Talk:Franz Liszt/Archive 2

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Archive 1 | Archive 2 | Archive 3

Fresh start

OK, thanks Springeragh for archiving the page. Time for clear heads and fresh starts. I assume we still hope to write Liszt a featured article eventually, so let's start planning for that. What would you guys say are the most important things we need to focus on first? K. Lásztocska 13:51, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Dang you got in there first adding one of those snazzy boxes! :D My 2 cents:
  • References I think are a huge problem, and the most obvious one really.
  • Musical content too, we could go into so much more depth about just why his music is seen as so progressive. The same goes for his technique, how that relates to his compositions, and why his technique was so important, not in the sense that it was for showmanship, but that he saw technique as an essential tool for expression.
  • How his music relates to his life. This presents a particular problem, because we can't really repeat his biography in a section related to his music, and by the same token we can't go into too much musical depth in a biography.
  • Section headers might need looking at too.
Just some thoughts off the top of my head there, thanks for starting this off and getting the ball rolling:) M A Mason 14:01, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Good thoughts. I think the trickiest bit is going to be structuring the article in a way that does both his life and music justice while not being too confusing to those who aren't as familiar with him. (After all, we don't want the article to actually sound like it was written by a bunch of hardcore Lisztians.) :) The problem, as you said, is the extent to which his life and works fed off each other--they won't be able to be separated much in the article. It will be a delicate balance. K. Lásztocska 15:41, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Very good.I don't have time to really look at the article right now, but I will later. One other thing though:
You have to remember that Wagner was (to exaggerate a litle bit) obsessed with music of the future, and he and Liszt were pretty good friends and later son- and father-in-law. Now I think it's more likely that Wagner wanted the music of the future, but Liszt wrote it. (This is not to say that their composition was not on equal levels—Les Préludes shows a good amount of Wagner influence. This is also not to say that this thought needs to be put in the article; it is somewhat POV.) And you are right in that Liszt's technique was not for showmanship, since he seemed to be quite a showman anyway. ;) —  $PЯINGrαgђ  16:50, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Hello everybody. I don't know if it could be useful to you, but I wrote a whole section on Liszt's aesthetique in the French article. It stands as follow:

  • 1.A Liszteism ?
  • 2.Liszt's style
  • 3.Musical forms
  • 3.1.Symphonic poem
  • 3.2.Sonata
  • 3.3.Transcription
  • 3.4.Rhapsody

Sincerely yours

Alexander Doria 10:29, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

P.S. To those who are able to understand French, I have opened a portal on Franz Liszt [1]

Cool! We can probably get some useful stuff from that--I myself don't speak French but can decipher bits and pieces here and there. Another thing we need to do besides work on this article is write more articles about his compositions. I'm hoping to get all the symphonic poems up pretty soon--just did Hunnenschlacht, more to come. K. Lásztocska 13:48, 12 April 2007 (UTC)
I already mentioned Les Préludes, but I did not mention that the article is quite the stub. ;) —  $PЯINGrαgђ  23:55, 12 April 2007 (UTC)
According to some sources, the order of size of Liszt's symphonic poems seems to be : Les Préludes, Mazeppa, Die Ideale, Festklänge, Héroïde Funèbre, Prometheus, Hamlet, Orpheus, Hungaria, Tasso, lamento e trionfo, Hunnenschlacht, Ce qu'on entend sur la montagne, Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe. In there is a consistent article on Ce qu'on entend sur la montagne, and some informations on Prometheus and the HéroÏde Funèbre. In you've got also informations on Les Préludes.
Alexander Doria who hopes he helps you a bit 17:56, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Is this ascending or descending? —  $PЯINGrαgђ  19:51, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
Descending Alexander Doria 10:14, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

I have a question about Liszt's handreach... it says in the article that liszt could reach upto 12 whole notes more than the average person, now looking at my young hand, i can stretch a 10th and nothing can make me believe that anyone could stretch 3 octaves. Could someone clear this up or give a sitation? Hello1994 23:45, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for pointing that out. I've just editted it and hope it isn't as ambiguous as it was previously. Still not completely happy though, we could with a source there methinks. Anyway thanks! M A Mason 00:10, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

a brief return to the legendary war over nationality

My friends, it appears the dispute is not yet over. Since our last exchange on this topic, I have thought a bit about it and realized the crux of the matter, and what sets this debate apart from others over Liszt's nationality, is this: all others are willing to at least grant that Liszt considered himself Hungarian, even as they expend much hot air or paper and ink trying to prove that he was wrong in his own assessment of his own nationality. In this debate, on the other hand, the question has become whether or not Liszt even considered himself Hungarian at all! I have to admit, throughout this battle I have often felt as if I were confronting someone who vehemently asserted that the earth was flat, dismissing the reams of evidence that it is not, and making it incumbent on me to pull out every single piece of information I can find that the world is, in fact, round.

As regards that information, I just this morning came across two nice little tidbits from Liszt's own letters, which all you good Lisztians may kind quite illuminating.

A brief quote from his response to one Kalman Simonffy, who loudly criticized his book on the Gypsies in the Budapest press (without ever reading the book): "As far as my patriotism is concerned, no one can reasonably bring me to task for that, and if you will read my book sometime, you will see that it was prompted by the feeling of devotion which I have particularly nurtured towards my native land." (printed in the Pesti Naplo, September 6, 1859.)
And a complaint to a friend, again regarding the whole brouhaha over his mistakes in the Gypsy book: "The fuss made about my book on the Gypsies has made me feel that I was much more Hungarian that the "Magyarmaniacs," my antagonists..."
And since the issue of Liszt's involvement (or more precisely, his lack thereof) was persistently cited by our nameless scholar as evidence of Liszt's lack of national feeling, again let us let Mr. Liszt himself illuminate the situation: "(Szechenyi) was a man of great good sense, of prodigous activity, and of practical genius, aware of the requirements of his time and his country. He gave immense support to Hungary, where he deservedly enjoyed unparalleled popularity until the time when Kossuth gained the upper hand through his glib talk, and dragged the whole nation on a false path. Unfortunately, at the present moment, we have still not abandoned it, and I can see hardly any prospect of favorable outcome from that ardent passion for clannish patriotism, which sows the wind only to reap the whirlwind! If they had followed Szechenyi's example and method consistently and faithfully, Hungary would certainly be strong and prosperous today: I fear that it is too late now to go back. This state of affairs may certainly suit others--but those of us who sincerely love their country are grieved over this to the depths of their souls!" (LLB, vol. 3, pg. 126.)

My friends, Liszt was clearly a Hungarian, and ever since his national awakening in the winter of 1839-1840, on his first return trip to Hungary after sixteen years abroad, he was a proud and patriotic Hungarian in every way. His "neglect" to fight in the war of 1848 is clearly explained by the fact that he thought the war would be nothing but disaster for Hungary, and he preferred the reformist path of Szechenyi to the warlike revolutionary fulminations of Kossuth. Can we please put this issue to rest, and admit that the world is indeed round?

