If one decides to take seriously, as most Busonologists hesitate to do, the composer’s insistent establishment of his mature opus one around 1900 (with the famous Second Violin Sonata in E minor), then the six Elegies could be considered the first "mature" piano pieces by the composer. Indeed, this seems ludicrous considering the volume and quality of piano work he produced in the last decade of the nineteenth century! Yet, one must admit the radical change of style announced in these six intensely beautiful works. The title of the first Elegy seems to summarize Busoni’s maturity : "After the turning point."
The set illustrates Busoni’s fascinating compositional practice which gives the haunting impression that nearly every work after 1900 is a kind of sketch for something else - a weird kind of self-transcription creating not simply a catalogue of works, but a network of pieces Harry Halbreich called "satellites." Busoni’s way of working almost defies the notion of a finished "œuvre!"
1. Nach der Wendung [Recueillement]
3. Meine Seele bangt und hofft zu Dir
4. Turandots Frauengemach
5. Die Nächtlichen [Walzer]
A seventh Elegy would be added in 1909, another self-transcription called Berceuse BV 252 b.
Note the self-references, first from the past:
All’Italia is a transcription of movement II of the Piano Concerto BV 247
Turandots Frauengemach revisits a movement of the Turandot Suite for orchestra BV 248, which would eventually become the stage work Turandot BV 272. The tune will be recognized by all Anglo-Saxons as "Greensleeves!"
Finally, pointing towards the future:
Meine Seele bangt und hofft zu Dir will later form the opening of Fantasia Contrappuntistica BV 256 a.
Die Nächtlichen and Erscheinung could be considered "sketches" for the opera Die Brautwahl BV 258.
The so-called seventh Elegy is a piano sketch of an orchestral work Berceuse élégiaque BV 252 a.
In a set entitled "six new piano pieces" - only one (Nach der Wendung) is both new and completely a piano piece!