Liszt restored to greatness
Liszt noted on the sonata’s manuscript that it was completed on February 2, 1853, but he had composed an earlier version by 1849. The Sonata was dedicated to Schumann, in return for Schumann’s dedication of his Fantasie op 17 (published 1839) to Liszt which was his contribution to the monument of Beethoven in Bonn that Liszt had undertaken to organise. A copy of the work arrived at Schumann’s house in May 1854, after he had entered Endenich sanatorium. Schumann’s wife Clara did not perform the Sonata as she found it “merely a blind noise”. The Sonata was published by Breitkopf & Härtel in 1854 and first performed on January 27, 1857 in Berlin by Hans von Bulow – Liszt’s son in law .It was attacked by the noted critic Eduard Hanslick who said “anyone who has heard it and finds it beautiful is beyond help”. Brahms reputedly fell asleep when Liszt performed the work in 1853.However, the Sonata drew enthusiasm from Wagner also Liszt’s son in law, Cosima having left von Bulow for Wagner. He heard it in a private performance by Karl Klindworth on April 5, 1855.It took a long time for the Sonata to become commonplace in concert repertoire, because of its technical difficulty and its status as “new” music.