PS, Springeragh--if our nameless "friend" replies, don't revert it as you said you would; I want to see how he replies. :) K. Lásztocska 18:21, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

I am confused. The article states Liszt was Hungarian, so what exactly is your issue?CyrilleDunant 18:55, 23 April 2007 (UTC)
We had a heated debate (to quote a template I left around here somewhere) about whether he was Hungarian, Austrian, French, German, English, Polish, Italian, Spanish, American—well not all those but it may have gotten to that eventually. And obviously just because an article with almost countless references to other encyclopædias says something doesn't mean it's true. Kudos, Lastochka. :) —  $PЯINGrαgђ  19:02, 23 April 2007 (UTC)
Bravo! M A Mason 20:20, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

Oh Cyrille, you're so lucky you didn't see our terrible battle. I nearly got shellshock. (It's in this page's talk archive, if you're curious). :) My antagonist vandalized left an unwelcome message on my talk page, and since he HAS no talk page, I stated my case (once again...) here. K. Lásztocska 00:10, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

In fact Cyrille and I also had a very small debate concerning Liszt's nationality in wikipé Finally, we quickly came to the conclusion that Liszt was an "Hungarian, subject of the Habsbourg empire". Maybe this agreement suit you too. Alexander Doria 14:42, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

Works fine for me. K. Lásztocska 15:23, 24 April 2007 (UTC)
Oh, OK--"ethnic German Hungarian" works too. K. Lásztocska 13:53, 25 April 2007 (UTC)
Or maybe "Hungarian of German extraction" or "German of Hungarian extraction"? Whichever makes him more Hungarian than anything else… —  $PЯINGrαgђ  14:43, 25 April 2007 (UTC)
He was ethnically German, and that is not in dispute (except by those Slovaks who were giving us trouble a while back trying to claim him as one of their own, LOL). Like I've been saying, there are lots of Hungarians of foreign ethnicity. "Hungarian of German extraction" would work, just sounds a little clumsy. K. Lásztocska 14:47, 25 April 2007 (UTC)
We had "Hungarian of German descent" a while ago but it seems to have gone now. I suppose I'm in favour of that hehe :P M A Mason 16:04, 25 April 2007 (UTC)
Well actually, Lastochka, you have a lot of Russians "of German extraction" (to name one), so I guess Hungarians of German extraction couldn't be that much different. —  $PЯINGrαgђ  16:15, 25 April 2007 (UTC)
In fact, as Cyrille pointed it, Litsz's nationality is mainly an admnistrative problem. In that sense, he was born in the Hungarian parts of Habsbourg's empire, and therefore he stands as an "Hungarian, sublect of the Habsbourg empire". Alexander Doria 17:01, 25 April 2007 (UTC)


In view of the controversy over nationality, I am wondering if it would help if the infobox is removed (replaced by the picture). In any case there is a Composers Project policy against using them on composers' pages. Regards. --Kleinzach 01:44, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

As there have been no objections, I have gone ahead and removed the infobox. The page looks better I think, and the absence of flags may help avoid further nationality disputes. Best. --Kleinzach 02:35, 14 May 2007 (UTC)
it was better with the infobox: liszt wasn't only a pianist, he was an conductor to, some info that is necessary which doesn't seems to appear in the article. the infobox was very compact and summarized and it did sincerely give an overall picture (particulary "dates active", which by the way wasn't correct.. 1822-86 would be). --Funper 15:43, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
Indeed, I wasn't actually all that against the infobox in this particular article. It succinctly pointed out that he was hungarian but born in the Habsburg empire. Not sure about the flags though, they could go I feel. M A Mason 16:41, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
I want the infobox back per above, flags could go. --Funper 19:18, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

"La cosaque"

I have removed, again, this text from the first section, after the sentence "there is speculation as to whether Liszt ever used the Hungarian name "Ferenc":

...This is a name that Liszt used when having an affair with Olga Janina, a Russian cossack and student of Liszt. Janina also attempted to shoot Liszt and then poison herself in 1871, in Pest.

Olga "Janina" (real name Zielinska) was not Russian but Polish, she had no Cossack blood, and the only "evidence" that she and Liszt ever actually had an affair is in Ms. Janina's odd roman à clef, "Souvenirs d'un cosaque." As an example of one of its characteristic dubious statements, this book claims that as a child, Janina caught wolves with her bare hands on the Ukrainian steppes. Its factual accuracy is doubtful to say the least. It's quite clear, however, that Ms. Janina had a massive crush on Liszt, who was indeed her piano teacher, and the incident with the attempted murder-suicide is also well-documented.

Moreover, even if the sentence I removed had been factually accurate, it is completely out of place and out of context in the paragraph about Liszt's birthplace, ethnicity, and name. The Janina scandal is worth a brief mention elsewhere, but not there. K. Lásztocska 17:22, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

Olga Janina spoke French with Liszt and most probably called him Franz. For that reason she took the pseudonym "Robert Franz". "Franz" means "Liszt" and "Robert" was a hint pointing at "Robert the Devil". So, the meaning of "Robert Franz" is "Liszt the Devil". (Liszt was in fact identifying him himself with Robert the Devil.) Putting it together with "Souvenirs d'un cosaque", "Robert Franz", i.e. "Liszt the Devil", can be taken as main title and "Souvenirs d'un cosaque" as a subtitle of the book. Olga Janina has been an intelligent and interesting person, by the way, and there is no need for blaming her for that affair with Liszt. Since List had no Hungarian blood either he was as much “Hungarian” as Olga Janina was “Russian” . After having left Budapest she went to Belgium giving some brilliant concerts there. From Belgium she went to Italy and was accompanied by Liszt's pupil Franz Servais. She was in that time secretly supported by Liszt. In Olga Janina's book there is much truth concerning Liszt's personality to be found. 10:08, 23 May 2007 (UTC)
  • most probably called him Franz. Says who?
  • "Robert" was a hint pointing at "Robert the Devil". Source?
  • Olga Janina has been an intelligent and interesting person How do you quantify these things? And whatever level of intelligence or 'interestingness' a person has has no bearing on their mental state.
  • She was in that time secretly supported by Liszt Documentary evidence?
  • In Olga Janina's book there is much truth concerning Liszt's personality to be found. I supppose that depends on your bias.

-M A Mason 10:18, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

"Olga Janina has been an intelligent and interesting person, by the way."--when did you meet her? "In Olga Janina's book there is much truth concerning Liszt's personality to be found." And when did you meet him? As usual, 90% of your contributions are pure speculation and original research. K. Lásztocska 19:41, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

You amaze me with your blatant thumbing your nose at facts, insistence on erroneous statements, and overall just giddy ineffable twaddle, A.S. per what I've seen and per K. Lastochka's and M A Mason's comments above mine. I don't give a good God damn what you think or know or do—I'm reverting it the moment I see you add it to the article. —  $PЯINGrαgђ  19:49, 23 May 2007 (UTC)
"Olga Janina spoke French with Liszt and most probably called him Franz"- if this is making a connection between the fact they spoke French together and calling him Franz it is erroneous as Franz is the German version of Francis not French (which is François). Gustav von Humpelschmumpel 22:18, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

Seems, that there has something’s happened on this page! Answering step by step, let us start with Liszt's name. He was called "Franz" by Countess d'Agoult in her letters, although they were written in French. Liszt's father called him "Franzl" or "Franzi" in his letters, which are nickname forms of "Franz". After this it should be clear that Liszt was called "Franz" in private life. (There was a medal, by the way, made on Liszt’s order by Jean Francois Antoine Bovy in 1840. The name is "Frans Liszt" there and it was meant as "Franz Liszt"). Olga Janina will have done it the same way.
Liszt's identification with "Robert the Devil" cannot be shown in short. But I shall give e sketch of it. It can be seen, that there is an autobiographical aspect of Liszt's works. Lots of examples can be given, and lots of them have been published in reliable scholarly books about Liszt. As a next step it can be seen that certain dates of the year have been important for Liszt. One of those dates was December 31, Countess d'Agoult's birthday. It can be shown from many examples again, that Liszt at the end of many years composed works being obviosly related with Countess d'Agoult. (He kept doing it even after she had died.) Liszt's own birthday on October 22 was very important too. Looking at Liszt on October 22, 1840, he was busily composing his fantasy on "Robert le Diable". In 1886 Liszt had some reasons for stressing his "Hungarian" identity again. So he took his old fantasy on "Robert le Diable" and changed a part of it. Instead of the former key B-Minor he took a "Hungarian" variant of that key. It can be shown, from many examples again, that the key B-Minor was Liszt's "private" key. I repeat, this was only a sketch, but everything was taken from books which are regarded as being reliable in current Liszt research. There is nothing of "original research" to it. Liszt's identification with the Devil in general has been presumed by many authors in many books. A well known example is Mefistofeles. Liszt's identification is in this case confirmed by himself in one of his letters to the daughter of Princess Wittgenstein.
Next, there is the question concerning Olga Janina's intelligence and her being interesting. The fact that she is regarded as being interesting cannot be denied because she is mentioned in nearly all biographical books about Liszt. Her intelligence can be seen from her writing style. Liszt did not take interest in women being not intelligent, by the way.
The fact that Olga Janina was secretly supported by Liszt is shown in an English book which I read about 15 years ago, and it is shown from Liszt's own letters there. The author's name is Williams. Some of the truth which is contained in Janina's book can be shown when comparing some of her scenes with other sources. In case you are interested, I shall give some examples the other day. There is the question of the language left. There are only two languages which she could have taken. They were German and French. Since her book was written in French, this was her main language of the two. French was Liszt's main language too, so that they most probably spoke French. (They could not speak Hungarian or Polish because Liszt did not understand that languages. From Russian he knew not more but some words. One of them was "borschtsch", wich is a red soup and which he liked to eat.) 13:01, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

