Cher Liszt, à travers les brumes, par-delà les fleuves, par-dessus les villes où les pianos

chantent votre gloire, où l’imprimerie traduit votre sagesse, en quelque lieu que vous soyez, dans les splendeurs de la ville éternelle ou dans les brumes des pays rêveurs que console Cambrinus, improvisant des chants de délectation ou d’ineffable douleur, ou confiant au papier vos méditations abstruses, chantre de la Volupté et de l’Angoisse éternelles, philosophe, poète et artiste, je vous salue en l’immortalité! Dear Liszt, through the mists, beyond the rivers, above the cities where the pianos sing your praise, where the printing-press translates your wisdom, wherever you may be, in the splendors of the Eternal City or in the mists of those dreamy lands consoled by Cambrinus, improvising songs of delight or of ineffable sorrow, or confiding to paper your abstruse meditations, singer of eternal Pleasure and eternal Anguish, philosopher, poet and artist, I salute you in immortality! (Charles Baudelaire: Le Thyrse, 1863)

Cover: Borromean Islands, Lake Maggiore (Ferragosto 2012).

I. Invocation

III. Canzonetta del Salvator Rosa VII. Après une lecture du Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata

IV. Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este

Henri Lehmann, Portrait de Franz Liszt, 1839 (Musée Carnavalet, Paris). Reproduced from Histoire Image,


Liszt, the Romantic Artist
Franz Liszt (1811-1886) is one of the most celebrated masters of the nineteenth century, and was perhaps the greatest pianist there has ever been. He was, however, also a philosopher, a poet, a true Romantic humanist, and a man of immense intellectual curiosity who read voraciously, from Augustine and Dante to Goethe and Lord Byron. Liszt’s life was full of paradoxes. He was Hungarian, and yet knew little of his native tongue, instead preferring French, in addition to German and Italian. He craved fame and glory, and yet he often longed for solitude and spiritual asceticism. He never married, fathered three children, but was, by all accounts, an ardent Catholic who received the tonsure and took minor orders in the Church. Perhaps there is no keener observer to Liszt’s polarities than the abbé himself, who once remarked, “I am half Franciscan, half Gypsy.” Tonight’s program reflects the evolution of Liszt as an artist, from his Wunderkind years to his maturity.

Wunderkind – The Wonder Child
Liszt was born on 22 October 1811 in Western Hungary. He exhibited an extraordinary talent for music from a young age, brilliantly sight-reading, performing, and improvising on the piano. In order to further his musical education, his father first took the seven-year-old Franz to Vienna, and then to Paris. Nicknamed “le petit Litz” by an already adoring audience, he became acquainted with the greatest poets, philosophers, and artists at the dawn of romanticism, including the great musicians Hector Berlioz, Niccolò Paganini, and Frédéric Chopin.


Invocation, from Harmonies poétiques et religieuses
In 1833, when the young Liszt was grappling with his simultaneous love of fame and need for contemplation, he composed one of his earliest major piano works, a solo piece titled Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, inspired by Alphonse de Lamartine’s set of poems by the same name. He expanded the piece into a cycle in 1853, also entitled . The first piece of tonight’s program – – is the opening movement from this cycle. Liszt printed Lamartine’s own preface to his set of poems as the introduction to the cycle. He also quotes seven lines each from the thirteenth and fifteenth stanzas of Lamartine’s poem Invocation at the beginning of this movement.
Élevez-vous, voix de mon âme, Avec I'aurore, avec la nuit! Élancez-vous comme la flamme, Répandez-vous comme le bruit! Flottez sur l'aile des nuages, Mêlez-vous aux vents, aux orages, Au tonnerre, au fracas des flots; … Élevez-vous dans le silence À l'heure où dans l'ombre du soir La lampe des nuits se balance, Quand le prêtre éteint l'encensoir; Elevez-vous au bord des ondes Dans ces solitudes profondes Où Dieu se révèle a la foi! Rise up, voice of my soul, With the dawn, with the night! Leap up like the flame, Spread abroad like the noise! Float on the wing of the clouds, Mingle with the winds, with storms, With thunder, and the tumult of the waves. … Rise up in the silence At the hour when, in the shade of evening, The lamp of night sways, When the priest puts out the censer; Rise up by the waves In these deep solitary places Where God reveals himself to faith!

