Rainer Schmusch, Franz Liszt and Eduard Lassen: Aspects of Their Reciprocal Inspiration

Eduard Lassen was twenty-eight when, in 1858, he succeeded Liszt as Court Kapellmeister in Weimar. He retained the post until 1895, a representative of the New German School who was widely respected, even though he was never a pupil of Liszt in the accepted sense of the term. As a composer, Lassen was clearly influenced by Liszt, especially in terms of the musical painting of characters, less so in respect of the development of new forms. But even if his works did not enjoy any lasting success, there is no doubt that they inspired Liszt. This reciprocal inspiration may be demonstrated by means of a number of examples taken from the incidental music that Lassen wrote for plays by Goethe, Hebbel and Calderón, all of which came to Liszt’s attention, either inspiring virtuoso transcriptions or encouraging him to develop them beyond what their composer had initially intended.