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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.
Richard Wagner wrote his first opera, "The Fairies," at the age of 21. He used all elements of theater, from music to lighting, to create "total art work."
Raised in a family of musicians, Johann Sebastian Bach played the harpsichord and organ from an early age. Deeply religious, he composed sacred music to be played in churches.
A short biography of Ludwig van Beethoven.
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For example, when in 1842 he found out about the Great Fire of Hamburg, which had destroyed much of the city, he gave concerts to create aid for its thousands of homeless. On a personal level, however, matters were less than glorious for Liszt. His relationship with Marie d'Agoult, which by that point had produced three children, finally ended. In 1847, while in Kiev, Liszt met Princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein. Her influence on him was dramatic; she encouraged him to stop touring and, instead,
teach and compose, so he could have a more domestic life with her. Liszt gave his final concert for pay at Elisavetgrad in September, and then spent the winter with the princess at her estate in Woronince.
The next year, the couple moved to Weimar, Germany, and Liszt began to concentrate on a higher missionóthe creation of new musical forms. His most famous achievement during this time was the creation of what would become known as the symphonic poem, a type of orchestral musical piece that illustrates or evokes a poem, a story, a painting, or other nonmusical source. Aesthetically, the symphonic poem is in some ways related to opera; it is not sung, but it does unite music and drama. Liszt's new works inspired eager pupils to seek his guidance. For the next 10 years, Liszt's radical and innovative works found their way into the concert halls of Europe, winning him staunch followers and violent adversaries.
The decade that followed was a difficult one for Liszt. In December of 1859, he lost his son Daniel, and in September of 1862, his daughter Blandine also died. In 1860, one of Liszt's rivals, Johannes Brahms, co-published a manifesto against him and the modern composers, just one chapter in what was to become known as the War of the Romantics. In that same year, Liszt and Carolyne attempted to wed in Rome, but on the eve of their marriage, their plans were thwarted due to her incomplete divorce papers. Discouraged, Liszt vowed to live a more solitary life, and in 1863 moved to a small, basic apartment in the monastery Madonna del Rosario, just outside of Rome.
In 1865, Liszt received the tonsure, the traditional haircut kept by monks during that period, and was from then on sometimes called "the Abbé Liszt." On July 31, 1865, he received the four minor orders in the Catholic Church. He continued, however, to work on new compositions, and in later years, he established the Royal National Hungarian Academy of Music in Budapest. Liszt's works in his later years were simpler in form, yet more extreme in harmony.
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