If you want us to ever take you seriously, SHOW us the evidence instead of just saying "many books say XYZ" or "many scholars believe ABC". Weasel words, anyone? K. Lásztocska 21:16, 27 May 2007 (UTC)

I appreciate your idea that precise references are needed, thereby hoping that a better debating style will be gained. For that reason I may presume that you will stop those personal attacks with which this page has already been filled.
Concerning Olga Janina, you may take the book "Ferenc Liszt" by Josef Óváry, Budapest 2003, which is a kind of official "Budapest-Liszt". (For some reasons you will like the book.) Olga Janina is described on p.325. She came from a Polish family, spoke Polish and was besides fluent in French, was intelligent and had the manners of a Countess. Concerning my assumption, that falling in love for Liszt cannot be regarded as a crime, no further sources are needed as I hope.
The autobiographical aspect of Liszt's works can be shown, and the method can easily be described. You take a composition by Liszt and find out in which time it was made. After this you look at Liszt's situation at that time. Comparing both, it turns out in many cases that a correlation can be seen. An example is the second version of the transcription of Beethoven's song "Adelaide". Liszt was in the second half of December 1840 remembering the times when his daughters Blandine and Cosima had been born. Since he could never remember the exact dates, he asked in a letter to Marie d'Agoult for them. Marie d'Agoult told the dates in a letter from „Noël, 1840“ (Christmas, 1840). After this, Liszt wrote in a letter from December 29, 1840, that he had made that second version of his transcription of the "Adelaide". The biographical connections were Marie d'Agoult's birthday on December 31 and to this the fact that she had taken the name "Adelaide" for the birth certificate of her daughter Blandine. (Looking at Liszt at the end of 1839, he was preparing the first version of the transcription for publication.) Following similar lines it can be seen that all of Liszt's transcriptions of Schubert songs and many more of his works are correlated with Marie d'Agoult. It can also be seen that many compositions which Liszt made on October 22 are correlated with him himself.
In order to give a hint for the reason because of which Liszt stressed his "Hungarian" identity in 1886, I take a debate of the Hungarian parliament from February 1887 as an example. (It is documented in several books, for example in Ováry's book, p.408.) The question was, whether Liszt's body should be taken from Bayreuth to Budapest, and it was defeated by the parliament. The Hungarian Prime minister had said that Liszt had shown an "antinationalistic" behaving with his book about the Gypsies and their music in Hungary, and Liszt had, by the way, been not more than an "ordinary comedian". The Prime minister also said that it was not enough making a transcription of the "Rákóczi march" and playing it in order to be regarded as a patriotic Hungarian. It had therefore been Liszt's problem that he had been suspected by some of his "compatriots", not to be a "true" Hungarian. 16:54, 28 May 2007 (UTC)

I am quite familiar with Prime Minister Tisza's opinion about Liszt's patriotism or lack thereof. I'm sure you are aware that the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were the zenith (or perhaps "nadir" is a better word) of a particularly chauvinistic and provincial brand of Hungarian nationalism. It persisted long enough into the twentieth century that even a man as great as Béla Bartók, undoubtedly one of the truest and most admirable Hungarians as has ever lived, was accused of being "anti-Hungarian" because of his research into Romanian and Slovakian folk music. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn what a bunch of pseudo-patriotic chauvinist clowns thought about Liszt or Bartók, and I'm getting very tired of the constant returns to the moldy old question of Liszt's nationality. You are German, are you not? May I ask you an honest question, with no malice or snideness implied? Simply: Why do you (apparently) believe that you, a German, know better than I, a Hungarian, what it means to be Hungarian? K. Lásztocska 17:28, 28 May 2007 (UTC)

Scholar—so what if Liszt's girlfriend called him Franz in Frech? It was his nickname. —  $PЯINGrαgђ  07:06, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
An inner voice is telling me, the article about Weasel words might be worth reading for you too. By the way, the petition concerning Liszt's body to be taken from Bayreuth to Budapest was not defeated by the Prime Minister but by the Hungarian parliament which was elected by the Hungarian people. Have they all been clowns?
The debate of the parliament was not mentioned for reasons of deciding on Liszt's nationality but in order to show that he had in 1886 reasons to stress his Hungarian identity. So far as I can see there is no dissent between us in this respect. It is after this still to be shown that a correlation between Liszt and "Robert the Devil" can be seen. The correlation comes from the fact that Robert in Meyerbeer's opera "Robert le diable" is a Devil of a rather particular kind.
Robert is the son of Bertram, who is the true Devil. Bertram has for more than 6000 years done his job in hell, punishing sinful souls, and has become tired of it. For that reason he has left hell and wants that his son Robert shall be his successor. But unfortunately Robert is very pious. He has not committed the least sins, so that Bertram cannot take him to hell. In order to reach his aim, Bertram leads Robert into a room where dead nuns have been buried. Bertram awakens them and they try to seduce Robert. (The opera was therefore regarded as being pornographic by Schumann.) As soon as Robert falls for one of the nuns it would be regarded as a most evil sin, so that he must go to hell for it. Robert is saved by a miracle in the end and Bertram must go to hell himself again.
Putting the plot into simple words, it is the message that sexuality is regarded as a thing from which evil consequences are to be feared. This opinion was for good reasons of his own experiences shared by Liszt. His "nun" who had seduced him was Marie d'Agoult who had been educated in a school leaded by nuns. (For this reason Liszt made a transcription of the song "Die junge Nonne" by Schubert.) It can be shown in many details that Liszt did get a hell of problems from his sexual life with her, and it was due to the fact that she was rather often pregnant. Looking at Liszt in October 1840, he had together with Marie d'Agoult a vacation in Fontainebleau, and they had for two weeks very happy times. Liszt was in that time religious, reading the Bible. He left on October 19, travelling to Hamburg where he arrived on October 26. His fantasy on "Robert le diable" was made during this week. With respect to his past he must have feared, Marie d'Agoult might be pregnant again. (Three children were enough for him.) It would turn out in December 1840, and it was exactly this time when Liszt was remembering the appropriate events of his past. He was for this time saved and put a "religiosamente" coda to his transcription of the "Adelaide".
Coming back to Olga Janina, there must have been a reason for which she took that pseudonym "Robert Franz". Since it seemed to be obvious that "Franz" means "Liszt" there was only the meaning of "Robert" left which was to be guessed. Taking "Robert" as "Robert le diable" would be perfectly suiting, and it was besides the only solution which I could find. 10:09, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
I am about to delete this entire thread. You, scholar, are always running off on rabbit trails, and what does Robert/Bertram have to do with this whole thing? And what inner voice tells you about weasel words? (Robert the devil is my guess) There aren't any, and even if they are I will remove them. And you will add them again. And I will remove them. Sooner or later you will be blocked, and thank you for your time. —  $PЯINGrαgђ  21:24, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

Liszt's hands

The widest intervals which Liszt could span were those at the end of the Adagio of Beethoven's sonata op.106. In his youth he demonstrated it in Milan to the correspondent of the "Leipziger Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung". (see the article "Liszt in Mailand" in volume 40 (1838), p.320ff, of that paper) A source from Liszt's later years, saying the same, is the diary of his pupil Carl Lachmund. (There is an English edition of it.)

