Virtuosity In The 19th Century – Paganini, Berlioz, Chopin, Liszt

Nevertheless, the artists with whom we are now concerned represent principles more decidedly belonging to the romantic, and hence to the nineteenth century, than did those whose operations have already been discussed as part of the record of the eighteenth. This is seen in the quality and the novelty of their playing, and still more in the influence which they exercised upon the musicians who came after.

Earliest of these in point of time, and most influential in other departments than his own, was the famous Italian violinist, Nicole. Paganini (1782-1840), perhaps the most remarkable executant upon the violin who has ever appeared. His father, a clever amateur, had him taught music at an early age, and when only nine years of age he played in a concert at Genoa with triumphant success. He had already practiced diligently and, with the intuition of genius, had found out his own ways of accomplishing things, so that when, at the age of eleven, he was taken to Parma to the teacher Rolla, he was told that there was nothing to teach him. Returning home, he continued his practice, applying himself as much as eight or ten hours a day, and producing a number of compositions so difficult that he alone could play them.

His first European tour took place in 1805, and astonished the world. The most marvelous stories were told of him. It was popularly supposed that he could play upon any-thing, provided only the catgut and the horsehair were furnished him. His first appearance in France was in 1831, and in the same year he played in London. The height of his fame was reached in 1834, at which time Berlioz, the French composer, presented him with a beautiful symphony, “Harold en Italie.” Notwithstanding the fact that Paganini lost money in Paris, he presented Berlioz with 20,000 francs, in order to enable him to pursue his career as a composer unhampered by financial distress. This act was greatly to Paganini’s credit, and entirely contrary to .the prevalent opinion concerning him, which was that he was very miserly. Among the works which Paganini produced was a set of caprices for the violin which were essentially novelties for the instrument. He enlarged the resources of the violin in every direction, employing double stopping, harmonics, and the high positions with a freedom previously unknown. Notwithstanding Spohr’s modest remark that upon a certain evening when playing for some amateurs he delighted them ” with all the Paganini juggles,” it is certain that he did nothing of the kind.

It is impossible after this lapse of time to realize the sensation which Paganini’s appearances made. His tall,’ emaciated figure and haggard face, his piercing black eyes and the furor of passion which characterized his playing, made him seem like one possessed, and many hearers were prepared to assert of their own knowledge that they had seen him assisted by the Evil Spirit. His caprices remain the sheet anchor of the would-be virtuoso. The entire art of violin playing rests upon two works the Bach sonatas for violin solo, and the great Paganini caprices. Everything of which the violin is capable, or which any virtuoso has been able to find in it, is contained in these works.

Upon two composers of this century Paganini’s influence was extremely powerful. Schumann took his departure from the Paganini caprices, seeking to perform upon the piano the same kind of effect which Paganini had obtained from the violin, or to discover others equivalent to them. And Liszt set himself to do upon the piano the same kind of impossibilities which Paganini had performed upon the violin. Both these masters accomplished more than they planned for. Schumann enriched the current of musical discourse by his experiments having their departure from Paganini, thereby accomplishing something which Paganini did not ; for while the great violinist’s works are of astonishing value for the violin, they are not particularly significant as tone-poetry. They are pleasing and sensational, and at times passion-ate, show pieces for the virtuoso.

Hector Berlioz (18o3-1869), for whose genius Paganini had such admiration, was perhaps the most remarkable French personality in music during the nineteenth century, and one of the most commanding in the whole world of music. He was born at Grenoble, in the south of France. His father, a physician, intended that the son should follow his own profession, but when the young Berlioz was sent to Paris to study medicine, at the age of eighteen, music proved too strong for him, and he entered the Conservatory as a pupil of Lesueur. His parents were so incensed by this course that the paternal supplies were cut off, and the young enthusiast was driven to the expedient of earning a scanty living by singing in the opera chorus at an obscure theater, La Gym-nase Dramatique. The daring originality of the young musician, and his habit of regarding every rule as open to question, rendered him anything but a favorite with Cherubini, the director of the Conservatory, and it was only after several trials that he carried off the prize for composition. ,The second instance of this kind occurred in 183o, the piece being a dramatic cantata “Sardana-pole,” which gained him the prize of Rome, carrying with it a pension sufficient to maintain the winner during three years in Italy.

