Franz Liszt Biography
When remembering great composers, there are several names that stand out, such as Bach, Chopin, Beethoven and many others. Quoting the great pianists, one of them is considered to be the greatest of all time.
Liszt was born in the village of Raiding, in Doborján, region of Hungary, on October 22, 1811. He was baptized in Latin with the name “Franciscus”. But has always been called “Franz”, the German version of the name. It was called “François” in French and “Ferenc”, “Ferencz” or “Ferentz” in Hungarian.
His nationality is, and always has been, the subject of much discussion. According to research, his great-grandfather, the German Sebastian List (the letter “z” was later added). Decided to live in Hungary in the 18th century.
As at the time the nationality of a person born in Hungary was inherited. His grandfather and father would also be German and, following this reasoning, so would Franz Liszt. Who always replied with pride that he was Hungarian, even without even speaking the language. Her mother, Anna Maria Liszt, was Austrian.
Father Adam Liszt
His father, Adam Liszt, was the property manager of Prince Nicolas Eszterházy. A Napoleonic candidate for the Hungarian throne and protector of Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven. Franz was taught by his father, who had studied piano, violin, guitar and cello and sang in the church choir.
In a letter dated April 13, 1820, Adam Liszt tells Prince Esterházy that he had bought some 8,800 pages of scores. From the greatest masters of music for Franz to study.
Despite this, Liszt, already mature, claimed that the most important musical experiences of his childhood were the performances of gypsy artists. In October of the same year, the small musician, then nine years old. He participated in a concert by violinist Baron van Praun. In the second part of the event, he played a concert in E flat major of Ferdinand Ries, with an improvised coda that was very successful.
In the following month, he presented himself to an audience of aristocrats and members of high society, which yielded an annual payment of 600 gulden for six years, insured by a group of nobles, so that the boy could study abroad. The amount, however, was insufficient compared to the estimated cost of 1,500 gulden for Franz’s education.
In May 1822, Adam Liszt asked Prince Esterházy for a year’s absence. When the prince accepted, he had already sold everything he owned in Raiding and on the 8th the family went to Vienna.
There, young Liszt attended piano lessons with the great Carl Czerny, who had been a student of Beethoven. The master commented later that he was impressed by Liszt’s talent at the piano. But that the student “had no knowledge of proper fingering and his way of playing was chaotic. Liszt also took composition classes with Antonio Salieri.
Franz Liszt’s debut as a musician in Vienna was on December 1, 1822, in a musical event in the “Landständischer Saal”. Where he played a Hummel concert and improvised on an aria of the opera Zelmira, by Gioachino Rossini. And the allegretto of the Symphony No. 7 by Beethoven. On April 13, 1823, he was a concert performer at “Kleiner Redoutensaal”, playing a concert in Hummel’s B minor. Variations of Moscheles and an improvisation of himself.
Welcomed As A Phenomenon
The programs explored the effect of young people’s virtuosity, and the critics welcomed it as a phenomenon!
When the year of absence granted to Adam Liszt was coming to an end, and the request for two more was not granted, Franz’s father resigned from the prince.
At the end of the same month, the family returned for the last time to Hungary, where Liszt gave concerts presenting a piano arrangement of the “Rackózy March”, some Hungarian dances and plays by Antal Csermák, János Lavotta and János Bihari, reinforcing their “Hungarian nationality”. Then the family returned to Vienna.
Months later, the family moved to France, to Liszt to study at the National Conservatory in Paris. But the principal of the institution refused the student because he was a foreigner.
Completed His Studies
Liszt completed his studies with private classes with Reicha and Paer. His father was not shaken: comments from abroad created a lot of expectation from the Parisian public regarding the young virtuoso. At the age of thirteen, Franz performed his first public concert at the Teatro Louvois and was acclaimed by the press. At the age of 14, he composed his first opera in an act, “Don Sancho”.
