Franz Liszt

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Portrait of Franz Liszt, Miklós Barabás (1847)

Franz Liszt was born October 22, 1811, in Raiding, Hungary. He is the greatest composer born under the sign of Scorpio, a mystical and enigmatic sign of the zodiac. He was ardent in his life; he expressed the power, the passion, the inspiration and the sublimity that characterize this sign.

It is interesting to note that Liszt was born when the heavens were lighted by the spectacular grandeur of a great comet,[1] an augury, perhaps, of a life whose radiance still illumines the horizon. “My sole ambition as a musician,” said Liszt, “has been and will be to cast my javelin into the indefinite spaces of the future.”[2]

Qualities of Scorpio

Scorpio possesses the unfathomed depth and power of the sea. In conformity with its broad expanse, the Scorpio native chafes at restraint. This was a marked characteristic exhibited by Liszt in his personal life and in his music.

The poet Saphir wrote of him: “Liszt knows no rule, no form, no style. He creates his own. With him the bizarre becomes genial, the strange comes to seem necessary.”[3] Scorpio is a powerful creative sign. It is a magnetic field wherein the forces of generation are operative. Liszt did have rules, form and style, but he was capturing this form on a higher level of the cosmos than had ever been captured before. Therefore, to man’s consciousness it appeared that he was breaking rules. Actually he was spiraling to a higher level of different rules, different forms, different laws.

His was a new thesis. The world’s ways were an antithesis of it. The synthesis of the thesis and the antithesis became a new form of music which was imitated by the world’s greatest composers, including Wagner.

Clara Schumann said of Liszt, “He can be compared to no other virtuoso. He is the only one of his kind. He arouses fright and astonishment, though he is a very lovable artist.”[4] Another of her comments brings out the depth and power of his Scorpio nature: “His attitude at the piano cannot be described—he is original—he grows somber at the piano. His passion knows no limits.”[5]

Another music critic wrote:

The audience look at one another, dumb with surprise, as after a sudden storm in a serene sky. And he, the Prometheus, who with each note has forged a being, his head bent, smiles strangely before this crowd that applaud him madly.[6]

Spiritual life

Liszt was an ecstatic mystic yearning to renounce worldly aspirations and to give himself entirely to the service of God. At the age of 19 he observed that the true artist must possess the faculty of dying to himself before he can give himself completely to others.[7]

The fire of his developing genius was fanned into white heat by long hours of meditation on The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis, and by certain ascetic exercises he had evolved for himself. Had his father not interfered firmly, he would have gone into the arms of the church and abandoned his music. But he was disciplined in music, and therefore brought forth this creative genius. However at the end of his life he went into the seclusion of a monastery where his art reached its highest perfection.

On the lower levels, the forces of Scorpio are degeneration. On the higher levels they are regeneration: degeneration, the scorpion; regeneration, the eagle.[8] His personal life alternated between the heights where the eagle lifts undazzled eyes to the heart of the sun and the low ground where crawls the scorpion to distill its poison. Liszt, unobserved, would often slip away from the cheering throng to spend the remaining hours of the night in church upon his knees. At other times he would take part in a sensual carousel so freely indulged in by those about him.

After visiting the great cathedral in Cologne, Liszt wrote to a friend:

I don’t know why, but the sight of a cathedral always moves me strangely. Is it because music is an architecture of sound or because architecture is crystallized music? I don’t know, but certainly there exists a close relationship between these two arts.[9]

Liszt said: “I am still a part of this world, without quite knowing why. My mind and my heart dwell in regions that are little known to others.”[10]

His music

When he performed at La Scala, the triumph of his genius was described in this way:

That which is properly the spirit, the very breath of genius, can only be experienced, not described. Imagine a thin figure, with narrow shoulders, his hair falling over his face and down his neck, an extraordinarily spiritual face, expressive, pale, most interesting; an eye that reflects every thought, glittering in conversation or full of good will.... When he sits down at the piano he first passes his hand through his hair, then his glance grows fixed, his breast calm; only his head and the expression of his face show the emotions he is experiencing. It is impossible to give any description of his playing; one must have heard him.[11]

He was referred to by his devotees as having the face of a man-angel and a possessing a miraculous life. His features, the lift of his head and shoulders together with the untrammeled height to which his genius soared won for him the aptly descriptive title of the Dauntless Eagle.

Liebestraum

“Liebestraum” (Dreams of Love) was taken from the energies of the retreat of Serapis Bey at Luxor. The flow of the waters of the Nile, as the flow of the crystal cord releasing the energies of the ascension currents, gives us the sense of what it is to master love’s energies and to return by the flame of love to the center of the I AM Presence in the ritual of the ascension.

Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2

Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” was the result of his studying gypsy music.

There was a period when Liszt was living in Paris, and he almost considered himself a Parisian. But when he heard of the struggles of his compatriots during a very terrible flood that occurred, he rushed to their aid and performed musically to raise funds for his countrymen. He said: “In spirit I went back over the past, I looked into my inner self and discovered with inexpressible delight the whole treasure of childhood memories, pure and unspotted.”[12]

He hastened at once to Pest, gave a series of concerts for the benefit of the sufferers and had the satisfaction of bringing relief and comfort to thousands of needy people. While he was in Hungary, he became entranced with the music of the gypsies, as other great composers had. The difference between Liszt and these others is that he allowed the gypsy to totally express his form, his soul. He did not intrude any of his own preconceived ideas about music or try to mingle his style with the gypsy style. So in the Rhapsody we have a very pure form of gypsy music, which is the music of the secret rays.

Those wandering peoples who are without a country, such as the Jews, the gypsies, the wandering nomads that have walked the earth, are those particular groups whose destiny it has been to outpicture the secret rays. They have been deprived of a homeland that they might be forced to penetrate the fiery core of being. You can hear this melancholy and longing for the fiery core in their music, which is also an action of the minor key that marks the secret rays.

Thus you can see the selflessness of the Scorpio nature in Liszt, of removing himself to bring forth a certain pattern, unique, that could only be brought forth from the music. He was not content to simply rest in the city to hear the gypsy performances, but he went into the hills, into their camps and listened to the flow.

There are passages in the “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” which follow the infiring spiral, the fire that Ezekiel saw when he described the fire infolding itself.[13] The action of the going within is an action of releasing the inharmonies of our being into the flame. There are places in the Rhapsody when you hear seeming inharmonies, but actually this is the portrayal in music of the action of human creation being thrown off by the centrifugal force that is created as the fire infolds itself. The action culminates in final phases with the flowing action of the return to the center of Beness. Along with all of the tests of surrender, this action can be followed in the “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.”

Un Sospiro

In “Un Sospiro” (“A Breath”) we hear the action of Liszt’s focalizing the energies of the Holy Spirit. According to the ascended masters, the definition of genius is one who breaks all existing forms and evolves a new form, like an iconoclast, but in breaking the old forms and evolving new forms the genius is always in alignment with cosmic law.

We have all kinds of people in our society today who can break old forms, but they don’t know how to build anything else in its place. We have lot of people know how to tear down and criticize, but the great geniuses in every age have been those who have taken the entire wave of existing structures and preserved the best, leveled the worst, and started a whole new form.

You take Abraham, you take Moses, you take Jesus standing up against the entire tradition of the misuses of the Sanhedrin, the Sadducees and the Pharisees. He starts a whole a whole new wave, another cycle, another age, another level of Cosmos. This is genius, this is greatness in every field. We can note it today, and in past centuries in the great musicians, and we know that the perversion of genius is the tearing down without being able to contact the next spiral higher.

Christus

The climax of Liszt’s life’s work was the oratorio Christus. The thirteenth section of this work is an Eastern hymn. Its energies focus the victory of the Christ. The fourteenth section of the oratorio is called “Resurrexit!” (“He Is Risen”). It is the cycle of fourteen, because it is the mastery of the fourteen stations of the cross that enables us to receive the reward of the resurrection flame. You hear the energies of this fiery spiral of the threefold flame blending into the pearly white radiance in this music. In the final strains of The Christos we hear what the triumph can be in the individual soul of the resurrection of energies in the triumph of selflessness.

Sources

Elizabeth Clare Prophet, November 25, 1973.

  1. The Great Comet of 1811 was visible in the sky to the naked eye for 260 days in that year, a record until the appearance of Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997.
  2. Guy de Pourtalès, Franz Liszt, tr. Eleanor Stimson Brooks (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1926), p. 265.
  3. de Pourtalès, Franz Liszt, p. 73.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Moritz Saphir, quoted in de Pourtalès, pp. 73–74.
  6. Ibid., p. 73.
  7. Ibid., p. 33.
  8. The scorpion is the lower symbol of Scorpio; the eagle the higher.
  9. de Pourtalès, Franz Liszt, p. 95.
  10. Ibid., p. 195.
  11. Ibid., ), pp. 72–73.
  12. Liszt, letter to I. Massart, in John Knowles Paine, Theodore Thomas and Karl Klauser, eds., Famous Composers and Their Works, vol. 4 (Boston: J. B. Millet, 1891), p. 816.
  13. Ezek. 1:4.