Classical Music | Piano Music

Franz Liszt

Orage (Storm) from Book I Années de Pèlerinage: Suisse  Play

Sodi Braide Piano

Recorded on 05/23/2006, uploaded on 01/09/2009

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

In the late 1830s, Franz Liszt, in the company of Marie d’Agoult travelled through Switzerland and Italy. Inspired by the scenes he witnessed throughout Switzerland, Liszt captured his personal reflections in a set of pieces titled Album d’un voyageur, composed during his travels and published later in 1842. Between 1848 and 1854, he returned to Album d’un voyageur, revising the earlier cycle and expanding the cycle to include Èglogue, which had been published separately, and Orage composed in 1855. The revised cycle was rechristened as Première année: Suisse (“First Year: Switzerland”)the first volume of his three-part Années de Pèlerinage (“Years of Pilgrimage”)—and was published in that same year.

Liszt prefaced Orage (“Storm”), the fifth piece in the cycle, with lines from Lord Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, a lengthy narrative poem which provided literary reference for many of the pieces of Première année: Suisse:

But where of ye, O tempests! is the goal?
   Are ye like those within the human breast?
Or do ye find at length, like eagles, some high nest?

Cast in C minor, a key already strongly associated with the stormy and fiery works of Beethoven, Liszt’s reflection of a tempest is a bravura display of octaves and thunderous chords. Its principal theme, marked Presto furioso, has a wild majesty about it as it descends through the tonic triad and clashes on an appoggiatura a halftone below the final note. Underneath, the bass rumbles in quickly ascending octaves emphasized as well with the halftone appoggiatura. Essentially shaped in a ternary design, the middle episode does not introduce an entirely new theme but only a variation of the one already heard. Rhythmically, the theme is compressed adding a greater fury to the raging tempest. Following a cadenza, in which the theme is heard in the low register of the piano underneath sweeping arpeggios, a recapitulation of the theme’s initial statement and a final furious cadenza of octaves in both hands leads to the piece’s thunderous and violent close.      Joseph DuBose

Orage (Storm) from Book I Années de Pèlerinage: Suisse      Franz Liszt

Hungarian Franz Liszt was the greatest pianist of his time, if not of all times. An incomparable virtuoso, he literally invented modern-day piano technique, exploiting the possibilities of his instrument as none had done before him. But Liszt was also a man of insatiable intellectual curiosity, devouring the literature of his time, and travelling extensively all over Europe. His Années de Pèlerinage (Years of Pilgrimage), composed during the 1830s and the 1840s, were inspired by some of the places he visited during those years. Orage (Storm) and Vallée d'Obermann (The Valley of Obermann) are part of the first set, Switzerland.  Liszt inscribed the following poems by Byron before each of the works:


But where of ye, O tempests! is the goal?

Are ye like those within the human breast?

Or do ye find, at length, like eagles, some high nest?

Valley of Obermann:

Could I embody and unbosom now

That which is most within me - could I wreak

My thoughts upon expression, and thus throw

Soul, heart, mind, passions, feelings, strong or weak,

All that I would have sought, and all I seek,

Bear, know, feel, and yet breathe - into one word,

And that word were Lightning, I would speak;

But as it is, I live and die unheard,

With a most voiceless thought, sheathing it as a sword.

Sodi Braide