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Three Funeral Odes

Liszt's three Funeral Odes, composed 1860-1866, were mostly born from tragic occurences: the death of Liszt's son Daniel resulted in the first Ode, and the death of his Daughter Blandine resulted in the second.

The second Funeral Ode - entitled "La Notte", is in fact based on a piece from the Années de Pèlerinage called "Il Penseroso" (the Thinker). A common link between this ode and its model can be found in the famous statue by Michelangelo, accompanied by the phrase

"Dear to me is sleep, and dearer to be made of stone
While evil and shame endure,
Not to see, not to feel, is to me a good fortune,
Therefore do not wake me. Shh! Speak softly."

Some important differences between "Il Penseroso" and "La Notte" exist, in that the latter is a great deal more extended. The outer sections are developed, and - most notably - Liszt introduces a nostalgic middle section. This softer section is introduced by a note in the score reading "dulces moriens reminiscitur Argos" - a quote from Virgil's Aeneid (dying he remembers sweet Argos). Combined with the Hungarian cadences, the piece is obviously a reflection of Liszt's longing for his native land - a longing that was more pronounced in his later years. In fact, Liszt asked for "La Notte" to be played at his funeral - a request that was not fulfilled.

- Erik Helling

La Notte11:05
Helling, E.