A ‘completion’ of Liszt’s transcendental studies with a Russian imprint


  • Asbjørn Øfsthus Eriksen University of Oslo




Liszt, Sergey Lyapunov, transcendental studies, modal harmony, musical topics


Franz Liszt originally planned to write 24 studies in all keys, but he completed only twelve, the famous Etudes d’exécution transcendante (1851). However, half a century later the Russian Sergey Lyapunov (1859–1924) fulfilled Liszt’s abandoned project by composing 12 Etudes d’exécution transcendante (Op. 11) in the sharp keys not utilized by Liszt. The main objective of this article is to examine two highly interesting features in Lyapunov’s transcendental studies that have been only sporadically touched upon in previous Western and Russian research: 1. Modal harmony, or more precisely the usage of the diatonic (church) modes, which is an element that is almost entirely absent from Liszt’s studies; 2.The musical topics, which are considerably closer to the aesthetics of the Balakirev circle and their followers (Lyadov, early Glazunov) than to Liszt’s transcendental studies. In a short Epilogue the author somewhat problematizes Lyapunov’s standing as an epigonal composer, stating that, apart from a couple of Balakirev’s and Tchaikovsky’s piano pieces, hardly any other Russian composer before Skryabin and Rachmaninoff composed solo piano music with such harmonic and textural richness and idiomatic and virtuosic pianism as Lyapunov achieves in his transcendental studies.


Asbjørn Øfsthus Eriksen, University of Oslo

Asbjørn Øfsthus Eriksen is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Musicology, University of Oslo. He is a researcher and teacher in the fields of music history and analysis, focusing mainly on the 19th and early 20th centuries. He has taken a particular interest in Norwegian romantic composers (Kjerulf, Svendsen, Grieg), Russian music (Rachmaninoff, Medtner, Myaskovsky) and in musical humour.




Referera så här

Øfsthus Eriksen, A. (2021). A ‘completion’ of Liszt’s transcendental studies with a Russian imprint. Svensk Tidskrift för Musikforskning Swedish Journal of Music Research, 103, 61–88. https://doi.org/10.58698/stm-sjm.v103i.10360




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