On the daybreak of the Romantic interval, a dramatic new kind of live performance piece emerged that was infused with extramusical associations. This programmatic music, often impressed by literary themes, crystalized with the 13 symphonic poems (or tone poems) of Franz Liszt. Crammed with ardour, turbulence, pathos, and heroic exultation, this free-form music probed new psychological depths. Liszt’s Les Préludes, composed between 1849 and 1855, was the primary piece to be known as a “symphonic poem.”
Les Préludes (“The Beginnings”) was first conceived as an overture to Liszt’s choral cycle, Les quatre élémens (“The 4 Components”). Because the piece developed, it was given a brand new title, impressed by an Ode from Nouvelles méditations poétiques by the French poet, Alphonse de Lamartine. Liszt included the next preface within the 1856 rating:
What else is life however a sequence of preludes to that unknown tune, the primary and solemn notice of which is sounded by Dying? Love is the enchanted daybreak of all life; however what destiny is there whose first delights of happiness should not interrupted by some storm, whose positive illusions should not dissipated by some mortal blast, consuming its altar as if by a stroke of lightning? And what cruelly wounded soul, when the storms are over, doesn’t search solace within the calm serenity of rural life? Nonetheless, man doesn’t resign himself for lengthy to the enjoyment of that beneficent heat which he first loved in Nature’s bosom. So when the trumpet sounds the alarm and calls him to arms, it doesn’t matter what wrestle calls him to its ranks, he could recuperate in battle the total consciousness of himself and all the possession of his powers.
Les Préludes unfolds in 5 sections: Query, Love, Storm, Bucolic calm, Battle and victory. Rising out of silence, the introduction is hazy and dreamlike. The primary three pitches (C-B-E) of the preliminary wandering line type the piece’s motivic kernel. By way of a way referred to as thematic transformation, this motif returns and develops all through the work. For instance, take heed to the way in which it transforms right into a singing melody within the cellos and is echoed concurrently in a sneaky, recurring bassoon interjection (3:07). By way of the event of this single motif, Les Préludes strikes from “enchanted daybreak” by way of turbulent battle and wrestle to the last word triumphant march.
Right here is Kurt Masur’s 1986 recording with the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester:
Featured Picture: “Portrait of Franz Liszt” (1837), Ary Scheffer