A newly discovered autographed Franz Liszt transcription for the harp

It is well known that Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886) was much inspired by the harp, and his use of the instrument in his orchestral scores was highly innovative. He was friends with, and worked with, harpists such as Elias Parish-Alvars, Wilhelm Posse, Jeanne Pohl and Rosalie Spohr - all of whom were regarded as leading virtuosi of their time. The original transcriptions for harp that Liszt is known to have made from some of his piano pieces have always assumed to have been lost, but a recent discovery has been made in a collection of music once belonging to the internationally renowned harp virtuoso Adolf Sjödén (1843 - 1893). This discovery is a manuscript copy of what seems to be a previously unknown transcription for harp of Liszt's piano composition Ave Maria von Arcadelt (LW A216).

An autographed transcription for the harp of Franz Liszt’s piano piece Ave Maria von Arcadelt[1] has been discovered in a Swedish museum[2]. The piece is associated with a collection of music once belonging to the Swedish harpist Adolf Sjödén (1843 - 1893), now in a collection of music called Adolf Sjödéns Musiksamling in Murberget, Länsmuseet Västernorrland[3]. The collection consists of music once belonging to Sjödén, his sister Alma Edström (1855-1906), and his former teacher Anton Edvard Pratté (1799-1875) [4]. On the front page of the autographed manuscript is written “Ave Maria von Arcadelt (16ten Jahrhundert) für Harfe übertragen von F. Liszt” (Illustration 1), and there is also an autograph by Liszt on the last page (Illustration 5). A first analysis from a PDF by Zsuzsanna Domokos at the Ferenc Liszt Memorial Museum and Research Centre and Rena Charnin Mueller suggests that the corrections in red and blue pencil, the front page and the last autograph is by Liszt’s hand, although the actual score is written by an unknown copyist[5].

Illustration 1, Front page

In Table 1 the markings with red and blue pencil, and the Liszt autographs that can be found in the manuscript are described.

i) page 1. Text on the front page: Ave Maria von Arcadelt (16ten Jahrhundert) für Harfe übertragen von F. Liszt [Illustration 1].

ii) page 4. Marking with blue pencil, corresponds to page 7.

iii) page 6. Last five bars crossed over with red pencil [Illustration 3].

iv) page 7. Two bars crossed over with red pencil [Illustration 4]. Marking with blue pencil, corresponds to page 4 [Illustration 2].

v) page 8. Bar line written with red pencil. Fermata written with red pencil. An autograph: F. Liszt [Illustration 5].

Table 1. Liszt’s writing in the manuscript

Liszt did not write any solo pieces for harp. He is known to have transcribed two of his piano pieces for harp although these transcriptions are now lost: Cantique d’Amour 1856 (Schnapp nr 56; LW S44) and Ave Maris Stella 1877[6] [7](Schnapp no.78; LW S58) (Short, 1999; Schnapp, 1942; Walker, Eckhardt & Mueller, 2015).

In this article the authors try to clarify how this manuscript may have come into Sjödén’s possession and Sjödén’s relationship to Liszt. The article also investigates how Liszt collaborated with harpists and transcribers, especially with regard to transcriptions for the harp. What is it possible to find out with regard to Liszt’s work process from this transcription? And finally, how does the harp transcription relate to the piano version and Peter Dubez’ harp transcription, which was edited during Liszt’s lifetime and which Liszt approved of.

In the first part of this article, after a short introduction to Liszt’s transcriptions, Liszt’s professional relationship with different harpists is described especially with regard to collaboration, as well as the possible connection to the Swedish harpist Adolf Sjödén. In the second part of the article the transcription of Ave Maria von Arcadelt is compared to the original piano piece and also to the published transcription made by the harpist Peter Dubez (1849-1890).

Liszt transcriptions and collaborations

Liszt made transcriptions of his own works and of other composers’ works during his whole career, mostly for the piano. Liszt saw himself as a creator of the art of transcribing (Kregor, 2010). Kregor (2010) explains this with Liszt’s understanding of the process of translating thus: to be true to the original piece and at the same time to create something different. A certain amount of respect for writing idiomatically for the instruments transcribed for as well as respect for the original intentions of the composer is thus needed. A transcription became a new independent version.

Many of Liszt’s works exist in several different versions and stages, written by himself and by numerous copyists (Mueller, 1988). Mueller (1988) claims that the works of the copyists become legitimate versions because of Liszt’s corrections and revisions in the scores. However, she emphasis that Liszt’s revisions in parts written by copyists may give the impression of being collaborative works where they are not. The position of the copyists were maybe not so clear-cut, for example the copyist Joachim Raff was unsatisfied with the situation as a copyist and regarded himself more as an orchestrator or co-composer – a standpoint with which Liszt did not agree. According to Kregor (2010), Liszt’s only real collaboration was with Hector Berlioz when regarding the transcriptions of Berlioz’ orchestral works for the piano. Furthermore, not only did Liszt transcribe his own and other composers’ works, he also was open minded for other arrangers to transcribe his own works and even encouraged them (Kregor, 2010). Another point of interest is that Liszt kept scores, both by his own hand and by copyists, and worked sometimes on revisions on pieces in stages for several years (Mueller, 1988).