Concerning your statement, Liszt would have claimed to have spent ten or twelve hours each day practising piano playing, you should try to find a source or better delete it. I cannot remember a single source of that kind. The difficulties of Liszt's Etudes d'exécution transcendante are somewhat overestimated, by the way. I play them quite well myself, and there was no need for practising an amount of ten or twelve hours a day for it. 13:22, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

How could he have gotten as good as he was without that much practise? And what does this have to do with the article? —  $PЯINGrαgђ  19:52, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

I congratulate you, Anonymous Scholar, on your pianistic skill. Playing the Transcendentals "quite well" is no small accomplishment. I myself play Wieniawski quite well, but that is about as relevant to this article as is your skill on the piano. Then again, any claims to virtuosity (by you or me or anyone else) over the internet should be taken with a large grain of salt unless they are accompanied by proof (by way of YouTube.)

That said, I do agree that a source is needed to back up the claim that Liszt spent twelve hours a day practicing. Sources are always necessary, and that point hardly needs belaboring. K. Lásztocska 00:10, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

One other thing. A casual reader may not know how far the reach is at the end of said Adagio. Something that might be good to consider. —  $PЯINGrαgђ  04:45, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

(Please, take a silent moment as a chance to click here and read carefully.) It is my own experience as well as the experience of many other people which shows that Liszt's "Etudes d'exécution transcendante" can be adequately played without practising an amount of ten or twelve hours a day. There are other parts of the piano literature being more challenging of course. Godowsky's Chopin Studies are examples of it. (I play many of them too.)

Coming to Liszt himself, his father wrote in a letter to Czerny from August 14, 1825, that his boy had to play technical studies for two hours a day. For a further hour he played music. The rest of the day was filled with composing and doing other things. After his father's death Liszt gave many lessons. He wrote in an own letter to Czerny that he was running around for ten hours a day in order to reach his pupils. It is after this impossible that he could practise for ten or twelve hours a day besides.

On May 2, 1832, Liszt wrote his famous letter to Pierre Wolff, telling that he was practising for five hours a day and fearing he could get mad of it. In a second part of the letter from May 8 he told that he had left Paris. He was in Ecoutebœuf (a small place near Rouen), and it is known that he was composing there. He was afterwards ill, and he did surely not practise for ten or twelve hours a day during that time. The following years can be checked in similar ways. The result is that there had never been enough time for Liszt for practising the amount which has been imagined by you. It is therefore actually impossible that your assumption can be true.

Concerning the intervals at the end of Beethoven's Adagio, it will be a good idea, you take a volume of his sonatas yourself and have a look into it. So far as you prefer still believing Liszt could span 12 whole tones, it will also be fine. Thalberg had such hands, by the way. 17:48, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

Interesting. The one time you and us weren't arguing, you acted like we were whereas you usually don't even (seem to) notice it. Anyway…
I myself own the music for Beethoven's first ten sonatas, No. 14 (Moonlight), and Opp. 101, 106, and 111. I never said I didn't know what the reach was, but I mentioned that there may be a few people who don't.
Lastly, Lastochka certainly wasn't breaching Wikiquette and although I pushed the limits I didn't either. For the record, before you linked to it I have read it at least ten times. —  $PЯINGrαgђ  23:47, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

Yes, why did you point me in the direction of the Wikiquette guidelines? I'm being as polite as I possibly can be around you. Regarding Liszt's hands, I have always been under the impression that he could comfortably span a tenth and possibly stretch to the occasional eleventh. Others have insisted that he could easily play a twelfth. I was actually just discussing this with an excellent pianist friend of mine--real life imitating the Wiki?--so I'll be interested to possibly find out the truth of the matter. (Since we all seem to be talking about our own piano playing as well, I must sheepishly disclose that I can only play an octave comfortably and a ninth with some contortion, and thus could not play the Transcendentals even after thirteen hours a day.) Please, instead of just tossing around opus numbers, could somebody please just TELL me what the intervals at the end of the Adagio are? I don't have a copy of those particular sonatas and even if I did I couldn't get to it now. K. Lásztocska 04:11, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

I had hoped that my hint might motivate the scholar to disclose more information, but clearly I can't assume anything.
Beethoven's Op. 106 is the famous Hammerklavier Sonata. The said stretch is from A sharp below middle C to the C sharp one octave above middle C (An F sharp is also played in this chord). My edition indicates that it should be rolled. —  $PЯINGrαgђ  04:52, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
Hmm a minor tenth is that? I can do A# to C#, with the F#, just. It's like what they say about meeting your heroes I suppose haha. I'll update the article at some point. Thanks. M A Mason 18:21, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
Actually it's a major tenth, but yes. :) A suggestion for you if you can only reach an octave, Lastochka: never play Rachmaninov. :| —  $PЯINGrαgђ  20:06, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
Spring, I have trouble with Chopin. Mason, actually I kind of like it that our man Franzi could only reach a tenth--makes him seem more human. K. Lásztocska 01:00, 15 June 2007 (UTC)
The final chord is indeed rolled. The previous chord (the last notes of the penultimate measure) are the identical notes, but not rolled. -- JackofOz 04:07, 15 June 2007 (UTC)
Look in the history for a comment by the anonymous scholar that I deleted because it contained a horribly insensitive insult to K. Lastochka. —  $PЯINGrαgђ  20:22, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
"Lastochka hands" is an insult? I didn't take it that way--actually I thought it was the only non-condescending and non-rude thing he's ever said to me--basically "you can still be a decent pianist if you have small hands, don't worry." A.S., my problem is simply that I'm a violinist, and have only started teaching myself piano in the last two years or so. I'm making slow progress, and I'm still pretty bad.....K. Lásztocska 00:33, 17 June 2007 (UTC)
What "Lastochka hands" sounded like to me when I read it in context is "her hands are so small she can't even play a basic Beethoven sonata", which is why I deleted it. I can put it back up if you like. —  $PЯINGrαgђ  02:33, 17 June 2007 (UTC)
Alicia de Larrocha can reach an octave ... just. I went to shake her hand after a concert once, and was impressed at her tiny paws, and what a concert it was. By the way, there's lots of tenths in the slow movement of the opus 106 (e.g. G to B); in my edition they're not rolled (nor should they be; I think it would ruin it). Cheers, Antandrus (talk) 02:37, 17 June 2007 (UTC)
I do quite heartily agree; usually I try to find out whether it was the composer who intended it to be rolled or some micromanus who just got a bit frustrated. ;) —  $PЯINGrαgђ  02:50, 17 June 2007 (UTC)
I'm not ashamed of my small hands, and my inability to play Beethoven stems more from my lack of formal training on the piano than from any physical limitation. My hands are a pretty good size for the violin, incidentally, perhaps a bit on the small side but not enough to be a disadvantage.
But why are we all comparing hand sizes? Off on a pointless tangent again? K. Lásztocska 01:11, 18 June 2007 (UTC)
I can span three octaves on the piano with each hand. This makes performing Liszt and Rachmaninoff a piece of cake; my six-fingered hands are a major advantage as well. Also, I think we should change all mention of Liszt's nationality to what he obviously really was -- Chinese. --Todeswalzer|Talk 01:55, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
That's the best idea I've heard all week. :P But are you sure he wasn't a Tasmanian aborigine? :P —  $PЯINGrαgђ  04:20, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
I may be allowed to put an own remark to that "horribly insensitive insult to K. Lastochka" from last week. I wrote that there was no need to despair for having Lastochka hands because they could still grow to Carl Tausig hands. Carl Tausig was one of the best piano players in the 19th century and was in the time around 1870 even admired by Liszt. After this still calling a comparison of Lastochka with Tausig a "horribly insensitive insult" is only ridiculous. I'm sorry for it. The person with that monstrous hands spanning three octaves and with six fingers besides might get some problems when playing chromatic scales, by the way. So I'd suggest he should better not try to play Liszt. To the direction of Lastochka, you can surely play Liszt and Rachmaninov if you really want it. Wide intervals are used to be played as quick leaps. It was done in the same way by Liszt who besides played as many arpeggios as he liked. 14:11, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
The apology is mine as I was the one who mis-interpreted it. I'm sorry. —  $PЯINGrαgђ  18:06, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

Liszt, Franck and symphonic poem

Hello, I read the article about Franz Liszt and added + edited some information about the symphonic poem - mentioned Franck and added a source. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)


moving to wikipedia...

