apparition (n.)

Pronunciation: /æpəˈrɪʃən/

Etymology: < French apparition (15th cent. in Litt.), < Latin appāritiōn-em, n. of action < appārē-re to appear v.: see -tion suffix. The senses are those of late Latin and French. Classical Latin had only the sense ‘attendance, service, servants,’ < a special sense of appārēre ‘to appear at a summons, wait upon, attend’: see apparitor n., aparaunt n. (Etymologically, exactly = appearance n., and having a parallel development of senses. But now almost restricted in common use to sense 9, and when used in other senses, having generally from this association some idea of startling or unexpected appearance.)

  • 1. The action of appearing or becoming visible.
  • 2. The supernatural appearance of invisible beings, etc.

Origins and Features

  • The title Apparitions was likely inspired by Alphonse Marie Louise de Lamartine’s poem of the same title, or by Chrétien Urhan's use of the term "auditions" for his compositions (NLE i/9 XI).
    • Lamartine (1790-1869): French writer, involved in politics, admired by Liszt; poem Apparitions 1818
    • Urhan (1790-1845): French violinist, organist, composer, influential on Liszt, Berlioz, and Chopin
  • Composed in the summer of 1834, which Liszt spent in La Chênaie (in Pays-de-la-Loire, France - Northwestern region, just south of Normandy and east of Brittany) with friend Félicité Robert de Lammenais (polemical priest, mentor of Liszt) (Walker 155-7)
  • Published in Paris by Maurice Schlesinger, 1835 (later in Leipzig by Hofmeister)
    • Schlesinger: From a family of publishers (father in Berlin); settled in Paris 1816, started his own business in 1821, worked until 1846 then sold to Louis Brandus; published early works of Liszt; best known for weekly publication Gazette musicale de Paris (beginning 1834), which was used to advertise his own publications and promote German Romanticism, merged with Revue musicale in 1835 and became Revue et gazette musicale, which was published until 1880

Apparitions (entire score)

1. Senza Lentezza quasi Allegretto

  • Dedicated to Countess Clara de Rauzan (a salonnière)
  • Defining characteristics:
    • interplay between sound and silence
    • surprising endings
    • explicit, dramatic (perhaps excessive) performing directions
    • obsession with chromaticism and tritones
    • form: ternary (-ish), focus is on presentation and development of a few motives

2. Vivamente

3. Fantasie sur une valse de F. Schubert: Molto agitato ed appassionato

  • Dedicated to Madame La Marquise de Camaran (Caraman? Prince of Caraman-Chimay had a salon in Paris near Récamier, rue de Babylone)
    • Camaran is city in Venezuela, or place where there was a cholera outbreak in late 1800s then Bombay (now Mumbai), India
    • Possibly: Jeanne Marie Ignace Thérèse, Princess of Chimay (1775-1835)
      • When she arrived in Paris, she was known for her beauty
      • Interested in politics, “her house became the centre of the most brilliant society of Paris…” (New American Cyclopedia, 92)
      • Appeared in concert with Récamier
      • In 1805, married third husband Count François Joseph Philippe de Riquet de Caraman (1773-1843), who soon became the Prince of Chimay (Belgium)
  • Possibly earliest Schubert transcription; based on Schubert's Waltz in F Major, Op. 9, No. 33. This Waltz also used by Liszt in the fourth piece of later collection Soirées de Vienne, 1853. 8 Fantasie sur une Valse e Franz Schubert: Molto Agitato ed Appassionato Waltz in F Major, Op. 9, No. 33

Conceptualising Expressive Chromaticism in Liszt's Music

by Ramon Satyendra

  • Liszt’s musical style is full of “unexpected flashes of detail,” along with hierarchal taxonomies of scale types, harmonic oddities, and Hungarian traits
  • Many recent analyses have used Schenkerian models to look at deeper musical elements
    • This however neglects some fascinating surface details
  • This article focuses on pitch transformations where a semitone in a musical segment is altered (termed “inflected repetition”), and is divided into 4 parts, considering…
    • 1. How inflected repetition is an ideal means of heightening emotional impact (see Ernst Kurth’s descriptions of the “coloring” and “tinting” effects of inflections on 222)
      • Inflection may be ornamental (e.g. in an operatic cadence) or structural
        • Liszt uses both of these in a great deal of his compositions
      • Just changing one semitone obviously yields a strikingly different emotion
      • Semitone shifts can be a structural element because Romantic music is so concerned with tone color and the “aural [emotional] experience”
      • Inflection was not unusual for some pitches in the Classical era, but Liszt was an innovator in that he expanded the practice from 3rds, 6ths and 7ths to include other scale degrees (e.g. tritones)
    • 2. Chromatic changes might have appealed to Liszt because of his interest in ancient Greek musical theory and the ideas of musical speech and organic process
      • See: the three tetrachord general - chromatic/diatonic/enharmonic
      • Metabole - the process by which the interior notes in a tetrachord are altered (inflected)
      • Dahlhaus notes that Liszt’s musical transformations yield a “speech-like” quality to his program music (227)
        • [Remember Liszt’s rather curious expressive terminology, including “speak” and “sing”?]
      • Organic model: according to Liszt, “art is made up of gradual transitions which link together the remotest classes and the most dissimilar species” (228)
    • 3. Schoenberg’s analyses, the idea of “chord spaces,” and the relationship between foreground and background harmonic changes
    • 4. A specific analysis of a Liszt piece: Csárdás Obstine, and how Liszt’s use of chromaticism fits in with a larger trend in 19th century music

Liszt's sans ton Key Signature

by Paul Merrick

  • Merrick began by search for relationship between key and content
  • Started noticing blank key signatures, even though there was still a “key” (for example: a D minor section in the Inferno movement of the Dante Symphony); after this happened several times he pursued the research
  • Liszt writes to d’Agoult about Harmonies Poétiques et Religieuses: “my little Lamartine harmony without key or time [sans ton ni mesure].” (283)
  • Not exactly without key, but just without signature; blanks now mean three things (as opposed to other key signatures, which have two meanings - major and minor) C major, a minor, or neither (unrelated to signature altogether)
  • Noticed that blank key signatures seem to show up in programmatic works about death
  • Uses Ø as symbol for blank signature
  • From a survey of 400 works, 84 have no key signature, or have a passage with no key signature; works listed in order depending upon “importance given to words, as a sung text, a programme, or a title” (290); the first and third Apparitions are included in this number (297)
  • Discussing the Harmonies Poétiques et Religieuses (also composed in 1834 and based on poetry by Lamartine):
    • “In Christianity, death is not extinction, and to have this nihilum [Latin for nothing] as the subject of sounding music - of a Christian composer’s musical meditation on the thoughts of a Christian poet - requires somehow its expression in relation to the language of music, or at least its notation. Liszt’s inspiration was to say that ‘music as nothing’ is ‘music without key.’” (288) In this way, lack of key was used as a symbol of death.
  • Merrick emphasizes that it is death in the musical narrative that makes the piece about death, and not the lack of key signature (which is rather a unifying characteristic)