Piano Sonata (Liszt)

Piano Sonata (Liszt)

The Piano Sonata in B minor ( _de. Klaviersonate h-Moll), S.178, is a musical composition for solo piano by Franz Liszt.


The Sonata was composed in 1852-1853, and first performed on January 27, 1857 in Berlin by Liszt's pupil and son-in-law, Hans von Bülow. It was attacked by conservative critics such as Eduard Hanslick, Brahms (who reputedly fell asleep during Liszt's performance of the work at their first meeting), and the pianist and composer Anton Rubinstein. However, the sonata drew an enthusiastic compliment from Richard Wagner.cite album-notes |first=Humphrey |last=Searle |title=Franz Liszt, Sonate h-moll |bandname=Daniel Barenboim |publisher=Deutsche Grammophon |publisherid=2531-271] The German newspaper "Nationalzeitung" referred to it as "an invitation to hissing and stomping". [Letter No.216 from [http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext03/1lofl10.txt Letters of Franz Liszt, Volume 1] ] The sonata was published by Breitkopf & Härtel in 1854. It was dedicated to Robert Schumann, in return for Schumann's dedication of his "Fantasia in C", Op.17 (1836) to Liszt. [Letter No.171 from [http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext03/1lofl10.txt Letters of Franz Liszt, Volume 1] ]


The sonata is notable for being constructed from a small number of motivic elements that are woven into an enormous musical architecture. The motivic units undergo thematic transformation throughout the work to suit the musical context of the moment. The symbolic meaning of the motivic confrontation is subject not only of scholarly discourse. A theme that in one context sounds menacing and even violent, is then transformed into a beautiful melody. [This is Liszt's modified version of Berlioz's "idée fixe", which Liszt referred to as the cyclical system. This is the basis not only for the Sonata, but also Liszt's major orchestral works.] This technique helps to bind the sonata's sprawling structure into a single cohesive unit, although the architectural powers of the musician need to be highly developed to achieve this in performance.Fact|date=June 2007

Broadly speaking, the Sonata has four movements although there is no gap between them. Superimposed upon the four movements is a large sonata form structure, although the precise beginnings and endings of the traditional development and recapitulation sections has long been a topic of debate. Most analystsWho|date=June 2007 agree that the development begins roughly with the slow section and the recapitulation with the scherzo fugue. In using this structure, Liszt was influenced by Franz Schubert's "Wanderer Fantasie",Fact|date=June 2007 a work he greatly admired, performed often and arranged for piano and orchestra. Schubert used the same limited number of musical elements to create a broad four movement work, and used a fugal 4th movement. Already in 1851 Liszt experimented with a nonprogrammatic "four-movements-in-one" form in an extended work for piano solo called "Grosses Concert-Solo". This piece, which in 1865 was published as a two-piano version under the title "Concerto pathétique", shows a thematic relationship to both the "Sonata" and the later Faust Symphony.

The quiet ending of the sonata may have been an afterthought; the original manuscript which is available in the The Morgan Library & Museum [ [http://corsair.morganlibrary.org/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?SC=Title&SEQ=20070618114057&PID=R6mHtQr3Tr6ZYLAgQ3CU3LrLvDo&SA=Grande+Sonate+/+pour+le+Pianoforte+/+par+/+F.+Liszt+/+Termine%CC%81+le+/+2+Fevrier+1853 The Online Catalogue of Piermont Morgan Library] ] in New York City, contains a crossed-out ending section which would have ended the work loudly instead.Alan Walker, "Franz Liszt: The Weimar Years, 1848–1861", Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989, page 156. This is in the middle of an extensive analysis of the sonata, pp. 149–157.)]



Szasz, Tibor. “Liszt’s Symbols for the Divine and Diabolical: Their Revelation of a Program in the B Minor Sonata.” Journal of the American Liszt Society, 15 (1984): 39-95.

External links

* [http://kreusch-sheet-music.net/eng/?page=show&query=Piano%20Sonata%20in%20b%20minor%20by%20Franz%20Liszt&order=op www.kreusch-sheet-music.net] - Free Score
* [http://www.superopera.com/sLiszt/SLiszt.htm Recording of this Sonata by Alberto Cobo]
* [http://www.serg.vangennip.com/www/piano.html Recordings of this Sonata by Serg van Gennip]
* [http://tiborszasz.de/en/gen/content/arbeiten Attempts to decifer the symbolic content]

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