Thus, in the light of transcriptions of Liszt’s pieces as idiomatic for the instrument and independent works, it can be asked what Liszt’s relationship was to the art of the harp performers of the time, and to compositions for harp – an instrument he did not master. To Liszt, the art of transcribing and the art of performing were related, furthermore, his transcriptions for piano were idiomatic and often demanding technically.

Liszt’s professional relationship with harpists

Throughout his lifetime Liszt had a close relationship with the Erard family– famous harp and piano inventors and manufactures (Sheldon, 2005). Maybe it was during his close contact with the family Erard that Liszt himself studied the harp in his youth:

To my surprise I learned that Liszt himself once attempted to learn the harp. 'Yes ­ I am fond of the harp,' he said. 'And in my younger years started to study it – but the pesky pedals (and he glanced down at the harp at our side) require much practice. I could give it but little time, so I dropped it.' (Lachmund, 1994/1995, pp. 199-200.)

There are several harpists that are known to have influenced Liszt as a composer. The most famous of these is Elias Parish-Alvars (1808-1849) whom Liszt not only respected as a musician and composer but also considered to be a personal friend (Lachmund, 1994/1995; Sheldon, 2005). In his letters, Liszt mentions several compositions by Parish-Alvars and also humbly requests the harpist Rosalie Spohr to play some of them at a concert (La Mara, 1894)[8]. Parish-Alvars was one of the most influential harpists of his time, both as a virtuoso performer and as a composer. Berlioz (1870/1981) called him the “Liszt of the harp” due to his virtuoso harp playing and he also praised Parish-Alvars in his treatise on orchestration:

M. Parish-Alvars, perhaps the most extraordinary virtuoso ever to be heard on this instrument, executes runs and arpeggios which at first sight seem utterly impossible. (Berlioz & Strauss, 1943/1991, p. 142)

In the treatise Berlioz continues by explaining how Parish-Alvars uses the double action of the harp to create glissandi with enharmonics, or synonyms, an effect not possible on the single action harp but possible on the double action harp. The double action harp was patented by Sébastien Erard in 1810 and the single action and the double action harps were used in parallel during the 19th century (Rensch, 2007). The double action harp was favoured by composers and gradually replaced the single action harp since it had more harmonic possibilities.

The harpist and composer Wilhelm Posse (1852-1925) also influenced Liszt and transcribed Liszt’s piano music for the harp. Among these transcriptions is Liebesträume #3 'O lieb, o lieb, so lang du lieben kannst' (LW A103), for which Liszt composed a prelude and postlude for the harp edition (Piana, 2003). Lachmund (1994/1995) describes Liszt’s openness for transcriptions of his works:

The harpist [Posse] was making a transcription of a Liebestraum, and he now showed Liszt a cadenza he had written for this in place of the original one in the piano piece, which was unsuited to harp technique. The Master examined it with interest and evidently was well pleased with the substitution, for he said with a smart jerk of the massive mane: 'Pch! That is superb. It is better than my own.' (Lachmund, 1994/1995, p. 222)

However, according to Lachmund, Liszt later works together with Posse with the transcription for harp:

Posse, who hade been away in the Thuringian forest for nearly a week, was present again. Liszt was glad to see him. He asked him to remain after the lesson as he had finished a prelude for the Liebestraum, written especially for the arrangement Posse was making of this piece. He asked us also to stay, and after the others had departed he showed us the new manuscript. Then also his Angelus, originally written for string quartet, which he wished the harpist to transcribe. (Lachmund, 1994/1995, p. 232)

Lachmund describes further that Liszt already had a plan for how Angelus should be transcribed for harp: 'He had written the piece out on a separate sheet with suggestions as to its treatment, and some nice words for Posse as a memento' (Lachmund, 1994/1995, p. 233). Later in his diary, Lachmund recalls that Posse plays Angelus,which he had transcribed according to Liszt’s suggestions. Thus, they continued to work together with transcriptions for the harp of Liszt’s works. According to Piana (2003), Posse transcribed Liebestraume #1, #2, 3# and Angelus for harp.

The harp virtuoso Jeanne Pohl (1824-1870) was highly respected in her time. Liszt (La Mara, 1894) and Berlioz (1870/1981) both held her in great esteem. She was a highly regarded orchestral player and many of Liszt’s orchestral parts during the Weimar years were written for her. She and her husband Richard Pohl moved to Weimar when she was appointed to play in the orchestra (Sheldon, 2005; Warrack & Deaville, 2015). It was for Jeanne Pohl that Liszt transcribed Cantique d'Amour (LW S44)from Harmonies poetiques et religieuses (Piana, 2003; Schnapp, 1942; Walker, Eckhardt & Mueller, 2015) [9]. It can be noted that Liszt not only approved of Pohl as a harpist but also of her harp 'Our orchestra now also possesses a very first-rate harpist, Frau Dr. Pohl, with a good double-movement harp of Erard' (La Mara, 1894, p. 228)[10]. The difficulty finding not only good harpists, but also well functioning instruments and especially double action harps were sometimes problematic, as described by Berlioz (1870/1981) in his memoires and Liszt in his letters (La Mara, 1894).