On his return to Paris, he found it extremely difficult to secure a living by his compositions, their originality and the scale upon which he carried them out, placing them outside the conventional markets for new musical works designed for public performance. In this strait he took to writing for the press, in the journal des Débats; for which his talent was little, if any, less marked than ror musical production upon the largest scale. As a writer, he was keen, sarcastic, bright and sympathetic. A man of the world, and at the same time an artist, he touched everything with the characteristic lightness and raciness of the born feuillelonist. Very soon (in 1834), he produced his symphony “Harold en Italie,” which Paganini so much admired that he presented Berlioz with the very liberal, even princely douceur of 20,000 francs ($4,000). Meanwhile Berlioz was unable to secure recognition in Paris. His compositions were regarded as extravagant and fantastic, and Parisians were curiously surprised at the reception the composer met with in Germany, when he traveled there in 1842 and 1843, and again in 1852, bringing out his works. The Germans were by no means unanimous regarding his merits. Mendelssohn, who found Berlioz most interesting as a man, had no admiration for his music. To him it appeared crazy and unbeautiful. The sole recognition which Berlioz had in France was the librarianship of the Conservatoire, with a modest salary, and the Cross of the Legion of Honor. In spite of the small esteem in which this clever master was held by his countrymen during his life, he produced a succession of remarkable works, without which the art of music would have missed some of its brightest pages. Among these we may mention his dramatic legend of ” The Damnation of Faust,” for solos, chorus and orchestra, which marks one of the highest points reached by program music. This great work is now generally accepted as one of the best of the romantic productions, and the orchestral pieces in it have become part of the standard repertory of orchestras everywhere.

Berlioz was above all the composer of the grandiose, the magnificent. This appears in his earliest works. In 1837 he composed his Requiem, for the funeral obsequies of General Damremont. This work is of unprecedented proportions. It is scored for chorus, solos and orchestra, the latter occasionally of extraordinary appointment. In the “Tuba Mirurn,” for example, he desires full chorus of strings, and four choirs of wood-wind and brass. The wood-wind consists of twelve horns, eight oboes, and four clarinets, two piccolos and four flutes. The brass is disposed in four choirs as follows, each at one of the corners of the stage; the first consists of four trumpets, four tenor trombones and two tubas; the second of four trumpets and four tenor trombones; the third the same; the fourth of four trumpets, four tenor trombones and four ophicleides. The bewildering answers of these four choirs of brass give place at the words “Hear the awful trumpet sounding,” to a single bass voice, accompanied by sixteen kettle drums, tuned to a chord. A movement of similar sonority is the “Rex Treanendae Majestatis.” At other times the work is very melodious. It is indeed singular that a young composer should commence his career with a piece so daring. But to Berlioz’s credit it must be said he never makes a mistake in his calculations of effect. When he desires contrast and blending effect of different masses, these results always follow whenever his work is performed according to his directions.

All the music of Berlioz belongs to the category of program music,” that is to say, everywhere there is an attempt at painting a scene or representing something by means of music, that something being habitually suggested and explained by the text, if the work be vocal, or by explanatory notes, if the work be instrumental. This is as true of his symphonies, ” Romeo and Juliet,” and ” Harold in Italy,” as in the vocal works themselves. The list of these contains an oratorio, “The Childhood of Christ ” (1854), ” The Damnation of Faust ” (1846), the operas “Benvenuto Cellini,” produced at the Académie, 1838,” The Trojans” (1856), “Beatrice et Benedict” (1863). The first was performed under the direction of Liszt at Weimar, about 185o, but with indifferent success. Berlioz instrumented several pianoforte compositions for orchestra, the best known of them being Weber’s Invitation to the Dance,” and “Polonaise in E flat.” His treatise upon instrumentation, published in 1864, remained standard until since the appearance of the elaborate and more systematic work upon this subject by F. A. Gevaert. The greatest of Berlioz’s works is his splendid “Te Deum,” written during the years 1854 and 1855, for some kind of festival performance. He planned this composition as part of a great trilogy of an epic-dramatic character in honor of Napoleon, the first consul. At the moment of his return from his Italian campaigns, he was to have been represented as entering Notre Dame, where this “Te Deum” is sung by an appointment of musical forces consisting of a double chorus of 200 voices, a third choir of 600 children, an orchestra of 134, an organ, and solo voices. The entire work was never completed, and the “Te Deum” had its first and only representation in Berlioz’s lifetime at the opening of the Palace of Industry, April 30, 1855. The work is full of splendid conceptions, and is freer from eccentricities than any other of the author. It is extremely sonorous, and is destined to be better known as festival occasions upon a larger scale become more numerous.

