I am trying to digest the Liszt Transcendental Étude No.1 (Prelude) chord progression in bar 9, 10, 11 with the full of tensions.

Three related sub-questions.

  1. In both the Zoltán Gárdonyi (1906–1986) and István Szelényi (1904–1972) imslp version recommended by Aron

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and the other older imslp version IMSLP55010-PMLP02567 "Liszt_Musikalische_Werke_2_Band_2_35_Transcendental Étude",

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the A4 marked in the RED color in the bar 9 --- should the A4-flat match with the top voice A5-flat as an octave? Are these typos or ...?

  1. From Bar 9, 10, to Bar 11, we see that there are a series of nine chord progressions. How should I understand Liszt's purposes and arrangement here?

I see that

  • the octave along the top and bottom voices of the right-hand go as:

(previous E) to E -> F -> A-flat -> D-flat -> F-sharp -> B -> E -> A -> F

  • the octave along the top and bottom voices of the left-hand go as:

(previous C) to B-flat -> A-flat -> G-flat -> F -> E -> D-sharp -> D -> C-sharp -> D

  1. How about the middle voices of the series of nine chord progressions?

Does Liszt arrange that with clear motivations or logics in mind?

1 Answer 1


1. Missing flat symbol?

The flat is already present in the previous chord. Since accidentals persist for the remainder of the measure, there's no need to repeat the symbol except as a courtesy accidental.

2. Chord progression

Note: Lots of enharmonic spellings.

As shown in the image below:

  • The area in the red box is a cadence in Db major (CTo - I - V - I).
  • The note heads in cyan comprise a sequence of ascending fourths.
  • The bass line comprises a descending Db major scale (red note heads) with some chromatic interpolations (blue note heads).

The overall progression is a cadence in Db major (red box) overlapping with a circle of fifths progression (Ab7/Gb through Dm).

3. Inner voices

  • In the right hand, all of the chords within the circle of fifths progression are in root position.
  • In the left hand, the notes are kept in close position. This means that while the upper-inner voice can proceed in thirds/sixths with the top/bottom voices, the lower-inner voice must alternate between thirds and fourths.

Analysis of Liszt mm. 9–11

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