Franz Liszt’s use of the harp in orchestra was innovative and he was for example the first composer to write a harp glissando in an orchestral part in Mephisto Walz no 1 (Sheldon 2005; LW G16). Maybe this innovative writing was influenced by Liszt’s close relationship with harp manufacturers and harpists as well as his friendship with influential harpist-composers as Parish-Alvars and Posse. He had also respect for musicians’ virtuosity on their instrument as well as respect for the idiomatic writing of harpist-composers.

Franz Liszt and the Swedish harpist Adolf Sjödén

The Swedish harpist and composer Adolf Sjödén (1843-1893) was born in in Sollefteå in Sweden (SMT, 1893). He studied with Edvard Pratté in Sweden and with Antonio Zamara (1829-1901) in Vienna from 1865. After his studies Sjödén made an extensive European career as one of the travelling virtuoso harpists of the time, playing concerts all over Europe. During his travels he encountered musicians and composers. He gave public concerts, played for the royalty and nobility of Europe and also gave charity concerts at hospitals and orphanages (Ekerot, 1893; Sjödahl, 1991).

According to Sjödén’s obituary published in the Swedish music magazine Svensk musiktidning/The Swedish Musical Times (1893) Sjödén met Liszt in Rome on his travels, and Liszt transcribed several pieces for the harp for him.

Entusiastiskt mottagen af publiken allt ifrån sitt första uppträdande sammanträffade han i Rom med den ryktbare Franz Liszt; denne visade honom sitt intresse och sin uppskattning af hans konst, bland annat genom att för hans harpa arrangera flere saker. (Svensk musiktidning, 1893, p. 98).

Received enthusiastically by the audience form his very first performance, in Rome he met the famous Franz Liszt; who showed interest and appreciation of his art, by, among other things, arranging several of his pieces for the harp.

This information was probably based on an article in the Norwegian magazine Ny Illustreret Tidende /New Illustrated Times (1876) published at a time when Sjödén was giving concerts in Kristiania (Sjödahl, 1991). The fact that Sjödén gave concerts in Kristiania[11] at the time makes it possible that he himself supplied biographical material to the journal.

Efter at have optraadt i Italien, hvor han særlig i Venedig og Rom gjorde Lykke, traf han i sidstnævnte  Stad den berømte Pianist Franz Liszt, som viste ham sin Anerkjendelse ved blandt andet at arrangere et Par Stykker til Harpe for ham. (Ny Illustreret Tidende, 1876, p. 393)

After performing in Italy, where he was particularly successful in Venice and Rome, he met in the last mentioned city the pianist Franz Liszt who showed him his appreciation by, among other things, arrange a couple of pieces for him.

The encounter with Liszt could be just be a story associating Sjödén with other famous musicians and composers at the time if it were not for three sources; programme notes, a letter from Adolf Sjödén to his sister Alma Edström, and two autographed manuscripts. Notes and dedications on scores show that Sjödén was in Rome and Venice in 1868[12].

According to contemporary concert programmes Sjödén performed Liszt’s Ave Maria von Arcadelt on several occasions; the first dated programme from a concert that contains Ave Maria von Arcadelt was given in Kongl. Musikaliska Akademiens Salong 3 January 1872 (Sjödahl, 1991). In one of the undated programmes, probably from Tromsø[13], it is described that the piece was transcribed by Liszt himself for the performer.

Ave Maria. Fra 15de Aarhundrede. For Pedalharpe.

Ave Maria. Denne Kirkemelodi er en Komposition fra den gl. italienske Skole af Arcadelt, som levede ca. 1600. For Pedalharpe er den for Concertgiveren arrangeret af Liszt, som deraf har dannet et særdeles interessant Tonemaleri. Efter de første Takter, en Imitation af en Klosterklokke, der kalder til Aftenbøn, optages Motivet først af en Stemme, siden af tvende, og tilsidst falder hele Koret ind i Hymnen, som dog senere atter igjen udføres af en og tvende Stemmer for til Afslutning at henklinge med Ave-Mariaklokkens sidste Lyd. (Concert program, Sjödahl, 1991)[14]

Ave Maria. From the 15th century. For pedal harp.

Ave Maria. This church melody is a composition from the old Italian school of Arcadelt who lived ca.1600. It is arranged for pedal harp for tonight’s performer by Liszt, who has created an especially interesting sound picture After the opening bars, which are an imitation of a cloister bell that calls for evening prayer, the main theme is played first by one voice, then a second voice is added, and finally the whole harmony is added to the hymn, like a full choir. Later in the piece the theme is again performed by one or two voices and the piece ends sound with the sound of the Ave Maria bell.

Sjödén himself was probably the source to this extensive information about the piece, and thus claimed himself that Liszt had made the transcription for him. In the same programme it It is clearly stated that another one of the performed pieces, a Welsh march, was arranged by Sjödén himself.

The letter from Adolf Sjödén to his sister Alma Edström is dated Karlsruhe 6/2 1884 and describes that Liszt invited him to visit Weimar.