The whole effect of Berlioz’s activity was that of a virtuoso in the department of dramatic and descriptive music, and in the art of wielding large orchestral masses. It is curious that between him and Wagner the relations should never have been cordial, although the ends proposed by both were substantially identical, and the genius of both incontestable. Berlioz had no confidence in Wagner’s “endless melody,” and when he writes about music he does so in the attitude of a humble follower of the old masters.

The progress in piano playing, in the course of the nineteenth century has been most extraordinary. The music of Beethoven and Schubert, composed during the first quarter of this century, and the influence of the virtuosi prominent during that time, whose activity has been told in connection with those of the century previous (the operative principles of which were the ones mainly influencing them); and the continual strife of the piano makers to increase the resonance, singing quality and artistic susceptibility of the tone and the strength and elasticity of the action, as recounted in the chapter devoted to the history of this, the greatest of modern instruments — were concentrating influences having the effect of calling attention to the new instrument in a very remarkable manner. Add to these causes the meteor-like appearance of Paganini, with his stupendous execution upon the violin, and its novel possibilities. All these together seem to have led four gifted geniuses at about the same time to make independent investigations into the tonal possibilities of the piano, and the mode of producing effects upon it,. in the hope of creating a new art, and of rivaling the weird successes of the highly gifted Italian, who apparently had exhausted the possibilities of the violin. The artists thus occupied in developing the art of piano playing were Chopin, Liszt, Thalberg and Schumann, and it is far from easy to determine exactly which one it was who first brought his influence to bear upon the public ; or which one it was who first arrived at the successful application of the principles of the new technique, whose essential divergences from the old consisted in a more flexible use of the fingers, hand and arm, and the co-operation of the foot for the promotion of blending, and of bringing into simultaneous use the tonal resources from all parts of the instrument. In this case, as in so many others of remarkable invention, the improvements seem to have been made by several independent investigators acting simultaneously, each one ignorant of the work of the others. The impulse in the direction of greater freedom had already found expression in the pianoforte pieces of the great master, Von Weber, whose sonatas and caprices had been published between 1810 and 1820. (See pp. 410 and 411.) These contain several novelties, which I have found it more convenient to discuss in connection with the personal history of the composer. Liszt has generally been held as a little the earliest of the four in point of time, his arrangement of Berlioz’s ” Harold ” symphony having been published, according to the dates in Weitzmann’s history, in 1827, but according to more accurate information, in 1835, while he had published his arrangement of the Paganini ca-prices in 1832, one year after hearing Paganini. In these works Liszt makes demands upon the hands which were not recognized as among the possibilities of the old technique. But for all this, it is apparently certain that the honor of having developed a style distinctly original, and with peculiarities easily recognizable by the average listener, belongs to the great virtuoso Thalberg. Sigismund Thalberg (1812 1871) was the illegitimate son of Prince Dietrichstein, a diplomat then living at Geneva. His mother was the Baroness von Wetzlar. Thalberg was carefully educated, and accustomed to high-bred society from childhood. His father intended him for a diplomatic career, but the boy’s talent for the piano was irresistible, and, so well had his education been advanced by his teacher, the first bassoonist of the Vienna opera, that by the time he was fifteen he made a brilliant success at a concert in Vienna. His first composition in the style which he afterward made so famous was the fantasia on themes from ” Euryanthe,” which was published in 1828. Later, in 1835, he entered upon his public career as virtuoso with concert tours to all parts of the world, everywhere greeted with admiration and astonishment. He appeared in Paris late in 1834 or early in 1835, finding Liszt there in the plenitude of his powers. Then there was a rivalry between them, and opposing camps were instituted of their respective admirers. The dispute as to their relative excellence ran high, and, as usually happens in personal questions of this sort, victory did not belong entirely to either party. Nevertheless, at this distance it is not easy to see why the question should have been raised, since in the light of modern piano playing Liszt’s art had in it the promise of everything which has come since ; while Thalberg’s had in it only one side of the modern art. Thalberg had a wonderful technique, in which scales of marvelous fluency, lightness, clearness and equality, intervened between chord passages of great breadth and sonority, so that all the resources of the piano were open to him, But his specialty was that of carrying a melody in the middle of the piano, playing it by means of the two thumbs alternately, the other hand being occupied in runs and passages covering the whole compass of the piano, crossing the melody from below, or descending upon it from the highest regions of the treble, and continuing down the keyboard with perfect equality and lightness, without in the slightest degree disturbing the singing of the melody. This, of its own accord, went on in the most artistic manner, as if the pianist had nothing at all else to do than to sing it. The perfection of Thalberg’s melody playing was something wonderful, as well it might be; for in order to master the art of it, he studied singing for five years with one of the best teachers of the Italian school, the eminent Garcia. This, however, was later, after he had located in Paris.

