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A study of Franz Liszt's Totentanz: Piano and orchestra version, and piano solo version.

Description: Undoubtedly, Totentanz has been one of the most famous works by Franz Liszt. Totentanz has been recorded by many pianists and addressed in much of the vast literature about Liszt and his works; however, little research has been focused on this work. Most studies of Totentanz address only the historical background of the piece in relation to the theme based on Dies irae. Currently, there are no specific studies about the solo piano or two piano versions and only one recording was located. Liszt's own piano solo transcription of this famous work is an excellent addition to the concert repertoire. Totentanz consists of six variations that include canonic and fugato sections. The main theme is based on the Gregorian chant Dies irae, a melody that has been used by many other composers, most notably Berlioz in Witches Sabbath of Symphonie fantastique, op. 14 and Rachmaninoff in Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. This study contains five chapters. Chapters I and II provide background information, historical background and influences of Totentanz. Chapter III presents an outline of Liszt's achievement as a transcriber. Liszt revised his own works numerous times from the 1840s and 1850s, including Transcendental Etudes, Paganini Etudes, and piano and orchestra works. Like in the case of Totentanz, transcribed form piano and orchestra into piano solo, Liszt transcribed and paraphrased hundreds of other composers' works as well. Chapter IV discusses and compares the two main versions for solo piano and piano and orchestra. Form and harmonic language in particular the use of tritone in Totentanz is discussed. The adjustment required in transcribing the work for piano solo is discussed in detail, followed by a conclusion.
Date: December 2006
Creator: Kim, Min
Partner: UNT Libraries