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Franz Liszt
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Franz Liszt

Franz (sometimes Ferenc) Liszt (October 22, 1811 - July 31, 1886) was a virtuoso pianist and composer, born in Raiding, Hungary.

Liszt studied and played at Vienna and Paris and for most of his life toured throughout Europe giving concerts.

Liszt was well respected as his virtuosity had been admired by composers and performers alike throughout Europe, especially for his exuberant piano transcriptions of both operas and famous symphonies of the time, reducing the cost of hearing such music. His great generosity with both money and time were also much appreciated.

Born in Hungary, Liszt displayed incredible talent at a young age, easily sight-reading multiple staves at once. He got his first lessons from his father Adam Liszt, who worked at the court of count Esterházy. Franz' first piano teacher was Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837), but his father couldn't pay the lessons any more. Local aristocrats noticed his talent and paid him a scholarship, so that he went with his family to Vienna. Due to this, Liszt never learned his native language of Hungarian, which he deeply regretted later in his letters and diaries.

In Vienna he was educated in the technical domain by Carl Czerny. Antonio Salieri taught him the technic of improvisation. So in 13th April 1823 he gave a concert and it is said that the 53-year-old Beethoven had given him a kiss for his marvellous playing. He left Vienna in 1823 to travel around and get popular.

In Paris, Liszt attended a concert by the virtuoso violinist Paganini and became motivated to become the greatest pianist of his day. He often took to seclusion in his room, and was heard practising for over 10 hours a day. In this period he wrote 12 etudes to capture the depth of his incredible talent, the most famous of which is La Campanella, a study in octaves. He fraternized with such noted composers of his time as Frederic Chopin, Robert Schumann, and Richard Wagner, whom his daughter later married.

From 1835 to 1839 Franz Liszt lived with Marie Catherine Sophie de Flavigny, ex-wife of the Comte d'Agoult. She is better known by her pen name, "Daniel Stern". They had two daughters and one son.

In 1847 Liszt met Princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein and he lived with her until his death. The Princess was an author, whose one work was published in 16 volumes, each having over 1600 pages. Her longwinded writing style had some effect on Liszt himself. His biography of Chopin and his chronology and analysis of Gypsy music (which later inspired Béla Bartók) both were written in the Princess' loquacious style.

In 1848, he gave up public performances on the piano and went to Weimar, remaining there until 1861. During this period he acted as conductor at court concerts and on special occasions at the theatre, gave lessons to a number of pianists, including the great virtuoso Hans von Bülow, who married Liszt's daughter Cosima in 1857. He also wrote articles championing Berlioz and Wagner, and produced those orchestral and choral pieces upon which his reputation as a composer mainly rests. His efforts on behalf of Wagner, who was then an exile in Switzerland, culminated in the first performance of Lohengrin in 1850.

The compositions belonging to the period of his residence at Weimar comprise two piano concertos, in E flat and in A, the Todtentanz, the Concerto pathtique for two pianos, the solo sonata An Robert Schumann, sundry Etudes, fifteen Rhapsodies Hongroises, twelve orchestral Pomes symphoniques, Eine Faust Symphonie, and Eine Symphonie zu Dantes Divina Commedia, the 13th Psalm for tenor solo, chorus and orchestra, the choruses to Herder's dramatic scenes Prometheus, and the Graner Fest Messe.

Liszt retired to Rome in 1861, and joined the Franciscan order in 1865. From 1869 onwards Abbe Liszt divided his time between Rome and Weimar, where during the summer months he continued to receive pupils gratis, including Alexander Siloti. During this time, his relationship with Wagner grew more strained. Cosima left Bülow, who abused her, for Wagner in 1869. The intensely devout Catholic was personally repulsed by his new son-in-law, but continued to champion his music, and regularly attended the Bayreuth Festivals.

From 1876 up until his death at Bayreuth on July 31, 1886, he also taught for several months every year at the Hungarian Conservatoire of Budapest.

Noted Works

External links

Brahms and Liszt (Brahms being a contemporary composer), or its truncated form Liszt, is Cockney rhyming slang for pissed, meaning drunk.