Concert Etude on a Motif from I Puritani by Bellini WoO.12A
In July 2012 researchers sifting through a bundle of manuscripts of Liszt's organ music in the collection of the Nederlands Muziek Instituut in The Hague came across two autographs of piano compositions by Raff, complete with performance markings added by Liszt. The eminent Liszt scholar Michael Short, unable to identify them from raff.org's online catalogue, contacted the web site and it was immediately apparent that these were two works by Raff which had not previously been catalogued. One appeared to be a work based on an melody from Bellini's opera I Puritani, the other an original fantasy.
The shorter of the two pieces is entitled in Raff's flowing script: Etude de Concert sur un motif des "Puritains" de Bellini par Joachim Raff and has 117 bars of music in its 10 pages. The manuscript is endorsed by Raff as Manuscript des Verfassers (author's manuscript) and has numerous performance markings and edits confirmed by Michael Short as being in Liszt's hand. In common with all the other surviving Raff autographs, of which there are very few, this one does not bear any clues to its date of composition.
Download the autograph of the Concert Etude on I Puritani WoO.12A (PDF: 4.54Mb)
Although not listed in Schäfer's Verzeichnis, the Concert Etude on I Puritani was not unknown. In her biography of her father Helene Raff mentions that, whilst working for the publisher Schuberth in Hamburg in the closing months of 1849, Raff "didn't even have the time to finish an Etude on 'I Puritani'...". She gives no direct source for this assertion, but from the context it appears to be one of the many letters which he wrote to his friend Kunigunde Heinrich, from several of which Helene Raff quotes in the same passage. It is the only mention of the work in any source now available.
Whilst living in Stuttgart in 1847 Raff had written his Capricietto on motifs from Der Freischützop.35, a freely-composed fantasia on themes from Weber's opera, which he sold this straight away to a local publisher who had a ready market for such salon pieces. During the rest of his time in the Württemberg capital Raff, perpetually short of cash, composed a further seven such fantasies based on other well known operas of the day, such as Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots and Bellini's La Sonnambula. In all probability, when he suddenly left Stuttgart for Hamburg in the autumn of 1849 he had already part-composed a second Bellini fantasy, this work based on the Italian's last opera: I Puritani. Raff's assertion, reported by his daughter, that it remained unfinished during his three months in Hamburg, coupled with the workload which he faced once he joined Liszt in Weimar in January 1850, makes it most likely that he completed the work during his relaxing month's stay with Liszt in the spa town of Bad Eilsen in December 1849. Liszt's notes on the autograph indicate that he didn't just play through the work but must have performed it, although probably only privately at his Altenburg home. No doubt the manuscript remained amongst his papers when Raff left Weimar for Wiesbaden in 1856.
The Concert Etude on a Motif from I Puritani by Bellini has been allocated a WoO number of 12A on the assumption that it was indeed completed by Raff in December 1849 or very shortly thereafter.