Thomas Goss explores how the subject of romance is elevated to philosophical and artistic heights when merged with the identity of a great composer.
For composer films that focus on romance, you don’t have to look far. There are many examples, both good and bad, largely from the era of classic cinema. Some of these are straight-up love stories, vehicles for their star actors, concocted to develop their following with an audience of higher cultural yearnings. The historicity is flimsy at best, and the romantic conclusions cloying and unintelligent.
Then there’s the occasional film that attempts to set the record straight, but becomes side-tracked by the culture of censorship into confused narratives.
Halfway between these two extremes is a sincere, mostly factual composer film: “Song Without End,” a 1960 film depicting Liszt’s romantic intertwinings with the two great loves of his life, Marie D’Agoult and the Princess Caroline zu Sayn-Wittgenstein.