This trick of treating the melody was not new with Thalberg. It had previously been done upon the harp by the great Welsh virtuoso, Parish Alvars (1810-1849), whose European reputation had been acquired by a succession of great concert tours, and who at length closed his days in Vienna, where Thalberg lived. There was also an Italian master, Giuseppe Francesco Pollini (1763-1846), who in 1809 became professor of the piano in the Conservatory of Milan. Pollini had been a pupil of Mozart, and dedicated to that great master his first work. Early after being appointed ‘professor he published a great school for the pianoforte (1811), in which the art is fully discussed in all its bearings, and minute directions given for touch and all the rest appertaining to a concert treatment of the instrument. He was the first to write piano pieces upon three staves, the middle one being devoted to the melody ; a proceeding afterward followed in some cases by Liszt and Thalberg. Pollini surrounded his melodies, thus placed in the middle of the instrument, where at that time the sonority and singing quality of the pianoforte exclusively lay, with runs and passages of a brilliant and highly ingenious kind. This was done in his “Una de 32 Esercizi in Forma di Toccata,” but he had already, in 1801, published several brilliant pieces in Paris, in which novelties occur. I have never seen a copy of these works of Pollini, nor any other account of them than those in Riemann’s dictionary and in Weitzmann’s history of the pianoforte, but it is altogether likely that when they are examined we shall find in this case, as in many others of progressive development, that the final result was reached by a succession of steps, each one short, and apparently not so very important. The chain of technical development for the piano extended from Bach in unbroken progress, and the discovery of Pollini, who was less known in western lands than others of the great names in the list, enables us to fill in between Moscheles and Thalberg. Pollini’s work anticipates the Clementi Gradus by about six years.

To return to Thalberg. In 1856 he visited America, where his success was the same as in all other parts of the world. Having accumulated a fortune, he retired from active life, and bought an estate near Naples, where he spent the remainder of his life. There were reasons of a purely external and conventional kind why the playing of Thalberg should have attracted more attention, or at least been more admired, than that of Liszt, in Paris and in aristocratic circles everywhere. His manner was the perfection of quiet. Whatever the difficulty of the passages upon which he was engaged, he remained perfectly quiet, sitting upright, modestly, without a single unnecessary motion. Moreover, the general character of his passages, which progressed fluently upward or downward by degrees, instead of taking violent leaps from one part of the keyboard to another, permitted him to maintain this elegant quiet with less restriction than would have been possible i such works, for instance, as the great concert fantasias of Liszt. It is to be noticed, further, that the peculiar sonority of Thalberg’s playing depended upon the improvements in the pianoforte, made just before his appearance and during his career. His method of playing the melody, moreover, while perhaps not distinctly so recognized by him, employed a noticeable element of the arm touch, while his passage work was a finger movement of the lightest and most facile description. His chords, also, were often struck with a finger touch, and he was perhaps the originator of the peculiar effect produced by touching a chord with the fingers only, but rebounding from the keys with the whole arm to the elbow. A chord thus played has the delicacy peculiar to finger work, but in the removal from the keys the muscles of the arm are called into action in such a way that the finger stroke is intensified to a degree somewhat depending upon the height to which the rebound is carried.

