Liszt’s “Les Adieux”: A Fantasy on Gounod’s “Roméo et Juliette”

On April 27, 1867, Charles Gounod’s five act opera, Roméo et Juliette, was premiered at Paris’ Théâtre-Lyrique Impérial du Châtelet. The same year, Franz Liszt composed Les Adieux (“The Farewell”), a solo piano work described as “a Rêverie on a motif from Gounod’s opéra Roméo et Juliette.”

As the pianist and musicologist Leslie Howard writes,

He really uses several motifs from the opera, all concerned with the partings of the lovers: the end of the balcony scene, the morning after the marriage, and the scene at Juliet’s tomb, taking quite small phrases to create what almost amounts to an original composition.

The quiet opening bars of Les Adieux float into the hazy, pastel world of dreams. The music is infused simultaneously with innocence and sadness. There are moments of intense, aching chromaticism which provide echoes of another significant opera which premiered two years earlier—Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.

Here is a recording by the Korean-American pianist, Soyeon Kate Lee:

Recordings

  • Liszt: Les adieux, rêverie sur un motif de l’opera Romeo et Juliette, S409, Soyeon Kate Lee Naxos.com

Featured Image: The Franz Liszt House in Weimar

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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