"Music of the Future" ("German : Zukunftsmusik") is the title of an essay by Richard Wagner, first published in French translation in 1860 as "La musique de l'avenir" and published in the original German in 1861. It was intended to introduce the librettos of Wagner's operas to a French audience at the time when he was hoping to launch in Paris a production of Tannhäuser , and sets out a number of his desiderata for true opera, including the need for 'endless melody'. Wagner deliberately put the title in quotation marks to distance himself from the term; Zukunftsmusik had already been adopted, both by Wagner's enemies, in the 1850s, often as a deliberate misunderstanding of the ideas set out in Wagner's 1849 essay, The Artwork of the Future , and by his supporters, notably Franz Liszt. Wagner's essay seeks to explain why the term is inadequate, or inappropriate, for his approach.
The earliest public use of the pejorative German term Zukunftsmusik seems to date from 1853, when the music teacher and essayist Friedrich Wieck, Clara Schumann's father, used in it three new chapters (written 1852) for his collection of essays Clavier und Gesang.Wieck referred to Wagner, Franz Liszt and their followers. In 1854 a Viennese critic, L. A. Zellner, used it in respect of the music of both Wagner and Robert Schumann; it was also used that year by the composer Louis Spohr. It began to be used in a specifically pejorative sense against Wagner by the editor Ludwig Bischoff, an associate of the conservative Ferdinand Hiller. The term "Musique de l'avenir" was also used in France as an anti-Wagnerian slogan. This is demonstrated by some French caricatures of 1860 and 1861. They appeared in connection with Wagner's concerts on January 25, February 1 and February 8, 1860, at the Parisian Théâtre Italien and performances of his Tannhäuser in March 1861 in Paris, which ended in a debacle. In one of these caricatures an orchestra in front of a stage can be seen. The singers on the stage are two crying babies. The caption explains that the conductor Alphonse Royer had recruited "artistes de l'avenir" ("artists of the future") at an orphanage for a performance of Tannhäuser. In another caricature a conductor asks one of his musicians, to play his part, to which the musician replies (as it is "musique de l'avenir"), he will play it next week. "Musique de l'avenir" thus carried a meaning of musical nonsense.
By Wagner's supporters the word "Zukunftsmusik" was used in a larger, and more positive, scope. Typically, this term was used in connection with the aesthetic aims of the circle of artists around Franz Liszt in Weimar, among them Joachim Raff, Hans von Bülow, Peter Cornelius, Rudolph Viole, Felix Draeseke, Alexander Ritter and others. They regarded themselves as "Zukunftsmusiker" ("musicians of the future") with meaning of progressive artists.Since they were well known as propagandists in favour of Wagner's works, Wagner's style was considered as part of "Zukunftsmusik".
Much to Wagner's anger,however, Liszt did not concentrate solely on Wagner's works at Weimar. He also performed works by other contemporary composers, among them Robert Schumann, Ferdinand Hiller, Hector Berlioz, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Anton Rubinstein, Eduard Sobolewski and Giuseppe Verdi. The activities of the circle around Liszt were termed in France as "École anarchique" ("Anarchic School") or "École de Weimar" ("Weimarian School"). Occasionally, Schumann was regarded as a representative of that school, and there are even examples where Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy was called its originator.
Schumann himself would not have liked to be taken as representative of Wagner's or Liszt's kind of "Zukunftsmusik". In a letter to Joseph Joachim of October 7, 1853, he referred to Liszt as "Judas Iscariot, who might quite well keep preaching at the Ilm";and in a letter of February 6, 1854, to Richard Pohl, he wrote:
Those who in your view are "Zukunftsmusiker", in my view are "Gegenwartsmusiker"("musicians of the present"); and those who in your view are "Vergangenheitsmusiker" ("musicians of the past") (Bach, Handel, Beethoven), for me they seem to be the best "Zukunftsmusiker" ("musicians of (or for) the future"). I shall never be able to consider spiritual beauty in beautiful forms as an outmoded point of view. Does perhaps Wagner have them? And, after all, where are Liszt's ingenious achievements – where are they on display? Perhaps in his desk? does he perhaps want to wait for the future, since he fears he cannot be understood? right now?
Pohl was a member of Liszt's intimate circle at Weimar. Liszt therefore might have heard of Schumann's opinion, but despite this he shortly afterwards published his Piano Sonata in B Minor with a dedication to Schumann.
Liszt admired Wagner as composer of genius, but he did not share Wagner's ideas on the "Music of the Future". Liszt's leading idea was to unite poetry and music in works of instrumental music, in symphonic poems and other symphonic works with a "program", subjects of non-musical nature; quite the opposite of Wagner's ideal to unite all the arts in staged music drama. In some of Liszt's essays, for example in that about Berlioz and Harold in Italy , he opposed some of Wagner's views. Wagner meanwhile had given lukewarm support to Liszt's ideas in his 1857 essay "On Franz Liszt's Symphonic Poems, ".
