21 biographers—in particular those of Ramann and Newman.62This scholarly tactic, hinted at by Saffle, is made explicit by Gibbs and Gooley: Over the past twenty years scholars have shown an impressive determination to organize and clean up Liszt’s shop, which was left messy by a huge output of letters and music, by the geographical dispersion of his papers, and by an enduring capacity for mythmaking on the part of his admirers as well as his detractors….A disadvantage of these preoccupations is that they have tended to isolate Liszt studies in a hermetic world, relatively out of touch with the larger field of musicology…. The resulting loss of intellectual vitality has found poor compensation in the defensive or even righteous tone that one characteristically finds in liner notes and biographies…. [Liszt] is defended to his detriment….63It is unfortunate that avoiding musical criticism should be necessary because of the zealotry of Liszt crusaders, but it may have been historically unavoidable. Today’scultural studies provide a way to study Liszt in his context while avoiding unnecessary involvement in debates on Liszt’s character and compositional value. Liszt as Avant-Garde ProphetBut what of those who engage with the music, confronting the issue of compositional value head-on? Liszt’s experimental approach toward form, harmony, and program has been well-known among Lisztians for many years, and their determined efforts have ensured that Liszt’s influence is now widely known.64The fragmentary and harmonically mysterious late 62Lina Ramann’s biography is frequently cited and censured; a relatively even-handed introduction to the project and its troubles appears in Walker, III: 275-79. Newman’s The Man Liszthas provoked much criticism: Walker refers to the work as a “foolish character assassination” and a “one-man crusade against Liszt,” while Adrian Williams calls it “disparaging and inaccurate”; see Walker, I: 25 and 210n; and Williams, Portrait of Liszt: By Himself and His Contemporaries(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), 277n. 63Gibbs and Gooley, xv-xvii. 64For a study from the 1970s, see Lajos Bárdos, “Ferenc Liszt, the Innovator,” Studia Musicologia Academiae ScientiarumHungaricae17, Fasc. 1/4 (1975): 3-38.
22 works fascinate theorists, yet they generally ignore the aesthetic experience of the music.65This is a particularly foreign approach to Liszt’s works, as his compositional style is arguably the most performance-driven of any nineteenth-century composer—as Rosen claims, “Liszt is perhaps the first composer of instrumental music whose music is, for the most part, conceived absolutely for public performance.”66Although Liszt did not expect or even desire performance of his late music during his lifetime, it seems unlikely that he would create this music hermetically, without even a future listener in mind. In addition, the idea that Liszt had abandoned the listener is absurd when one considers his lifetime of polemical writings on the