Franz Liszt


Born: October 22nd, 1811 in Raiding Austria
Died: July 31st, 1886 (at age 75) in Bayreuth, Germany
Nationality: Hungarian
Fields: pianist, virtuoso, teacher, conductor
Famous For: Composing over 700 pieces

Franz Liszt was a virtuoso pianist, composer, conductor and instructor who was born in Hungary. He is considered one of the nineteenth century’s best composers. At the time of his death, he had created more than seven hundred compositions.

Early Life

His father, Adam Liszt, was a multi-instrumentalist who taught him how to play the piano. Liszt was acknowledged as being a child prodigy when he was six, and by eight, he was creating elementary works. By the time he was nine years old, Liszt was already performing in Sopron and Pressburg concert halls.

Father and son made trips to Vienna to meet with Antonio Salieri, who promptly became a supporter of the young Liszt. After he heard the young boy play, he agreed to teach him composition at no cost. For a number of months, Liszt held many performances for both kings and musicians. He had an impressive talent of being able to improvise a new composition from a tune that an audience member had suggested.

By the time he was twelve, he visited Paris with his father so he could seek admission into the Paris Conservatory. He was denied admittance because he was not French. His father, was very determined so he asked Ferdinando Paer to instruct his young son in advanced composition. During this time, Liszt composed his one and only opera, “Don Sanche.”

His father died in 1826. He then went to live with his mother in a one bedroom apartment in Paris. In the following years, Liszt lost his desire for music so much that he seriously started to question his career. He turned down many requests to perform and began to read books about religion and art. Later, these books would influence his music life.

Professional Career

Liszt fell in love with the Countess Marie d’Agoult in 1833. In 1834, he matured as a composer with his piano compositions “Harmonies poétiques et religieuses,” as well as the three “Apparitions.” All of these were poetic works that contrasted with the early fantasies he had written.

By 1835, the countess had left her husband, and went to Geneva to live with Liszt. They had a daughter in December of 1835, and later, two more children were born. Liszt then taught at the new Geneva Conservatory. Bolstered by his new compositions and public performances, Liszt experienced great success in Europe.

By 1842, his relationship with the countess ended. In 1847, he met Princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein in Kiev. She urged him to quit touring and to start composing and teaching instead so they could have a domestic life together. He gave his last paid concert in September.

The following year, they relocated to Weimar, Germany. There, he started to focus on new compositions. During this time, Liszt’s most famous achievement was his symphonic poem, a kind of orchestral musical piece which illustrated a poem, a painting, a story, or some other non-musical source. For the next ten years, his innovative compositions were performed in many concert halls throughout Europe, winning him many followers.

Later Years

In 1859, his son Daniel died and then in 1862, his daughter Blandine also passed away. Liszt and Carolyne tried to get married in Rome, but could not because of problems with her divorce papers. Disappointed, Liszt moved to a very small apartment in a monastery just outside of Rome in 1863.

Liszt kept on working on new compositions, and he later published the “Royal National Hungarian Academy of Music.” He died from pneumonia in Bayreuth, Germany, when he was visiting his daughter in July of 1886.


Franz Liszt created the piano recital. No one had ever thought to have an entire concert with only one musician, a single pianist. Many fellow musicians believed that his piano compositions were some of most inventive compositions ever written. Liszt’s largest and best known original piano work is his masterwork, “Années de pèlerinage” or “Years of Pilgrimage.” Some of his other famous works are: “La Campanella,” “Liebestraume No. 3,” “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2,” and “Un Sospiro.”