excerpt from 'My Musical Life' pp. 652-4 (436 words)

excerpt from 'My Musical Life' pp. 652-4 (436 words)

part of

My Musical Life

original language

urn:iso:std:iso:639:ed-3:eng

in pages

652-4

type

text excerpt

encoded value

Meanwhile, LISZT laying his hand upon my arm, we passed through the library, opening into his bed-room, and thence to a little sitting-room (the same which commanded that view of the Campagna). Here stood his grand Erard piano. "As we were talking of bells” he said, "I should like to show you an 'Angelus' which I have just written-"; and, opening the piano, he sat down. This was the moment which I had so often and so vainly longed for.

When I left England, it seemed to me as impossible that I should ever hear LISZT play, as that I should ever see MENDELSSOHN, who has been in his grave for thirty-three years. How few of the present generation have had this privilege ! At Bayreuth, I had hoped, but no opportunity offered itself, and it is well known that LISZT can hardly ever be prevailed upon to open the piano in the presence of strangers. A favourite pupil, POLIG, who was then with him at the Villa d'Este, told me he rarely touched the piano, and that he himself had seldom heard him "but," he added with enthusiasm, "when the master touches the keys, it is always with the same incomparable effect, unlike anvone else, always perfect."

"You know," said LISZT, turning to me, "they ring the ‘Angelus' in Italy carelessly; the bells swing irregularly, and leave off, and the cadences are often broken up thus": and he began a little swaying passage in the treble like bells tossing high up in the evening air: it ceased, but so softly that the half-bar of silence made itself felt, and the listening ear still carried the broken rhythm through the pause. The Abbate himself seemed to fall into a dream; his fingers fell again lightly on the keys, and the bells went on, leaving off in the middle of a phrase. Then rose from the bass the song of the Angelus, or rather, it seemed like the vague emotion of one who, as he passes, hears in the ruins of some wayside cloister the ghosts of old monks humming their drowsy melodies, as the sun goes down rapidly, and the purple shadows of Italy steal over the land, out of the orange west!

We sat motionless the disciple on one side, I on the other. LISZT was almost as motionless: his fingers seemed quite independent, chance ministers of his soul. The dream was broken by a pause; then came back the little swaying passage of bells, tossing high up in the evening air, the half-bar of silence, the broken rhythm and the Angelus was rung.

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excerpt from 'My Musical Life' pp. 652-4 (436 words)

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