Liszt and Lamartine: “Apparitions”

"Classical music speaks to us in a way that lyrical music can often obscure. The nature of speech and language, and the effects they have on our minds, imparts a message or describes an environment to which instrumental music becomes subordinate, or at least supplementary. Music in an age of the “self”—of self-absorption, self-aggrandizement, and self-prioritization—makes the verbal medium more necessary in order to express in words how we relate the world to ourselves and others. One might even say that it is the only possible way that art is conveyed today; that is, through verbal explanation where the audience is told how to feel about a particular piece, and explained why. Art, arguably, should not need such facilitation.

Words are only one level at which we can understand the world. And language is, frankly, an empty medium if not interpreted through an initial, alternate sense. Art, for this reason, we say is felt. Music is no exception to this concept. If what we seek in music, or any other form of expression, is self-validation, then language and explicitness are the only options. If what we seek in music, however, is aesthetic challenge in the form of musical art, then classical music can never be dismissed from our libraries. Classical music requires two things that are, perhaps, uncomfortable for us modern men and women: extended patience and long-spanning attention. Not to mention that classical music (superficially) deprives us of the sense on which we so heavily rely today—the visual—and removes the simplest layer of our auditory sense—language—that directly tells us how to feel or think about a certain topic. Instead, it leaves us without direct visuals and without direct audition. This absence of explicit sense exposure and explanation is, I believe, what creates good art, be it visual, musical, or literary."