Sacred Choral Music with Orchestra

  • 10 pieces total
  • Liszt began composing this in 1845 with Sainte Cécile (légende, D. Gay), Mez, mixed chorus ad lib, orch/pf/(with hmn, hp). This piece is dedicated to L. Haynald, Archbishop of Kalocsa but was originally began for Queen Maria da Gloria of Portugal.
  • Liszt composes from 1845-1879 with the Cantantibus organis (Antiphona in festo Sta Caeciliae, A, mixed chorus, orch/A, mixed chorus hmn, pf, hp ad li that was for the dedication of the Palestrina monument.
  • He wrote masses, psalms, small groups with mixed chorus. Wide variety. These seem to often be tied to an occasion: coronation, dedication, etc.
    • Latin, German and French

Sacred Choral Music a cappella, or with ensemble or keyboard

  • He wrote 52 of these from 1842-1885
  • Robert Collet's Chapter "Choral and Organ Music" Franz Liszt by Alan Walker
    • Claims Liszt's choral music is the least known of his music
    • He believes this is because the choral music is very strong in England and there is an anti-Liszt mentality in England
    • He wrote an essay "On the future of Church Music" in 1834 when he was 23 years old
  • Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians:
    • Languages: Fr. Ger. and Hung.
    • Females were singing in these ensembles.
    • Requiem Mass written for his Mother, and Children
    • J22 12 488 934 Requiem (Messe des morts), 2 T, 2 B, male vv, org, brass ad lib1867–8Paris: Repos, 1869†; Leipzig: Kahnt, 1871, (rev., incl. J30)MW v/3
      • in memory of Liszt's mother and children Daniel and Blandine; see also E39

Accompanied sacred solo vocal music

  • 10 of these as well
  • Composed 1855 - ~1889
  • French, German, Latin
  • Psalms, Ave Maria


Two Oratorios- St. Elizabeth and Christus

  • St. Elizabeth is a Hungarian Saint who Liszt had a particular interest in. He based many of the themes on plainchant notations connected with the liturgical hymns and prayers that were published in a book about St. Elizabeth.
  • Collet: More of a Concert Opera on a sacred subject. Written in German.
  • Summary of plot can be found on page 321 of //Liszt //by Walker
  • Work has many musical parallels to Wagner's Music dramas
  • He worked on Christus- on the story of Christ from 1853-1866. It call for a large Chorus, Orchestra, 6 soloists, offstage female choir and organist. Instead of thematic transformation, Liszt used variations on plainchant melodies that would be familiar to the audience.
  • Collet: In latin, "one of Liszt's most important works"
  • Nearly 3 hours long

This information was found in the oxford online article on Liszt.

Die Legende Von Der Heiligen Elisabeth

  • Find the score and vocal text online here
  • Composed between 1857-1862
  • German libretto written by literary historian and poet Otto Roquette (1824-1896)
  • One of Liszt's main inspirations was Moritz von Schwind's (1804-1871) frescoes of Elisabeth in the Wartburg castle
    • These included 6 scenes from the saint's life, as well as the 7 Catholic corporeal works of mercy
  • Another inspiration (especially for the final musical episode) was Charles Montalembert's (1810-187) biography Histoire de Sainte Elisabeth de Hongrie
  • Divided into 6 tableaux, each of which pertains to one of Schwind's frescoes
  • The oratorio is unified by the use of a number of precomposed themes (including Gregorian chants, a Hungarian church melody, and an old pilgrim song)
  • According to Liszt, "the character of the oratorio is distinctively epic; lyrical and dramatic elements can arise in it only episodically" (Ruddy 186)
  • Premiered in Pest, Hungary in 1865
  • Occasionally staged as an opera (e.g. in Weimar, 1881 & 1883) despite Liszt's disapproval

The Legend/History


  • Catholic encyclopedia online:
  • (no author listed) "[The Legend of]St. Elizabeth" from The Musical Times and Singing Class Ciruclar 27:517 (March 1886) 125-129.
  • Hoch, Adrian S. "The Dedication of the St. Elizabeth Altar at Assisi" The Burlington Magazine 133:1054 (Jan. 1991) 36-37.

Legend/history (hopelessly intertwined)