Moved. "See also" in main article. --Funper 14:59, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Some links from IMSLP need to be removed.--Funper 19:28, 21 June 2007 (UTC)


Liszt-kaulbach.jpg This user is a fervent admirer of Liszt.

The image should be a better one, certainly the image software to (MS Paint) --Funper 02:00, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

Everytime I see that pic of Liszt I think Boris Johnson in 30 years! Not a bad thing though :) I also made one myself a while ago, has a different feel to it, see my userpage. M A Mason 09:32, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

Liszt's virtuosity and technical innovations

Could you please give some examples for reviews of concerts given by Liszt in which his playing is described as having been theatrical and showy? I'd just like to know what might exactly be meant with it. The second part of the first sentence in your chapter about Liszt's "innovations" is wrong, by the way. To give an example which shows it, there is the following review of Liszt's concert on April 18, 1838, in Vienna.

Wir haben nun selbst Liszt gehört, den berühmten Virtuosen, welchem nur ein Thalberg das Gleichgewicht zu halten fähig war, und wenn wir uns nun daran erinnern, wie glänzend und siegreich dieser aus solchem Kampfe hervorgegangen war, so lernen wir erst recht einsehen, wie bedeutend das Thalbergsche Spiel ist. (see: D. Legány: Unbekannte Presse und Briefe aus Wien, p.25.)
(English version: We have now for ourselves been listening to Liszt, the famous virtuoso, with whom only a Thalberg was able to keep an equivalence, and when we are remembering how brilliant and victorious he had come out of such battle, we are all the more learning to recognize, how imposing the playing of Thalberg is.)

The battle which Thalberg had left in such brilliant and victorious ways was his battle with Liszt from spring 1837 in Paris. It is characteristic that Thalberg was praised even in a review of a concert given by Liszt. There are more examples of the same kind from Paris, Great Britain and Italy. So far as there had been a Lion shaking his mane (see Alan Walker's Liszt I, p.232ff) that Lion had clearly been Thalberg. 14:14, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

This isn't very clear; I can't follow it. Can you clarify? —  $PЯINGrαgђ  18:06, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
Another messy and confusing English translation--pronoun problems this time. Which of them does the "he" refer to, Liszt or Thalberg? Incidentally, if Thalberg was so much better than Liszt, why is he so little-known today while Liszt has endured for nearly two centuries? K. Lásztocska 06:11, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
"He" is Thalberg. He is "dieser" in the German original whereas Liszt would have been "jener". ("Dieser" is the name which is standing next.) The example shows that people in Vienna had heard Liszt without thinking he was superior in comparison with Thalberg. It had been the same in spring 1837 in Paris. Many more examples of the same kind can be given from all Europe. The second part of the first sentence in the said chapter of your article is therefore wrong.
We have reached an interesting situation again. I gave sources and precise references to which you are telling me "Since I have no knowledge about Thalberg he cannot have been a great artist!" It is this, without doubt, the true spirit of neutrality of point of view whereas it is clear that there can only be bias on my side. Concerning my "messy and confusing English translations" I suggest, if you think you can do a better translating job, please go ahead. For that purpose I gave the German original too. In the meanwhile I'm still waiting for some evidence to your article's statement concerning Liszt's playing to have been regarded as theatrical and showy. 16:53, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
Thank you for the clarification, as German is not among the several languages I am familiar with. Please do not assume that I am ignorant--I do in fact know about Thalberg, I've heard some of his music and read a bit about him. However, (at least to the best of my knowledge), outside the world of us musicologists, Thalberg is all but forgotten, while Liszt is still regarded as a great genius. I don't mean to imply that popular opinion is much of a reliable indicator of someone's artistic merit, but the question still remains: if Thalberg was indeed such a magnificent artist, why has he fallen into such relative obscurity? K. Lásztocska 18:08, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
The question for which reasons Thalberg must be regarded as a forgotten artist today is intersting indeed, although it will be difficult to give a short answer to it. It was in 1862 when he gave his last concerts in Paris and in London, and he was in that time successful as ever. Judging from his fantasies on Verdi's operas which he played in this time he was still one of the leading virtuosos of the world. His piano works were played until the late 19th century and afterwards disappeared. It was this the same time when the operas of Meyerbeer as well as most of the operas of Bellini and Donizetti disappeared, so that a parallel can be seen.
To give an explanation for it, I'm thinking of the "War of romantics" which in a kind still existed in the early 20th century. There were the "Neudeutschen" who read Wagner's books and essays as if they were parts of the Holy Bible. The opposite side read Schumann's reviews and essays and did it the same way. Wagner as well as Schumann had written much about Meyerbeer and about Italian music which they regarded as completely worthless. (There is Schumann's famous sentence according to which even the worst German music was better than the best Italian.) Meyerbeer's operas therefore disappeared in the early 20th century and the operas of Bellini and Donizetti disappeared too. (with minor exceptions) They disappeared because they were not liked on either side of that "War of romantics". It was Thalberg's bad luck that he had loved Italian music too much. Everything he wrote was sounding Italian, even his "Souvenir de Beethoven" op.39, a fantasy on melodies from Beethoven's symphonies. In order to put a little bit of more evidence to it, I'm remembering the Memoirs of Marie d'Agoult which were edited and censored by Siegfrid Wagner in 1927. He took everything away from which people could know that Liszt liked Rossini's music very much. Liszt was posthumously only allowed to have liked Wagner's music (and Beethoven's besides). For similar reasons it is difficult still until today to get a reliable edition of Liszt’s fantasy on Meyerbeer’s opera “Robert le diable”. Liszt must not have liked that music.
I admit that it was only a kind of brainstorming which I could give, and the truth was even more complicated since Wagner and Schumann were themselves censored by their "friends". From my own perspective Thalberg was not one of the best composers but an interesting one. He was one of the best composers of a second rank at least. Perhaps you'd like to tell me, which of his works you know? (So far as you don’t mind to read a German text, you may try the article about Liszt’s Etudes d’exécution transcendante in the German Wikipedia. I just revised it and put some hints to it which show that there was a strong influence of Thalberg on Liszt. So far as I can see, the title "Etudes d'exécution transcendante" is closely connected to it.) 14:06, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

Interesting. (As regards the German wiki article you suggest, I say again: I don't speak German and I can't read it!) It's certainly a valid theory about the too-much-Italian-sounding Thalberg style, but didn't Liszt write a fair amount of fantasias on Italian operas as well? I'm thinking primarily of the Rigoletto Fantasia of course, but I'm sure there are others--he wrote literally hundreds of these paraphrases and transcriptions, most unpublished. K. Lásztocska 16:45, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

I read the German article (couldn't understand every word but I got the main idea), Herr Protzies, and really the only thing I can say is it needs to be wikified—the hint about Thalberg is fine. —  $PЯINGrαgђ  21:53, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

