In 1987 David Crawford announced, in the pages of this journal and elsewhere, that the University of Michigan had acquired the previously unknown autograph manuscript of Franz Liszt's piano etude Ab Irato.(1) A gift of Mrs.
In the upper-left portion of the first page, near the title and parallel with the fold, is a German inscription in Liszt's hand requesting that his title - Ab Irato - not be changed and that a proof-sheet be sent to him before release of the edition.(3) At the foot of the last page is another German inscription indicating the manuscript was given to Theodor Kullak (1818-1882).
Ab Irato, in the form presented in the autograph, has its antecedents in an earlier version of this etude.
Ab Irato has its origins in an untitled etude, ninety-six measures long, written by Liszt expressly for the Methode des Methodes de Piano of Francois Joseph Fetis and Ignaz Moscheles, published in Paris by Maurice Schlesinger in 1840.
He also added a new programmatic title - Ab Irato - reflecting the sense of irritation and mounting rage embodied in the spiky, antecedent line of its central triplet motif, and the violence of its consequent chordal outbursts.
Ab Irato makes a brief appearance in Liszt's published correspondence.