Liszt Songs

Liszt 30 Songs for high voice, ed. Armbruster. Dover/Constable

Liszt Selected Songs (Liszt Society Publications, vol. 6). Schott


In some ways it seems fitting that Liszt should have a permissive Society; but sure there are limits. Here are 21 songs published by Schott in a format so amazingly like a photograph of the Breitkopf Gesamtausgabe that it might just be called a snap-Schott album. It seems uncommonly cool to claim copyright in the “compilation”, especially in the total absence of original or scholarly data. Nobody can be bothered even to add the dates of composition for nos.1-5, 7-11, 15, 17, 18, 20 or 21, though relevant information is readily available. To have provided such dates might gave prompted some doubts about whether Liszt’s song writing 1840-84 is really best esemplified by a selection beginning in 1856, while the claim that “none of the better known songs have [sic] been included” is hard to square with current discs. The short introduction fits Liszt enough into the lied tradition; but that modes credit is massively cancelled, in my view, by the so-called “translations/versifications”, which strike the editor as unsingable and me as unspeakable.

   On this showing the Liszt market is wide open to capture by the American reprint firm of Dover, nowadays readily accessible through its English channel. Its good are carefully labelled and declared, as a republication of a 1911 edition; and the contents are updated, as well as the cover. Of course the editing and translations are also dated in a less engaging sense. But affection and competence make the work durable, not just endurable. It’s not at all a bad introduction to Liszt as a lied composer. Why pay so much more for so much less?

 The Musical Times, Dec., 1976 (p. 1005) © the estate of eric sams