The Invocation opens with a gentle single-note melody that seemingly floats atop the series of repeated chords in E major, a key that Liszt often associated with music on religious and contemplative themes. Both the shape of the melody and the dynamic start at a low point, then rise higher as the piece progresses, giving this movement a sense of transcendence. In addition, Liszt’s “cross motif” features prominently in all the major themes of this movement. Taken from the Gregorian chant “Crux fidelis,” a hymn from the mass of Good Friday, the motif consists of a combination of the chant’s opening notes. Finally, the ending of the piece features repeated “Amen” cadences in fortississimo.


Il Pellegrino – The Pilgrim
Switzerland & Italy
At around the time he composed the first version of Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, he met the beautiful Countess Marie d’Agoult, who became his lover and the mother of his three children. Between 1835 and 1839, the couple traveled and lived throughout Switzerland and Italy, and thus this period of Liszt’s life became known as the “pilgrimage” years, which became the inspiration for the first two books titled (Years of Pilgrimage).

Canzonetta del Salvator Rosa, from Années de pèlerinage – Deuxième année: Italie
Liszt settled in Florence for the winter of 1838. This Tuscan city was home to many extraordinary artists and intellectuals, one of whom was the famous seventeenth century artist, poet, and musician Salvator Rosa (1615-1673). Alleged to have taken part in the popular Neapolitan uprising against the Spanish, myths and legends surrounded Rosa both during and after his life, and he was a popular figure in French romanticism. In the , Liszt transcribed the text and the canzonetta, melody:
Vado ben spesso cangiando loco Ma non si mai cangiar desio. Sempre l’istesso sarà il mio fuoco E sarò sempre l’istesso anch’io. Often I change my location, But I shall never change my desire. The fire within me will always be the same. And I myself will always be the same.

Though Liszt had believed that this was a work by Rosa, it was revealed a half century later that it was Giovanni Battista Bononcini who composed it. The song itself is a simple and cheerful march, and Liszt’s transcription consists of strophic variations of the melody, moving from A major to its relative key of F# minor, then returning to A major, and finally ending with a small coda.


The Dante Sonata, from Années de pèlerinage – Deuxième année: Italie
After Florence, Liszt arrived in Rome in February 1839. He had never seen a city quite like it, and in a letter to his friend, the composer Hector Berlioz, he wrote: The Beautiful, of which these lands have been bestowed its privileges, was revealed to me in its purest, most Sublime forms. Before my wondering eyes, art appeared in its entire splendor; I saw it unfold before me in all of its universality and unity… Dante has found his artistic echo in Orcagna and Michelangelo: maybe he will find his musical expression in the Beethoven of the future. Liszt had begun composing a musical commentary on Dante Alighieri’s magnum opus La Divina Commedia in 1839, but it did not reach its final form until a decade later. Titled (After Reading Dante: Fantasia in the manner of a Sonata) after a poem of the same title by his friend, the author Victor Hugo, Liszt contrasts Hell’s diabolical pain, torment, and grief with Paradise’s spiritual joy, purity, and triumph, and transforms them into this masterful, single-movement sonata. Although it is much longer than a typical first movement of a classical sonata, the Dante Sonata conforms to a version of sonata form. Its thematic material relies heavily on the tritone, known since the Middle Ages as “the devil in music.” The exposition begins with a series of descending tritones in octaves and minor seconds, followed by the chromatic lamentoso first theme in D minor, suggesting the motto of Dante’s descent into Hell: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” The first theme intensifies before the second theme arrives in the form of thunderous double-octaves, fortississimo in F# major, which foreshadows a theme that appears later. The development section first begins with a reiteration of the opening tritone octaves, only to move to the more serene F# major theme, which reminds me of the story of Francesca da Rimini from Canto V of the Inferno. Condemned to the circle of the lustful, Francesca proclaims to Dante that, “Nessun maggior dolore che ricordarsi del tempo felice ne la miseria” (“There is no greater sorrow than thinking back upon a happy time in misery”). The delicate Francesca theme develops until it becomes engulfed by an infernal theme, and the battle between these two dichotomous ideas continues throughout the development. When the recapitulation arrives with the celestial upper-register tremolos, Liszt finally seems to depict a glimpse of Paradise. Set firmly in D major, the recapitulation is full of grandiloquent major octaves and chords. The coda sees a return of the Francesca theme, and then briefly invokes the opening tritones, only to be overcome by the resonant open fifths and “Amen” cadences that depict the final triumph of Heaven over Hell.

Dante & Virgil: the infernal hurricane tormenting the souls of the lustful (Inf V).
Gustave Doré, Plate XIV: Inferno Canto V, 1857. Reproduced from Gustave Doré, The Dore Illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy (New York: Dover, 1976), 24.

