Work: Liebesträume for Piano, S 541: no 3, O Lieb, so lang
About This Work
There are three Liebesträume (Dreams of Love), and the third is by far the most popular. Each is a transcription of a song Liszt had written about three years before. The song upon which the third of the Liebesträume is based is O Lieb, so
lang du lieben kannst, a setting of the poem by Ferdinand Freiligrath. The piece was originally published as Notturno No. 3 and carried the song's title as a subtitle.
A more purely Lisztian creation would be hard to imagine than the passionate, sentimental melody that is clearly behind the work's popularity. It has a sweetness and directness at the outset, then grows impassioned in the middle section. After a climax that features some bravura writing, the melody returns to its more tranquil opening mood, though now more reflective and sadder. While this is undeniably a simple formula, it is nonetheless an effective one that Liszt makes the most of in the five minutes or so of music.
Liszt's third Liebesträume eventually became so popular and overplayed that by the mid-20th century pianists began dropping it from their repertory. Though that trend eventually reversed, the piece is still not as often performed as it once was.
-- Robert Cummings
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