Between 1837–39 Liszt was travelling through Italy with Marie d’Agoult. As was the case with the first volume of the Années de Pèlerinage, Schweiz (1835/36) he once again recorded his travel impressions in musical form. He devoted himself to subjects from literature (Petrarca, Dante) and the visual arts (Raffael, Michelangelo). Many years later Liszt reworked the pieces, publishing them in 1858 as Années de Pèlerinage, Zweites Jahr, Italien. The central work in this volume is the large-scale so-called Dante Sonata (Après une Lecture de Dante, see also single edition HN 981). The Sonetto 104 del Petrarca (also available as a single edition HN 982) is just as popular. In 1861 Liszt published an appendix to Volume II, Venezia e Napoli, which is also available as a separate edition HN 985.
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The most famous piano virtuoso of the nineteenth century is regarded as the most influential artist and composer (with Berlioz, Wagner) of the so-called New German School. His immense musical oeuvre comprises, above all else, works for solo piano, including numerous transcriptions; he also devised the symphonic poem. Important, too, are his sacred and secular choral works and songs.
|1811||Born in Doborján/Raiding (Sopron) on October 22, son of an official in the service of Prince Esterházy. First piano lessons from his father, early first attempts at composition, first public performance at age nine.|
|1822||Relocation of the family to Vienna, studies with Carl Czerny and Antonio Salieri.|
|1823||Relocation of the family to Paris. Composition studies with Ferdinando Paër and Antonín Reicha (1826). Performances in salons, concerts.|
|1824–27||Concert tours through France, to England and Switzerland. Composition of opera paraphrases for piano.|
|1830||Acquaintance with Berlioz, self-study by reading. He becomes Parisian society’sfavourite pianist and piano teacher.|
|1835||He moves to Switzerland with Countess Marie d’Agoult: their first child together, Blandine-Rachel, is born here. He continues concertizing in Paris.|
|from 1839||Continuous concert tours throughout Europe.|
|from 1847||Symphonic poems, including No. 2, “Tasso: lamento e trionfo”; No. 1, “Ce qu‘on entend sur la montagne” (‘Bergsymphonie,’ ‘Mountain Symphony’); “A Faust Symphony in Three Character Pictures”; “A Symphony to Dante’s Divine Comedy” (‘Dante Symphony’); as well as [No. 11], “Hunnenschlacht” (“Battle of the Huns”).|
|1848–61||Kapellmeister in Weimar; he advocates for progressive music (Wagner, Schumann, Berlioz).|
|1857–62||Oratorio, “The Legend of St. Elisabeth.”|
|1861–68||Resident in Rome.|
|1865||Takes minor holy orders.|
|1871||Appointed Hungarian court councilor; he lives in Rome, Weimar, and Budapest.|
|1886||Death in Bayreuth on July 31.|
As we have come to expect from Henle, these virtuoso works are well presented with suggested fingerings and a very informative preface.