It is as well to admit at once that the Bülow-Marsch
, despite its good intentions of honouring Liszt’s favourite conductor and quondam son-in-law for his achievements with the Meiningen orchestra, is not one of Liszt’s finest achievements. There are many points of interest in the tonal language, but some passages turn out very dry and predictable. Relief comes with a more winsome second theme, which recalls the harmonic language of Parsifal
, but the first theme is scarcely a theme at all. The piece was orchestrated by one of Liszt’s students, but Bülow waspishly declined to play it. Versions for duet and for two pianos, eight hands, both by Liszt himself, have fared no better over the years, and the solo version is likewise ignored. It could unfortunately be that Liszt’s occasional moments of depression, coupled with his increasing reliance upon cognac—up to two bottles a day towards the end of his life—had some bearing upon this work’s failure.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1994