François Frederic Chopin (1810–1849) was one of the most remarkable composers of this epoch, and in some respects one of the most precocious musical geniuses of whom we have any record. He was born at Zela-Zowa Wola, a village six miles from Warsaw, in Poland, the son of a French merchant living there, who had married a Polish lady. Later, in consequence of financial reverses, his father became a teacher in the university. The boy, François, was brought up amid refined and pleasant surroundings, and his education was carefully looked to. Although rather delicate in appearance, he was healthy and full of spirits. His precocity upon the piano was such that at the age of nine he played a concerto in public with great success, from which time forward he made many appearances in his native city. He early began to compose, and by the time he was thirteen or fourteen, had undertaken a number of works of considerable magnitude. After having received the best instruction which his native city afforded, he started out, at the age of nineteen, for a visit to Vienna, where he appeared in two concerts, and to his own surprise was pronounced one of the greatest virtuosi of the day. This, however, is not the point of his precocity. When he started upon his tour to Vienna, he had with him certain manuscripts, which he had composed. His Opus 2 consisted of variations upon Mozart’s air, “La ci Darem la Mano,” of which later Schumann wrote such a glowing account in his paper at Leipsic. These variations were enormously difficult, and in a wholly novel style. There were several mazurkas, the three nocturnes, Opus 9, of which the extremely popular one in E flat stands second; the twelve studies, Opus lo, dedicated to Franz Liszt, and a concerto in F minor, and all or nearly all of that in E minor. These were the work of a boy then only nineteen, the pupil of a comparatively unknown provincial teacher. When we examine these works more minutely, our astonishment increases, for they represent an entirely new school of piano playing. New effects, new management of the hands, new passages, beautiful melody, exquisitely modulated harmonies in short, anew world in piano playing was here opened. So difficult and so strange were these works, that for nearly a generation the more difficult ones of them were a sealed book to amateur pianists, and even virtuosi like Moscheles declare that they could never get their fingers reliably through them.

Much pleased with his success in Vienna, Chopin returned to Warsaw, and after some months, set out for London, by way of Paris. Here his fortune varied some-what. At first he found it impossible to secure a hearing, his only acquaintances being a few of his exiled fellow- countrymen, who were there. At length one evening a friend took him to a reception at the Rothschild’s, and in this cultivated society he found appreciative listeners to his marvelous playing. From that time on he remained in Paris, only leaving it when his health made it necessary to visit the south of France. He very seldom appeared in public. His touch was not sufficiently strong to render his playing effective in a large hall.

The whole of the Chopin genius is summed up in his early works, which he took with him on his visit to Vienna. All his later works are in some sense repetitions. The ideas and the treatment are new, but the principles underlying are the same, and rarely, if ever, does he reach a higher flight than in some of these earlier works. His most celebrated innovation was that of the Nocturne, a sentimental cantilena for the pianoforte, in which a somewhat Byronic sentiment is expressed in a high-bred and elegant style. The name “nocturne ” was not original with Chopin the Dublin pianist, John Field, having published his first nocturnes in 1816. Field himself derived the name from the prayers of the Roman Church which are made between midnight and morning. The name, therefore, implies something belonging to the night — mysterious, dreamy, poetic. In Field’s there is little of this, aside from the name; the melodies are plain and the sentiments commonplace. With Chopin, however, it is entirely different. In some in-stances the treatment for the piano is very simple, as in the popular nocturne in E flat, already mentioned; but in other cases he exercises the utmost freedom, and very carefully trained fingers are needed to perform them successfully. This is the case, for example, in the beautiful nocturne in G, Opus 37, No. 2, where the passages in thirds and sixths are extremely trying; also in the very dramatic nocturne in C minor, Opus 48.

