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Liszt - Piano Sonata in B Minor



Type of Spiritual Experience


In 1848, Liszt took up a long-standing invitation of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia to settle at Weimar, where he had been appointed Kapellmeister Extraordinaire in 1842, remaining there until 1861.
Princess Carolyne, his lover, lived with Liszt during his years in Weimar. She wanted to marry Liszt, but since she had been previously married and her husband, Russian military officer Prince Nikolaus zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Ludwigsburg (1812–1864), was still alive, she had to convince the Roman Catholic authorities that her marriage to him had been invalid.  Eventually she failed. 

A description of the experience

Liszt - Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178 (1854) [André Laplante]

The Spectator - Hit Liszt - Damian Thompson

Now let’s indulge in a little alternative history and imagine that the B minor Sonata has just been unearthed in a German library and is the only trace of Franz Liszt. The world would immediately recognise the greatest piano sonata composed since the death of Schubert.

Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178 (1854)

This is the sonata for solo piano by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt (1811-1886). He composed it between 1852 and 1853 while traveling across Europe as a performing virtuoso, publishing it one year later with a dedication to Robert Schumann in return for dedicating his 1836 Fantasie in C, Op. 17 , to Liszt. Although the sonata is played as one continuous movement, it has three distinct sections: following a solemn invocation based of one of the principle themes, there is a stormy opening section marked Allegro energico, which introduces four other main motifs; next, there is a slow, meditative though emotionally fraught Recitativo section corresponding roughly to the development; then, the brisk Allegro energico tempo is resumed in a grand fugato that weaves together a few of the principle motifs, leading into a recapitulation of the first section and a more tranquil final coda.

Pianist: André Laplante

The source of the experience

Liszt, Franz

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Extreme emotion
Unrequited love


Making love