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Deux Légendes
Franz Liszt wrote his 'Deux Légendes' in between 1863 and 1865, and they were first published in 1866. At the time of writing, Liszt was greatly fascinated by all things religious, and, partly because of the sudden death of his daughter Blandine in september 1862, was going through a personal crisis. He went to Rome to live like a monk and think about his future. He was visited by Pope Pius IX, and eventually, in 1865, he became an abbé.

It is not surprising that during these times his attention should turn to two of the great saints of the Roman Catholic church, St. François d'Assise who preached to the birds, and St. François de Paule who walked on water as Jesus himself had done. These two colourful stories greatly appealed to Liszt, and with his Deux Légendes he created two masterly examples of pure programme music. In the filigree trills and tremolos of the first Légende one clearly hears the birds, and the solemn chorale in the middle section reminds us of the earnest and implacable preachings of the saint. The second Légende is the more famous of the two, in which the saint, depicted by a noble chorale-like theme, rides upon mighty rolling waves of left-hand passagework, and finally emerges from the central storm in blazing triumph.

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St. François de Paule marchant sur les flots7:37
Hawley, M.