Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Kim, Hyun Joo. “Translating the Orchestra: Liszt’s Two-Piano Arrangements of His Symphonic Poems.” Journal of Musicological Research 35, no. 4 (2016): 299-323.

Liszt’s two-piano arrangements of his symphonic poems, composed during his tenure as Kapellmeister of the Grand-Ducal court in Weimar, exhibit new techniques and a meticulous approach to reworking orchestral material into the two-piano medium. Starting with his 1853 two-piano arrangement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Liszt was at the forefront of the development of the medium. However, even at the height of their popularity from the 1880s through the 1910s, two-piano arrangements were far less common than four-hand arrangements. Liszt’s two-piano arrangements were primarily performed by a circle of professional pianists at private gatherings arranged by the composer to promote his orchestral music. Liszt uses a variety of distinctive techniques to craft faithful reworkings of orchestral music, not simple reproductions. For instance, the distribution of musical material between the two pianos is used to recreate subtle timbral differences in orchestration in passages of both Les Préludes and Eine Symphonie zu Dantes Divina Commedia. Liszt also adds virtuosic figurations which often relate to the program of the piece, as in his arrangement of Mazeppa. The two-piano rendering of Hunnenschlacht uses several techniques to highlight the battle between the Huns and Romans. Hand crossings and dissonances give visual and aural flair to the Huns’ theme. The addition of a chromatic scale-passage to the Romans’ theme not only renders the ominous timpani roll in a pianistic way, but also juxtaposes the two pianos against each other, creating an impression of a continual battle that is not present in the original. Liszt’s two-piano arrangements were an important part of his development as a prominent arranger and composer in Weimar and demonstrate a complementary approach to fidelity and creativity.

Works: Liszt: Les Préludes, two-piano version (310-11), Eine Symphonie zu Dantes Divina Commedia, two-piano version (311-13), Mazeppa, two-piano version (313-15), Hunneschlacht, two-piano version (315-22)

Sources: Liszt: Les Préludes (310-11), Eine Symphonie zu Dantes Divina Commedia (311-13), Mazeppa (313-15), Hunneschlacht (315-22)

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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