Malgorzata Gamrat

Liszt’s Conception of the Poetico-Musical Cycle for Piano Solo

In my paper I would like to present Liszt’s conception of the poetico-musical piano cycle in its structural complications. The romantic poets composed the series of poems that, read each one after the other, composed a structure similar to the roman (‘Lyrisches Roman’, according to W.A. Schlegel). Often this structure was linked by the leitmotifs (it created a kind of ‘cyclicity”, as Werner Wolf called it). Liszt took over this idea of the poetical cycle and created his own musical macro-structure composed of different pieces preceded by poetical quotations.
At the musical level, he made a new musical structure that is a cycle connected by leitmotifs, similar constructions, and a tonal logic. In Liszt’s cycles, each piece has its own function and place (sometime this function is similar to classical sonata’s cycle; e.g., in Album d’un voyageur).
What is most important for me is the macro-structure in Liszt’s cycle, linked at the musical and poetical levels. I would like to answer the following questions: which musical means allow the composer to integrate series of independent pieces in a cycle, and what is their function in the cycle? How can we analyse this kind of musical structure? How does poetry quoted before the score influence the musical construction of each piece, and how does the general cycle’s title influence its structure? How does poetical structure determine a musical one (e.g., strophic construction of poetry and similar construction in the piano piece Lorelei)? I would like to present these problems with reference to two of Liszt’s cycles for piano solo: Album d’un voyageur and Buch der Lieder.