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Franz Liszt

Life of the Virtuoso

Franz, or Ferencz Liszt, was a Hungarian composer, virtuoso pianist, conductor, teacher, arranger, and organist of the Romantic era. He was a prolific composer and was one of the most prominent representatives of the New German School. Among Liszt's musical contributions were symphonic poems, thematic transformation, and harmony innovations.

Liszt was born in the village of Doborján in the Kingdom of Hungary, Austrian Empire in 1811. Liszt's father played the piano, violin, cello, and guitar, and thus Liszt was taught piano at the age of seven and began composing at eight. After his concert debut at the age of nine, he was sponsored to study music in Vienna.

Liszt moved to Paris starting 1827, after his father's death. He gave piano lessons and composition lessons to earn money, often from early morning until late at night. He took up smoking and drinking, habits he would continue throughout his life.

In 1833, Liszt began his relationship with Countess Marie d'Agoult. She left her family to join Liszt in Geneva in 1835 and their daughter, Blandine, was born there. During this time, Liszt taught at the Geneva Conservatory, and argued, in the Paris Revue et gazette musicale essay for the raising of the artist from the status of a servant to a respected member of the community.

After that, the started touring Europe and giving various concerts, and it was his most brilliant period as a concert pianist.

During the 1960s, Liszt experiences many downs. He lost his son and daughter with the Countess, and retreated to the monastery Madonna del Rosario.

On July 2nd, 1881, LIszt fell down the stairs of a hotel in Weimar. Previously that month, it was noticed that his feet and legs were swelling. However, up to that point, he had been in good health and was fit and a active. He was left immobilized for eight weeks after the accident and never fully recovered from it. He developed dropsy, asthma, isomnia, a cataract of the left eye, and heart disease. He died in Bayreuth, Germany, on July 31st, 2886, at the age of 74, officially as a result of pneumonia.

The Pianist

Quote Icon Mournful and yet grand is the destiny of the artist.
- Franz Liszt

Liszt was, no doubt, one of the greatest piano virtuoso ever lived. Carl Czerny, Liszt's teacher, claimed that Liszt was a natural who played according to feeling, and reviews of his concerts especially praise the brilliance, strength, and precision. His ability to keep absolute tempo was also mentioned.

He is sometimes mocked in the press for facial expression and gestures at the piano. He also had extravagant liberties on a score: he would add cadenzas, tremolos and trills when he played the first movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata and created a dramatic scene by changing the tempo between Largo and Presto. It was studied and debated whether or not Liszt adored this style, because many evidences showed that he did this to gain applause from the audience, but there were also evidences where he prefers the strict following of the score and prioritize musicality over fast tempi.