Liszt and His Treatment of Song and Opera Transcriptions after German and Italian Composers: A Study of Selected Transcriptions Based on Works of Schubert, Rossini, Wagner and Verdi

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When considering his pioneering and innovative role in broadening the tonal palette of the piano, as well as his tireless efforts to promote his own and other composers’ music, it is not surprising that a large percentage of Franz Liszt’s compositional output for that instrument is made up of transcriptions. To define the term “piano transcription” as merely a piano solo arrangement of the notes of another genre is to miss most of the importance of this craft and its artistic meaning when employed by Liszt. A good first step in understanding the scope and variety of these transcriptions is to realize that they fall mainly into two types: namely, paraphrases, in which the original is “transformed and freely recomposed;” and partitions, where Liszt “faithfully transcribes a work from one medium to another, sometimes [without] deviating from the original by so much as a single note.” (Wilde, 1976, 168) Sometimes other terms are used to differentiate types even further, such as arrangements, reminiscences (which Liszt himself claims to have coined), and fantasies, and at times even the term transcription is used for partition. For our purposes the first two terms, paraphrase and partition, will serve to clarify things sufficiently. (Walker, 2007) With regard to the repertoire chosen for this study, the works range from the slightly altered, yet effective partition to the extremely personalized and embellished paraphrase.

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  • 09/11/2018
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