Franz Liszt

Composer / Pianist

Born: 22 October 1811
Died: 31 July 1886
Birthplace: Raiding, Hungary (now Austria)
Best known as: Romantic composer known for his Hungarian Rhapsodies
Hungarian composer Franz Liszt was major figure in Romantic music who was celebrated during his lifetime as Europe's greatest pianist. He began playing for the public as a child, studied in Vienna and Paris and became a performer whose presence and dramatic playing made him an international star of the stage. He went to Weimar in 1848 and his teaching, composing and performing helped make it Germany's musical center. It's said that Liszt taught most of the next generation's greatest pianists. He wrote several piano pieces and became known for a distinctive, sometimes experimental style. His program music included what were called "symphonic poems" (1856's Les Préludes, for example) and his interest in Gypsy culture influenced his many Hungarian Rhapsodies. He became increasingly religious as he got older and in the 1860s received orders from the Catholic Church (he became known as Abbé). Liszt was also famously involved with two married women during his career, the Countess Marie d'Aguoult in the late 1830s and Princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein after 1847.
Extra credit: With Countess d'Aguoult he had three children, one of whom, Cosima, went on to marry composer Richard Wagner in 1870.

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