A Comparison of the Transcription Techniques of Godowsky and Liszt as Exemplified in Their Transcriptions of Three Schubert Lieder
Description: This investigation sought to compare the transcription techniques of two pianist-composers, Godowsky and Liszt, using three Schubert lieder as examples. The lieder were "Das Wandern" from Die Schöne Müllerin, "Gute Nacht" from Winterreise, and "Liebesbotschaft" from Schwanengesang. They were compared using four criteria: tonality, counterpoint, timbral effects, and harmony. Liszt, following a practice common in the nineteenth century, was primarily concerned with bringing new music into the home of the domestic pianist. The piano transcription was the most widely used and successful medium for accomplishing this. Liszt also frequently transcribed pieces of a particular composer in order to promulgate them by featuring them in his recitals. The Schubert lieder fall into this category. Liszt did not drastically alter the original in these compositions. Indeed, in the cases of "Liebesbotschaft" and "Das Wandern," very little alteration beyond the incorporation of the melody into the piano accompaniment, occurs.Godowsky, in contrast, viewed the transcription as a vehicle for composing a new piece. He intended to improve upon the original by adding his own inspiration to it. Godowsky was particularly ingenious in adding counterpoint, often chromatic, to the original. Examples of Godowsky's use of counterpoint can be found in "Das Wandern" and "Gute Nacht." While Liszt strove to remain faithful to Schubert's intentions, Godowsky exercised his ingenuity at will, being only loosely concerned with the texture and atmosphere of the lieder. "Gute Nacht" and "Liebesbotschaft" are two examples that show how far afield Godowsky could stray from the original by the addition of chromatic voicing and counterpoint. Godowsky*s compositions can be viewed as perhaps the final statement on the possibilities of piano writing in the traditional sense. As such these works deserve to be investigated and performed.
Date: December 1987
Creator: Cloutier, David, 1948-
Partner: UNT Libraries