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Thread: Liszt is poetry!

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    String Dancer Shea's Avatar
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    Liszt is poetry!

    Inspired by Monroe's topic, 'rap music is poetry', I was trying to come up with a way to describe how classical music is wordless poetry for me. Wouldn't you know! A couple of days later, I was listening to a program on the radio station talking about Symphonic Poetry! Liszt was the one talked about before I was forced to turn the radio off a return to my duties. I'm not very familiar with Liszt but I did enjoy the segment that was played. I couldn't remember the title of the peice, something to do with mountains, But as I was trying to research it, I found that it probably belonged to a set of twelve pieces called "The Transendental Studies" which were inspired by visual art, poetry and landscape. I plan on getting more familiar with Liszt, but does anyone else know of any other composers that I should listen to?
    Hwt! We Gar-Dena in geardagum,/eodcuninga rum gefrunon,/hu a elingas ellen fremedon!
    Oft Scyld Scefing sceaena reatum,/ monegum mgum, meodosetla ofteah,/ egsode eorlas, syan rest wear/ feasceaft funden; he s frofre gebad,/ weox under wolcnum, weormyndum ah,/ ot him ghwylc ara ymbsittendra/ofer hronrade hyran scolde,/gomban gyldan. t ws god cyning!

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    Ce Quon Entend Sur La Montagne (What you can hear in the mountains) is probably the piece you heard. It was inspired by Victor Hugo's poem Feuilles dAutomne. Liszt was a late romantic pianist and composer.

    I believe the most poetic music comes from the French. Debussy, especially in his piece Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, is the most poetic of all. Also, Images from Debussy is quite good and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli is the best pianist for Debussy. Get a recording of both of these on the Deutsche Grammaphon label.

    I really love to listen to Eric Satie. You may also like Chopin who was Polish but his music is in the French style. I am a music teacher, so I could go on and on about my favorite composers. What exactly are you looking for in a classical recording? I mean, for me, if I want to listen to well written music from the classical period then Mozart is the best. Mahler is my pick when I want to hear the best orchestras. I like to relax to Gesualdo.

    I hope that helps.
    Place literary quote here.

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    String Dancer Shea's Avatar
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    I love Debussey! I have the sheet music for his Sonata for flute, harp, and viola. I play a harp and have always wanted to learn this piece. But sadly, I do not have the income that allows me to have a pedal harp, so it's quite impossible for the moment. I lost my recording of Debussy so it didn't even cross my mind to think of it as symphonic poetry, but your quite right. It's been a while, but I do remember Prelude to the afternoon of a Faun, and I also like the Maiden with the Flaxen Hair (did I get the title right?). I miss Debussy and I'll look for the recording you mentioned.

    And yes, that was the piece! But I wasn't aware that Hugo wrote poetry. I shall read it!

    My favorite composer is Rachmoninov especially Variation on a Theme by Paganinni (isn't that everyone's favorite?). I get completely overwhelmed by the complexity of his pieces and how they move. Someone once told me that he had abnormally large hands and that's why his pieces were so complex, is that true?

    I love many forms of classical music particularly ones that focus on piano and harp (I love listening to Nancy Allen). I listen to different composers depending on my mood and what I am doing at the time; Wagner for cleaning, Chopin for reading, etc... But I'd also like to get into some Chamber Music ensembles. Do you know of any worth listening to?
    Hwt! We Gar-Dena in geardagum,/eodcuninga rum gefrunon,/hu a elingas ellen fremedon!
    Oft Scyld Scefing sceaena reatum,/ monegum mgum, meodosetla ofteah,/ egsode eorlas, syan rest wear/ feasceaft funden; he s frofre gebad,/ weox under wolcnum, weormyndum ah,/ ot him ghwylc ara ymbsittendra/ofer hronrade hyran scolde,/gomban gyldan. t ws god cyning!

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    My favorite Rachmaninov is Piano Concerto 2 and 3. I was so happy to see the Third Piano Concerto used in the movie Shine.

