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Biography

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Overview (4)

Date of Birth 22 October 1811Doborján, Hungary, Austrian Empire [now Raiding, Burgenland, Austria]
Date of Death 31 July 1886Bayreuth, Bavaria, Germany  (pneumonia)
Birth NameFerenc Liszt
Height 6' 1" (1.85 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Franz Liszt, the virtuoso pianist and composer, was the most famous concert superstar of the 19th century. He was born in what was then the Austrian Empire. His father was Hungarian and his mother was Austrian. At age 6 he took music lessons from his father, Adam Liszt, who worked at the Court of Count Esterhazy, the main sponsor of Liszt's education and career. Liszt continued his music studies in Vienna under Carl Czerny and Antonio Salieri.

In 1823, at the young age of 12, Liszt moved with his parents to Paris. There he enjoyed an early friendship with Frédéric Chopin, but later they became rivals. At that time young Liszt began his career of a travelling virtuoso. He was adulated all-over Europe, from Ireland to Russia. His concert performances included his own compositions, regarded by many as the most difficult piano music ever written. His elegant, worldly manners in combination with diabolic cynicism and his impressive stage presence and supernatural virtuosity gave cause for rumors, that he must have made a deal with the Devil. His "Mephisto Waltz" depicts the Devil playing a Paganini-style violin on the piano.

Franz Liszt became a friend of many important cultural figures of his time. He attended the Paris premiere of the "Symphonie Fantastique" by Hector Berlioz and the two composers became good friends. Liszt shared mutual respect with Mikhail Glinka. He also admired Aleksandr Borodin and promoted his first symphony for performances in Western Europe. Liszt was a friend of Richard Wagner, who was Liszt's son-in-law, until their differences led to cooler relationship in their later years. Liszt's influence on his fellow musicians was legendary. He made superb piano transcriptions of symphonies, operas and large orchestral works of other composers, such as Ludwig van Beethoven, Hector Berlioz, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Richard Wagner. Operas and symphonies in Liszt's transcriptions became valuable repertoire of many pianists.

Liszt lived and travelled with the married Countess Marie D'Agoult for 12 years and they had three children. In 1847, in Russia, Liszt met the beautiful and wealthy Princess Carolyne Wittgenstein, who soon left her husband for Liszt. In 1848 he became the Director of Music at the Court of Weimar. There, living with Carolyne in her mansion, he composed and revised his most important music, including the "Dream of Love", dedicated to Carolyne. The Church did not allow Liszt to marry Carolyne and also did not allow Carolyne to divorce Wittgenstein, with whom she had a daughter. In 1861 Liszt settled in Rome where Carolyne bought a home and they tried to marry again, but the Church did not terminate Carolyne's marriage until her husband died in 1864. She then changed her mind and lived with unmarried Liszt, who was stuck in this painful situation until the end of his life. Under her influence, he became a religious man and in 1865 Pope admitted Liszt into Holy Orders and commissioned the church music. Since 1870s Liszt taught at the Budapest Conservatory and also participated with Wagner in several concert events in Bayreith. He spent his last years between Rome, Weimar, Budapest and Bayreuth, where he died in 1886.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Trivia (2)

He eloped to Switzerland with Countess Marie d'Agoult. Their idealistic relationship eventually disintegrated in 1844. Together, Liszt and d'Agoult had three children: daughters Blandine (born 1835) and Cosima (born 1837), and son Daniel (born 1839). Daniel died in 1859 at the tender age of 21. Liszt would write "Two Episodes from Lenau's Faust" and "Les Morts" to honour his memory. In 1862, his daughter Blandine died in childbirth. His other daughter, Cosima, later left her husband to be with composer Richard Wagner, to whom she bore daughters Isolde in 1865 and Eva in 1867 and son Siegfried in 1869 before they finally married in 1870.
He was the subject of the 1960 biopic Song Without End (1960) starring Dirk Bogarde.

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