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A Guide to Franz Liszt's Piano Transcriptions of Franz Schubert's Songs

Description: Franz Liszt (1811-1886) made fifty-six transcriptions of Schubert's songs over a period of eight years (1838-46) to introduce the name of the composer, who was little known both in and outside Vienna during his lifetime. Because Liszt intentionally preserved all the details of the original songs, these transcriptions present challenges for a pianist, such as how to produce a vocal line on the piano, as well as interpretive issues such as ornamentation, style, and conveying the meaning of the lyrics on the piano. The purpose of this study is to introduce pianists to study practices employed by singers, with the goal of interpreting the vocal aspects of Liszt's Schubert song transcriptions. The composer Robert Schumann once remarked that Liszt's transcriptions were perhaps the most difficult pieces written for the piano up to that time, and only an intelligent artist could satisfy Liszt's high level of virtuosity without destroying the identity of the original work. This could be considered a warning to pianists not to focus on the technical aspects only. The pedagogical guide presented in the study, based on singers' approaches to the actual songs, should help pianists to "see beyond the notes" and achieve a performance closer to the heart of the songs.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Kim, Ah Young
Partner: UNT Libraries