Franz Liszt: Mirror Of A European Society In Evolution

International Conference Franz Liszt 2011


(September 20-27, 2011)

Organized by the Universities of Rennes, Dijon and Strasbourg


As part of the bicentenary celebrations of Liszt’s birth, the universities

of Rennes, Dijon and Strasbourg organize a tribute to the most

representative European composer of the nineteenth century. Three symposia

in three different cities will give new insight into three different

aspects of Liszt’s artistic, literary and political personality and seek

to (re)define his status in the cultural world of his time.



Rennes – Liszt: A Musician in Society

Tuesday 20 – Wednesday 21 September 2011


Dijon – Liszt: Readings and Writings

Friday 23 – Saturday 24 September 2011


Strasbourg – 19th-century Topoi and the Music of Liszt

Monday 26 – Tuesday 27 September 2011



– Detlef Altenburg (Germany)

– Serge Gut (France)

– Leslie Howard (GB)

– Charles Rosen (USA)

– Alan Walker (USA)



– Florence Fix (University of Burgundy)

– Márta Grabócz (University of Strasbourg)

– Laurence Le Diagon-Jacquin (University of Rennes II)

– Georges Zaragoza (University of Burgundy)



CONGRESS N°1 – University of Rennes 2 (September 20-21, 2011)


Scientific Committee:

– James Deaville (Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada)

– Rossana Dalmonte (Institute Franz Liszt, Italy)

– Zsuzsanna Domokos (Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum and Research Center,


-Cornelia Szabó-Knotik (Institute for Analysis, Theory and History of

Music, Vienna, Austria)

– Michael Saffle (Virginia Tech., USA)




Liszt was a polyglot and a cosmopolitan citizen travelling throughout

Europe and expressing his ideas on the progress of nations, political

systems and social change. Liszt, a European in a Europe under

construction is the main focus of this symposium which sets out to analyse

the connections between his music and the religious, political and

aesthetic transformations of his time (in continuity with an earlier

colloquium in Bellagio). In a political and religious sense he did indeed

meet the important people of his world, the monarchs and princes, the

revolutionaries, the pope and the clerics at odds with the dogma of the

day. In addition to considerations about Liszt himself—not only as a

virtuoso piano player, composer, teacher and also as a man of his

society—an examination of the characteristics of his music as they have

evolved over time (for instance at anniversaries or on stage and on

screen) might prove a promising approach.

The relations between Liszt’s music and society (religion, politics,

history) represent a whole socio-musicological field of research for the

symposium in Rennes.



CONGRESS N°2 – University of Burgundy (September 23-24, 2011)


Scientific Committee:

– Jacqueline Bellas (University of Toulouse)

– Maria Eckhardt (Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum and Research Center, Hungary)

– Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger (Switzerland)

– Claude Knepper  (CNRS, Paris)

– Danièle Pistone (Paris IV – Sorbonne)

– Alban Ramaut (University of Saint-Etienne)




As a music, literary and art critic, and a reader and an observer of his

time, Liszt also wrote many letters. These are widely studied today and

indeed one of the main avenues of research of this symposium will be to

examine the limits and mechanisms of Liszt’s writing, as a musician who

also marked his contemporaries by what he wrote.

Liszt is also the subject matter of various writings, biographies and

novels alike. As a character of fiction, of romanticized biographies, of

imaginings that transpose him into other realms representing him, say, as

a painter, Liszt is at the heart of a literary activity that sees him as

both subject matter and acting subject. The self-portrait that emanates

from his correspondence is also an interesting composition and the

concepts of self-figuration and self-fiction will be covered. By comparing

and contrasting all these fictional constructions the hope is to arrive at

a true typology of the literary characters inspired by Liszt.

Considerations of Liszt as a “reader” are welcome too. The material from

his Weimar library depicts him as a scrupulous reader, annotating and

commenting on his readings. This material needs to be examined to see what

Liszt gleaned from it for his own musical compositions.

It is this triple portrait of Liszt as writer, character and reader that

we seek to address in the literary part of the Dijon symposium.



CONGRESS N°3 – University of Strasbourg (September 26-27, 2011)

Scientific Committee:

– Béatrice Didier (ENS, Paris)

– Françoise Escal (EHESS, Paris)

– Adrienne Kaczmarczyk (Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum and Research Center,


– Bertrand Ott  (Angers)

– Mathieu Schneider (University of Strasbourg)




Interest in the study of literary and musical topoï has been steadily

growing since the 1990s. Several scholarly societies and international

research groups are working on developing a methodology based on the

presentation of “commonplaces”, either in the sense of “models or

repertoires of general arguments” in rhetoric, or of the conventional

round of ideas and thoughts within a given time period. The literary and

“narrative topos” as a recurring narrative configuration of thematically

or formally relevant elements is defined on the website of SATOR (Society

of Analysis of the Novelistic Topoi).

In the field of musicology, the international research group on Musical

Signification (see ICMS publications) and American scholars have initiated

studies on topics and narratives. According to Leonard Ratner, the musical

topics are characteristic figures which can become subjects for musical

discourse. In classical music, topics appear as styles or as types. More

recently R. Monelle (2006) and K. Agawu (2009) have proposed other

definitions of the musical topos.

Research in 19th-century literature and semiotics has already brought to

light a great number of topics [topoi] of the Romantic period. In this

respect, the SATOR database ( and the works of Béatrice

Didier are fundamental (1966, 1985, 2006). As to the book of E.R. Curtius

(1947, 1956), it is the seminal milestone in the history of topos studies.

In the chapter “Indications” [= Index rerum] of his novel Oberman (1804),

Senancour lists the major Romantic themes of his generation : friendship;

love; the pastoral world; climate; spleen; Man (“romantic” or that “of

society”); ideals; religion; etc.

We see this forthcoming congress – which will focus on Franz Liszt’s ideas

and music – as an exceptional opportunity to broaden the scope of an

increasingly popular field of research.



Deadline for submission of paper proposals (20’ presentation + 10’

discussion): July 1st, 2010.


Please send an abstract (max. 1500 characters) together with a short

Résumé for Strasbourg (CV).


The list of accepted submissions will be released in October 2010.


Papers will be given in French, English, and German


Depending on your chosen topic, please send your submissions to one of the

following addresses:


1/ Congress in Rennes: à Laurence Le Diagon –


2/ Congress in Strasbourg: à Márta  Grabócz –


3/ Congress in Dijon:


Papers will be published in the Conference Proceedings in French and English.


Deadline for submission of papers for publication: November 1st, 2011. To

ensure publication, make sure your full texts reach us before that date.