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Franz Liszt was a Hungarian pianist and composer of enormous influence and originality. He was renowned in Europe during the Romantic movement.
Franz Liszt - Mini Biography (2:31)
Franz Liszt is regarded as possibly the greatest piano virtuoso of all time. A child prodigy, he toured as a concert pianist until he began teaching and composing.
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Franz Liszt was born on October 22, 1811, in Raiding, Hungary. His father, a multi-instrumentalist, taught him to play piano. By the time Liszt was 9 years old, he was performing in concert halls. As an adult, he toured extensively throughout Europe. He had an affair and children with Marie díAgoult, and later lived with Princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein. By his death, he had written more than 700 compositions.
"A person of any mental quality has ideas of his own. This is common sense."
"Truth is a great flirt."
"Real men are sadly lacking in this world, for when they are put to the test they prove worthless."
Franz Liszt, one of the most impressive figures in all of music history, was born on October 22, 1811, in Raiding, Hungary. His father, Adam, played the cello, as well as several other instruments, and passionately taught Franz how to play piano. By the age of 6, young Liszt was recognized as a child prodigy; by the age of 8, he was composing elementary works; and by the age of 9, he was appearing in concerts. His father worked as a secretary for Prince Nicholas Esterhazy, and, after the boy played for a group of wealthy sponsors, he asked the prince for extended leave so he could devote his time to enriching his sonís musical education.
Father and son traveled to Vienna, and Antonio Salieri, Mozart's old rival, quickly became a proponent of Liszt's genius. Upon hearing the boy play at a private home, he offered to train him in composition free of charge. For several months, the young pianist held performances for both musicians and kings. His most impressive talent was his uncanny ability to improvise an original composition from a melody suggested by an audience member. At the age of 12, Liszt traveled with his father to Paris to seek admittance to the Paris Conservatory. The admissions council denied him a place in the school on the grounds that he was a foreigner. His father, ever determined, turned to Ferdinando Paer to teach his son advanced composition. It was during this time that Liszt wrote his first and only opera, Don Sanche.
In 1826, Adam Liszt passed away. The event proved to be extremely traumatic for the 15- year-old Franz Liszt, and it necessitated that he share their one-bedroom Parisian apartment with his mother. In the years that followed, Franz Liszt lost interest in music to such a degree that he began to question his profession. He turned away from performing and started to read profusely, delving into books on the subjects of art and religion. What he read during that time would greatly influence his later musical works.
In 1833, at the age of 22, Liszt met the Comtesse Marie d'Agoult. Inspired by love and nature, he composed several impressions of the Swiss countryside in "Album d'un voyageur," which would later surface as the "Années de Pèlerinage" ("Years of Pilgrimage"). In 1834, Liszt debuted his piano compositions "Harmonies poétiques et religieuses" and a set of three "Apparitions."
Strengthened by new works and several public performances, Liszt began to take Europe by storm. His reputation was bolstered even further by the fact that he gave away many of his concert proceeds to charities and humanitarian causes.
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