George Peter Alexander Healy, Franz Liszt, 1887 (The Longfellow House, Cambridge). Reproduced from Edward N. Waters, “Liszt and Longfellow,” The Musical Quarterly, 41,1 (1955): 4-5.


L’abbé – The Priest
Weimar & Rome
By the end of 1839, Marie and Liszt had fallen out of love. Marie returned to Paris with their children, while the virtuoso Liszt traveled almost the whole of Europe for the next decade. Europe had never before seen a solo performer quite like Liszt, who produced miracles on the piano that astonished all who came to see him. Adoring the spotlight, he also became the first to give concerts like the modern solo piano recital, calling them “musical soliloquies.” After some years of travel, Liszt returned to Rome. He received the tonsure in April 1865, took minor holy orders in the Church three months later, and donned the black cassock for the remainder of his life. The Abbé Liszt had hoped that his ascetic life as a priest would help him overcome his love of fame. Though he was not always successful, he did often retire from performing and sought tranquility in many cloisters. In 1868, he was a guest of The Monsignor Gustav Hohenlohe at the Villa d’Este, the cardinal’s Renaissance residence just outside Rome. Its many gardens, cypresses, and fountains became a great source of inspiration for Liszt; he returned there almost every autumn until his death.

Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este, from Années de pèlerinage – Troisième année
In 1883, Liszt published the third “year” of his . Perhaps the finest collection of Liszt’s late piano works, it exemplifies his preoccupation with faith and death. In an 1877 letter, Liszt described his state of mind using the words of Christ’s agony in the garden of Gethsemane: “Tristis est anima mea!” He finally found inspiration upon his return to the Villa d’Este in August, and composed , among other works. One of the pivotal pieces of Romantic piano repertoire, Jeux d’eaux uses double-note tremolos and thirty-second notes along with refined left-hand trills to create the exquisite effect of the shimmering water flowing from the Villa d’Este’s fountains. However, it is much more than simply a painting of the fountain. Midway through the piece, at the point when the staff first breaks into three, Liszt inscribed: “Sed aqua, quam ego dabo ei, fiet in eo fons aquae salientis in vitam aeternam” (“But the water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting”). From the Gospel of John, the verse also alludes to Paul, “for in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body…and in one Spirit we have all been made to drink.” The fountains of Villa d’Este thus represented the water of baptism, the grace of the Holy Spirit washing away the sins of man and his rebirth into the divine life.


Rigoletto – Paraphrase de Concert, after Giuseppe Verdi
Besides his original compositions, Liszt was also a prolific transcriber. Opera paraphrases became an important part of Liszt’s musical personality, and they were often showpieces for his virtuosic prowess. The was composed in 1859 in Weimar before he settled in Rome. It depicts a single number in Act III of Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto: “Bella figlia dell'amore” (“Beautiful daughter of love”). Verdi’s opera is set in Mantua in the sixteenth century, and tells the tragic story of the licentious Duke of Mantua, his hunchbacked jester Rigoletto, and Rigoletto’s beautiful daughter Gilda. After discovering that Gilda was seduced by the Duke, Rigoletto vowed revenge. In this quartet scene, Rigoletto leads his daughter Gilda outside a house where the Duke can be heard flirting and attempting to seduce another woman, Maddalena; Verdi’s depiction of the four different emotional worlds that collide at this moment is the most celebrated number of the opera. Liszt’s paraphrase opens with allusions to the themes of Maddalena and Gilda. A harplike passage ends the introduction, and leads into the entry of the Duke’s tenor theme. Then comes Maddalena’s banter expressed in octaves while interrupted by Gilda’s impassioned sighing, culminating in the fortississimo climax of this section. A descending chromatic scale in sixths leads into the next section, characterized by the graceful scales and arpeggios of the right hand in thirty-second and sixty-forth notes that sweep across the length of the keyboard. A new melody in octaves on the right hand follows, which is doubled and quadrupled when the material repeats. As the piece concludes, it descends into a cadenza-like section before a triumphal end with a grand finale of octaves, so characteristic of the virtuosity of the greatest pianist there has ever lived.

~ Allen Yu
Brunswick, Maine Feast of Saint Isidore of Seville 4 April 2014

Saturday, 19 April at 4:00pm Studzinski Recital Hall Bowdoin's Beckwith Artist in Residence, George Lopez, will give a performance of unique contemporary works by Vin Shende and Carter Pann among others, inspired by forms and composers of the distant past and present. Come and hear the living sounds of living composers.