Chopin’s place in the Pantheon of the romantic school is that of the popularizer of pianoforte sentiment. His compositions, by whatever name they may be called, are essentially lyric pieces, songs, ballads and fanciful stories in rhyme. The subjects’ are frequently tender or sad, sometimes morbid in short, Byronic. The treatment is always graceful and highbred, and the contrasts strong. The melodies are embroidered with a peculiar kind of fioratura, which he invented himself, founded upon the Italian embellishment of that kind — a delicate efflorescence of melody, which, when perfectly done, is extremely pleasing. The names applied to the different compositions such as Ballade, Scherzo, Prelude, Rondo, Sonata, Impromptu, have only a remote reference to the nature of the piece. Occasionally the entire composition is morbid and unsatisfactory to a degree. These belong to the later period of his life, when he was in poor health. He is a woman’s composer. In his strongest moments there is always an effeminate element. In this respect he is exactly opposite to Schumann and Beethoven, whose works, however delicate and refined, have always a manly strength. Chopin made the most important modifications in the current way of treating the piano.

In this part of his activity he seemed to realize the possibilities of the instrument, in the same way that Paganini had recognized those of the violin. His passages, while based upon those of Hummel, nevertheless produced effects of which Hummel was totally incapable. Chopin is the originator of the extended arpeggio chord, of the chromatic sequences of the diminished sevenths with passing notes, and cadenza forms derived from them. He is thoroughly French in his views of “changing notes,” as, for instance, in the accompaniment to the impromptu in A flat, Opus 29. His influence upon the general progress of musical development is to be traced in the works of Liszt, especially in the later pianoforte works, and in a large number of less gifted imitators, like Doehler.

Aside from Wagner, the most remarkable figure of this century is that of Franz Liszt, who was born at Raiding, in Hungary, 1811, and died at Bayreuth, 1886. His father, Adam Liszt, was an official in the imperial service, and a musical amateur, capable of instructing his son in piano playing. At the age of nine he made his first public appearance, with so much success that several noblemen guaranteed the money to enable him to pursue his studies for six years in Vienna. Here he became a pupil of Czerny, Salieri and Randhartinger. He made the acquaintance of Schubert, and upon one occasion played before Beethoven, who kissed him, with the prophecy that he would make his mark. His first appearance as a composer was in a set of variations on a waltz by Diabelli, the same for which Beethoven wrote the thirty-three variations, Opus 120. Liszt’s variation was the twenty-fourth in the set to which Beethoven did not contribute. It was published in 1823, when he was twelve years old. The same year he went to Paris, his father hoping to enter him at the Conservatory, in spite of his foreign origin; but Cherubini refused to receive him, so he studied with other composers. His operetta of “Don Sanche” was performed at the Académie Royale in 1825, and was well received. At this time he was in the height of his youthful success in Paris, tall, slender, with long hair and a most free and engaging countenance, with ready wit and unbounded tact. He performed marvels upon the piano, such as no one else could attempt. His repertory at this time seems to have consisted of pieces of the old school. In 1827 he lost his father, and being thrown upon his own resources, he began his concert tour. He appeared in London in 1827, his piece being the Hummel concerto. Three years later he played in London again, his number being the Weber Concertstück.

