Die Ideale ("The Ideals"), S. 106, is a symphonic poem composed by Franz Liszt in 1856–1857 and published in 1858 as No. 12. It was first performed on 5 September 1857. Die Ideale was composed for the unveiling of a Goethe and Schiller monument on Sept. 5th, 1857. It was inspired by multiple passages of the poem of the same name by Schiller, which Liszt liberally rearranged to create a program to his liking. This is an example of the extreme to which Liszt went to create the programmatic atmosphere of his Symphonic Poems.
Based on Schiller's poem of the same name, Franz Liszt's Die Ideale (1857) is the last entry in the composer's original group of twelve symphonic poems. This work was originally intended to be a full-length, three-movement symphony, but Liszt eventually reduced the work into a single compound movement -- a form that he was using with great frequency by the late 1850s. As always, formal considerations in Die Ideale are considerably more important to Liszt than mere adherence to his literary model. Liszt always sought to convey the essence of the philosophical struggle contained in his subject, rather than just the specifics of the text, and he makes significant changes to Schiller's poem throughout Die Ideale -- altering the order in which ideas are presented, making judicious repetitions, and even discarding Schiller's ending altogether in favor of "repeating the motifs from the opening movement as a joyous and assertive conclusion," as he himself wrote in the score.
The work opens with a thoughtful Andante, which serves as an introduction to the main body of the first section proper, which is lively and rhythmic. A meditative slow section follows, and then a fleeting scherzo. In the Maestoso conclusion (really more of a coda than a freestanding section), the themes from the opening are reasserted in a newly triumphant context.