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Absolute MusicThe History of an Idea$
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Mark Evan Bonds

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199343638

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199343638.001.0001

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Liszt’s “Program” Music

Liszt’s “Program” Music

(p.210) 10 Liszt’s “Program” Music
Absolute Music

Mark Evan Bonds

Oxford University Press

The identification of absolute music with a specific repertory grew stronger still in 1855 with the first appearance—and almost immediate acceptance—of Franz Liszt’s neologism to describe works of purely instrumental music that were not absolute: program music. Liszt distinguished between the “specifically musical composer” who places value only on “using material” and the composer driven by an overarching poetic image or narrative. He dismisses the first of these as a “formalist,” a “mere musician” who is “capable of nothing better or cleverer than to use, propagate, arrange, and occasionally develop that which has already been achieved by others.” Liszt’s terminological counterpart to absolute music sharpened the conceptual binary that would prevail over the next half century.

Keywords:   Franz Liszt, Program music, Peter Cornelius, Franz Brendel, Friedrich Theodor Vischer

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