There was something weird and magnetic about his playing. He was very tall, about six feet two inches, slender, with piercing eyes, very long arms, but small hands ; he played without notes, and amid the most frightful difficulties of execution kept his eyes fixed upon this, that or the other person in the audience. He moved about at the piano very much in the exciting passages, not, apparently, on account of the difficulty of overcoming technical obstacles, but simply from innate fire and excitement. As for technical difficulties, they did not exist. Everything that the piano contained seemed to be at his service, and the only regret was that the instrument was not better able to respond to his demand. In the fortissimo passages his tone was immense, and his pianissimos were the most delicate whispers. In these his fingers glided over the keys with inconceivable lightness and speed, and the tone fell upon the ear with a delicate tracery with which no particular was lost by reason of speed or lightness. This wonderful control of the instrument stood him in equal stead with his own compositions, especially adapted to his own style of playing; or with the works of the old school, which he transfigured as they had never been played before ; or the last sonatas of Beethoven, which at that time were a sealed book to most musicians. These, indeed, he did not play in public, but in private. The essential novelties of the Liszt technique were the bravoura cadenzas. The other sensational features, such as carrying the melody in the middle range of the piano with surrounding embroidery, the rapid runs and the extravagant climaxes, were all more or less common to the three representative virtuoso piano writers of this epoch Liszt, Chopin and Thalberg.

A careful study of all the circumstances and influences surrounding Liszt at the time, leads to the conclusion that his ideas of the possibilities of the pianoforte were matured very gradually, not reaching their complete expression in the operatic fantasias before about 1834 or 1835. His early appearances were in pieces of the old school, and there is nothing more to be found in contemporary accounts of his playing than admiration for its superior fire and delicacy. Upon the appearance of Paganini, however, this was changed. The temporary eclipse, which this brilliant apparition made of the rising Liszt, led him to new studies in original directions. Thus. arose the transcriptions of the Paganini caprices in 1832, and the composition of his own ” Studies for Transcendent Execution,” in the same or the following year. Farther sensational improvements were probably the result of the Thalberg contest in Paris during 1835 Liszt’s influence may be inferred from such incidents as the following: In 1839 there was a movement on foot to erect a monument to Beethoven at Bonn, but after some months’ solicitation the committee found it impossible to realize the desired sum, or anything approaching it. Whereupon Liszt wrote them to give themselves no further uneasiness, for he himself would be responsible for the entire amount, about $10,000. This large sum he raised by his own exertions, and paid over, and a monument was unveiled with brilliant ceremonies in 1845. One of the performances upon that occasion was that of the Beethoven fifth concerto, which Liszt himself played. Concerning this memorable performance Berlioz himself writes: “The piano concerto in E flat is generally known for one of the better productions of Beethoven. The first movement and the Adagio, above all, are of incomparable beauty. To say that Liszt played it, and that he played it in a fashion grand, fine, poetic, yet always faithful, is to make a veritable pleonasm, and there was a tumult of applause, a sound of trumpets, and fanfares of the orchestra, which must have been heard far beyond the limits of the hall. Liszt immediately afterward mounted the desk of the conductor to direct the performance of the symphony in C minor, which he made us hear as Beethoven wrote it, including the entire scherzo, with-out the abridgment, as we have so long been accustomed to hear at the Conservatory at Paris; and the finale, with the repeat indicated by Beethoven. I have always had such confidence in the taste of the correctors of the great masters that I was very much surprised to find the symphony in C minor still more beautiful when executed entirely than when corrected. It was necessary to go to Bonn to make this discovery.”

In 1849 a new epoch was opened in the history of this remarkable man. The grand duke of Weimar invited him to assume the direction of his musical establishment, including the opera. The salary was absurdly small $800 or $1,000 a year. This, however, cut no figure in Liszt’s mind, for he had always been singularly open-handed, yet at same time prudent. From his successful concert tours he had put by funds, 20,000 francs for his aged mother, and 20,000 francs for each of the three children he had by the Countess D’Agoult (known in literature as Daniel Stern), and he considered that the position would afford him an opportunity of developing his own talent for composition, and at the same time of affording a hearing for important new works, which, on account of their novelty and originality, were impossible of performance in the theaters of large cities. The repertory of the Weimar opera, from this time on, was most extraordinary. Here were produced for the first time Wagner’s ” Flying Dutchman,” “Tannhäuser,” and “Lohengrin,” “Benvenuto Cellini,” of Berlioz, Schumann’s “Genovera” and “Manfred” and Schubert’s “Alfonso and Estrella.” Here were produced, also, the best of the operas of previous generations. Every master work of this sort Liszt revised with the greatest care, giving endless patience to every detail, and supplementing the resources of the theater, when insufficient, by “guests” from the great operas in the capital. Thus the musical establishment at Weimar became a sort of Mecca, to which all the musicians of the world gathered, especially the young and energetic in the pursuit of knowledge, and creative artists seeking a hearing or fresh inspiration. From an artistic standpoint, nothing more beautiful than the life of Liszt at Weimar could be desired. Besides these operatic performances and his symphony concerts, he gathered about him a succession of young virtuosi pianists. These had lessons, more or less formally, some of them for many years. Liszt never received money for lessons, and took no pupils but those whom he regarded as promising, or who were personally attractive to himself. About 1850 the American, Dr. William Mason, was there, and for two years following. The class at this time contained the well known names of Rubinstein, Carl Klindworth, Pruckner, Tausig, Joachim Raff, and Hans Von Bülow. From this time on there is scarcely a concert pianist in the world who did not spend a few months or longer with Liszt at Weimar. Nor did his influence stop here. He produced a constant succession of important works, and conducted concerts and festivals in Hungary, and in different parts of Germany and France. Everywhere his inspiring presence and his keen insight were prized above all ordinary resources.

