Liszt’s own contribution to the literature of incidental music comprises just two works—Vor hundert Jahren
, which is an overture-cum-melodrama for spoken voice and orchestra for a play by Halm (S347, unpublished to date), and an overture and choruses to Herder’s play Prometheus Bound
, which was among those works too large to be accommodated on the same evening as the play for which it was intended. In the end, Liszt revised the Prometheus
work thoroughly, transforming the overture into what we now know as the independent symphonic poem Prometheus
. The symphonic poem could still serve as an overture to the choruses, which were now punctuated with a poetic oration by Richard Pohl to get through the gist of Herder’s play in indecent haste to allow room for well over an hour of music. Amongst the choral sections of the work, the Reapers’ Chorus proved instantly popular and Liszt issued versions of it for piano solo and for piano duet. Among an output so vast as Liszt’s it is perhaps an inevitable pity that this attractive trifle has fallen into oblivion.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1992