Liszt composed this virtuoso work for the dedication of the refurbished organ in Merseburg Cathedral. The manuscript was, however, only completed after the inaugural concert and the first edition was published in Holland around 1859. Today, the work is mainly played in the second version of 1872, which Liszt made at the suggestion of his pupil A.W. Gottschalg. The latter persuaded the composer to somewhat simplify the technical demands, which reflected the intentions of the older Liszt. Our Urtext edition comprises the 1872 version; in addition, the appendix contains an ossia version of measures 130 –166. The changes between the first and second versions are discussed in the preface.
- Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H
Franz Liszt (1811–86) wrote his Präludium und Fuge über das Thema B-A-C-H (title of the first version, forgotten today) for the inauguration on 27 September 1855 of the Merseburg Cathedral’s large organ, following its thorough overhaul by Friedrich Ladegast. Since Liszt was unable to begin his work until late August, time started running out and he asked the organ … more
About the composer
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.|
About the authors
Wer dieses Werk nicht im Verbund mit weiteren Stücken des Meisters erwerben will, ist mit dieser Ausgabe bestens beraten.