Iain Farrington

Pianist, organist, composer, arranger

Franz Liszt - Mephisto Waltz No. 1

 for Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Piano


Franz Liszt (1811-1886) composed his first Mephisto Waltz in 1859-1862, subsequently composing another three Waltzes in the 1880s. The first Waltz exists in three versions by Liszt: as an orchestral tone poem, in a piano duet reduction of the orchestral score, and as a free virtuosic piano showpiece. The orchestral work is the second of Liszt’s ‘Two Episodes from Lenau’s Faust’ and is subtitled Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke (Dance in a village inn). Liszt was inspired by Nikolaus Lenau’s dramatic poem Faust, in particular a scene depicting Mephistopheles (the Devil) and Faust at a village dance. The Waltz translates this scene into a brilliant musical work. At the opening, Mephistopheles takes a violin and forcefully carries out devilish tuning, full of wild open fifths. He then embarks on an impetuous dance tune with energy and abandon. This subsides into sensitive and erotic music, while Faust seduces a local village beauty. The dance gradually picks up, building to a demonic and frenzied climax until all energy is spent. Distant birdsong is heard as Faust and his lover depart into the woods to continue their amorous pursuits. This arrangement combines the solo piano version with the orchestral work, using the virtuoso piano coda to finish, rather than the optional quiet conclusion to the orchestral work.


Listen to a performance of the arrangement here


Available to purchase from Aria Editions here