    The Kronos Quartet is an excellent chamber group. I especially like their performance on Steve Reich's Different Trains. The Orpheus Ensemble is also quite good.
    Place literary quote here.

  5. #5
    The idea of music as poetry or poetry as music is a very Romantic one, but it has lived on since then (as so many Romantic ideas, we are all still post-Romantics). In the (literary) Romantic tradition music was considered to be the 'purest' art form. Romantics wanted to express emotions (recollected in peace), and they already sensed that language is destined to fail. They thought music came closer to the actual emotion.
    But at the same time they considered poetry to be closest of all art forms to music (a.o. because of the prosody), so collaborations between musicians-composers and poets were not entirely exceptional.
    Maurice Maeterlinck's "Pllas et Mlisande" was turned into an opera by Debussy, I'm sure you can find examples of more active collaborations, in the writing of the libretto and the writing of the music, or of composers putting poetry to music (even now: I'm thinking of Belgian poet Stefan Hertman's book "Francesco's paradox" put to music, by Walter Hus I think). Many poets wrote odes and poems on composers. And Mendelssohn's "Lieder ohne Worte" clearly refer to the poetic genre of songs.
    Bricolage: a process which uses given material, given signifiers but which creates from these new signifiers, a new reality which is not given.

    The bricoleur may not ever complete his purpose but he always puts something of himself into it.

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    Lisztomania.

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    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Liszt is commonly credited with the invention of the genre entitled the "tone poem". Richard Strauss would be another master of the genre. For other links between poetry and music you might check out Schumann and Brahms' short pieces for solo piano. See especially Schumann's Kinderscenen, Carnaval, Fantasiestucke, Kreisleriana, etc... Add to this Schubert's lieder (begin with Die Winterreise) and his Impromptus. Try also Smetana's M vlast (My Country) including "The Moldau".

    You might also check this page:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphonic_poem
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    Registered User Emil Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shea View Post
    Inspired by Monroe's topic, 'rap music is poetry', I was trying to come up with a way to describe how classical music is wordless poetry for me. Wouldn't you know! A couple of days later, I was listening to a program on the radio station talking about Symphonic Poetry! Liszt was the one talked about before I was forced to turn the radio off a return to my duties. I'm not very familiar with Liszt but I did enjoy the segment that was played. I couldn't remember the title of the peice, something to do with mountains, But as I was trying to research it, I found that it probably belonged to a set of twelve pieces called "The Transendental Studies" which were inspired by visual art, poetry and landscape. I plan on getting more familiar with Liszt, but does anyone else know of any other composers that I should listen to?
    Thank you for this thread, it is easily one of the most interesting that I have seen on these forums.

    Apart from being perhaps the greatest pianist of all time, Liszt was also a great composer and teacher. There is a story that one of his pupils was having difficulty playing a romantic piece and told Liszt that he couldn't play it. Liszt turned to the window through which a glorious sunset could be seen and pointing to it he said "Play that:" whereupon the student played the piece through.

    StLukesguild has already mentioned Richard Strauss as a composer of tone poems and if you are looking specifically for poetry in music there is no finer composer. In fact it is no exageration to say that romanticism in music died with him in 1949. If you are keen on the harp, you will find it used to great effect in Strauss, especially in Ein Heldenleben, but the greatest of all his tone poems is actually his Alpine Symphony which depicts a day in which a walker leaves the hustle and bustle of the streets to ascend a mountain, passing through a sudden storm, to a spectacular view from the summit before descending to the darkening town below.

    As a harpist you might care to check out Ravel's Introduction and Allegro for harp,flute, clarinet and string quartet which will transport you to a summer garden somewhere in southern France, wondering why life seems so perfect.

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    aspiring Arthurianist Wilde woman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Marie View Post
    Lisztomania.
    Also, Rachmaninoffomania! Whoo for the Variations and the piano concertos! Glad to find fellow lovers of Romantic period classical music here.

    I don't particularly like tone poems (especially Impressionist ones), but I find Schubert's lieder very poetic. For me Chopin is perhaps the most poetic composer of all time, if we're talking about strictly piano works. His preludes, waltzes, and nocturnes are IMO the most evocative piano pieces ever.

