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Correspondence of Franz Liszt and the Comtesse Marie D'Agoult

Michael Saffle
August 29, 2013

448 pp.

2 illustrations

ISBN: 978-1576471654

Hardback $76.00

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Franz Liszt’s correspondence with the Comtesse Marie d’Agoult, herself a celebrated historian and the mother of Liszt’s three children, has only recently been made available in anything like respectable form. A decade ago French scholar Serge Gut, together with Jacqueline Bellas, published a ‘definitive’ edition of the surviving Liszt-d’Agoult letters, thereby replacing the heavily edited and incomplete edition of the 1830s.

Working closely with Gut, Michael Short has translated the entire correspondence into English. adding new footnotes and references in the process.

The bulk of the translated correspondence containing more than 400 of the letters will soon be available in an edition from Pendragon Press. As such it will join Pauline Pocknell’s edition of the Liszt-Agnes Street-Klindworth Letters and Short’s own edition of Liszt letters in the Library of Congress as No. 12 in Pendragon’s "Franz Liszt Studies Series" edited by Michael Saffle.


Michael Saffle:

Completed his Ph.D. at Stanford University in 1977 and has taught music and humanities at Virginia Tech since 1978; in 1993 he was promoted to the rank of Professor. His publications include Franz Liszt: A Guide to Research (revised and republished by Routledge in 2004 and again in 2009) as well as articles and reviews in the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Acta Musicologica, Notes, the Journal of Musicological Research, the Programmhefte of Bayreuth’s annual Wagner Festival, Asian Music, Music & Letters, and the Leonardo Music Journal. In addition to fellowships from the Humboldt Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy, Saffle held the 2000-2001 Bicentennial Fulbright Professorship of American Studies at the University of Helsinki—a “European Distinguished Chair.” In 2008 he also held the Au Yeung King Fong research fellowship at Hong Kong Baptist University. As a teacher Saffle has three times won Virginia Tech’s Certificate of Teaching Excellence; in 2007 he received the William E. Wine “lifetime” Award from Tech’s Alumni Association. On his sixtieth birthday, he was honored with a ‘Festschrift’ issue of the cultural-studies ejournal Spaces of Identity [Volume 6, No. 3 (3 December 2006)].


February 10, 2015

While it may not quite have been the “affair that held everybody shocked, spellbound and continually seeking further vicarious excitement” (p. vii) in the nineteenth century, as Michael Short characterizes it, the topsy-turvy relationship between Franz Liszt and the (married) Countess Marie d’Agoult from about 1833 through the mid-1840s ranks as a—perhaps the— foundational component of Liszt’s early career as musician, artist, thinker, and overall romantic figure. . . . There is . . . plenty to learn about Liszt and his world in Short’s excellent edition. The Parisian salon is routinely singled out, with Liszt acknowledging its necessity but criticizing its shallowness—a perspective that would influence his choices, both large and small, for how he would present his music well into the early 1860s. Concert life—its regional varieties, sponsors and critics, and audiences—are a frequent subject in the correspondence be ginning around 1838, as is Liszt’s growing frustration with trying to maintain what today could be called an ideal work–life balance. This latter topic of the correspondence also serves as an important reminder that Liszt was not always the blameless victim that he is often made out to be, and that he did at times choose to further his career at the expense of his family. These letters also document in unusual detail the emergence of ideas that are associated with nineteenth-century musical romanticism in general, and Liszt in particular.

Read the text of the full review here.

Jonathan Kregor, University of Cincinnati

December 9, 2013

This collection contains composer Franz Liszt's correspondence with Comtesse Marie d'Agoult, who was the mother of his three children. It is abridged from and based on the critical edition by Serge Gut and Jacqueline Bellas, and the letters (about 400 of the original 652) have been annotated, translated, and edited for this volume. The preface provides background on Liszt and d'Agoult's relationship.

“Reference — Research Book News”
Book News Inc.

October 28, 2013

Franz Liszt (October 22, 1811 - July 31, 1886) was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, virtuoso pianist, conductor, teacher and Franciscan tertiary. Comtesse Marie D'Agou was a celebrated French historian and the mother of Liszt's three children. Michael Short has translated and edited for publication more than 400 letters between Franz Liszt and Marie D'Agou. The result is a remarkable 400 page compendium that is a unique and invaluable contribution to students of Liszt, his life and his work. No personal , professional, or academic collection dedicated to Liszt's life and achievements can be considered complete without the inclusion of the Pendragon Press edition of Michael Short's "Correspondence of Franz Liszt and the Comtesse Marie D'Agou". Also strongly recommended for students of Liszt's life and work is Michael Short's "The Letters Of Liszt In The Collections Of The Library Of Congress" (9781576470206, $76.00).

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