The argument concerning Liszt’s transcriptions and fantasies on Italian melodies is correct although there is still a problem connected with it. Had Liszt, like Thalberg, composed nothing else but only works in Italian style, he would as well be forgotten today. His transcriptions and operatic fantasies are (with minor exceptions) only played today, when the original has for itself survived. A good example is his Sonnambula-fantasy, a very beautiful concert piece which nearly nobody plays. Another example is his fantasy on Halévy's opera "La Juive" which is by far surpassing many of his later fantasies, although it is nearly never played. Liszt's fantasy on "Robert le diable" was regarded by himself as one of his best works, but I never heard it in a concert. Verdi operas are still performed today and for that reason Liszt's Rigoletto-Paraphrase may also be played. But even in this case the rest of Liszt's fantasies on Verdi's operas are rarities today.
Leading back to Liszt's playing style in his concerts, there was a problem, for which the following review of a concert from December 11, 1840, in Hull is characteristic. "Lockwood" was a professional player from York, and the piece which Liszt played together with him was Thalberg's Norma-Fantasy op.12. The piece with the three different subjects was Liszt's own fantasy on "Robert the diable".
The concert on Friday night was attended by a most meagre company, in point of numbers, and whether it was from this cause (which undoubtedly cast a damp over the performers and the audience, that greatly depressed the power of pleasing in the one, and the sense of enjoyment in the other), whether the concert was really a bad one, or whether it was our own want of power to appreciate the performances, we will not pretend to decide; but we never attended a musical performance which gave so little satisfaction in its progress, and left fewer pleasurable sensations behind.
To speak of M. LISZT first. We think he has been greatly over-rated; not as to his mechanical skill, not as to his wonderful rapidity of his execution, not as to his power what we see a neighbouring contemporary terms „a whirlwind of melodious sounds, at first calm and gentle as the morning Zephyr, and the rising into the tempestuous roar of the hurricane, bearing away every obstacle by the lightning rapidity of his movements, and strength and power of his fingers“; but as to his real genius as a musician, as to the benefits which will result to art from his efforts, and as to the impressions they are calculated to make on the mind. The above is a correct description of his performances, except in the use of the term „melodious“. There is little of that quality in M. Liszt’s performance; but there is much to astonish and surprise; and in his execution of Guillaume Tell and the duet with Mr. W. F. Lockwood, there was also much to delight. But in his other pieces, during their progress, we were carried away by the wonderful character of his combinations - (during one of his „recitals“, as his performances are somewhat fancifully styled, on Friday evening, three different subjects were distinctly enunciated on the instrument at one time) - by the splendour of his chromatic harmonies, and by the brilliance which, like a meteor, enveloped the whole of his execution; but, like a meteor, it vanished with the last note that was sounded; nothing was left for memory to dwell on; no chord which had struck a responsive tone in human feeling; no passage of delicious and soothing melody, which sank at once into the heart, to remain for ever... In thus expressing ourselves of M. Liszt, we know that we incur the charges of temerity, want of taste, ignorance, &c., &c. We are prepared to encounter such charges, and must bear them: we speak our own unbiased opinions, and, maugre, the cut-and-dried criticisms which are running the round of the public press, we have no doubt that it will be found we speak the opinions of the public also.
In typical cases people, having heard Thalberg, were even after some years still dreaming of his brilliance and expressiveness. In contrast to this, Liszt appeared and played with much success. But as soon as he had left, nothing remained. It was this his problem in Paris, in Italy and in Germany too. 15:49, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
Interesting. Out of curiosity, do you know anything about Liszt's performance in Rochdale that same month? M A Mason 16:57, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

One bad review is evidence that Liszt was a mediocre artist at best. Nice. A.S., perhaps you should not spend so much time berating Liszt in order to make Thalberg look better, but rather just go write about Thalberg for a while? With all your knowledge of him and your clear admiration for him, you could have him a Featured Article in no time. K. Lásztocska 18:26, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Liszt performed on December 3, 1840, in Rochdale. Unfortunately I could not find a review of the concert until now, but there is an entry in Orlando Parry's diary. The artists around Lavenu had given concert in Preston on December 2nd, 1840. They left for Rochdale in the morning of December 3rd. Parry wrote to it:
Left about 11 - after a dismal ride arrived at Rochdale to dinner - 4 o'clock. The CONCERT began at 7! Every place in the Boxes taken - 200 in the Gallery - the Pit bad - such a poking little green room. Everything as usual. Was encored twice, "as usual" "The Governess" & "the Wife".

"Governess" was a "funny" song "Governess wanted" which Parry used to sing with much success. "The Wife" was another one of his songs. "as usual" means that Parry had been "as usual" encored for them. He did not write a single word about Liszt's part of the concert. Regarding the concert's success, it seems to have been of a "neither- nor" category. Their concert in Manchester on the next day was a great success, by the way.
I revised the Thalberg article in the German Wikipedia several months ago. For that reason you can find a voluminous work-list there. It goes without saying that Liszt was not mediocre. He was an admirable artist, but Thalberg was an admirable artist too. The review from Hull is in a sense characteristic that there must have been a problem concerning the expressiveness in Liszt's playing. A huge list of reviews of a similar kind could be added to that single one.
Instead of debating about Thalberg, it had been the purpose of my posting from June 21, to show that there are some problematic parts in your chapter about Liszt's "innovations". We should better return to this. Looking at rest of the first paragraph, you should try to get copies of the said reviews by Schumann. They were catastrophic for Liszt because Schumann did not like his etudes in the least (whereas he had in March 1839 praised the second book of Thalberg's etudes op.26). The third sentence, taken from Walker, is in no sense characteristic for Liszt. All professional players and even many amateurs are playing on an "inner keyboard", which is to say that the playing is connected with a feeling as if the piano was a part of the own body. There is no doubt that it was done in the same way by J. S. Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, so that there was nothing new to it when it was done by Liszt too. 17:14, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

The article's links

Your link to Liszt's letters is a useful one, but you can take a better thing instead. At "" there is in 19 parts an English version of the first two volumes of the La Mara edition of Liszt's letters. (Alan Walker's "LLB".) You must click at "L" and in the list search for "Letters of Franz Liszt". In the two volumes there are more than 650 letters included. (You have 261 until now.) I compared some of the English versions with the originals and found that the translations are not in all parts reliable. But it is better than nothing. At the end of the last part there is a letter by Liszt to Eduard Hanslick from September 20, 1859. The letter is concerning Liszt's book about the Gypsies and their music in Hungary and is very interesting. (Liszt's total output can be esteemed to an amount of about 20000 letters, by the way, from which about 7000 are published until today.) The link to the book "The love affairs of Great Musicians" by Rupert Hughes should better be taken away since the book is really only trash. Liszt's love affairs were without doubt an important part of his biography, but it is not enough just writing some stories taken from own fantasies as it was done by Hughes. So far as you want to read a popular book about Liszt, Harsányi's "Ungarische Rhapsodie" ("Hungarian Rhapsody") would be a better choice. 17:17, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

Excellent! Thank you very much for the link, I was unaware (foolishly so) that the letters were on the internet. They will surely be an excellent resource!
As a matter of fact, I already found two letters which you might find intriguing in light of your statements that Liszt never claimed to be Hungarian. Namely the one of November 24, 1839, to Count Leo Festetics, and the one of October 26, 1840, to a certain Buloz. K. Lásztocska 16:08, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
We should better not disturb the peace again. But regarding the letter from November 24, 1839, to Count Leo Festetics, there is an idea which I just tell as a hint. The letter was written in Triest in a time when Liszt wanted to gain as much money as he could, giving concerts. For that purpose he wanted to go to Pest too. So, I'd like to suggest, please try to imagine what would have happened when Liszt had written the contrary. It would have been: "Dear Count, I want to give concerts in Pest, but please be sure that I don't like Hungary in the least. I just want to come and afterwards leave, taking much money away". 09:39, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
Sigh. You never cease to astound me. I agree that we'd best not open this can of worms again, but let the record show that I have never once in my entire life heard anyone besides you claim not simply that Liszt was not Hungarian, nor even that he did not claim to be Hungarian, but now that he "did not like Hungary in the least." If you must claim him for yourself as some sort of Austro-German then go ahead, but please do not invent fairy tales about him hating Hungary. Even if he was not actually Hungarian and didn't claim to be, he wrote enough "Hungarian-esque" music to lay to rest any fantasies about his complete dislike of Hungary. Yes, I know that such "alla Ungherese" music was all the rage in those days and that many non-Hungarians tried to write "in Hungarian style", but certainly no one was under any compulsion to write such music, and it seems very unlikely that a man who "did not like Hungary in the least" would write nineteen Hungarian Rhapsodies, an oratorio on the legend of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and a symphonic poem called "Hungaria" (and that is hardly a complete list of his works connected with Hungary.)
In any event, I suppose we're just going to have to "agree to disagree", since the Franz Liszt you know is a very different man from the Franz Liszt I know. I will make every effort to not bring up the "Hungarian Question" again, and I request that you do the same. Case unresolved but closed.
On an unrelated topic, I got your message about Thalberg and I would be happy to help smooth out the English in your article. Just let me know whenever you require assistance of any sort. K. Lásztocska 15:05, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
Me too. I can also help if you need me. —  $PЯINGrαgђ  21:28, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Thank you very much for your help. The Thalberg article is developing, although some of the most astonishing parts are still to come. Concerning my last posting, I just wrote, please try to imagine what would have happened if Liszt had written such a thing. It was meant in a sense that Liszt had no choice but claiming a Hungarian identity. But we should really better come to an end with this, since the worms, coming out of your can, are biting. So, please, take my posting from June 29 as a logical joke which I mainly wrote for the fun of it. Concerning the Hungarian Rhapsodies, I may remind you of the letter to Eduard Hanslick from September, 20, 1859. Liszt wrote, the melodies might as well have been Chinese. He took them because he found them beautiful. 10:24, 30 June 2007 (UTC)
Fine, you win. I admit defeat at the hands of the brilliant German scholar and his piles of incontrovertible evidence. Now, please, will you be so kind as to not bring up the Hungarian Question anymore, as I politely requested in my earlier posting.
I will have a look at Thalberg a bit later. I don't want to get in the way while you are still writing, so let me know when you have basically finished and then I will go to work. :) K. Lásztocska 12:23, 30 June 2007 (UTC)


