Liszt wrote two works for orchestra that were inspired by Lenau, collectively called Episodes From Lenau’s “Faust.” One of these pieces is the famous The Dance in the Village Inn, also known as Mephisto Waltz No. 1. Liszt also wrote a version of the first waltz for piano four hands and a version for solo piano which has enough changes in it from the other versions that it is considered an independent work.
It took Liszt twenty years to revisit Lenau's version of the legend and he wrote the Mephisto Waltz No. 2 between 1880 and 1881. The original version was for orchestra, and like the first waltz Liszt made versions for piano four hands and solo piano, with the solo version being substantially different from the other ones.
The work was dedicated to the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, a composer that Liszt knew very well. Liszt had transcribed Saint-Saëns' tone poem Danse Macabre for piano a few years earlier which perhaps had inspired Liszt to write another Mephisto Waltz. Liszt was 70 years old and was in his last productive period as a composer.
Liszt loosely follows the program he used in his first waltz as the opening can be thought of as Mephisto tuning his violin. After the introduction, the music turns into an intense dance that is sprinkled with dissonance. The character of this waltz is more aggressive and more violent than the first waltz. There is new material introduced roughly half way through the piece that is more quiet and reflective, but still there remains an underlying tension. Passion builds until the dance of the beginning returns. The dance grows more hectic until the entire piece collapses into the interval of the tritone as in the beginning. The ending of the piece is written in E-flat major, but builds to an unresolved ending on the interval of the tritone B-F. The piece actually doesn't end so much as stops on bare B natural octaves.