Liszt's Vocal Songs

Information taken from Franz Liszt by Alan Walker, chapter on Songs by Christopher Headington

  • Liszt wrote many songs but they were not his greatest accomplishments
  • Liszt composed songs between 1839-1884. His early songs are described as "violence to words" but his words became more delicate as he grew older.
  • He wrote songs in German, French, Italian, Hungarian and English
  • There are many complaints about the songs of Liszt, including poor musical interpretation of the text, boring, being stylistically impractical for the singer, and there was a disjunctive feeling about their lack of tonal and formal structure.
  • There are 82 vocal songs in Liszt’s complete works
  • Of these 82, are dedications, 18 are for women, 3 for men
    • Men: A. Scheffer (2), L. Köhler,
      • A. Scheffer could be French painter, Ary Scheffer who was a contemporary of Liszt (Male). Ary Scheffer is said to have been one of the painters in the social circle including Liszt, Marie D’Agoult and George Sand.
      • B. L. Köhler is most likely Louis Köhler (1820-1886) who was a contemporary of Liszt. Köhler in the forties dedicated himself to piano pedagogy and writing about music. There are many corresponces in Liszt’s letters.
    • Dedicated to women:
      • Mme Thérèse de Bacheracht
      • Princess Augusta of Prussia-2
      • Marie D’Agoult- 2
      • Grand Duchess Sophie of Weimar
      • M. Juva Branca was Duchess Matilde Juva Branca. According to “Two Liszt discoveries 2: An unknown song:” by Istvan Kecskemeti in Musical Times the inscription actually read, “signora Matilde Juva Branca” There is a painting of Matilde Juva Branca by Romantic Painter Francesco Hayez. “It appears that the Branca family held open house for distinguished musicians and men of letters and that Matilde continued the tradition.” A salon.
  • Two Liszt Discoveries. 2: An Unknown Song, István Kecskeméti, The Musical Times Vol. 115, No. 1579 (Sep., 1974), pp. 743-744
    • Mme. Caroline Pavloff
    • Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna (as well as a song for her???)
    • Countess Sophia Tolstoy
    • Princess Marie Hohenlohe-2
    • C. Sayn-Wittgenstein
    • M. Breidenstein-
  • On pg 301 of Letters of Franz Liszt there is letter to the “Kammersangerin” [Private Concert Singer to the Court] Marie Breidenstein in Erfurt. The Letter reads: “Dear Honored One, Perhaps the Schubert songs with my most modest instrumentation would suit somewhere in your programme. Here are the printed scores with the orchestral parts. “Gretchen” and “Erlkonig” have been much used and are played out. This is not so much the case with the “Young Nun”; and Mignon’s wonderful song, “So Lasst min scheinen bis ich werde” (So let me sem till I become), is scarcely heard—or appreciated! But if you will once more spare me an hour at Weimar, I will accompany these 4 instrumental Schubert-Songs for you. Next Saturday departs from here. Your Sincerely devoted, F. Liszt Weimar, Monday, September 18th, 1876 N. B. – The instrumentation compelled me to a few little different readings in Schubert’s four songs: on this account the singer must go by my score-edition as regards the rests and the very slight alterations.
    • K. E. Merian-Genast :Emelie Merian-Genast was Mezzo-Soprano and close friend of Liszt. She and Liszt may have had a short romantic relationship but they seemed to mostly be artistic colleagues. She is affectionately referred to as "Mitzi" in his letters. Liszt wrote 95 letters to Emelie, some personal, many speaking of music and often asking Emelie's opinion. She performed in Liszt's Oratorio Saint Elizabeth and the cantataSaint Cecilia was dedicated to her.
      • Taken from Hamburger, Klara. "Emilie (Merian)-Genast, Liszt's Confidante" Hungarian Quarterly. Vol. XLIX No. 189 (Spring 2008): 163-168.

