Grottammare and Liszt
The Town which gave hospitality to the great Hungarian

"Small centers"

In the immense wealth of his memories, Liszt inserts Grottammare among the places he had visited: it is the sweet pearl of serene harmonies of concerts in the moonlight, of his long lonely meditations and walks in the seaside at sunset. Every stop he has in the small town centres dresses itself with misterious resonance, be it the loving throbs of Lake Como (at Bellagio where his daughter Blondine was born) or the reveries of San Rossore Pinewoods, or the quest for the spiritual dimension in Assisi, the religious wandering to Loreto, or the ethical aesthetical dimension of his life at Villa d'Este of Tivoli.

In Umbria Liszt visits the city of Cascia and goes on pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of St.Rita.
Thus begins his spiritual journey which will have its end in Assisi, the birthplace of the most honored saint in the world, loved and admired for his humbleness, humanity, and uprightness.
These qualities which had always attracted the great Hungarian since his youth convince him to expouse a monk's life in order to be nearer St. Francesco to imitate him.
In 1865 he takes the holy orders, the four minor orders from Pio IX, and becomes abbot and canon ( Abbè Liszt ) of the Cathedral of Albano.

The wonderful Roman hills are the mystical scenery for the composition of Liszt's religious works among the most intense and meaningful of the whole production.
In this period he devotes himself mostly to the composition of sacred music and dedicates the two Legends for piano to St. Francesco of Assisi and St. Francesco of Paola. The two Legends, superb pages o music are performed before Pope Pio IX.

Of all the places visited by Liszt and where he lives during his Italian Annèes de Pèlerinage Rome is always printed in his memory. The incomparable stateliness and the suggestion that the Eternal City induces within him will accompany him during his life.
The Great Hungarian could be defined a citizen of Rome because the stages which mark his extraordinary life are Roman and Rome his, since his first stay a source of aspirations and inspirations.

Liszt's roman memories are full of details: the streets he walks in, the various domiciles from Via della Purificazione to Quattro Fontane, from Monte Mario, to the Convent of St. Francesca Romana and then Via dei Greci, Via St: Felice, Via Bocca di Leone, the Vatican City, Albano.
All the most impressive views of the wonderfull City are intensely and deeply lived by him.
The restlessness of his soul doesn't allow Liszt to stop definitely in the places he sees and loves, but he always returns to Rome because it's not easy for him to part from the Eternal City where he feels the need to expiate his sins and where he separates from his beloved Carolyne despite the Pope's dispensation which allows him to marry her in Church.
In Rome he becomes abbot, in Rome he feels, above all, the unending necessity to follow the ways of art.

In the two letters written to Carolyne from Grotta-Mare one on the 23rd of July and the other on 8th August Liszt expresses his spiritual and existential creed in a by now determined way.

The same year in October, he moves to Villa d'Este by invitation from Cardinal Hohenlohe, to compose in peace. Rome, no more attracts him, nor he feels attracted by its concert life. It's Tivoli with its nature mistically loved by him which becomes the new centre of his interest : he is convinced he can now compose in his own way.

Tivoli gives him hospitality for about 20 years in the rooms of the wonderfull Villa d' Este.
There he composes pages of music considered among the best of his production. There he enjoys the gurgling and the beauty of the fountains ( les jeux d'eau a la Villa d'Este ), the luxuriant vegetation of the Campagna.
He calls the rooms of the Villa where he lives "mon colombier", my dovecot...

Trad. Prof. Adriano Pagani