  • St. Elizabeth of Thuringia
  • probably born in Hungary around 1207, died at Marburg, hesse, November 17 1231
  • daughter of king andrew II of Hungary (1205-35) and wife Gertrude
  • at age 4, engaged to Hermann of Thuringia, Germany, but when he died, she was engaged to his brother, Ludwig
  • was brought to Thuringia as a child, and was she and her fiancee were creepily "brought up as brother and sister, and in 1220 (or 1221 in the catholic encyclopedia) became man and wife." (Singing Circular 125) she was 14 or 15, he was 21
  • in 1213, Elizabeth's mother was murdered by Hungarian nobles "probably out of hatred of the Germans."(catholic encyclopedia)
  • Elizabeth had 3 children, Hermann II (1222-41), Sophia (1224-84), and Gertrude (1227-97). the Singing Class circular says she has 4 children.
  • In 1226, when Ludwig was king, he was traveling in Italy when floods, famine and the pest hit Thuringia
  • Elizabeth assumed control of the country, distributed almsin her husband's territory, giving state robes and ornaments to the poor.
  • she built a hopital and personally tended to the sick
  • in 1221, the followers of St. Francis of Assisi (remember? the guy that preaches to the birds?) settled in Germany
  • Elizabeth and the Franciscans founded a monastery in Eisenach in 1225
  • her mother-in-law apparently disapproved of her acts of kindness, and convinced Ludwig to impose limits on her freedom
  • The St. Franciscans instructed Elizabeth to be chaste, humble and patient
  • she apparently desired poverty, but as a queen, could not achieve it
  • her husband dies in 1227, and she was driven from the castle by in-laws
  • she wanders around as a beggar for a long time
  • on 1228, Elizabeth recieved the Third Order of St. Francis
  • she devoted herself to care for the sick, especially those with horrible diseases
  • miracles on her grave were mostly healings
  • she is usually represented as a princess giving alms to the wretched an poor, holding roses in her lap
  • is hero to German people

popular St. Elizabeth story, "Rose Miracle"

  • Elizabeth was bringing bread and wine to the poor, though she wasn't supposed to leave the castle
  • her husband finds her outside, alone. He is suspicious, and takes her basket
  • the bread magically turns into roses

The scenes of the Moritz von Scwhind's frescoes at the Wartburg in Germany
(this is all from Singing Class Circular citation above)

  • scenes are inspired by Moritz von Schwind's frescoes at the Wartburg of "Scenes from the life of St. Elizabeth.

Moritz von Schwind

  • Scene I: arrival of Elizabeth to Thuringia, escorted by Hungarian "magnates" She is recieved with joy

ok, so I had a really hard time finding scene 1 for some reason. This may or may not be it

  • Scene II: rose miracle story
  • Scene III: Ludwig tells his subjects to swear allegiance to Elizabeth in his absence, and he leaves for italy with his troops
  • Scene IV: tidings of Ludwig's death. Her mother in law throws Elizabeth and her children out of the castle in the middle of a storm
  • Scene V: Elizabeth takes refuge at a hospital, and is helping the poor. She dies
  • Scene VI: In Marpurg, Emperor Frederick II and other courtly people assemble and celebrate the canonization of Elizabeth which had been ordained by Pope Gregory IX

The music

(still from Singing Class Circular)

  • Characters:

St. Elizabeth - soprano
Landgrave Ludwig - baritone
Landgrave Hermann - bass
Landgravine Sophie - mezzo soprano
A Hungarian magnate - baritone
Seneschal - baritone
Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich II- bass

No.1 Arrival of Elizabeth at the Wartburg
-the people and landgrave Hermann welcome her
-address of the Hungarian Magnate, assisted by the chorus
-Landgrave Hermann's reply
-first interview between Louis (Ludwig?) and Elizabeth
-children's games and children's chorus
-the chorus repeat the welcome

  • Part I: Introduction: Arrival of Elizabeth at the Warlburg
  • Part I: Willkommen die Braut! (Chorus, Hermann)
  • Part I: So leg' ich dieses theure Pfand (Hungarian Magnate, Chorus)
  • Part I: Was Vaterliebe treu vermag (Hermann)
  • Part I: Sieh um dich! (Landgrave Ludwig, Elisabeth)
  • Part I: Frohliche Spiele (Chorus of the Children) - Willkommen die liebliche Braut (Chorus)

No. 2 Ludwig
-hunting song
-meeting of lewis (ludwig??) and elizabeth
-miracle of the roses
-prayer of thanksgiving: duet between lewis and elizabeth, assited by the chorus

  • Part I: Landgrave Ludwig: Aus dem Nebel der Thaler erschalle hervor (Landgrave Ludwig)
  • Part I: Doch sieh, was schimmert (Landgrave Ludwig, Elisabeth)
  • Part I: Was seh' ich - Rosen! (Ludwig, Elisabeth, Chorus)
  • Part I: Ihm, der uns diesen Segen gab (Ludwig, Elisabeth, Chorus)

No. 3 The Crusaders
-chorus of crusaders
-recitative of Landgrave lewis
-lewis bids elizabeth farewell
-chorus and march of crusaders

  • Part I: The Crusaders: Ins heil'ge Land, in's Palmenland (Chorus)
  • Part I: Recitative: Versammelt hab'ich meine Treuen (Ludwig, Chorus)
  • Part I: Leb wohl, mein Weib! (Ludwig, Elisabeth, Chorus)
  • Part I: Ins heil'ge Land, in's Palmenland (Chorus of the Crusaders)

No. 4 Countess Sophia
-dialogue between landgrave sophia and the seneschal
-elizabeth's lament
-elizabeth's banishment
-thunder-storm and tempest

  • Part II: Countess Sophie: Herein, herein! Hast du die Botschaft (Sophie, The Seneschal)
  • Part II: O Tag der Trauer, Tag der Klage! (Elisabeth)
  • Part II: Entschieden ist Dein Loos (Sophie, Elisabeth, The Seneschal)
  • Part II: Die Pforte schloss sich hinter ihr, es hullt (The Seneschal, Sophie)
  • Part II: Elizabeth: Beruhigt ist das Toben (Elisabeth)

