
  • The 1970 Soviet/Hungarian film Szerelmi álmok – Liszt (English: Dreams of Love – Liszt, also known in English as The Loves of Liszt) (Russian: Ференц Лист. Грезы любви) about Liszt co-named with his famous work. [1]
  • It is featured in the 2008 Korean drama Beethoven Virus.
  • It is used as theme music in the Japanese Action-RPG game Pandora's Tower for Wii, that features several rearrangements of the piece and even a vocal version.
  • Liebestraum is featured in a segment of The Bugs Bunny Show where cat fraudulently uses mouse' playing of the famous piece on the miniature grand piano.
  • Nokia utilized it as a ringtone for certain models since approximately 2005. [need more info on models and dates].
  • A quote from Liebestraum No. 3 is used in the song "Nothing at All" from the album Gentle Giant by Gentle Giant. The quote is played by Kerry Minnear from 5:48 until 6:25 before veering of into an improvised piano solo.
  • Elvis Presley recorded it as "Today, Tomorrow, and Forever" on July 11, 1963, for his 1964 film Viva Las Vegas, also included on the compilation album Today, Tomorrow, and Forever.


External links[edit]