Franz Liszt's Years of Pilgrimage
In 1858, Franz Liszt published a score containing several piano pieces, the Années de Pèlerinage (Years of Pilgrimage), written during a two-year stay in Italy in the late 1830s. The set of compositions of Liszt's Years of Pilgrimage is striking, in that each piece is inspired by a work of visual art, or poetry, or a combination of the two, that Liszt encountered during his journey. Michelangelo, Raphael, Petrarch, and Dante are among the artists and poets whose works Liszt chose to address in his musical compositions.
For this concert liberal arts assistant professor Anthony Scibilia will perform three pieces from the Years of Pilgrimage at the piano, and describe the ways in which Liszt has adopted works of visual art and poetry as the basis for his exploration of musical composition. The program will open with the first piece in Liszt's collection, "Il Penseroso"("The Thinker"), modeled after the Medici tomb sculptures, as well as a quatrain of poetic verse, by Michelangelo. The second piece, "Sposalizio" ("Marriage"; but commonly known as "The Marriage of the Virgin"), is a composition based on the famous painting of the same name by the Italian Renaissance painter Raphael. The third and final piece of the program will be the "Dante Sonata," in which Liszt explores at a grand scale the fullest possible range of sonorities and moods, all based on a simple two-note motif that captures the rhythmic gait of Dante's verse in the Divine Comedy.
In these three pieces, we witness not only Liszt's appreciation of a variety of art forms, including painting, sculpture, and poetry; but also his specific and wide-ranging approach to the formal construction of musical compositions rooted in extra-musical subject matter—a concern as relevant to musicians today as it was when Liszt composed this marvelous set of pieces. In the spirit of Liszt's multidimensional approach to musical composition, this performance and discussion will include projected images of works by Michelangelo, Raphael, and others.