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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Liszt: Années de pèlerinage. Première année: Suisse

Having recently traveled to many new countries, through different settings and places consecrated by history and poetry; having felt that the phenomena of nature and their attendant sights did not pass before my eyes as pointless images but stirred deep emotions in my soul, and that between us a vague but immediate relationship had established itself, an undefined but real rapport, an inexplicable but undeniable communication, I have tried to portray in music a few of my strongest sensations and most lively impressions.

These words belong to Liszt: journeys viewed as pilgrimage (which is formative experience, apprenticeship), later meditated in music, in his Years of Pilgrimage, the way Goethe and Byron were meditating their formative experiences in grandiose constructions of words, in Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, and in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage.

François Roffiaen - Le Lac Wallenstadt, 1865
The shores of the lake of Wallenstadt kept us for a long time. Franz wrote there for me a melancholy harmony, imitative of the sigh of the waves and the cadence of oars, which I have never been able to hear without weeping… (Daniel Stern)
(notes of a pianist)
no copyright infringement intended

Here is the first suite of Liszt's Years of Pilgrimage, his Première année: Suisse,  published in 1855. Its parts come with literary captions suggesting equivalences between temples of music and temples of words:

  • [min 0:07 on video] The Chapel of William Tell (All for one - one for all)
  • [min 6:17 on video] At Lake Wallenstadt (Thy contrasted lake / With the wild world I dwell in is a thing / Which warns me, with its stillness, to forsake / Earth's troubled waters for a purer spring - Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage)
  • [min 9:19 on video] Pastorale
  • [min 11:07 on video] Beside a Spring (In the whispering coolness begins young nature's play - Schiller)
  • [min 15:08 on video] Storm (But where of ye, O tempests! is the goal? / Are ye like those within the human breast? / Or do ye find, at length, like eagles, some high nest? - Childe Harold's Pilgrimage)
  • [min 19:34 on video] Obermann's Valley (Could I embody and unbosom now / That which is most within me,--could I wreak / My thoughts upon expression, and thus throw / Soul--heart--mind--passions--feelings--strong or weak-- / All that I would have sought, and all I seek, / Bear, know, feel--and yet breathe--into one word, / And that one word were Lightning, I would speak; / But as it is, I live and die unheard, / With a most voiceless thought, sheathing it as a sword. - from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage; )
  • [min 32:51 on video] Eclogue (The morn is up again, the dewy morn, / With breath all incense, and with cheek all bloom, / Laughing the clouds away with playful scorn, / And living as if earth contained no tomb! -  Childe Harold's Pilgrimage)
  • [min 36:44 on video] Homesickness
  • [min 42:48 on video] The Bells of Geneva: Nocturne (I live not in myself, but I become / Portion of that around me -  also from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage)

Liszt: Années de pèlerinage. Première année: Suisse
(Years of Pilgrimage. First Year: Switzerland)
Pianist André Laplante
(video by musicanth)

Suzanne Howard - Obermann's Valley
(Saatchi Online)
no copyright infringement intended




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