Donald Macleod focuses on Liszt's 1848 move to Weimar with his mistress, Carolyne. There he composed what would prove to be his most popular symphonic poem, Les Preludes.
Donald Macleod presents a rare opportunity to hear all 13 of Liszt's symphonic poems. Today: the composer moves to Weimar with his mistress Carolyne.
In 1848, as revolution raged across Europe, Franz Liszt made the decision to walk away from his life as the most scandalous and brilliant piano virtuoso in the world - and settle down in the provincial German city of Weimar. Over the next twelve years he would forge a reputation as one of the most original composers of the Romantic Era - inventing a genre of composition that became known as the 'symphonic poem'. Liszt's new form of orchestral piece spun poetic or literary fables in music, evoking moods and images in its themes and harmonies, depicting heroes and villains, dramas and triumphs - a radical departure from the symphonic ideal of Beethoven and Brahms. This week, Donald Macleod presents a unique opportunity to hear all twelve of the symphonic poems Liszt created in Weimar - plus his final, valedictory symphonic poem, composed many years later, just before his own death.
We begin with Liszt's move to Weimar in 1848, accompanied by his beloved mistress Princess Carolyne von Sayn-Wittgenstein, a Russian aristocrat. With Carolyne still married to her Russian prince, the pair courted scandal by openly living 'in sin' at their spectacular Weimar residence, the Altenberg. Meanwhile, Liszt was busily composing what would ultimately prove his most popular symphonic poem, "Les Préludes", inspired by words by Alphonse de Lamartine.
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