Liszt: Years of Pilgrimage

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Mystic, picaresque, epic poems of SUFFERING.

Liszt, Années de Pélerinage (Years of Pilgrimage) , played by Claudio Arrau. (selected parts) liszt, claudio arrau annees de pelerinage

First Year: Switzerland

Liszt. Liszt, Years of Pilgrimage, first year: switzerland. S. 160 [piano by André Laplante] Liszt: Years of Pilgrimage

Years of Pilgrimage has 3 suites:

  1. First Year: Switzerland
  2. Second Year: Italy
  3. Third Year

The Years of Pilgrimage, is expansive, just epic!

Années de pèlerinage (French for Years of Pilgrimage) (S.160, S.161, S.163) is a set of three suites for solo piano by Franz Liszt. Much of it derives from his earlier work, Album d'un voyageur, his first major published piano cycle, which was composed between 1835 and 1838 and published in 1842.[1] Années de pèlerinage is widely considered a masterwork and summation of Liszt's musical style. The third volume is notable as an example of his later style. Composed well after the first two volumes, it displays less virtuosity and more harmonic experimentation.

Wikipedia Années de pèlerinage

“Première année: Suisse” (“First Year: Switzerland”), S.160, was published in 1855. Composed between 1848 and 1854, most of the pieces (Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 9) are revisions of Album d'un voyageur: Part 1: Impressions et Poesies. “Au lac de Wallenstadt” (No. 2) and “Au bord d'une source” (No. 4) received only minor revisions, while “La Chapelle de Guillaume Tell” (No. 1), “Vallée d'Obermann” (No. 6), and especially “Les cloches de Genève” (No. 9) were more extensively rewritten.[3] “Églogue” (No. 7) was published separately, and “Orage” (No. 5) was included as part of the definitive version of the cycle.[4]

  1. Chapelle de Guillaume Tell (William Tell's Chapel) in C major -- For this depiction of the Swiss struggle for liberation Liszt chooses a motto from Schiller as caption, “All for one -- one for all.” A noble passage marked lento opens the piece, followed by the main melody of the freedom fighters. A horn call rouses the troops, echoes down the valleys, and mixes with the sound of the heroic struggle.[5]
  2. Au lac de Wallenstadt (At Lake Wallenstadt) in A♭ major -- Liszt's caption is from Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (Canto 3 LXVIII -- CV): “Thy contrasted lake / With the wild world I dwell in is a thing / Which warns me, with its stillness, to forsake / Earth's troubled waters for a purer spring.” In her Mémoires, Liszt's mistress and traveling companion of the time, Marie d'Agoult, recalls their time by Lake Wallenstadt, writing, “Franz wrote for me there a melancholy harmony, imitative of the sigh of the waves and the cadence of oars, which I have never been able to hear without weeping.”[6]
  3. Pastorale in E major –
  4. Au bord d'une source (Beside a Spring) in A♭ major -- Liszt's caption is from Schiller: “In the whispering coolness begins young nature's play.”
  5. Orage (Storm) in C minor -- Liszt's caption is from Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (Canto 3 LXVIII -- CV): “But where of ye, O tempests! is the goal? / Are ye like those within the human breast? / Or do ye find, at length, like eagles, some high nest?”
  6. Vallée d'Obermann (Obermann's Valley) in E minor -- Inspired by Senancour's novel of the same title, set in Switzerland, with a hero overwhelmed and confused by nature, suffering from ennui and longing.,[7] finally concluding that only our feelings are true.[8] The captions include one from Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (“Could I embody and unbosom now / That which is most within me, -- could I wreak / My thoughts upon expression, and thus throw / Soul -- heart -- mind -- passions -- feelings -- strong or weak -- / All that I would have sought, and all I seek, / Bear, know, feel -- and yet breathe -- into one word, / And that one word were Lightning, I would speak; / But as it is, I live and die unheard, / With a most voiceless thought, sheathing it as a sword.”) and two from Senancour's Obermann, which include the crucial questions, “What do I want? Who am I? What do I ask of nature?”
  7. Eglogue (Eclogue) in A♭ major -- Liszt's caption is from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (Canto 3 LXVIII): “The morn is up again, the dewy morn, / With breath all incense, and with cheek all bloom, / Laughing the clouds away with playful scorn, / And living as if earth contained no tomb!”
  8. Le mal du pays (Homesickness) in E minor –
  9. Les cloches de Genève: Nocturne (The Bells of Geneva: Nocturne) in B major -- Liszt's caption is from Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: “I live not in myself, but I become / Portion of that around me”