    I'd also like to point out that the poetic tradition in music goes way back. Vivaldi (Baroque) wrote a sonnet sequence for his famous Four Seasons. It's quite beautiful and it helps us to see what he saw when he wrote the music.

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    There are many tone poems from the romantic period. Liszt and Strauss are the foremost composers but Tchaikovsky and Sibelius also contributed together with many others; but most romantic music has a programme designed to aid the listener in following it. Tone poems are often thought of as paintings of some specified topic leaving the listener to create the image, They are often orchestral pieces but there are numerous piano works by Liszt and others that qualify.

    The first specifically programme music may be Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique but he would not have written that if he had not been shown the way by Beethoven from the Eroica symphony onward but particularly by the latter's pastoral symphony, No 6.

    Actually, we interpret all music of whatever period as a human experience but are often led by the context to particular avenues of contemplation according to the composers declaration. Eg Bachs religious music or Haydn's oratorios.

    Works specifically interpretative of poetry come mainly from the German romantic movement although the French composers already named added greatly to tone poems and interpretations of poetry around the turn of the 19th/20th century (also du Parc and Chausson).

    Since German was the major language of most romantic composers, however, it would be a great help to understand that language and to read the text as you listen. Few non German listeners know the German language, unfortunately, with the consequence that reading the text in a translation is essential in order to understand the story. Schubert was pre-eminent in presenting poetry in music and was followed by Schumann but also by many others. Try Strauss's Four Last Songs and Schnberg's superb Verklrte Nacht (Transfigured Night) which transforms Richard Dehmels simple but human poem into a half hour of gorgeous late romantic music.

  11. #11
    Card-carrying Medievalist Lokasenna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilde woman View Post
    Also, Rachmaninoffomania! Whoo for the Variations and the piano concertos! Glad to find fellow lovers of Romantic period classical music here.

    I don't particularly like tone poems (especially Impressionist ones), but I find Schubert's lieder very poetic. For me Chopin is perhaps the most poetic composer of all time, if we're talking about strictly piano works. His preludes, waltzes, and nocturnes are IMO the most evocative piano pieces ever.

    I'd also like to point out that the poetic tradition in music goes way back. Vivaldi (Baroque) wrote a sonnet sequence for his famous Four Seasons. It's quite beautiful and it helps us to see what he saw when he wrote the music.
    Agreed on the Chopin - I'm listening to him right now (his Aeolian Harp... so beautiful). The things that man could do with a single piano...
    "I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance. And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity- through him all things fall. Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the spirit of gravity!" - Nietzsche

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    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Must be a Chopin day. I just put on a recording of his waltzes which I haven't listened to in quite some time and I'm listening to the lovely and evocative Waltz in a-minor Op 34 no. 2. Had Chopin lived a little later he most certainly would have given his works some more poetic titles rather than sticking with the classical tradition of naming the work after the form (fugue, prelude, sonata, etc...).
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    I agree with everything said here. I am currently learning two Chopin pieces: Etude in A flat major (Aeolian Harp) and his Prelude in D flat Major (Rain Drop Prelude). When I play the prelude, I envision drizzle that eventually turns into rain drops. The minor portion of the song ushers in the crux of the thunderstorm, this is pronounced with a hard fortissimo with the c sharp minor. The last few drops fall as we end softly back on D flat major.

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    Has anyone here ever heard the original, unaltered version of Modest Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain? Mussorgsky's originals always had an emotion and imagination behind them that made them poetic to me.
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    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Has anyone here ever heard the original, unaltered version of Modest Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain? Mussorgsky's originals always had an emotion and imagination behind them that made them poetic to me.

    Yes... I have the original version for piano as well as the brilliant orchestration by Ravel... a master colorist with the orchestra. Each is a unique work. I've heard the Ravel version in person and it is a sonic wonder... but you are right that Mussorgsky's originals have a certain rawness of emotion.

    By the way... feel free to bring any discussions of classical music over to the classical music thread over at General Movies, Music, and Television in the General Chat forum.
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