Erhöll från Weimar en inbjudning att besöka Liszt “der Altruister”. Stadnade der en vecka och hade äran att 2 gånger spela för Hofvet. Storhertigen är stor vän av Medeltiden och intresserade sig högeligen för Wolkensteinvisorna. Och blev jag äfven inbjuden att komma igen och spela på Wartburg. Skulle ej förundra mig om man så blefve erbjuden en Medeltida Minnesänger Kostym! Liszt är blefven gammal men är lika älskvärd som förut.

Received from Weimar an invitation to visit Liszt ”der Altruister”. Stayed for a week and had the honour of playing twice at the Court. The grand duke is a great fan of the Medieval period and was greatly interested in the Wolkenstein songs. And I was also invited to return and play at Wartburg. Would not be surprised if I was offered a Medieval Minnesänger Costume! Liszt has become old but is as amiable as before.

The second by Franz Liszt autographed manuscript in the collection is a transcription of Angelus for string quartet[15]. The oldest preserved manuscript of Angelus is the piano version from 1877 (Raabe, 1968; Walker, Eckhardt & Mueller, 2015; LW, A283/1). A string quartet transcription was made in 1880 and probably was performed for the first time 1882 in Weimar (Raabe, 1968; Walker, Eckhardt & Mueller, 2015; LW, D15). According to Lachmund’s diary from 1882-1884 Posse transcribed, on Liszt’s request, Angelus for harp from a string quartet version (Lachmund, 1994/1995). On the front page of the manuscript of Angelus found in Sjödén’s collection there is an autograph by Liszt in red ink and translations of the title to French and German, Chant des Anges and Engelgesang, written with red ink. There are also changes and corrections in the manuscript. On the Angelus manuscript Sjödén’s sister Alma Edström has written her name.

Dubez transcription for harp of Ave Maria von Arcadelt

Liszt’s Ave Maria von Arcadelt for piano was written in 1862, and published by Peters, Leipzig, in 1865 (Walker, Eckhardt & Mueller, 2015). In a letter Liszt mentions transcriptions for harp of his own Ave Marias by the harpist Peter Dubez:

Yesterday I heard a charming, very talented, young lady harpist – Mlle Tadolini - and promised her the two Ave Marias by Arcadelt and F. Liszt transcribed for the harp by Dubez (after my piano version). They are published by Kahnt. (August 1877, Liszt, 1979, p. 287)

In a letter to Kahnt, Liszt mentions that the music arrived and that Mlle Tadolini is practising it (Liszt, 2003). This harp edition of the two Ave Marias was published by Kahnt in 1873 (Short, 2003). According to the letters above, Liszt was familiar with and approved of Dubez transcription. Probably, this edition of the Ave Marias is also mentioned in Lachmund’s diary: “He [Liszt] added: “Well, I will send you my Ave Maria for harp – I have no copy here, but will order one from the publisher” (Lachmund, 1994/1995, (p. 152). In Lachmund’s diary is also mentioned that the harpist Posse plays an Ave Maria by Liszt, although which one is not mentioned. In his letters Liszt does not mention any other transcription of the piece for harp. However, there is a transcription by Liszt of the Ave Maria von Arcadelt (LW E14) for organ published 1865 (Liszt, n.d.; Walker, Eckhardt & Mueller, 2015; Raabe, 1968). Raabe (1968) also states that a transcription for harp of the Ave Maria von Arcadelt is made by “P. Dubez, Kahnt” (p. 256). Short (Liszt, 2003) writes in a comment to Liszt’s letters that Peter Dubez was a Hungarian harpist working with the Budapest Opera. According to Piana (2007) Peter Dubez was employed in Weimar at the court of Grand Duke Carl Alexander (1818-1901) some time after 1859.

Liszt is known to have transcribed several works of his own works, and he also transcribed works by other composers (Saffle, 2004). There are also sources that show Liszt’s openness for other composers to transcribe his works. As recalled by Carl Lachmund in his diary, Liszt not only approved of Posse’s transcriptions of his works but also made suggestions for changes and additions (Lachmund, 1994/1995; Sheldon, 2005). It is possible that Liszt’s respect for the virtuoso harpists and maybe for the difficulty to score idiomatically for the instrument made him prefer this solution. During his career, Liszt consulted harpists on how to score for harp. Additionally, as Piana (2003) points out, much of Liszt’s writing for piano employs “harpistic” techniques and musical ideals by, for example, using words in the score as l’accompagnamento dolce quasi arpa, thus making it suitable for harp transcriptions.

Liszt’s transcription compared to other sources

The transcription found in the Swedish collection – here called the Murberget transcription – of Ave Maria von Arcadelt is closer to the original piano piece than Dubez’ published transcription (Liszt 1862/1953; Liszt, 1873). Most of the Murberget transcription follows the piano version. However, there are changes and additions. Most of these changes and addition corresponds with Dubez’ transcription.