Second Year: Italy

Liszt, Years of Pilgrimage, Second Year: Italy Liszt: Years of Pilgrimage

“Deuxième année: Italie” (“Second Year: Italy”), S.161, was composed between 1837 and 1849 and published in 1858 by Schott. Nos. 4 to 6 are revisions of Tre sonetti del Petrarca (Three sonnets of Petrarch), which was composed around 1839 to 1846 and published in 1846.

  1. Sposalizio (Marriage of the Virgin, a painting by Raphael) in E major
  2. Il penseroso (The Thinker, a statue by Michelangelo) in C♯ minor
  3. Canzonetta del Salvator Rosa (Canzonetta of Salvator Rosa; this song Vado ben spesso cangiando loco was in fact written by Giovanni Bononcini[9]) in A major
  4. Sonetto 47 del Petrarca (Petrarch's Sonnet 47) in D♭ major
  5. Sonetto 104 del Petrarca (Petrarch's Sonnet 104) in E major
  6. Sonetto 123 del Petrarca (Petrarch's Sonnet 123) in A♭ major
  7. Après une lecture de Dante: Fantasia Quasi Sonata (After Reading Dante: Fantasia Quasi Sonata) in D minor

Venezia e Napoli (Venice and Naples). Composed in 1859 as a partial revision of an earlier set with the same name composed around 1840. Published in 1861 as a supplement to the Second Year

  1. Gondoliera (Gondolier's Song) in F♯ major -- Based on the song “La biondina in gondoletta” by Giovanni Battista Peruchini.
  2. Canzone (Canzone) in E♭ minor -- Based on the gondolier's song “Nessun maggior dolore” from Rossini's Otello.
  3. Tarantella (Tarantella) in G minor -- Uses themes by Guillaume-Louis Cottrau, 1797 to 1847.

Years of Pilgrimage, Third Year

Liszt, Years of Pilgrimage, Third Year Liszt: Years of Pilgrimage

“Troisième année” (“Third Year”), S.163, was published 1883; Nos. 1–4 and 7 composed in 1877; No. 5, 1872; No. 6, 1867.

  1. Angélus! Prière aux anges gardiens (Angelus! Prayer to the Guardian Angels) in E major -- dedicated to Daniela von Bülow, Liszt's granddaughter, first daughter of Hans von Bülow and Cosima Liszt and wife of art historian Henry Thode. It was written for both melodeon, piano, or an instrument that combines both, for Liszt wrote "piano-melodium" on his manuscript[10]
  2. Aux cyprès de la Villa d'Este I: Thrénodie (To the Cypresses of the Villa d'Este I: Threnody) in G minor
  3. Aux cyprès de la Villa d'Este II: Thrénodie (To the Cypresses of the Villa d'Este II: Threnody) in E minor -- The Villa d'Este described in these two threnodies is in Tivoli, near Rome. It is famous for its beautiful cypresses and fountains
  4. Les jeux d'eaux à la Villa d'Este (The Fountains of the Villa d'Este) in F♯ major -- Over the music, Liszt placed the inscription, "Sed aqua quam ego dabo ei, fiet in eo fons aquae salientis in vitam aeternam" ("But the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up into eternal life," from the Gospel of John)
  5. Sunt lacrymae rerum/En mode hongrois (There are Tears for Things/In the Hungarian Mode) in A minor -- Dedicated to Hans von Bülow.
  6. Marche funèbre, En mémoire de Maximilian I, Empereur du Mexique (Funeral March, In memory of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico) in F minor
  7. Sursum corda (Lift Up Your Hearts) in E major