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Franz Liszt Biography

Franz Liszt is one of the two greatest pianists of all time depending on how you judge their greatness. Liszt and Rachmaninov did not play at the same time, but they were two of the best. Liszt is more interesting because of his status as a rock star in his time. He was a composer, but he was much more than a classical composer who played the piano. He was like a rock guitarist who played the most wicked solos you could imagine.
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1811 October 22: birth in Doborjan, Sopron County. 1820 October, first public performance at the Sopron Casino. November 26: concert at the Esterhazy palace in Pozsony: stipend from the Hungarian aristocrats. 1821 His parents take him to live in Vienna where he studies piano with Czerny, and composition with Salieri.

Franz Liszt Quotes

A person of any mental quality has ideas of his own. This is common sense. A theatre receives recognition through its initiative, which is indispensable for first-rate performances. As the mother teaches her children how to express themselves in their language, so one Gypsy musician teaches the other. They have never shown any need for notation.

1811-1823 in Habsburg

Franz Liszt was born in Western Hungary on 22 October 1811. His native village, Doborján (or Raiding in German), belongs today to Austria. Both of his parents — Adam (1776-1827), an employee in charge of sheep farming of Hungary’s richest and most powerful magnate Prince Miklós Esterházy, and Maria Anna Lager (1788-1866), orphan to an Austrian master baker — were of German origin.

1823-1839 in Paris

Was Adam right to take the child prodigy to the leading metropolis of Europe and take him on concert tours instead of letting him study and develop in peace? Master Czerny, who found Liszt’s playing undisciplined some years later, actually disapproved of it. From Liszt’s letters, written to his own children, we can see that he always felt handicapped because of his lack of formal education. In his essay “Lettres d’un bachelier es musique” published on 12 February 1837 in the Revue et Gazette music ale, he formulated it with more bitterness, mentioning that his father cast him “into the midst of a glittering society,” exposed him to the stigmatizing “humiliation of artistic dependency,” where he was “patronized and remunerated by” the aristocracy “like a juggler, or like Munito the performing dog.”

1839-1847 The Virtuoso Tours

The years between 1839 and 1847 were unprecedented triumphs for Liszt the virtuoso and creator of modern solo recital. In a few years with dazzling speed, he travelled over nearly the whole of Europe, with the exceptions of Scandinavia and the area south of the Balkan peninsula. From examining the map of his tours,10 we can see the incredible number of places he toured, including some he visited several times in Germany, Hungary, the Austrian Empire, France, Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, the Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and the principality of Romania. These tours included cities outlining the vast regions he travelled: Glasgow, Copenhagen, Riga, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Odessa, Bucharest, Constantinople (Istanbul), Gibraltar, Lisbon, Limerick, and Dublin. Almost impossible to imagine, he toured for the most part in horse-drawn coaches and jolting post-chaises as well as, upon occasion, by ship. He also travelled in numerous regions where

1848-1861 Weimar

Liszt summed up his aims in his testament in 1860: “At a certain time (about ten years ago) I envisaged Weimar as a new art period, similar to the one under Carl August, where Wagner and myself should have been leaders just like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller had been earlier, but unfavourable circumstances destroyed this dream.” In 1848 Liszt settled down with Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein in Weimar, capital of the German feudal Grand Duchy of Sachsen-Weimar. Liszt served as a conductor, Kapellmeister in extraordinary service, at the court of Grand Duke Carl Friedrich and later of his son Carl Alexander. The princess escaped from Russia with her young daughter Princess Marie Sayn-Wittgenstein, leaving behind the greatest part of her immense fortune. For Liszt, it meant a complete change of life, with restrictions and obligations of several kinds. No longer was he a free, travelling, and glorified artist. Now he had a place to live with a steady job and a commi