Bar 2-10, left hand melody line in harmonics sounding an octave higher than the piano part[16] [in Dubez harmonics written an octave below, sounding as the piano part]

Bar 11 (with upbeat) -36, left hand harmonics sounding as the piano part[17] [in Dubez the same solution]

[In Dubez bar 22, no overbinding of  C from the former bar, on the second beat C is written as a quaver instead of a half note]

[In Dubez bar 22, an A added in right hand on the second beat]

[In Dubez bar 26, second beat C written as a quaver instead of a half note]

[In Dubez bar 26, an A added in right hand on the fourth beat]

[In Dubez bar 27, no overbinding of C from the previous bar, G on the first beat written as a quaver instead of a half note]

Bar 27, octave in harmonic and ”nat” on the third beat [In Dubez only upper octave harmonic]

[In Dubez bar 29, no overbindings from the previous bar]

[In Dubez bar 29, C moved from left hand to right hand on the third beat]

Bar 31, harmonics and ”nat” on the first and third beat, and C added on third beat [in Dubez all written as harmonics, no C added]

Bar 32, octave in harmonic and ”nat” on the third beat  [in Dubez only lower note as harmonic]

[In Dubez bar 33, C moved from left hand to right hand on the third beat]

[In Dubez Bar 34, no harmonic on the third beat (possible printing mistake)]

[In Dubez Bar 34, left hand written as a quaver instead of a half note on the first beat]

Bar 35, third and fourth beat changed from piano part. Last chord omitted in right hand. Left hand changed to C and F on the third beat and to E in the fourth [in Dubez the same solution]

[In Dubez Bar 35, no harmonic in the bass on the first beat (possible printing mistake)]

Bar 36, E and F on second and third beat are omitted [in Dubez the same solution]

Bar 36 fermata and double lines after the third beat [in Dubez the same solution]

[In Dubez bar 37, (with upbeat) - 42 fuller chords]

Bar 45, octave instead of decima in the bass on the first beat [in Dubez the same solution]

[In Dubez bar 46 (last beat)- 48 fuller chords]

[In Dubez bar 37 (with upbeat) – 47, most chords arpeggiated]

Bar 49, octaves in right and left hand on the second and third beat [in Dubez the same solution]

Bar 50-53 (with upbeat), first written as the piano part, then fuller replacement chords written [in Dubez written similar to the replacement chords]

Bar 55, changed from half note to quaver on the third beat [in Dubez the same solution]

[In Dubez bar 56-57 fuller chords]

Bar 57, C missing on third beat in the left hand, F added on fourth beat in the left hand [in Dubez the same solution]

[In Dubez bar 63-65 fuller chords]

Bar 68 (with upbeat) -71, melody in harmonics sounding as the piano part [in Dubez the same solution]

Bar 68, no low harmonic or written “nat” on the third beat (possibly a mistake) [in Dubez only one harmonic]

Bar 77-81, left hand melody line in harmonics sounding an octave higher than the piano part [in Dubez harmonics written an octave below, sounding as the piano part]

Bar 81, no harmonic on the third beat (possible a mistake, in the corresponding bar 101 a harmonic is written) [in Dubez a harmonic]

[In Dubez bar 82 harmonic and natural in octave]

Bar 86, on the third beat D instead of Bb [in Dubez the same solution]

Bar 91, “etouffé” written in the part [in Dubez the same solution]

Bar 97-101, Left hand melody line in harmonics sounding an octave above the piano part [in Dubez harmonics written an octave below, sounding as the piano part]

Bar 102, harmonic and “nat” in octave on the first beat [in Dubez the same solution]

Bar 102 (from the second beat)-122, omitted [in Dubez the same solution]

Endings see main text.

Table 2. Liszt’s transcription compared to the piano version. Comparisons with Dubez’ transcriptions within brackets[18].

In the Murberget transcription there are mainly four kinds of changes. The first it is the use of harmonics, an effect idiomatic to the harp. The second is the use of fuller chords. The third major change is the new ending. And lastly, there are notes and bars omitted in the harp version. In general, these changes all occurs in Dubez’ transcription.

In the Murberget transcription the melody is sometimes written in harmonics, an effect commonly used on the harp and not possible at the piano. It can be noted that the harmonics in some parts are notated to sound as the piano part, and in other parts notated to sound an octave higher. Possibly, both versions of the notated harmonics could sound an octave lower, if the harmonics are notated where they sound and not where they are played. Both practices of notation - to notate where the harmonic sounded and to notate where the harmonic was played - were used (Del Mar, 1981/1983). It is unlikely that these two different practices were used in the same part. In this transcription, it is likely that the harmonics are notated as played. However, since changes have been made in the score it is possible that some harmonics have been added later although the original notation have not been changed, thus, creating an inconsequent notation. In Dubez’ transcription (Liszt, 1873) harmonics are also used in the same manner, however, the harmonics are always notated to sound as in the piano part. In the Murberget transcription a technique with playing an octave in the base at the same time as a harmonic in the left hand is played, thus creating a sounding double octave (see first chord of Illustration 3 as an example). In the Murberget transcription nat. is used as abbreviation for natural, i. e. not played as a harmonic. This technique sometimes was used in harp music from the time, and Sjödén also used it[19]. This effect is not possible at the piano. The use of harmonics and non harmonics played in the same hand indicates that the practice where the harmonic is notated where it is played is used, otherwise this effect is not possible to execute. In Dubez’ transcription this technique is employed in some places, however, not always in the same places as in the Murberget transcription (see Table 2). Dubez does not write nat. or n. in his edition, nevertheless, Piana (2007) in her edition of Liszt-Dubez interprets the notation as octave and harmonic and writes it as Dubez does. Two harmonics an octave apart cannot be played with one hand[20]. A harmonic is usually notated with a small circle above or below the note, usually it is notated for each note that should be played as a harmonic.