MOLLY RIDLEY ’14, jazz piano
Saturday, 19 April at 7:30pm Studzinski Recital Hall

Thursday & Friday, 1-2 May at 7:30pm Studzinski Recital Hall Anthony Antolini ’63, director Bowdoin Chorus and Mozart Mentors Orchestra, under the director of Anthony Antolini '63, will present Mendelssohn's Psalm 114 and Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms.

Saturday & Sunday, 3-4 May at 3:00pm The Bowdoin Chapel Emily Isaacson, director

NICK TELENSON ’14, violin
Saturday, 3 May at 7:30pm Studzinski Recital Hall


Pianist Allen Wong Yu, 21, is an acclaimed performer, recognized for his mature musicianship, elegant tone, and charismatic stage presence. Born in California and a native of Beijing, Allen began studying piano at the age of six and won his first major competition at ten. Since then, he has appeared many times as a solo recitalist, as a soloist with distinguished orchestras, and as a chamber musician. Allen also claimed numerous first prize awards including the Ithaca College Piano Concerto Competition, the Bertha F. Lang Empire State Competition, the New York – Music Teachers National Association Baldwin Competition, and the Manchester Young Artist Competition. Allen delivered his solo debut at age twelve and his critically acclaimed orchestral debut a year later.

Photo by Michael Yang

An accomplished performer, Allen appeared as a soloist in major venues in Albany, Schenectady, Rochester, Oneonta, Ithaca, Binghamton, Saratoga, Springfield, Portland, and Brunswick. During his time abroad in Italy, he also presented solo recitals in Milan and Ferrara. Among his appearances as guest soloist, he performed with the Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra under Jeffery Meyer, the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra under Findlay Cockrell, and the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Charles Schneider. In February 2012, Allen appeared on National Public Radio’s From the Top for the second time; his first appearance on NPR was in 2008 when he performed as a Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist. Allen was also featured as a performer and host on China Radio International in Beijing, which was aired across China and around the world. Allen Yu is currently a senior at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where he is pursuing his AB in Government & Legal Studies and Music, studying with pianist George Lopez, Bowdoin’s Beckwith Artist-in-Residence. Along with his studies, he is actively performing. Highlights from his past seasons include Mozart and Haydn Sonatas,


Schumann’s Carnaval and Fantasiestücke, Mendelssohn’s Fantasies or Caprices, and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. He is also an active chamber musician at Bowdoin, having performed the Schumann and Dvorak Piano Quintets, Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn for two pianos, and Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances for four hands. At Bowdoin, he has been recognized as a Sarah & James Bowdoin Scholar, and was elected three times as Vice President of the student body on Bowdoin Student Government. He previously graduated from Shaker High School in Latham, New York and received a Liberal Arts diploma with high honors. He is a Past Distinguished Governor of New York for Key Club International, a service leadership program of Kiwanis International. Having spent four years at Bowdoin’s historic campus on the beautiful coast of Maine, Allen will move to New York City following graduation to begin the next chapter of his life.

My senior recital would not have been possible without the many people who have supported me along the way. To you all, I would like to express my eternal gratitude.
First, I am indebted to Mr. George Lopez, my dedicated teacher and mentor, for radiating so much passion and optimism during every lesson that we have had, for helping me mature as a student and musician, and for always making me realize what a joy it is to have music in my life; To Professors Arielle Saiber & Dallas Denery, for always inspiring me with great literature; To my advisors, Professors Paul Franco, Jean Yarbrough, & Robert Greenlee, who have imparted to me so much great wisdom over the years; To Professor Mary Hunter, who taught me the importance of being not just a performer, but also a scholar of music; To Bill, for showing me the true meaning of, “once a Polar Bear, always a Polar Bear”; To Iris, Zach, Megan, Paola, Marina, & all who were part of my time abroad, for making my experience in Italy so much more meaningful; To all my Bowdoin friends who have made a profound difference in my life, who have put up with my awful jokes, stood by me through thick & thin, and made the last four years the best years yet; And lastly, to my loving family, for instilling in me a great love of music. Though it has certainly not always been easy, thank you for fifteen years of unending support in my musical endeavors. I could not have done it without you.

In consideration of the performer and those around you, please kindly switch off your cellular phones, pagers, and watch alarms during the recital. Thank you. Visit: Follow on Twitter: @allenyu92

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