1881 - 1884
- Valse oubliée
- Deuxième Valse oubliée
- Troisième Valse oubliée
- Quatrième Valse oubliée
Liszt's Valse Oubliées (forgotten waltzes) might equally
be called 'Vaguely Remembered Waltzes'.
Written when Liszt was in his 70s, they contain snippets of the style of
waltzes that helped make him the darling of the concert halls and salons in
his youth. However these waltzes seem to be remembered with a mix of
nostalgia and irony. None of the snippets manages to blossom into a
full-blown waltz before the next seemingly unrelated theme pushes its way
Here was a man who had been master of his craft of virtuoso pianist,
self-marketer and composer for over half a century with nothing to prove to
anyone and playing as if no-one was listening.
"In those days you could always start out like this . . . throw in a bit
of this - they loved that . . . try a bit of the serious stuff, but not
too much mind you . . . then back to . . . I remember this time when . . .
and she was pretty smitten with me too . . . and a passage like this always
worked a treat because the others on the circuit couldn't manage that sort of
thing . . . and then you'd find yourself thinking 'why am I playing this
silly frilly stuff for people I don't like anyway and maybe I could throw in
a few chords like this to really give them something to think about, but I
haven't been paid yet'"
The nostalgia and irony seem to come in nearly equal parts and all this
is filtered through a musical mind that had become, in his older years, one
of the most forward-looking and avant-garde of any composer of the late 19th
century. As a result, several of the waltzes end hanging in the air with no
conventional harmonic ending. One waltz is in duple time, and a sugary sweet
passage in the 2nd waltz suddenly curdles into confronting harmonies not
known at the time.
Of the four waltzes, only the first has found a regular place in the
concert hall which is a real pity because they give us a glimpse into the
mind of a remarkable mind contemplating the early 19th century and looking
onwards to the 20th century.