No. 5 Elizabeth
-dream and thoughts of home
-chorus of the poor. Deeds of charity
-elizabeth's death
-angels chorus

  • Part II: O kindheitstraum! (Elisabeth)
  • Part II: Interlude: Sempre andante moderato
  • Part II: Hier wohnt Sie unterm Huttendache (Chorus of the Poor, Elisabeth, Chorus)
  • Part II: Die Lufte schauern kuhl (Elisabeth)
  • Part II: Der Schmerz is aus (Chorus of Angels)

No. 6 Solemn Burial of Elizabeth
-orchestral interlude
-emperor frederick II of Hohenstaufen
-death-chorus of the poor and of the people
-procession of crusaders
-church-chorus. Hungarian and German bishops

  • Part II: Solemn Burial of Elisabeth: Interlude
  • Part II: Vereinigt seh' ich um den Thron (Emperor Frederick)
  • Part II: Mit Trauerkranzen kommen (Chorus of the People)
  • Part II: Der du im heil'gen Lande (Chorus of the Crusaders)
  • Part II: Decorata novo flore (Church-Chorus, Hungarian Bishops, German Bishops, The Whole Church-Chorus)

Sarah Ann Ruddy - The Suffering Female Saint in 19th Century French Oratorio

  • Liszt’s portrayal of St. Elisabeth not only glorified her good works and miracles, but also her domestic role (160)
  • The oratorio is reflective of a wider trend in focusing on a specific individual, rather than the wider community (170)
    • Additionally, the oratorio is primarily epic; however, “even though the work’s reliance on the chorus and on declamatory dialogues diminishes the work’s dramatic impact, dramatic moments still punctuate the tableaux” (188)
    • Liszt emphasizes the human aspect of his subject by turning each individual static tableau into a mini drama scene
  • In composing the libretto, Roquette made a few omissions (including descriptions of Elisabeth’s miracles and vision of Jesus and Mary) that would have not been well-received by the intended Protestant German audience (183)
    • Of course, Roquette made additional changes, such as turning Sophie into an evil mother-in-law

Structural Outline

  • The themes for the oratorio include a Gregorian antiphon for St. Elisabeth (of Hungary; it turns out the music for the antiphon was not written for the Portuguese Elisabeth), a Hungarian folk song, a Hungarian church hymn, a crusader's song, the "Cross motive," and the tritone motive of Sophie
  • Of all of the themes in the oratorio, only the one for St. Elisabeth (the Gregorian antiphon) undergoes significant sustained thematic transformation (200)

Thematic Appearances

  • The key structure for the piece is as follows:


From Franz Liszt: The Final Years by Alan Walker

  • Liszt set out to conduct St. Elisabeth shortly after taking holy orders
  • The first performance was the 25th anniversary of the Pest Conservatory, which Liszt helped establish) on August 15th.
  • It was performed in the recently reopened Redoutensaal.
  • The performance was sold out days in advance with more than 2,000 people in the audience
  • There were 500 players and singers in the performance
  • More performances were desired according to his letters, in Jena and Vienna. Also Kahnt desired a printed score.
  • To Eduard Liszt “You know how much against my wish it is to bring this work into circulation. However flattering it may be to me (perhorrescised composer!) to receive inquiries from various places about it, it seems to me advisable to avoid being precipitous, and not to expose my friends so soon again to the sort of unpleasantness that my earlier works brought upon them.”
  • There is an article about it by Hans von Bülow about it in Pesti Naplow and reprinted by Brendel in Neue Zeitschrift.
  • It was also performed in Munich for Ludwig II of Bavaria, whom the oratorio is dedicated on February 24, 1866 and conducted by Bülow.

Dedication by Liszt:
By the kindly benevolence of Reverend ore prelates, Michael von Rimely, mining Abbot Martin Berg (in Hungary), and the Baron Anton von Augusz, as the friendly use of the Reverend Father Maurus Czinar (librarian of the Abbey Martin Hill) , the Reverend Kronperger (editor of the magazine, "The Catholic Christian" plague). Father of R. Guaridian FRANCISCAN in the Pest, the Lord Gabriel Matray (Custos of the Széchenyi National Library of the Hungarian National Museum in Pest). and the composer Michael Mossonyi in Pest, and I have been to the religious ceremony, "In Festo Sanctae Elisabeth" peculiar and breviary and chant books of the 16th and 17th centuries preserved antiphons, Gradual, hymns, etc. communicated. This liturgical treasure I have particularly found in two subjects, which from ancient times, traditional, religious and historical relationship with the St. Elisabeth. The exact location of both motifs, in addition to its use in my composition of the legend of St. Elizabeth, I add here my sincere thanks to the donors for the same. I'm also hold liable for similar posts on Mr Eduard Remenyi (in Pest) and Mr Gottschalg (Cantor Tieffuth near Weimar) for the delivery of two people pleasing tunes that I acquired my work.