Dubez (Liszt, 1873) writes fuller chords in some sections, which is idiomatic to the harp (see Table 2). However, in the Murberget transcription some fuller chords are suggested, in four bars with an upbeat, to replace a few bars in the piece, similar to Dubez’ transcription. The replacement chords are written idiomatically for the harp[21]. These bars, which should be inserted, are marked with blue pencil in the score (Illustration 2). These blue markings are probably written by Liszt (see Table 1).

Illustration 2, Liszt’s suggestion for inserted chords. Page 7.

The biggest difference from the original piano version is the suggestions for endings, it is written two different endings: the first ending is crossed over with red pencil and the second ending is similar to the ending in Dubez’ transcription (Illustration 3; Illustration 4; Illustration 5)[22]. All markings with red pencil are probably by Liszt’s hand (see Table 1)

Illustration 3, First ending, part one. Page 6.

Illustration 4, First ending, part two. Page 7

The beginning of the first ending in the Murberget transcription (example 2) is very similar to the piano version (example 1) except that parts of the left hand chords are played as harmonics, which have the effect that they sound an octave higher. An almost illegible arpeggiated b-major chord is inserted (bar 3 in example 2) before what in the piano version is the final chord (bar 4 in example 2). An empty bar is inserted (bar 5 in example 2). Two of these barlines seems to have been inserted after the first suggested ending close to the piano version was written (see the two thinner lines in example 2) and, thus, may be a first change of the ending. After the empty bar an arpeggiated F-major chord is written in hemidemisemiquavers a piacere as a cadenza before the final F-major chord. It could also be possible that this is two different endings since it is an empty bar in the manuscript; one ending very close to the piano version, and a different version with an a piacere arpeggio. This ending is crossed over with red pencil (from the second bar in example 2). Liszt’s transcription for organ shows a version close to the piano version with the exception that the chord is omitted in the left hand in the 3rd last bar, and the two final chords are slowly arpeggiated in the left hand. The last chord is not arpeggiated in the right hand (Liszt, n.d.). These suggestions are not employed in Murberget’s harp transcription.

Example 1. Piano version (Liszt, 1862/1953)

Example 2. First ending.

Illustration 5. Second ending. Page 8.

The second ending in the Murberget transcription (example 3) – which is not crossed out – consists of a Bb-major chord, a bar of arpeggios on B-major, a Db-major chord, a bar of arpeggios on Db-major, an F-major chord, a bar of arpeggios on F-major. The Dubez transcription (example 4) follows the last ending with the difference that the arpeggios are more elaborated[23]. The Db-major chord, in Dubez’ transcription, consists of two F naturals following each other. This suggests that one of them was enharmonically played as E-sharp – a typical harp effect, also employed by Parish-Alvars, as Berlioz (1943/1991) noted.

Example 3. Second ending

Example 4. Dubez transcription

In the score some notes and bars are omitted or changed, the same changes occur both in the Murberget transcription and Dubez’ transcription, such as bar 35, 36, 45 and 102-122 (see Table 2). There are also small changes that occur in both versions, such as the double line and fermata in bar 36 and two notes played as the harp technique etouffé in bar 91.

The changes in the score shows that the transcriber probably worked on making the score more “harpistic” by writing idiomatic techniques as harmonics, etouffé, and fuller chords (see Table 2). He also seems to have written the ending first similarly to the piano version, and then made a more elaborate “harpistic” version by adding arpeggios. However, he was not satisfied with this solution, crossed it out and suggested a new ending which has no resemblance to the piano version. Here the Murberget transcription shows remarkable similarities to Dubez’ transcription.


Studies of the manuscript, and additional sources, suggest that Sjödén and Liszt met several times and that the manuscript was given to Sjödén by Liszt. It seems likely that the version of the Ave Maria von Arcadelt that Sjödén played on his tours in Europe was based on the transcription with Liszt’s signature since Dubez’ transcription was published by Kahnt in 1873, and Sjödén performed the piece in 1872. That the manuscript is associated with the collection of music once belonging to Sjödén points also in this direction. It is possible that Liszt and Sjödén met in Rome in 1868, and that Sjödén was given the manuscript by Liszt himself. However, there are scant sources to prove that this event ever happened, even if there are indications such as the articles in Svensk Musiktidning and Ny Illustreret Tidende, and the notes in one of the programmes. Sjödén himself probably was the source to this information. The letter from Sjödén to his sister is evidence that Liszt and Sjödén knew each other, and that they at least met twice. It is possible that Liszt gave Sjödén the Angelus manuscript when they met in Weimar in 1884 - or possibly earlier - maybe the idea was to transcribe it for harp, a task that the harpist Posse carried out.

The transcription of Ave Maria von Arcadelt has obviously been changed in stages since the ending has been altered several times, and there are four bars written on page six that should replace corresponding bars on page four. The ending at first seems to be a more and more expanded and arpeggiated version of the piano ending, but this version was later rejected and a more elaborate ending written. Since there are blue and red pencil markings, that are probably by Liszt’s hand, it is likely that the copyist and Liszt worked together when writing. This may not necessarily be regarded as collaboration (Mueller, 1988). Obviously, Liszt approved of this copy since it has been autographed twice, the second time after the new ending.

