Symphonic Poem, S.97 "Les Préludes"Les préludes
is the third of Franz Liszt's thirteen symphonic poems. It is listed as S.97 in Humphrey Searle's catalogue of Liszt's music. Its premiere was in 1854, directed by Liszt himself. The score was published in 1856 by Breitkopf & Härtel, who also published the musical parts in 1865. Les préludes is the earliest example of an orchestral work entitled "symphonic poem".
Much of the music of Les préludes
derives from Liszt's earlier choral cycle Les quatre élémens
(The Four Elements). (1844/5). These settings were later orchestrated, and an orchestral overture was written for them. Les préludes
is written for a large orchestra of strings, woodwind, brass (including tuba and bass trombone), harp and a variety of percussion instruments (timpani, side drum, bass drum and cymbals). It comprises the following sections:
- Question (Introduction and Andante maestoso) (bars 1–46)
- Love (bars 47–108)
- Storm (bars 109–181)
- Bucolic calm (bars 182–344)
- Battle and victory (bars 345–420) (including recapitulation of 'Question', bar 405 ff.)
In bar 3 one of the main motifs of Les préludes
(the notes C-B-E) is introduced. During the introduction this motif is frequently repeated in different forms. It is, however, the head of a melody, which in its entire form is for the first time played in bars 47ff. The melody was taken from the chorus piece Les astres (The Stars) in Les quatres élémens, where it is sung to the words, "Hommes épars sur le globe qui roule" ("Solitary men on the rolling globe").
Richard Taruskin points out that the sections of Les préludes
"[correspond] to the movements of a conventional symphony if not in the most conventional order". He adds that "[t]he music, whilst heavily indebted in concept to Berlioz, self-consciously advertises its descent from Beethoven even as it flaunts its freedom from the formal constraints to which Beethoven had submitted [...] The standard "there and back" construction that had controlled musical discourse since at least the time of the old dance suite continues to impress its general shape on the sequence of programatically derived events.
With the first performance of the work a new genre was introduced. Les préludes is the earliest example for an orchestral work that was performed as "symphonic poem". In a letter to Franz Brendel of February 20, 1854, Liszt simply called it "a new orchestral work of mine (Les préludes)". Two days later, in the announcement in the Weimarische Zeitung of February 22, 1854, of the concert on February 23, it was called "Les preludes— symphonische Dichtung". The term "symphonic poem" was thus invented.More from Wikipedia...