A Musician’s Life: a Long Dissonance with no Final Resolution

Truly speaking, my friend, there is nothing quite as ludicrous as the travelling musician. I do not know of anyone who cuts a more pitiable figure or wears a more disagreeable expression as he journeys from land to land, city to city, town to town; an itinerant marvel among nature’s immutable marvels, a temporary wonder passing through the shadows of the great names that have spanned the centuries; a useless clown, an ill-fated troubadour who mixes the sound of his guitar with the din of civil strife, with the echoes of the struggles and upheavals that torment the world…

One day, perhaps, when I am old enough to look back kindly on my youth, even with its disappointments and miseries, when I have positively developed a philosophical attitude towards life, I will write the true story of it for my octogenarian friends – a book of recollections whose title might well be ‘Of the Great Tribulations Involved in Making a Small Reputation’ or better yet,  ‘A Musician’s Life: A Long Dissonance with no Final Resolution’. In the meantime I continue on my way, carrying my annoyances like so much necessary baggage and very cleverly steering a course between the Ideal and the Real, without allowing myself to be overly seduced by the former, nor ever to be crushed by the latter.’

Franz Liszt, from a letter to Lambert Massart, Venice-Lugano, March-July 1838. Translated by Charles Suttoni.

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This entry was posted in Composers, Liszt - Years of Pilgrimage, Three Volumes, Music and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Musician’s Life: a Long Dissonance with no Final Resolution

  1. Haha wow! “a useless clown, an ill-fated troubadour” Liszt is right on the money with that one…. :S Interesting post! It’s always fun to see how others perceive us musicians, even in the 19th century. I’d like to think that this perception changed about 125 years later though…right? right?? Good luck with your career in music!

  2. cpianist says:

    Thank you! I think that Liszt is right, too, when he talks about ‘steering a course between the Ideal and Real…’ – and not allowing himself to be crushed by the latter.

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