It is probable that the autographed manuscript of Ave Maria von Arcadelt in Sjödén’s collection of music is Liszt’s own transcription, or a collaborative transcription where the copyist may have played a major part. The similarities to Dubez’ transcription are striking. Thus, it is possible that it is a draft of the version Dubez later developed, and that Kahnt edited. Obviously, Liszt approved of Dubez’ transcription, as noted in his letters and in Lachmund’s diary. Liszt did not take any credit of Dubez’ transcription in any of these sources, which may suggest that the transcription was mainly the work of Peter Dubez. However, on the front page of the manuscript in the Swedish collection the transcription it is written that it is made by Liszt himself and Dubez is not mentioned. This contradictory information remains a mystery. Possibly, Liszt worked similarly with Dubez as he worked with Posse by suggesting changes and additions, but also by respecting the musician’s knowledge of how to score effectively and idiomatically for the harp. The possibility that the manuscript was written by Sjödén seems unlikely, since it does not have the characteristics of Sjödén’s handwriting nor does Sjödén himself take credit in any source for working with Liszt. In the manuscript there are idiomatic harp techniques, such as the style of the arpeggios and the use of harmonics, which suggests that the transcriber was very familiar with how to score for harp. However, the peculiarity with the notation of harmonics - which do not correspond to the piano part - can give doubt to a harpist as copyist.

The authors of this article suggest that the transcription of Ave Maria von Arcadelt is a formerly unknown manuscript by Liszt. It is the only known preserved transcription for harp autographed by Liszt himself, and thus a contribution to the Liszt research of today.


Anon., 1876. Våre portræter. 1. Adolf Sjöden. Ny Illustreret Tidende, Kristiania 10 December 1876. 3. Aarg. Nr. 50, pp.393-394.

Anon., 1893. † Adolf Sjödén. Svensk Musiktidning, No 13, 13 årgången. Stockholm den 2 September 1893, pp.97-98.

Available at: <http://boije.statensmusikverk.se/www/epublikationer/Svensk/ Musiktidning_1893_no_13.pdf>

Berlioz, Hector, 1870/1981. The memoirs of Hector Berlioz. London, Toronto, Sydney, New York: Granada Publishing Limited.

Berlioz, Hector, & Strauss, Richard, 1843/1991. Treatise on instrumentation. New York: Dover Publications Inc.

Chaloupka, Stanley, 1979/2002. Harp scoring. US: Author.

Cooper, Jeffrey & Millington, Barry, 2016. Dietsch, Louis. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press.
 Available at: <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com> [Accessed 3 October 2016].

Del Mar, Norman, 1981/1983. Anatomy of the orchestra. London: Faber & Faber Limited.

Ekerot, Gunnar, 1893. Harpospelaren. In: Artistlif: minnen och anteckningar. Stockholm: Johnson. pp.16-21.

Kregor, Jonathan, 2010. Liszt as transcriber. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lachmund, Carl, 1994/1995. Living with Liszt, from the diary of Carl Lachmund an American pupil of Liszt 1882-1884. Edited, annotated and introduced by Alan Walker. Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon press.

La Mara, 1894. Letters of Franz Liszt collected and edited by La Mara. Vol 1. From Paris to Rome. New York: Charles Scribner’s sons. Available at:  <http://conquest.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/9/9e/IMSLP94205-PMLP194241-Letters_of_Franz_Liszt_vol1.pdf>

Liszt, Franz, 1979. The Letters of Franz Liszt to Olga Von Meyendorff, 1871-1886. William A Tyler, transl. Introduction and notes by Edward N. Waters. Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC: Harvard University.

Liszt, Franz, 2003. Liszt’s letters in the library of congress. Michael Short, ed. Frans Liszt studies series no. 10. Washington, DC: Pendragon press.

Liszt, Franz, 1862/1953. Chanson D’Arcadelt - Ave Maria (1557). Piano edition, no. 89. London: Hinrichsen Edition.

Liszt, Franz, 1873. Zwei Ave Maria von Giov. Arcadelt und Franz Liszt für die Harfe von Peter Dubez. Leipzig: C. F. Kahnt.

Liszt, Franz, n.d. Orgelwerke. Band 1. Leipzig: Edition Peters.

Mueller, Rena Charnin, 1988. Reevaluating the Liszt Chronology: The Case of ’Anfangs wollt ich fast verzagen’. 19th-Century Music, 12(2), Special Liszt Issue, Autumn, pp.132-147.

Piana, Dominique, 2003. Dolce quasi arpa: Franz Liszt and the harp. American Harp Journal, 19(1) Summer, pp.7-22.

Piana, Dominique, 2007. Liszt and his Ave Maria settings. In: Franz Liszt: Two Ave Maria (Arcadelt/Liszt, tr. Dubez). Livermore, CA: Editions Harpiana Publications, p.1, p.15.

Raabe, Peter, 1968. Liszts Schaffen. Zweites Buch. Tutzing: Hans Schneider.