In the beginning of 1859 came a showdown between Liszt and Wagner, whose increasing successled him to feel more independent from his former mentor. Liszt had received in December 1858 the first act of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde with a dedication to him himself. In a letter to Wagner he announced that he would send scores of his Dante Symphony , dedicated to Wagner, and his Gran Mass. He received a letter from Wagner, written from Venice on December 31, 1858, stating that the Weimarians with their idealistic talk about art should leave him alone. They should send money instead, since this was all he needed and wanted to get from them. As answer, Liszt, in a letter of January 4, 1859, wrote, he would return the Tristan act. Besides, since the Dante Symphony and the Gran Mass could not be taken as stocks and bonds, it was superfluous to send such worthless scrip to Venice.
From this point onwards, Liszt sought to establish his musical ideals through the Allgemeiner Deutscher Musikverein (General German Music Union) (q.v.), which he founded with the editor and critic Franz Brendel.
The origins of the essay may be traced to an open letter which Wagner wrote to Berlioz in February 1860, in response to a printed article by Berlioz.Berlioz had poked fun at 'la musique de l'avenir'. In his letter Wagner disclaimed the use of this formulaic term, attributing it to his enemies Hiller and Bischoff, and asserted the principles he had set out in his essay The Artwork of the Future. He also took the opportunity in his letter to flatter Berlioz and to look forward to the premiere of his opera Les Troyens.
Wagner's essay "Zukunftsmusik" is dated September 1860 and is in the form of a letter to a French admirer, Frédéric Villot. It was intended as a preface to a book of French translations of some of Wagner's libretti, including Tannhäuser and Tristan und Isolde. Wagner's intention was doubtless to familiarise the Parisian public with his ideas on music and opera in advance of performances there which he hoped would secure his fame and fortune; 'a lucid exposition of my thoughts would dispel such prejudice and error'.
In the essay, Wagner recapitulates the ideas he had developed ten years previously in the essays Art and Revolution, The Artwork of the Future and Opera and Drama, placing them in the context of his own autobiographical experiences. He advances his opera libretti as practical examples of his theories. He condemns the artificiality of Italian opera, with its recitatives and repeated arias that break up dramatic flow; he continues his attack on Grand Opera; he denounces German opera as without any style of its own, with a few exceptions (notably Carl Maria von Weber). He takes Beethoven's symphonies as the furthest possible development of instrumental music.
Only Wagner's own vision of music drama, a fusion of poetry and music, can lead to a true development of art. 'Not a Programme can speak the meaning of the Symphony; no, nothing but a stage-performance of the Dramatic Action itself'.Obsession with florid operatic melody is trivial: 'The poet's greatness is mostly to be measured by what he leaves unsaid, letting us breathe in silence to ourselves the thing unspeakable; the musician it is who brings this untold mystery to clarion tongue, and the impeccable form of his sounding silence is endless melody '.
Wagner concedes that "even in the feebler works of frivolous composers [i.e. his former mentor Meyerbeer], I have met with isolated effects that made me marvel at the incomparable might of Music."But only Wagner's determination to ensure concentration of dramatic action and the subvention of music to this aim will produce dramatic art worthy of the name. "In these [...] points you might find the most valid definition of my 'innovations', but by no means in an absolute-musical caprice such as people have thought fit to foist upon me under the name of the 'Music of the Future'."
Robert Schumann was a German composer, pianist, and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. His teacher, Friedrich Wieck, a German pianist, had assured him that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury ended this dream. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing.
Clara Josephine Schumann was a German pianist, composer and piano teacher. Regarded as one of the most distinguished pianists of the Romantic era, she exerted her influence over a 61-year concert career, changing the format and repertoire of the piano recital from displays of virtuosity to programs of serious works. She also composed solo piano pieces, a piano concerto, chamber music, choral pieces, and songs.
Franz Liszt was a Hungarian composer, virtuoso pianist, conductor, music teacher, arranger, and organist of the Romantic era. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest pianists of all time. He was also a writer, philanthropist, Hungarian nationalist, and Franciscan tertiary.
Joseph Joachim Raff was a German-Swiss composer, pedagogue and pianist.
Hans Bronsart von Schellendorf was a classical musician and composer who studied under Franz Liszt.
Karl Klindworth was a German composer, virtuoso pianist, conductor, violinist and music publisher. He was one of Franz Liszt's pupils and later one of his closest disciples and friends, being also on friendly terms with composer Richard Wagner, of whom he was an admirer. He was highly praised by fellow musicians, including Wagner himself and Edward Dannreuther. Among his pupils were Hans von Bülow, Georgy Catoire, and Ethelbert Nevin.
