Liebesträume, S. 541: No. 3 in A-flat major - Franz Liszt

Among the wealth of Franz Liszt's solo piano works, "Liebesträume, S. 541: No. 3 in A-flat major" stands as an epitome of the Romantic era's expressiveness. The third in a set of three solo piano works, this piece eloquently epitomizes Liszt's ability to translate poetic emotions into music. Its impassioned theme and rich harmonic textures make it a favorite among pianists and audiences alike. Fusing technical virtuosity with profound emotion, this work is a showcase of Liszt's compositional mastery.

The Romantic Genesis of Liebesträume

Composed during the height of the Romantic period, Liebesträume, which means "Dreams of Love," encapsulates the emotional depth characteristic of Liszt’s mature period. The release of Liebesträume No. 3 in 1850 came at a time where the composer was fully established and widely celebrated across Europe. Originally conceived as lieder—art songs for piano and voice—and later transcribed solely for the piano, this piece has since become synonymous with Liszt's name.

The work is known not only for its Romantic allure but also for its connection to the poems by Ludwig Uhland and Ferdinand Freiligrath, from which Liszt drew inspiration. This particular nocturne is often linked to Freiligrath's poem "O lieb, so lang du lieben kannst" (Oh love, as long as love you can), infusing the composition with a profound, narrative quality.

Unveiling Liebesträume No. 3: A Musical Masterpiece

Harmonic Brilliance and Lyricism

Analytically, Liebesträume No. 3 in A-flat major is a testament to Liszt's revolutionary approach to harmony and form. The piece is predominantly structured in ternary form (ABA), encompassing a lyrical theme that is introduced, varied, and recapitulated. Liszt employs a rich harmonic language that includes unique chromaticism, augmented chords, and a wide array of diminished seventh chords.

The work is pitched in the key of A-flat major, a choice often associated with warm and tender emotions in the Romantic musical palette. The song-like melody in the right hand is supported by a flowing accompaniment in the left, with the notable use of arpeggios and cadenza-like flourishes that are characteristic of Liszt’s piano compositions.

Through modulatory sequences that evoke a sense of longing and desire, Liszt masterfully creates tension and release—a hallmark of effective Romantic music. The piece also exhibits the technique of thematic transformation, a compositional trick Liszt would frequently employ to develop melodic ideas within a single piece and across his oeuvre.

Enduring Resonance: Why Liebesträume No. 3 Remains a Favorite

The lasting popularity of Liebesträume No. 3 can be attributed to its emotional depth and technical refinement. The piece manages to convey profound affection without descending into sentimentality, a balance that has endeared it to many generations of piano enthusiasts.

Furthermore, the technical demands of the piece, while considerable, are not beyond the reach of advanced pianists, allowing a broad spectrum of performers to interpret the work. Its haunting melody is instantly recognizable, often evoking a nostalgic response from those familiar with its strains.


Franz Liszt's Liebesträume No. 3 in A-flat major endures as a masterpiece of the solo piano repertoire. With its profound expressivity, innovative harmonic language, and lasting popularity, it encapsulates the very essence of Romantic piano music. As such, it remains an essential study for pianists and a cherished listening experience for classical music aficionados.

Publication date: 30. 01. 2024