Rensch, Roslyn, 2007. Harps and harpists. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

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Short, Michael, 1999. The doubtful, missing and unobtainable works of Ferenc Liszt (1811- 1886). The Liszt Society Journal, 24, pp.28-68.

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 Available at: <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com> [Accessed 28 April 2015].

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[1] Liszt’s piano transcription of Ave Maria von Arcadelt is related to Louis Dietsch’s (1808-1865) 4-voice version. Dietsch published in 1842 a discovery of an Ave Maria by Jacques Arcadelt (1507-1568). However, it can be seen as an arrangement with a new text made by Dietsch himself since it was only loosely built on a 3-part chanson by Arcadelt, Nous voyons que les hommes (Cooper & Millington, 2016; Piana, 2007).

[2] In this article the Liszt Werke (LW) and the Schnapp numbers are given (Schnapp, 1942; Walker, Eckhardt & Mueller, 2015). However, there are also other ways of classifying Liszt’s works (see Walker, Eckhardt & Mueller, 2015). The titles of the pieces follow Walker, Eckhardt and Mueller’s (2015) suggestions.

[3] The manuscript of the Ave Maria von Arcadelt, the letter from Adolf Sjödén to his sister Alma Edström, a photograph and a manuscript by Gatayes was given to the museum together with sheets and pillowcases by a relative to Alma Edström (Inventory numbers M 31493 – M 31498).

[4] Today the collection consists of three parts: Adolf Sjödéns musiksamling F1 Kompositörer (29 volumes), Adolf Sjödéns musiksamling F2 Samlingar (10 volumes), Alma Edström f. Sjödéns musiksamling, Kompositörer F1 (2 volumes).

[5] Email contact with Zsuzsanna Domokos 2 November 2015.

[6] Short (1999) doubts that Ave Maris Stella for harp ever existed. The only source is a comment by Liszt in a letter to Kahnt, that he would within a short time send a transcription for harmonium that also could be played on piano ”or even harp!” (Liszt cited in Short, 1999, p. 30; “(und auch für Pianoforte, ja selbst für Harfe!)” Liszt cited in Schnapp, 1942, p. 147). Short suggests that it might be a joke. Schnapp (1942) suggests that this is another new transcription since the transcription for harmonium was not suitable for harp.

[7] Walker, Eckhardt & Mueller (2015) write incorrectly that Cantique d’Amour have Schnapp no 55 and Ave Maris Stella Schnapp no 77.

[8] The harpist Rosalie Spohr (1829-1919) was one of the famous virtuosi at the time, and some letters from Liszt to her contains information about issues regarding Liszt and the harp (La Mara, 1894).

[9] Short (1999), however, writes that Cantique d’Amour was transcribed for a harpist called Johann Eyth-Pohl. This is probably a printing mistake since Schnapp (1942), whom Short uses as a source in his article, writes ”Harfenistin Johanna Eyth-Pohl” (p. 142).

[10] Letter to Rosalie Spohr. No 130 Jan 4th 1855.

[11] Now known as Oslo.

[12] In Adolf Sjödéns musiksamling F1 vol. 3, F1 vol. 6.

[13] The concert was given at Hotellets store sal, and the tickets could be bought at Holmboes boglade, Giæver & søns butik, and at the entrance. These venues could be found in Tromsø, Norway.

[14] The given dates are possibly a misunderstanding or a misprint.

[15] Angelus is in Adolf Sjödéns musiksamling F1 vol. 28.

[16] Possibly, they might be notated where they sound, thus played an octave lower. They would then sound as the original piano part. Both practices exist, though the first is more common (Del Mar 1981/1983; Chaloupka (1979/2002). This doubt corresponds to similar places in the score. It is possible that changes have been made in the score and thus the markings for harmonics have been added later, although, the original notation have not been changed.

[17] Possibly, they might be notated where they sound, thus played an octave lower. They would then sound an octave below the original piano part. This doubt corresponds to similar places in the score.

[18] Mainly changes and additions relevant for the harp transcription have been listed. There are also other kinds of differences, such as, for example, differences in dynamics and articulation. These differences should be further discussed in a critical edition.

[19] A manuscript of an original piece by Sjödén, Romance pour La Harpe, now in Musik- och teaterbiblioteket, Stockholm, shows that he employs this technique. However, he notates it slightly different than what is notated in the Murberget Ave Maria von Arcadelt manuscript. Sjöden writes “n.” as abbreviation for natural or naturel, in the Murberget Ave Maria von Arcadelt manuscript it is written “nat.”.

[20] Chaloupka (1979/2002) writes that double harmonics should not exceed a fourth. In the right hand it not possible to play more than one harmonic.

[21] Harpists use four fingers on each hand where pianists use five (Chaloupka, 1979/2002).

[22] A similar crossed over section is shown in Raabe (1968), unfortunately the facsimile does not show the original colours.

[23] The missing d-flat in the 5th bar of example 4 is probably a mistake. Piana (2007) interprets it as d-flat in her edition.

[24] An edition of Dubez’ transcription is published by Piana: Liszt, Franz 2007: Two Ave Maria (Arcadelt/Liszt, tr. Dubez) Editions Harpiana Publications: Livermore CA.



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