Sigismond Thalberg was a composer and one of the most distinguished virtuoso pianists of the 19th century.
Hans Guido Freiherr von Bülow was a German conductor, virtuoso pianist, and composer of the Romantic era. As one of the most distinguished conductors of the 19th century, his activity was critical for establishing the successes of several major composers of the time, especially Richard Wagner and Johannes Brahms. Alongside Carl Tausig, Bülow was perhaps the most prominent of the early students of the Hungarian virtuoso pianist, conductor and composer Franz Liszt; he gave the first public performance of Liszt's Sonata in B minor in 1857. He became acquainted with, fell in love with and eventually married Liszt's daughter Cosima, who later left him for Wagner. Noted for his interpretation of the works of Ludwig van Beethoven, he was one of the earliest European musicians to tour the United States.
Richard Pohl was a German music critic, writer, poet, and amateur composer. He figured prominently in the mid-century War of the Romantics, taking the side opposite Eduard Hanslick, and championing the "Music of the Future".
The "War of the Romantics" is a term used by some music historians to describe the schism among prominent musicians in the second half of the 19th century. Musical structure, the limits of chromatic harmony, and program music versus absolute music were the principal areas of contention. The opposing parties crystallized during the 1850s. The most prominent members of the conservative circle were Johannes Brahms, Joseph Joachim, Clara Schumann, and the Leipzig Conservatoire which had been founded by Felix Mendelssohn. Their opponents, the radical progressives mainly from Weimar, were represented by Franz Liszt and the members of the so-called New German School, and by Richard Wagner. The controversy was German and Central European in origin; musicians from France, Italy, and Russia were only marginally involved. Composers from both sides looked back on Beethoven as their spiritual and artistic hero; the conservatives seeing him as an unsurpassable peak, the progressives as a new beginning in music.
A Faust Symphony in three character pictures, S.108, or simply the "Faust Symphony", is a choral symphony written by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's drama, Faust. The symphony was premiered in Weimar on 5 September 1857, for the inauguration of the Goethe–Schiller Monument there.
The symphonic poems of the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt are a series of 13 orchestral works, numbered S.95–107. The first 12 were composed between 1848 and 1858 ; the last, Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe, followed in 1882. These works helped establish the genre of orchestral program music—compositions written to illustrate an extra-musical plan derived from a play, poem, painting or work of nature. They inspired the symphonic poems of Bedřich Smetana, Antonín Dvořák, Richard Strauss and others.
The New German School is a term introduced in 1859 by Franz Brendel, editor of the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, to describe certain trends in German music. Although the term has frequently been used in essays and books about music history of the 19th and early 20th centuries, a clear definition is complex.
Although Franz Liszt provided opus numbers for some of his earlier works, they are rarely used today. Instead, his works are usually identified using one of two different cataloging schemes:
The Allgemeiner Deutscher Musikverein was a German musical association founded in 1861 by Franz Liszt and Franz Brendel, to embody the musical ideals of the New German School of music.
Sardanapalo or Sardanapale, S.687, is an unfinished opera by Franz Liszt based on the 1821 verse play Sardanapalus by Lord Byron. Liszt was ambitious for his project, and planned to dovetail his retirement as a virtuoso with the premiere of his opera. He worked on it intermittently between 1845–1852, once declaring it 'well on the way toward completion,' but ceased work on it thereafter. The first act had been completed in a detailed, continuous particell, but there is no evidence of any music being notated for Acts 2-3. As an Italian opera, it would almost certainly have been called Sardanapalo, though Liszt referred to it as Sardanapale in his French correspondence. The music Liszt completed remained silent until 2016 when British musicologist David Trippett first established the legibility of Liszt's N4 manuscript, and produced both a critical edition and realized an orchestral performing edition. This received its world premiere in Weimar on August 19, 2018.
"Eine Mitteilung an meine Freunde", usually referred to in English by its translated title of "A Communication to My Friends", is an extensive autobiographical work by Richard Wagner, published in 1851, in which he sought to justify his innovative concepts on the future of opera in general, and his own proposed works in particular.
This article lists the various treatments given by Franz Liszt to the works of almost 100 other composers.
Karl Beck was an Austrian operatic tenor who is notable for creating the title role in Richard Wagner's opera Lohengrin in Weimar, Germany in 1850. He also sang the title role in Hector Berlioz's opera Benvenuto Cellini in its first performance outside France, also in Weimar, in 1852. Both performances were marred by a deterioration in his vocal powers probably caused by a lingering infection. He ended his career as master baker to the Imperial Court in Vienna.