"Live" is probably not the best word here. Saying "Live" is a confusing message, while we all know that Liszt could not possibly have a live recording in his lifetime. Someone with a better command of English (better than mine) may be able to improve this. Thanks,Steveshelokhonov 22:48, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

Hungarian or Magyar?

Somebody wrote here that Liszt always considered himself a Hungarian. Hungarian or Magyar? What does it mean? The majority of the inhabitants of Hungary were Slavic people like Croats, Slovenes, Slovaks, Ukrainians and Polish. Only the minority were Magyars, i.e. people whose mother tongue is Hungarian (also according to the official census). But they all were by outsiders referred to as Hungarians. Just as (for example) people generally thought that Stalin was Russian, but he was Georgian.

Liszt never really learned Hungarian, during his whole life, what would be quite strange for a proud Magyar. Even many enthic Slovaks, especially in towns, were fluent in Hungarian, because it was important for their jobs. On the other hand, he could correspond in Russian (beside other languages).


Liszt wrote Slavimo Slavno Slaveni! This is a fact. Any doubts?

The translation of the name is "Let's Celebrate Famous Slavs!" This is a fact. Any doubts?

It is based on a work by of the poet Medo Pucić, who supported pan-slavic ideas. This is a fact. Any doubts?

It was composed for the Millennium celebration of the arrival of Slavic apostles Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius to the area of present-day Slovakia. The celebrations took place in Rome in July 1863, organized by Pope Pius IX; Liszt was personally present. This is a fact. Any doubts?

Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius persuaded the Pope to authorize old Slavic as the 4th lithurgic language after Latin, Greek and Hebrew. This is a fact. Any doubts?

So he was Hungarian, because all people in the Kingdom were (automatically) Hungarians, but was no Magyar. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Wikista (talkcontribs).

Wikipedia has policies which include writing only in the neutral point of view, and requires citing reliable sources for additions. This is a fact, verifiable by consulting the linked policies, and if you follow those policies you will find your doubts much mitigated.
What you say may well be true. But you still have to cite a source. Thanks, Antandrus (talk) 16:58, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
He wasn't an ethnic Magyar. He was an ethnic German. That has not been a subject of serious dispute. Regarding your points:
  • True, he never learned to speak Hungarian beyond a rudimentary level. That is not surprising: in Liszt's time, especially in his youth, very few Hungarians actually spoke Hungarian. The official languages as imposed by the Habsburgs were German and Latin. Hungarian did not really catch on (outside the rural peasantry, that is) until the era of the 1848 War for Independence and afterward, by which time Liszt was a little too old to learn a language as well as if it had been his native language.
  • Yes, he did write "Slavimo Slavno Slaveni", and it is based on the same Medo Pucic poem you mention, was indeed composed for the millenium of Sts. Cyril and Methodius. No dispute. But why does it necessarily show some deep love of the Slovak people on Liszt's part? As far as I know, he was commissioned to write that piece. If he had written a lot of works on Slavic themes, and otherwise stated his fascination with the "ancient Slovaks" (?), that would be something else again, but we can't ascribe a political/social opinion to Liszt based on the composition of one piece of music. K. Lásztocska 17:07, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

I did not spoke of "deep love". Anyway I do not think he HAD to accept the pan-Slavic poem, if he disagree with it.

Do you seriously believe that Magyars used Latin at home? It is a dead language, it has no native speakers. It was the official language, but believe me that (for example) Slovaks spoke one of the Slovak dialects at home, not Latin. So if Magyars did not speak Hungarian at home, they were mute. Wikipedia: Native language is the first language that a person learns. (It could be also two or more languages.) But nobody can learn his native language when he is old! Anyway, also relatively old people can learn fluently a foreign language, especially if they have a motivation to do so.

Just FYI, I'm Hungarian. I think I know the history of my own people.
No, I do not know of any Magyars that used Latin at home. The Magyar peasants, as I have already said, spoke Hungarian at home. The people who didn't speak Hungarian, or spoke it poorly, were the upper classes, the landed gentry, the city folk. There, most people spoke German, as Hungary was in an Austro-German cultural sphere of influence at the time. Moreover, Liszt was from the Burgenland, where much of the population was ethnic-German and German-speaking anyway.
Liszt DID try to learn Hungarian, but it proved too difficult for him. Hungarian is a very complicated and difficult language, especially for someone raised speaking German and (in Liszt's case) French.
Remind me what we're arguing about, again? K. Lásztocska 20:08, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
Just for the purpose of correcting some errors. Liszt returned to Hungary at end of 1839, at age of 28. Calling this "relatively old" is rather adventurous. The question of his ethnic descent is, in fact, until now debated with controversial opinions. During the 1830s in Paris he was regarded as German, by the way, since it was not yet in fashion to claim a Hungarian or Slavic identity. Nobody had an idea to call a person, born as German, a Hungarian. (See: Leo, Sophie: Erinnerungen aus Paris, 1817-1848, Berlin 1851, p.190.) Liszt did try to learn Hungarian, and it was in the early 1870s. In this time there was a very small minority of “true Hungarians” who forced the majority of all other inhabitants to learn Hungarian. Nobody asked how old people were. Liszt was quite well paid for his attempt. He was nominated as "Königlicher ungarischer Rat" and got 3,000 Gulden a year for it.
Looking at the Wikipedia rules of "neutrality of point of view", there is only a single proper solution for an article about Liszt. It is your task to report different opinions, but without deciding between them. In order to give some hints to references, there is Eleonor Perényi's Franz Liszt, London 1974, until now by many Liszt experts considered as one of the best books ever written about Liszt. The author is Hungarian for herself, although she does not believe in Liszt's Hungarian identity. Many more materials can be found in Dana Gooley's The Virtuoso Liszt, Cambridge University Press 2004, p.117ff. After Gooley, the famous announcement of Liszt's "homecoming" concert on May 1, 1823, with words "I am Hungarian" was most probably a fabrication. 09:35, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
You don't seriously expect me to take this bait again? I asked you, twice, to not discuss the Hungarian Question anymore with me. The reason I was writing about it (see above) was in response to a strange user trying to insert bizarre statements and outright falsehoods. I was not addressing you, nor did I want to start this godforsaken discussion again. You will never convince me that Liszt was not Hungarian and I will never convince you that he was. Please be so exceedingly kind as to drop the subject, as I intend to do. K. Lásztocska 14:30, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
Please know, however, that if you (Anonymous Scholar and Slovak Patriot) fail to drop this, I will also fail to drop this and will accordingly revert any changes. —  $PЯINGεrαgђ  21:01, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
This page is a place with freedom of speech. So, move censor! 16:37, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
And just what the hell was that?!? And what do you mean, freedom of speech to insult other editors? Freedom of speech to Germanicise every music-related person you know, whether he or even she be German or not? Feel free to do whatever you want, but I am afriad most of it will get reverted, and not just by me. One page to read before you rush head on into the rotating globe of maces is WP:3RR. It also applies to anonymous editors. —  $PЯINGεrαgђ  21:23, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