Liszt's Art Songs with dedications

N2 684 644 282 “Barcarole vénitienne de Pantaleoni” 1840Leipzig: Schuberth, 1852†; ded. Mme Thérèse de Bacheracht
N3 “Im Rhein, im schönen Strome” (H. Heine) ded. Princess Augusta of Prussia; an early text variant begins ‘Am Rhein’; see also A97/2
N5 “Die Loreley” (Heine) ded. M. d'Agoult; see also A97/1, A210
N6 “Die Zelle in Nonnenwerth” (Ach, nun taucht die Klosterzelle) (F. Lichnowsky) A81, D21; 1st version ded. M. d'Agoult; another version (between versions 1 and 2), with unattrib. Fr. text, uses same melody as 1st version; 4th version ded. E. Genast; 5th version ded. E. Merian-Genast in MS only
N7 “Was Liebe sei” (C. von Hagn) ded. Grand Duchess Sophie of Weimar
N10 “Der du von dem Himmel bistded.” Princess Augusta of Prussia; see also A97/5
N13 306a 564 “Quand tu chantes bercée” (Hugo)1842Budapest: in Magyar zene, xv (1974) (facs.)ded. M. Juva Branca
N14 "Three Sonnets of Petrarch 270/1 578a 204–206a (second version: 270/2 578b 204b)
N23 “Freudvoll und Leidvoll” (Goethe) ded. A. Scheffer; see also A134
N30 301a 638a 390 “Oh, pourquoi donc “(Les pleurs des femmes romance oubliée) (C. Pavloff)?1844Moscow: Grotrian, 1844†; Leipzig: Tonger, 1878 (rev.)MW iii; LSP xiv ded. Mme, Caroline Pavloff; see A148
N31 296 606 437 “Ich möchte hingehn” (G. Herwegh)?1844–1856Berlin: Schlesinger, 1859†; Leipzig: Kahnt, 1860 (rev.)LSP vi: MW vii/2ded. [L. Köhler]
N32 “Lieder aus Schillers ‘Wilhelm Tell’: 1 Der Fischerknabe (Es lächelt der See), 2 Der Hirt (Ihr Matten lebt wohl), 3 Der Alpenjäger (Es donnern die Höh'n)” ded. A. Scheffer
N45 302 583 549 “Die Macht der Musik “ (Duchess Helen of Orleans) ded. Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna
N47 685 644b 1364 “Es hat geflammt die ganze Nacht” (Lied der Grossherzogin Marie Pavlovna) THIS IS NOT DEDICATED- THE LIED IS OF GRAND DUCHESS MARIE PAVLOVNA
N62 “Die drei Zigeuner” (N. Lenau)ded. E. Merian-Genast; see also D8
N63 375 651/1–6814–19 Sechs Lieder von Schubert, 1v, orch: 1 Die junge Nonne, 2 Gretchen am Spinnrade, 3 Mignons Lied (Kennst du das Land), 4 Erlkönig, 5 Der Doppelgänger, 6 Abschied1860Leipzig: Förberg, 1863†; (nos.1–4); nos.5–6 unpubdded. E. Merian-Genast; based on Schubert's d828 (no.1), d118 (no.2), d321 (no.3), d328 (no.4), d957/13 (no.5), unknown (no.6)
N64 340a 923 “No brani menya, moy drug” [Do not reproach me, my friend] (A. Tolstoy)1866Moscow: Mil’shteyn, 1958†ded. Countess Sofia Tolstoy
N69 328 621 1068 “Ihr Glocken von Marling “ (E. Kuh)1874Leipzig: Kahnt, 1879†LSP vi; MW vii/3 ded. Princess Marie Hohenlohe
N70 329 622 1069 “Und sprich (Sich auf dem Meer)” (R. von Biegeleben)1875–9Leipzig: Kahnt, 1879†MW vii/3 ded. C. Sayn-Wittgenstein
N74 333 630 1150 “An Edlitam (In meinem Lebensringe)” (Bodenstedt)1878Leipzig: Kahnt, 1879†MW vii/3 Edlitam is an anagram of Matilde, the name of the poet's wife
N78 337 633 1227Des Tages laute Stimmen schweigen (F. von Saar)1880Weimar: Briefe, vol. viii, 1905 (facs.)LSP vi: MW vii/3 ded. Princess Marie Hohenlohe
N79 344 6371210 “O Meer in Abendstahl (Abend am Meer, A. Meissner)” ?1881–3Budapest: Táborszky & Parsch, 1881†MW vii/3; UE ix ded. M. Breidenstein, duet for solo vv

Secular Choral Music with Orchestra

  • 17 of these between 1845-1882
  • Written in German, French, Hungarian
  • Literary Themes: Goethe’s Faust, Lieder,
  • These range from Men’s choirs, satb, even children’s choirs

Secular choral music a cappella, or with ensemble or keyboard**

  • 38 of these between 1841-1885
  • Many dedicated to Prince F.W. Constantin von Hohenzollern-Hechingen


  • According to Grove, a melodrama is a dramatic composition or part of a play. Usually it is music intended to support dramatic content.
    • "Dramatic comp., or part of play or opera, in which words are recited to a mus. commentary. Popularized late in 18th cent. Where one or two actors are involved, ‘monodrama’ or ‘duodrama’ is term used. J. A. Benda's Ariadne auf Naxos ( 1774 ) and Medea ( 1775 ) are early examples. Mozart used melodramatic monologues in Zaide ( 1780 ). Fibich wrote a trilogy Hippodamia ( 1888 – 91 ). Famous operatic examples occur in the dungeon scene of Fidelio, the Wolf's Glen in Der Freischütz, Gertrude's aria in Marschner's Hans Heiling, the Empress in Act III of Die Frau ohne Schatten, and in Peter Grimes. Other examples are R. Strauss's Enoch Arden ( 1898 ), Honegger's Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher ( 1935 ), Bliss's Morning Heroes ( 1930 ), and Vaughan Williams's An Oxford Elegy ( 1949 ). The word has also come to mean an over‐dramatic play, hence the adjective ‘melodramatic’, but in a musical connotation the orig. meaning is conveyed.
  • Liszt wrote 6 melodramas between the 1850s and the 1870s."

P1 346 654 736 Lenore (Der Bräutigam) (G.A. Bürger) 1857–8 Leipzig: Kahnt, 1860† MW vii/3
P2 347 655 776 Vor hundert Jahren (F. Halm), orch acc. 1859 unpubd
P3 348 656 820 Der traurige Mönch (In Schweden steht ein grauer Turm) (N. Lenau) 1860 Leipzig: Kahnt, 1872† MW vii/3 ded. F. Ritter (née Wagner)
P4 686 659 821 Helges Treue (M. Strachwitz) 1860 Hamburg: Schuberth, 1874† MW vii/3 ded. B. Dawison (actor)
P5 349 657 1070 Des toten Dichters Liebe (Der Hein wiederhallt von der Nachtigall Sang) [A holt költó szerelme (Zeng a liget a csalogány dalain)] (M. Jókai, trans. A. Dux) 1874 Budapest: Táborsky & Parsch, 1874† MW vii/3 1st perf. Budapest, 16 March 1874, by Liszt and Róza Laborfálvy Jókai; see also A249, A279, A335, B50
P6 350 658 1101 Der blinde Sänger (Der Fürst ritt um Morgen) (A. Tolstoy) 1875–7 St Petersburg: Bessel, 1877† MW vii/3

Unless otherwise stated this information was found in the Oxford online article about Liszt.