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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
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Liebestraum No. 3 is the last of the three that Liszt wrote, and the most popular. It 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 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, is as follows:
In popular culture
Liebestraum No. 3 is also played and mentioned in a scene of 1950 American drama film All About Eve, when Margo Channing (Bette Davis), drunk at a house party, wants the piece to be played several times. Liebestraum No. 3 is the melody that Alice, from the book Seven Shadows, listens to after killing a shadow.
- Liebesträume: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Sheet music of Liebestraum No.3 on Cantorion.org
- MIDIs from Piano Rolls. Real recordings by Otto Higel, Leo Ornstein, Josef Lhevinne, Eugene d'Albert, Katsuhiro Oguri
- Liebesträume: 3 Notturnos, various recordings
- Recording of Number 3 in A-flat performed by the pianist Alberto Cobo