There is not space here to sketch in detail his singular and trying relations to that self-conscious genius, Wagner, who, when absconding to Zurich, sent the score of “Lohengrin” to Liszt. It can be imagined with what force the elevated and noble beauty of this epoch-marking work appealed to a genius so sensitive as Liszt. He not only produced the opera with great care, but prepared the public for it by means of extended articles in important journals in Leipsic, Berlin and Paris. From this time on, Liszt became the good angel of Wagner. There are few records in the annals of music more creditable than the letters of Liszt to Wagner. He took charge of his business in Germany, exercised his wholly unique and commanding influence to secure performances of Wagner’s operas, sent him money out of his own purse, and secured some from his friends. More than this, he greeted every new work of Wagner’s with an appreciation as generous and noble as it was intelligent and fine.

About 1852 Liszt commenced his symphonic poems. In these he avails himself of two of Wagner’s suggestions. Much is made of the leading motive, and the orchestration is handled in a sonorous and brilliant manner, which Berlioz and Wagner first introduced. The works are very effective and original. Certain ones of them have become almost classic, like “The Preludes ” and “Tasso.” He also wrote a number of large choral works, among them his ” Legend of the Holy Elizabeth,” the “Graner Mass,” etc.

There is hardly a province of musical composition in which Liszt did not distinguish himself. The orchestral compositions number about twenty There are several important arrangements, such as Schubert marches, Schubert’s songs, “Rakoczy March,” and a variety of arrangements for pianoforte and orchestra, including two concertos, the Weber Polacca in E, and the Schubert fantasia. The pianoforte compositions are extremely numerous. Of the original pieces there are perhaps one hundred. Of important arrangements, such as the études from Paganini, the organ preludes and fugues from Bach, Schubert marches, etc., there are thirty or forty. Of the operatic fantasias there are perhaps a hundred or more. There are fifteen Hungarian Rhapsodies,’ and a large number of transcriptions of vocal pieces (of songs alone there are upwards of a hundred). Of masses and psalms about twenty. Two oratorios, several cantatas, about sixty original songs for single voice and piano, and very many other writings of a literary and musical kind. In 1865 Liszt left Weimar for several years, and resided in Rome, where he began to take holy orders.

In the closing years of Wagner’s life, after the Bayreuth festival theater had been inaugurated, Liszt was a central figure, and there are few large cities in Europe which he did not visit for the sake of encouraging important productions of the Wagnerian works. Thus, taken as a composer, a performer, a conductor, and an appreciative friend of art, his name is one which deserves to be revered as long as the history of music in the nineteenth century is remembered.

Fig. 84 represents him as he appeared in the last years of his life. The portrait of Liszt as abbé is taken from Grove’s Dictionary. Neither of these last pictures gives an adequate idea of the sweetness of his expression. While the profile in middle life was sharp and clearly cut, as we see it in the abbé picture, and while in old age the mouth assumed a stern and set expression in repose, his smile was extremely winning, and the habitual expression of his face in conversation one of amiability and kindness.