Reading Franz Liszt: Revealing the Poetry Behind the Piano Music

Amadeus. May 2022. 200p. ISBN 9781538143346. $36. MUSIC
Critics have often described Hungarian composer Franz Liszt’s (1811–86) music as showy and bombastic, but in this book the British concert pianist Roberts (Reflections: The Piano Music of Maurice Ravel) seeks the poetry behind Liszt’s compositions. The book seeks Liszt’s influences (which Roberts argues include Petrarch’s Sonnets, Goethe’s Faust, and the poetry of Lord Byron). Frequently, Roberts has as much (or even more) to say about these literary works as about Liszt’s compositions. The text is accompanied by numerous illustrations and citations from Liszt’s scores.
VERDICT Readers looking for a musical biography of Liszt will find here instead an excursion through European culture of the 19th century and earlier. Roberts’s accessible style reads like a conversation with his erudite friends
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