Watch the film ‘A Room with a View’ on a cold, wet, grey, dismal day in winter, and within the hour you’ll be planning a summer holiday in Tuscany. That’s how we ended up staying near Florence one year, seeing for ourselves the piazzas, the art, the Santa Croce Church with its monuments to Galileo, Dante and Michelangelo, the fabulous views of the city from the hills near Fiesole – and Il Penseroso.
‘Il Pensieroso [sic] bewitches me,’ wrote Liszt. It’s still casting its spell, Michelangelo’s brooding statue of Lorenzo de Medici, its eyes in shadow.To view it, visit Florence’s Church of San Lorenzo, and, like Liszt, descend the stone staircase to the Sagrestia Nuova. This is a room without a view, but with perfectly designed proportions, also by Michelangelo, and full of his sculptures. Liszt adds a quatrain by Michelangelo to the piece:
” I am thankful to sleep, and more thankful to be made of stone. So long as injustice and shame remain on earth, I count it a blessing not to see or feel; so do not wake me – speak softly!”
This is a significant work written for the dark, lower regions of the piano. A slow funeral march with chromatic twists and turns, Liszt used it as part of La Notte, one of the Trois Odes Funèbres, intended for his own funeral.