composer and pianist (1811-1886). Partial autograph musical manuscript with text. No place, . 8 pp. on 4 ff. Brown ink on paper.
$ 23,268 / 20.000 €
Four-part harmony based on a poem by Jean Racine: the notation of the 3rd piece of “Cinq Chœrs” (S 18, R 506, LW J4), composed by Liszt in early 1846 for the musical competition “Nos patriæ fines” (from Virgil’s First Eclogue) instigated by the French Ministry of Public Education on 3 Nov. 1845. When the competition for a “collection of common, moral, religious and historical songs” was concluded on 1 April 1846, no fewer than 370 composers had submitted a total of 1731 pieces.
In March 1846, Liszt, then in Vienna, entrusted the manuscript to a Dr. Weber to deliver it to the composer’s mother in Paris, with written instructions to submit the pieces for the competition, emphasizing the importance of the task. The prizes were awarded on 21 March 1847; Liszt’s “Cinq Chœrs” had not been considered – either because Liszt was thought too much of a celebrity already or, more likely, because his entry arrived too late.
The manuscript was prepared by a scribe who wrote the entire musical notation using 12 of 15 staves (3 sets of 4 bracketed staves) to a page for the four voices: Soprano 1, Soprano 2, Tenor, and Bass. In the upper left-hand corner of the first page the name of the contest (“Nos patriæ fines”) is written, and “No A” has been added in red ink. At the head of the page Liszt added the number “III (Texte de Racine n° 3)” in red crayon. He added the words to the five verses of the song under every first stave, marking the tempo as “Moderato” in brown ink and providing several performance instructions in red crayon: “dolce con sentimento”, “dolce”, “marqué”, accents, crescendos, etc.
The harmony is in 4/4 time, in A major (as stipulated for the competition). The text is from Jean Racine’s translation of the “Wednesday Vespers” from the hymns of the Roman Breviary: “Grand Dieu qui fais briller sur la voûte étoilée / Ton trône glorieux, / Et d’une blancheur vive à la pourpre mêlée / Peins le cintre des cieux ; / Par toi roule à nos yeux, sur un char de lumière, / Le clair flambeau des jours, / De tant d’astres par toi la lune en sa carrière / Voit le différent cours”.
This is the only known manuscript of the third harmony in private hands and the only manuscript bearing the complete autograph text. The autograph manuscript of “Cinq Chœrs” in the Goethe and Schiller Archive in Weimar includes only five written words, whereas the French National Library holds very similar manuscripts of the first and fourth choirs, copied by the same hand, with autograph texts and performance directions by Franz Liszt.
¶ Cf. Michael Short, “Liszt’s Cinq Chœurs. Background to unpublished works”, in: M. Saffle/R. Dalmonte (eds.), Liszt and the Birth of Modern Europe (New York 2003), pp. 281–286; Franz Liszt, Cinq Chœurs (ed. Leslie Howard, Sarastro Music 2003)..