Via Crucis (Liszt)
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Via Crucis Liszt
Franz Liszt

Via crucis (Die 14 Stationen des Kreuzwegs) is a work for mixed choir, soloists and organ (also harmonium or piano) by Franz Liszt. The work is devoted to the Stations of the Cross. It is one of the last works of Liszt.

Liszt started the composition of this work in the fall of 1878 when he stayed in Rome and ended it in February 1879 in Budapest. There are three sources of the work available: the first sketches in Weimar, the manuscript of the whole work in Budapest and a copy of it in Weimar. The original version was set with accompaniment by organ. Liszt made later a version with piano.

The work is a special case in the oeuvre of Liszt, especially because it is a work of great serenity. The work is also special because it reaches the limits of the till then prevailing tonality. The work combines unison songs (Stations I and XIV) with Lutheran chorales (Stations IV and XII), and chorales inspired by Bach's chorales (Station VI), whereas other stations consist of solo organ (or piano). Liszt self wanted to perform the work in the Colosseum, with accompaniment by harmonium.

Setting

The work follows the fourteen stations:

Opening Vexilla Regis, text by Venantius Fortunatus
I. Pilate condemns Jesus to die. Innocens ergo sum, Matthew 27:24 Station 1 Jesus is condemned to death, St. Nicholas Church in Elbl?g.JPG
II. Jesus accepts his cross. A baritone soloist sings Ave Crux, from the introductive text Station 2 Jesus is given his cross, St. Nicholas Church in Elbl?g.JPG
III. Jesus falls for the first time. The male choir sings Jesus cadit, the female choir continues with Stabat Mater Station 3 Jesus falls the first time, St. Nicholas Church in Elbl?g.JPG
IV. Jesus meets his mother, Mary. Solo organ Station 4 Jesus meets His Mother, St. Nicholas Church in Elbl?g.JPG
V. Simon helps carry the cross. Solo organ Station 5 Simon of Cyrene carries the cross, St. Nicholas Church in Elbl?g.JPG
VI. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus. Choral O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden, text by Paul Gerhardt, melody by Hans Leo Hassler Station 6 Veronica wipes the face of Jesus, St. Nicholas Church in Elbl?g.JPG
VII. Jesus falls for the second time. As station III Station 7 Jesus falls the second time, St. Nicholas Church in Elbl?g.JPG
VIII. Jesus meets the three women of Jerusalem. A baritone soloist sings Nolite flere super me, Luke 23:28 Station 8 Jesus meets the daughters of Jerusalem, St. Nicholas Church in Elbl?g.JPG
IX. Jesus falls for the third time. As station III Station 9 Jesus falls the third time, St. Nicholas Church in Elbl?g.JPG
X. Jesus is stripped of his clothes. Solo organ Station 10 Jesus is stripped of His garments, St. Nicholas Church in Elbl?g.JPG
XI. Jesus is nailed to the cross. The male choir sings Crucifige (Crucify Him) Station 11 Crucifixion Jesus is nailed to the cross, St. Nicholas Church in Elbl?g.JPG
XII. Jesus dies on the cross. A baritone soloist sings Eli, Eli, In manus tuas, Consummatum est (words of crucifixion) and the choir sing the chorale O Traurigkeit, text by Johann Rist Station 12 Jesus dies on the cross, St. Nicholas Church in Elbl?g.JPG
XIII. Jesus is taken down from the cross. Solo organ Station 13 Jesus' body is removed from the cross, St. Nicholas Church in Elbl?g.JPG
XIV. Jesus is placed in the tomb. Partial many-voiced variation on the introductive Vexilla Regis Station 14 Jesus is laid in the tomb and covered in incense, St. Nicholas Church in Elbl?g.JPG

Sources

  • Franz Liszt, Via Crucis. Die 14 Stationen des Kreuzwegs (1878/79), Ausgewählte Werke vokaler Kirchenmusik, Heft 3, by Thomas Kohlhase, Partitur mit Einleitung, Carus 40.173, s.a., s.l. (Tübingen, 1977).

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