Liszt as Kapellmeister: the development of the symphonic poems on the Weimar stage

Cormac, Joanne (2013). Liszt as Kapellmeister: the development of the symphonic poems on the Weimar stage. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Little research has been carried out into Liszt’s work as Kapellmeister of the Weimar Court Theatre. The nature and extent of his duties, his involvement in productions, festivals and performances, and his relationships with others within the administration has yet to be examined in detail, let alone the implications of all of this for his music. This thesis draws on a wealth of primary source material to provide new insight into this area. It begins by drawing a general picture of Liszt’s work in Weimar. Then, it attempts a detailed ‘re-historicisation’ of four of Liszt’s Weimar symphonic poems.

The thesis returns four of the symphonic poems (Tasso, Orpheus, Festklänge, and Hamlet) to their original dramatic performance contexts. In doing so, it reveals that the Weimar productions or festivals in which they were premiered had a significant impact on their conception and development in numerous, diverse, and sometimes surprising ways. Accordingly, the findings shed new light on the influence of staged genres, particularly melodrama, on the development of the symphonic poem as a genre. Then the thesis explores the revision of these works in order to trace Liszt’s changing conception of what a symphonic poem might be.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Music
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music


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