Friday, September 3, 2010

Liszt - A Vital Core Issue in His Linguistics?

Up to this moment, I believe that I have been able, at least minimally, to describe core values in Mozart, Beethoven, and Rachmaninoff. I think that Franz Liszt should be a subject as well.
The compact nature of History and Genius is best made example of, say, by dates; for instance, Bach, Handel and Scarlatti were born in the same year.
Well, how about the closet space given to giants of the Romantic? Mendelssohn, 1809 - Chopin, 1810 - Schumann, 1810 - Liszt, 1811?
The reason I bring these dates up is simply the pressures instilled by contemporary geniuses upon one another, quite unconsciously.
For instance, one of the most powerful phases of Liszt's writing is based upon what I call ' enharmonic design.' For those of you not in the field of music and who may not know the word 'enharmonic,' it is, in simple terms, the process of giving a note a different "name" - for example, one can call "C" another "name" called "B sharp", or "D double flat" etc., and any note in the tonal system can be dealt with in the same manner - Liszt used the enharmonic system, as did his contemporaries, especially Schumann, as part of the broadening of the harmonic vocabulary during this period, and I have a feeling that, perhaps, some intellectual pressures might have been formed in Liszt's mind which may have enhanced his approach to enharmonic design, creating some truly wondrous and luminous aspects of his language that may well have had an impact upon the likes of the coming Wagner and Strauss, to mention but two.
Liszt, in being able to transmogrify the direction of a note, simply by altering its name, gives us a palette of harmonic color by instantaneously moving us from one key to another, rather than changing keys through chords of commonality, which takes some time.
Two great examples on the piano of this approach are, of course, his great Sonata and his transcendent Consolation in "D" flat - in only a few pages, Liszt forces the knowing musician, in the Consolation, to consider the elemental alterations in the psyche of the music each time a new key emerges like dew. In his symphonic poems we hear this process as well, of course; actually, it is an intrinsic aspect of the "brand" of identification one attributes to the music of Liszt.
To encapsulate, and without diminishing the genius of his contemporaries for a millisecond, I consider the mind of Franz Liszt as one of the most powerful in the art. His merging of Poetry and Music, without words, is one of the products that emerges from the process of enharmonic design.

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