The manuscript of the Grand Concert Fantasy upon Spanish Themes is dated ‘Lisbonne, 2 Février, 45’, but the work was not published until after Liszt’s death. It appeared in 1887, with a dedication to Liszt’s first biographer, Lina Ramann. We do not know why Liszt kept this piece to himself for so many years, but he must have thought about it quite late in life to apply the dedication. The later Spanish Rhapsody shares one theme with the piece, and an unfinished manuscript in Weimar also contains some material in common. The present enormous piece is based upon three melodies: a fandango, which is heard in an opening flamboyant fantasy, and will be recognized immediately by anyone who recollects the third act of Mozart’s Figaro; the Jota aragonesa, encountered in a number of famous musical homages to Spain and here treated in a slow and rhapsodic manner; and a cachuca, which first appears as a subsidiary melody to the jota, and then returns—after further development of the fandango—as a section in its own right and at the proper tempo, now with fragments of the jota which eventually gains supremacy in the coda.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1997