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Remembering Argos: Life and Loss in the Funeral Odes of Franz Liszt

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The magnificent collection of Liszt manuscripts held at the Library of Congress includes a number of rarely heard works, including two of the three Funeral Odes (Trois odes funèbres). Liszt composed some fifteen versions of the Funeral Odes, even desiring one of them to be performed at his funeral service (Spoiler Alert: none of Liszt’s music was played). The Library’s versions are among the lesser-known: La Notte for violin and piano (one of Liszt’s very few chamber works) and the orchestral version of Le triomphe funèbre du Tasse, which is a veritable symphonic poem in scope and content, and in fact is listed as an “epilogue” to Liszt’s symphonic poem Tasso, lamento e trionfo.

These works are exceptionally personal in nature (composed after the deaths of two of his children) and form a vast intertextual web of relationships between people, places, music and other artworks that were close to Liszt on many levels. There will be a brief spoken introduction to the Funeral Odes and the context of their creation, followed by the Library premiere of the piano versions of these special works.


Ave Maria (für die große Klavierschule von Lebert und Stark)

Trois odes funèbres

Les morts
La Notte
Le triomphe funèbre du Tasse

Event Listing

David H. Plylar, speaker/pianist
Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 12:00 pm – Coolidge Auditorium, Jefferson Building

There are no tickets required for this event.

Please visit for more information about Concerts from the Library of Congress.

Comments (4)

  1. I’m looking forward to the program! I have to ask: why was none of Liszt’s own music played at his funeral? Is there any record of what was played? I wonder who made those decisions? At any rate, I can’t wait to hear the music.

    • Good questions! Alan Walker has actually written a book about this issue. The short answer is that he died in Bayreuth during the festival, and there was concern (largely from Cosima Wagner, Liszt’s daughter) that any major gestures toward Liszt would take away from the celebration of Wagner, who had died a few years before. As for music at the service, it appears that Anton Bruckner improvised at the organ on themes from Parsifal–a work at least tangentially related to Liszt, since Wagner referenced Lisztian motives. A very sad tale!

  2. Great looking program. Will this be videotaped and posted to the web eventually?

    • We do our best to post programs online when possible. I do think that this will go up eventually. We periodically post about newly available webcasts.

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