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This is from Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody 2 in C# minor. Is this a double sharp sign? It looks kind of funny. The edition is by Julia Rivé-King, a Liszt student.

x with four dots

3 Answers 3

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If you compare your edition with the first edition here http://imslp.org/wiki/Special:ImagefromIndex/67715 you are right, it's a weird sign for a double sharp. I've never seen one like that before.

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  • Thank you, this answers it in the affirmative. That's a double sharp alright. Mine is from the one by Julia Rivé-King (at the request of Liszt, it says). May 28, 2016 at 2:58
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    This might be a misusage by the engraver. That mark looks more like one of those "take it from here after the second repetition" signs for specifying the large-scale execution order of a movement. May 28, 2016 at 16:07
  • I thought the same thing myself while researching this, but that didn't seem like a fitting symbol in this particular context. May 29, 2016 at 16:54
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    @KilianFoth: I've seen the same symbol used for double-sharp elsewhere. See page 5 of My Grandmother's watch loc.gov/resource/sm1878.09874.0/?sp=5 second measure.
    – supercat
    Feb 8, 2017 at 18:19
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Short summary: This was a standard way to represent a double sharp at the time of printing, but the representation was changed afterwards and will not be recognized easily by musicians today.

The fact, that some features were surprisingly stable in musical notation over the centuries receives little attention compared to those features, which changed significantly, see similar questions here concerning the representation of rests and clefs.

A Liszt-contemporaneous German reference, Meyers Konversationslexikon 1885-92, has this article for Doppelkreuz (double sharp):

Meyers Konversationslexikon 1885-92.

For completeness here the link to the article.

So no, this is no misuse of a different symbol as suggested in a comment, but one example how double-sharps looked like in that time. Interesting side-note: the article mentions two even older symbols for the double-sharp but claims that the sign in the example from the question is among those one would normally use.

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  • If you can preface your answer with a simple sentence that it is indeed a variant of a double-sharp symbol, I will mark your answer accepted. Jul 7, 2023 at 10:00
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It’s to mark something important, I use it all the time

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    Reminder, all: please do not use flags for inaccurate answers.
    – Richard
    May 30, 2023 at 0:11

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