Liszt's Final Decade

Liszt's Final Decade

Dolores Pesce

Hardback
$80.00
Personal eBook
$29.99

University of Rochester Press

Overview

Overview

Liszt's Final Decade reveals in the composer's own words to his confidantes Carolyne von Sayn-Wittgenstein and Olga von Meyendorff how he resolved his conflicted self-image as a celebrated performer but underappreciated composer.
Toward the end of his life Franz Liszt maintained extensive correspondence with two women who were at the time his closest confidantes, Carolyne von Sayn-Wittgenstein and Olga von Meyendorff. Liszt wrote to them regularly, expressing his intimate feelings about personal and career events and his conflicted self-image as a celebrated performer but underappreciated composer. Absent a diary, the letters offer the most direct avenue into Liszt's psyche in his final years.
Liszt's Final Decade explores through these letters the mind and music of one of the nineteenth century's most popular musicians, providing insight into Liszt's melancholia in his last years and his struggle to gain recognition for his music yet avoid criticism. The exchange indicates that Liszt ultimately resolved his inner conflict through a personally constructed Christian moral philosophy that embraced positive resignation to suffering, compassionate love, and trust in a just reward to come. The book also examines how Liszt's late sacred compositions affirm the yielding of suffering to joy and hope. Significantly, Liszt viewed these works, commonly overlooked today, as a major part of his compositional legacy. This volume thus challenges the idea of a single "late" Lisztian style and the notion that despair overwhelmed the composer in his final years.

Dolores Pesce is the Avis Blewett Professor of Music in Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

Details

24 black and white, 15 line illustrations
384 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
Hardback, 9781580464840, July 2014
Personal eBook, 9781580468800, July 2014
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BIC AVH, 1DVH, 2AB, 3JH
BISAC MUS050000, HIS037060, BIO004000
Share on Facebook   Share on Twitter   Pin it   Share by Email

Related Titles

Table of Contents

Introduction
Decorated Cleric
Influential Advocate
A Slow and Perilous Road to Vindication
Challenges of Composition and Publication
Imagined Identities
Soul Baring
Compositional Legacy
Final Words
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Reviews

The product of painstaking scholarship. It brings to light unpublished letters and treats this period of Liszt's life in great detail, revealing new information about his attitudes toward composition and his general world-view. The result is more nuanced than the traditional understanding of an elderly Liszt, depressed and bitter. Most importantly, it realigns our understanding of Liszt's late output, moving the focus away from a handful of famous pieces and prompting questions about how we reconstruct and narrate this period of his life and work. MUSIC & LETTERS

The Liszt that emerges from the pages of Dolores Pesce's account of his last decade is admirable -- no surprise -- and likeable as well . . . . If anyone still believes that Liszt's religion was a pose, that he took his minor clerical orders as a kind of publicity stunt, Pesce's book should put that notion to rest. . . . The analysis is convincing. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

The University of Rochester Press has been publishing significant books about Liszt lately. . . Here is a book that captures and deepens the complex image of the aging Liszt in an admirable fashion. A highly elaborate scholarly study of the life and works of a composer whose final years had not been described as thoroughly and perceptively before. LISZT BULLETIN (Albert Brussee)

Examines closely Liszt's last period, relying more extensively on Liszt's own words, via his copious correspondence, than has any previous biographer. The volume reveals rather more of the composer's late interior life than emerges in Alan Walker's standard and satisfying biography. CHOICE (B. J. Murray)

The topic of Liszt's late years has long been subject to uninformed conjecture, hagiographic hyperbole, and ideological posturing. With methodological acumen and critical flair, Dolores Pesce successfully unpacks the dense portrait of the composer and his music in Liszt's Final Decade, bringing both the public and private Liszt to life. Particularly welcome are the close readings of Liszt's late correspondence, the detailed coverage of his late religious music, and the reconstruction of his self-image. This is an important book. --Jonathan Kregor, author of Liszt as Transcriber and editor of the Journal of the American Liszt Society

Also in Series