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Theses Doctoral

Liszt as Prophet: Religion, Politics, and Artists in 1830s Paris

Haringer, Andrew Lawrence

This dissertation is a study of Liszt's formative years in Paris, with a particular focus on three of his mentors: the priest Félicité Lamennais, the poet-statesman Alphonse de Lamartine, and the musician and mystic Chrétien Urhan. Of all the important figures Liszt encountered during this period, Lamennais, Lamartine and Urhan stand apart in their pursuit of a prophetic mission, whether in religion, politics, art, or a combination thereof. I contend that their influence--more than any other--shaped Liszt's fundamental identity as a liberal Catholic artist, dedicated to social and artistic progress driven by faith. I begin with an introductory chapter on important developments in Paris before and during Liszt's time in the city. The instability of the French Revolution resulted in a dynamic society in which new political, religious, and artistic movements could form and interact. Republican values continued to seek a foothold in the oppressive climates of the Restoration and July monarchies. Similarly, the Church--reinstated by Napoleon but still greatly diminished in power--struggled for relevance in an increasingly indifferent society, leading many Catholics to embrace liberal causes. Finally, the emergence of a new generation of Romantic artists dedicated to leading society forward emerged as an unexpected legacy of the Enlightenment. Each of the three central chapters of this dissertation focuses on one of the figures listed above, and on their impact on Liszt's life and music. Lamennais' radical political and religious message encouraged Liszt to express similar views in word and in music. Lamartine's innovative religious poetry prompted Liszt to seek an equivalent in music. Finally, Urhan's seamless merging of sacred and secular music inspired Liszt to adopt a similar approach in his own compositions. In the final chapter, I trace the continued impact of these figures in Liszt's life and work. Ultimately, I argue that the groundwork for Liszt's most celebrated artistic innovations had already been laid in the early 1830s, and that many of his later works are only comprehensible within the framework of the political, religious, and artistic education he received in his youth.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Music
Thesis Advisors
Frisch, Walter M
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 7, 2012
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