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Lateness in Context

Loya, S. ORCID: 0000-0002-9156-2804 (2021). Lateness in Context. In: Cormac, J. (Ed.), Liszt in Context. Composer in Context. (pp. 271-281). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/9781108378253.034


Where does the idea of Liszt’s visionary, future-gazing late style come from? The ostensibly obvious answer is the music itself: just listen to the final bars of Nuages gris (1881), many austere and borderline atonal passages in Via crucis (1879) or the concept and realisation of sans tonalité in Liszt’s Bagatelle (1885). But listening is not a passive activity, and someone has always guided our hearing of these works in a selective way, directing the reader to filter out music that weakens the case. The idea of a late style has a history before Liszt and during his time. It also has a reception history specific to Liszt’s music, one whose definitive form can be pinpointed to events and publications in the 1950s. Like many other ‘late’ styles, Liszt’s has been used by his champions to shore up his credibility as a composer. However, there was a certain edge to this advocacy precisely because Liszt was (and perhaps still is) a controversial composer, and because the people who made the case on his behalf were all committed modernists. As we track this story, I will reflect on its repercussions on past and present scholarship and ask whether there could be other ways in which Liszt’s final works might be understood.

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: This material has been published in Liszt in Context edited by Joanne Cormac This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution or re-use. © CUP.
Publisher Keywords: Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music
M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity
School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts
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