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Date of Award
Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
School of Music
Lori E. Piitz
Mary Jean Speare
Many composers, particularly in the 19th century, have attempted to write “autobiographical” music. Although Franz Liszt never explicitly mentioned that any of his works were autobiographical, the facts we have about his life and the symbolism within his Sonata in B Minor suggest that this piece may serve this purpose, either intentionally or subconsciously. Liszt, having strong ties to the Catholic Church, may have also consciously or unconsciously incorporated religious symbolism into the work. Works that exerted influence on the formal structure and the possible extra-musical meaning of the Sonata in B Minor include Charles-Valentine Alkan’s Grande Sonate, Robert Schumann’s Fantasy, Op. 17, and Franz Schubert’s “Wanderer” Fantasy. In the end, although there is no written evidence that Liszt intended his Sonata to be autobiographical, it is the intent of this document to demonstrate that the Sonata in B Minor is at very least an unintentional archetype of a spiritual struggle within Liszt’s life.
Keener, Jonathan David, "Franz Liszt: The Sonata in B Minor as spiritual autobiography" (2011). Dissertations. 168.