Franz Liszt has focused his interests on his career as an interpreter. Working exhaustively, you are obliged to take a vacation on the French coast. In August 1827, his father died, which led the young musician to move to Paris, where he began to teach music, leaving the concerts. There he fell in love with a student, Carolina, daughter of Count Saint Cricq, but, obliged to distance himself from his beloved, he retired to isolation.
In 1830, thanks to the revolution against the monarchy of Charles X, he came out of apathy and met Chopin, Berlioz, Lamartine, Victor Hugo, George Sand and Niccolò Paganini, becoming familiar with romanticism.
He was famous in Europe as a virtuoso. The “Lisztomania” dominated the continent, and the emotional charge of its recitals caused to many listeners reactions described as hysterical. There were testimonies that his interpretation had elevated the mood of the audience to a level of mystical ecstasy.
His fame with women was also great. At the age of 22 he met Countess Marie d’Agoult, with whom he lived for six years in Switzerland and had three children.
Composing Orchestral Works
Liszt wanted to compose orchestral works on a large scale, but ended up not having time for it because of his travels as a concert performer. In September 1847, he gave his last public recital and announced his withdrawal from the concert circuit, settling in the court of Weimar, Prussia, where he lived ten years as musical director of the Opera.
Then in 1848, she had a romance with Princess Caroline Sayn-Wittgenstein, dedicated herself to orchestral music and met composer Richard Wagner, the future husband of her daughter Cosima.
In 1858, bored with his duties in Weimar and separated from the princess, Liszt went to Italy. Already in 1865, he became a member of the third order of Franciscans. During this period, he dedicated himself to the composition of sacred works. Inmate, paid a visit to England in 1886, but the trip sold him out. In Budapest he was celebrated as a national composer of Hungary.
Franz Liszt died on July 31, 1886, at Wagner’s home in Bayreuth, Bavaria. His body was buried in the Alter Friedhof cemetery in the same city.
The Work of Franz Liszt
Considered the greatest pianist of his time and one of the greatest in history, Franz Liszt was one of the most prominent representatives “Neudeutsche Schule” (New German School). He left works that influenced his contemporaries about the future and anticipated some ideas and trends of the 20th century.
Some of his most notable contributions were the invention of the symphonic poem, in which he develops the concept of thematic transformation, radical ruptures in harmony and the popularization of piano transcriptions.
In the field of sacred music, the oratories stand out: St. Elizabeth, St. Stanislaus (incomplete), Christus and Via Crucis. He wrote two symphonies: the Dante Symphony, inspired by Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy; and the Faust Symphony, composed of different pictures that characterize the characters of Faust, by the German writer Goethe. Liszt has also written numerous lieder and pieces for chamber music, of which the works for violin and piano should be highlighted.
But Liszt’s great contribution to music was in his piano works. His Sonata in Smaller Self is probably his greatest work and a real challenge to pianists. His 19 Hungarian Piano Rapsódias (later orchestrated) are very popular. The best known of them, number 2, even became a cartoon soundtrack.
In the compendium of piano pieces such as Liebesträume (“Dreams of Love”), produced from poems by Ludwig Uhland and Ferdinand Freiligrath, the piece No. 3, known as “Liebestraum”, stands out, which is part of the repertoire of acclaimed pianists. The two piano concerts and the Mephisto Waltz No. 1 still stand out.
The 12 Transcendental Performance Studies are among the most virtuosic works ever written for the piano. The first version of these Studies, Étude en Douze Exercises (“Study in Twelve Exercises”), was launched in 1826, when Liszt was only 15 years old.
Transcendental Execution Studies
In 1837, another version of these Studies was released, which received the name of Douze Grandes Études. The third version (the best known, recorded and executed) was released in 1852 (catalogued as S139), and was named Transcendental Execution Studies, better known as Transcendental Studies. It was dedicated to Carl Czerny.
The first version was already challenging, but the second version contains a scary leap in the level of virtuosity, to the point of Liszt recognizing that its level of difficulty was so high that, in the Transcendental version, decided to facilitate the exercises and give more emphasis to their musicality.
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