Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities
2000—2001 Forum on Style
Musicology/ History of Music Theory
Liszt's Symphonic Poems, Weltliteratur and Monumentality
Many were surprised in 1848 when Franz Liszt, then at the height of his fame, accepted a post at the provincial court of Weimar. In this period, Liszt engaged most intensively in the composition of Symphonic Poems, most based on canonical works of 'World Literature' or Weltliteratur. The monumentality of Liszt's self-consciously 'classic' Symphonic Poems is on one level a stylistic attribute, but beyond that, reflects the ambition of these works. As such, it reveals much about 19th century understanding of classicism, opening up a number of aesthetic, historical and analytical issues. In their general nature, the questions raised by Liszt's Symphonic Poems go beyond merely musicological interest. They touch on problems that all bear on issues of 'style.' They also are central to 19th century thought in general — classicism, nationalism, and, not least, the relation of music to the other arts.