Happy birthday Franz Liszt!

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Franz Liszt (October 22, 1811—July 31, 1886) was a Hungarian composer, virtuosic pianist, and teacher. He is considered part of the "New German School."

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Liszt was born Raiding, Hungary to Anna and Adam Liszt. His father was a cellist and taught him how to play the piano. He showed his talent early on, making compositions by the time he was eight and appearing in concerts by the time he was nine. His father was highly invested in his musical formation; Adam Liszt even took extended leave from his post as secretary for Prince Nicholas Esterhazy in order to dedicate himself to it. (Image source)

The two traveled to Vienna where he received training from Antonio Salieri, the music director of the Viennese court. By the time he was 12 years old, Liszt and his father went to Paris to seek admittance to the Paris Conservatory. When he was denied as a result of his nationality, his father enlisted the help of Ferdinando Paer to teach his son advanced composition. The product of this was Liszt's only opera Don Sanche.

Liszt's father's death in 1826 had a deep effect on Liszt. He moved in with his mother and lost interest in music for a time, turning instead to books about art and religion. Some influences from this period included Victor Hugo, Alphonse de Lamartine and Heinrich Heine. He became inspired by the July Revolution of 1830 and composed a revolutionary symphony. Not long after, he met Hector Berlioz, whose work influenced his own down the line.

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When he was 22 years old, he met Countess Marie d'Agoult. Enchanted, Liszt went on to write "Album d'un voyageur," "Harmonies poétiques et religieuses," and a set of three "Apparitions."

He spent the 1830s and early 1840s touring Europe, becoming ever more popular because he chose to donate his proceeds to charities. His popularity, particularly among women, became so intense that it became called "Lisztomania."

However, in 1847, he met Princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein. The two began a relationship, resulting in him leaving his nomadic life for a more domestic life with her. He chose to settle at Weimar, where had previously been appointed Kapellmeister Extraordinaire. There, he served as conductor at court and gave piano lessons. He also created what would become known as the symphonic poem during this time. (Image source)

The 1860s saw the lowlights of Liszt's life. He lost both of his children, and then endured the condemnation from famed composer Johannes Brahms. He also was unable to marry his longtime companion Carolyne due to legalities surrounding her previous marriage. He chose to recluse in a small village outside of Rome. There, he continued to compose until his death. He also became more deeply involved with the Catholic church at this time.

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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Wednesday, 22 October 2014
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