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Franz Liszt labored intermittently on his “musical last will and testament,” Christus, for nearly twenty years. J. Schuberth & Co. published Christus in 1872, Kahnt in 1873. Liszt supervised the publication and checked the score plates. One might therefore surmise that the final version would be free from error, and would contain each and every musical expression, performance indication, dynamic marking, and articulation that Liszt set down in the manuscript.

Unfortunately, careless copyists, inept editors and hasty proofing by Liszt himself produced a published score that is an incomplete representation of his masterpiece; indeed, the mistakes were so numerous that Liszt even prepared an errata sheet in 1886. Liszt knew that Schuberth did not always maintain the highest level of quality control. Consequently, the Christus that now exists in published—and, thus in recorded—form is not the Christus that Liszt set down on music paper, in his cell at the monastery of Madonna del Rosario outside Rome.

Primary sources included a digitized version of the manuscript, the 1872/4 Schuberth edition—which contains the abridgements authorized by Liszt for the 1873 Weimar premier performance—both from the British Library, reproductions of the fair copy from the Goethe-Schiller Archiv, and pages from the score of Christus that Liszt gave to Hans Richter after the 1873 Jubilee performance in Budapest from the Hungarian National Library in Budapest. This edition is a good faith attempt to restore the several layers of expression that were inadvertently peeled away from Liszt’s initial outpouring as documented in his autograph manuscript.

Liszt, Franz. Christus. Kassel: Bärenreiter-Verlag, 2006–2008. 
For the first time, Franz Liszt’s autograph manuscript of his masterpiece Christus, currently held in the British Library, is available online. Click to download. Be patient: the file is 28 megabytes.

Reviews of Christus.

©2017 David Friddle   |   vCard