Folks, folks! I thought we'd settled this issue? --Todeswalzer|Talk 00:58, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

*Sigh*.....I swear, I thought we had too....K. Lásztocska 01:05, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

Leave it to…the ones you would expect to leave it to…to beat the dead horse. Hey, that horse isn't just dead, it's been beaten from here to China! -head explodes- —  $PЯINGεrαgђ  01:46, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

I think the damn horse is actually undead by now and it's sucking my blood! aaaaaaaaaaagh! :P K. Lásztocska 02:23, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

Those Wikipedia users who are interested in historical sources might read the following quotation from a letter by Liszt. Those who are not interested in such sources are politely asked for not reading it.
Il me semble, Madame, que vous m'aviez demandé l'autre soir de vous conduire et présenter notre célèbre compatriote Heine. C'est un des hommes les plus distingués d'Allemagne et si je ne craignais de lui faire tort par la comparaison j'emploierais volontiers à son sujet la fameux adverbe extrêmement trois fois répé.
The letter is of spring 1833 and was written in Paris. "Madame" was of German descent, and Heine was German too. Liszt claimed that he was compatriot of both. To avoid misunderstandings, five years later Liszt claimed he had always thought he was French. 14:49, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

(edit conflict--sorry Mike) For the benefit of our non-Francophone readers, please consider posting your historical sources in English translation next time. I don't understand why you refuse to drop this issue, but as long as we're talking about it again, let me remind you that by Liszt's own admission it was not until 1838 that he experienced a sort of "re-awakening" of his Hungarian identity. I have no more time at the moment, but perhaps later today or tomorrow I will post some illuminating quotes from Liszt's writings at the time. K. Lásztocska 15:16, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

I'd be interested to know who the letter was to, incidentally, and read both letters fully for myself. Did Liszt not write to Baron Augusz in 1873: "I may surely be allowed, in spite of my lamentable ignorance of the Hungarian language, to remain from my birth to the grave Magyar in heart and mind."? M A Mason 15:15, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes, he did indeed write that. However "birth to the grave" may have been a slight bit of poetic license--1838 to the grave, more like. :) K. Lásztocska 15:18, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

Liszt’s letter was written to Marie d'Agoult, born in Frankfurt-am-Main. It can be found in: Liszt-d'Agoult: Correspondance, ed. Daniel Ollivier, Vol. I, Paris 1933, p.19. The first sentence has been quoted in: Perényi, Eleonor: Franz Liszt, London 1974, p.96. At end of my quotation a copy and paste error occurred. The last word should have been "répété" ("repeated"). A translation to English might be:
It seems to me, Madame, that you asked me the other evening to accompany you and to present our famous compatriot Heine. He is one of the most distinguished persons of Germany, and if I wouldn't fear doing him an injustice with the comparison, I'd deliberately employ with regard to him the famous adverb extremely, threefold repeated.
The last part of the second sentence is, without doubt, an allusion to an event which had happened before. "Fameux" is "famous" with an ironical touch. Apparently Marie d'Agoult had praised someone, saying he was extremely, extremely, extremely distinguished. 09:13, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

False/unverifiable information

The statement "However, the small "webbing" connectors found between the fingers of any normal hand were practically nonexistent for Liszt. This allowed the composer to cover a much wider span of notes than the average pianist, perhaps even up to 12 whole steps." is completely false. There is only cartilage webbing between the middle and ring fingers of a human hand. The non-existence of this will in no way extend the span of a persons fingers to cover more keys. The span is determined by the length of the thumb and little fingers only. Liszt was able to cover more keys by a strategic technique of angling the hands to the keyboard thereby placing the hands in a ready position for pressing keys that were spaced further apart. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 21:07, August 23, 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the contribution. You've said our information is false and unverifiable, you're possibly correct about it being false. But, the lack of webbing between Liszt's fingers is discussed in published material (the first Walker book, p. 301). Interestingly, he also talks about the unusual length of his fourth fingers being an advanage. I'm the same, my fourth fingers reach as far as my fifths, so it's not necessarilly true that reach is determined only by the thumbs and little fingers. The information is not unverifiable.
It's interesting about the hand angle thing though, where did you read about this and the connecting tissue myth? It should be in the article if there's a reliable source for it. If the connecting tissue thing also proves to be false that should be mentioned. Thanks again. M A Mason 21:20, 23 August 2007 (UTC)

It might be helpful to know the exact lengths of Liszt's fingers. Peter Raabe took them from a plaster cast in Weimar, measuring from the midst of the knuckle to the midst of the tip. According to this, Liszt's 1st finger had 7 cm, the 2nd 11 cm, the 3rd 12 cm, the 4th 11 1/2 cm, and the 5th 8 3/4 cm. (See: Raabe, Peter: Liszts Schaffen, Cotta, Stuttgart 1931, p.37.) Taking 2.54 cm for an inch, the 1st would be 2.76 inch, the 2nd 4.33 inch, the 3rd 4.72 inch, the 4th 4.53 inch, and the 5th 3.44 inch. Concerning Alan Walker's Liszt I, p.301, you forgot to mention that he did not give a single source in favour of his opinion. Eleonor Perényi's following comment is appropriate, although it is concerning a different one of Walker's theories.

I would propose to Mr. Walker that he ask Mrs. Rosemary Brown to verify it. She is the English housewife who claims to receive daily visits from Liszt, Chopin, Beethoven and others, and to take musical dictation from them. When not so engaged they chat with her, supplying a certain amount of information not otherwise known. (Perényi, Liszt, 1974, p.65.)

Walker's Liszt I appeared 9 years later, and I have no doubt that in the meantime he will have taken his chance, following Perényi's kind advice. (However, for unknown reasons her book, although very famous, is missing in his index.)

In the example from Au lac de Wallenstadt (Liszt I, p.301), it is characteristic for Walker's method that he omitted the arpeggio sign to the chord. In the example from the early version of "Gondoliera" (trills together with decimes), Liszt was able to stretch the first decime (f# - a#), but he could not stretch the first one of the second bar (b - d#). There is indeed no need for doing so. The indication is armonioso, to which an arpeggiated execution is suiting. Talking from a practical point of view, I know many people who are playing Liszt. Every single one of them is only laughing when looking at Walker's explanations of Liszt's playing. If you want to add a better source to your bibliography, I'd suggest taking Arne Steinberg's PhD dissertation "Franz Liszt's approach to piano playing", University of Maryland, 1971. It was published on microfilm, but everybody can get it from a library. Looking at page 179, you will find a quoatation from William Mason's memoirs.

As I remember his (Liszt's) hands, his fingers were lean and thin, but they did not impress me as being very long, and he did not have such remarkable stretch on the keyboard as one might imagine.

On p.180, a quotation from Carl Lachmund, concerning the last chord of the Adagio of Beethoven's sonata op.106 ("Hammerklavier"), is following.

It struck me that he (Liszt) could barely cover the tenth in each hand sufficiently to play the chord quietly without breaking it. I thought too that he made the same mental reservation, and I was right, for he then said, 'The public generally credits me with having a very large hand; but you can see I can just stretch this tenth to play it quietly -- as it should be done.' With this he placed is fingers on the chord for us to see.

There is a new edition of Lachmund's diary, edited 1994 by a certain Alan Walker, by the way, so that Walker should know it. 09:21, 25 August 2007 (UTC)