Franciscus Liszt – named after the monastic order which his father Adam had once joined – was born in Raiding in eastern Austria, where Adam Liszt was a manager on the Eszterházy estates, and had been a cellist in the palace orchestra when Haydn was Kapellmeister. Adam took his amazingly gifted young son first to Vienna to study with Czerny (piano) and Salieri (composition), then to Paris. Aged 15 when Adam died, Liszt was already famous as a pianist of mesmerising virtuosity and musicianship.
The 1830 Paris revolution established Liszt’s republican political sympathies. Further radical influences were the music of Berlioz, Paganini’s violin playing, and friendship with the maverick Catholic Abbé Lamennais. A relationship with the older (and married) Countess Marie d’Agoult necessitated the couple’s elopement to Switzerland and Italy, where their three children were born (their daughter Cosima was to become Wagner’s second wife). When the River Danube disastrously flooded in 1838, Liszt’s fundraising concerts awoke a proud awareness of his Hungarian roots. The next years of concert touring thrilled audiences from Ireland to the Ukraine, with Liszt performing a formidable repertoire, ranging from Handel to Chopin besides his own music.
From 1847 Liszt rarely played in public. Settling in Weimar with the Ukrainian (and married) Princess Carolyne Sayn- Wittgenstein, he composed, taught piano pupils and conducted and enlarged the Weimar orchestra: major events were the premiere of Wagner’s Lohengrin (1850) and two Berlioz festivals. Revisions of piano music from the Swiss and Italian years produced supreme Romantic masterworks in the first two books of Années de pèlerinage (1838–61) and Études d’exécution transcendante (1838–51), and a remarkable fusion of sacred inspiration and secular forms in Harmonies poétiques et religieuses (1833–53). Besides the Sonata in B minor (1852–3), Liszt also completed two piano concertos (1849–56 and 1859); his Dante Symphony (1856–7) and Faust Symphony (1856–7); a Missa solemnis for the new cathedral of Esztergom (Gran) in 1855–8; and an uneven, but powerfully influential set of 12 symphonic poems (1841–58).
In 1861 Liszt followed Princess Carolyne to Rome, where Vatican-related intrigues concerning the annulment of her Catholic marriage destroyed her and Liszt’s own marriage plans. Staying on in the city, Liszt took minor Catholic orders and completed two large-scale oratorios, St Elisabeth (1857–62) and Christus (1866– 72). From 1869 Abbé Liszt divided his life between Rome, Weimar and Budapest, completing a third book of Années de pèlerinage in 1877, and exploring an astonishing, pre-modernist sound-world in his last piano and choral works.
Profile © Malcolm Hayes
- Clips (18)Latest ClipLiszt: Ballade No.2 in B minor
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- Liszt: Ballade No.2 in B minorhttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p02nr80c.jpg2015-05-23T11:31:00ZWith Kevin Kenner (piano). Recorded live at the Frick Collection in New York.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/2cd475bb-1abd-40c4-9904-6d4b691c752c?clipfocus=p02s1s0dSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 14 mins
Liszt: Ballade No.2 in B minor
- Franz Liszt - Symphonic Poemshttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p02gj6mm.jpg2015-01-09T13:00:00ZDonald Macleod explores the life and work of Franz Liszt.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/2cd475bb-1abd-40c4-9904-6d4b691c752c?clipfocus=p02gj6shSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 49 mins
Franz Liszt - Symphonic Poems
- Liszt: Piano Concerto No.1http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01zb5h7.jpg2014-07-09T13:38:00ZIn this Proms Music Guide, Sarah Walker talks about Liszt's 1st Piano Concerto.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/2cd475bb-1abd-40c4-9904-6d4b691c752c?clipfocus=p022hj4fSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 4 mins
Liszt: Piano Concerto No.1
- Liszt: Faust Symphonyhttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p020cp0g.jpg2014-07-09T13:32:00ZIn this Proms Music Guide, Suzy Klein talks about Liszt's Faust Symphony.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/2cd475bb-1abd-40c4-9904-6d4b691c752c?clipfocus=p022hhxmSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 4 mins
Liszt: Faust Symphony
- Liszt: Piano Concertoshttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01vx3gk.jpg2014-05-02T11:52:00ZSara Mohr-Pietsch considers the background and music of two piano concertos.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/2cd475bb-1abd-40c4-9904-6d4b691c752c?clipfocus=p01ydfgxSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 43 mins
Liszt: Piano Concertos
- Liszt and His Worldhttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01yqc65.jpg2014-05-01T14:57:00ZDonald Macleod explores Liszt's extraordinary contribution to the piano repertoire, alongside the music of his friends, rivals and proteges.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/2cd475bb-1abd-40c4-9904-6d4b691c752c?clipfocus=p01yb773Selected ClipSelected ClipAudio 1 hour 5 mins
Liszt and His World
- Franz Liszthttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01yb5yk.jpg2014-05-01T14:37:00ZDonald Macleod explores the life and music of Franz Liszt, including his early life, touring, his music written in Weimar and Rome, and his later workshttp://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/2cd475bb-1abd-40c4-9904-6d4b691c752c?clipfocus=p01yb5zwSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 55 mins
- Franz Liszthttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01yb414.jpg2014-05-01T14:13:00ZDonald Macleod explores the work of the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/2cd475bb-1abd-40c4-9904-6d4b691c752c?clipfocus=p01yb42ySelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 1 hour
- Franz Liszt - Life in Lettershttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01yb2hb.jpg2014-05-01T13:54:00ZDonald Macleod explores Liszt's life through his letters.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/2cd475bb-1abd-40c4-9904-6d4b691c752c?clipfocus=p01yb2jtSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 53 mins
Franz Liszt - Life in Letters
- Liszt: Annees De Pelerinage, Book Two 'Italy'http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01w8hpl.jpg2014-03-26T16:59:00ZDavid Owen Norris provides a personal recommendation from the available recordings of Liszt's Annees de Pelerinage, Book Two (Italy)http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/2cd475bb-1abd-40c4-9904-6d4b691c752c?clipfocus=p01w8hqrSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 41 mins
Liszt: Annees De Pelerinage, Book Two 'Italy'
- Liszt: Annees De Pelerinage, Book One 'Switzerland'http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01w8bn7.jpg2014-03-26T15:10:00ZStephen Plaistow recommendation recordings of Liszt's Annees de Pelerinage, Book Onehttp://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/2cd475bb-1abd-40c4-9904-6d4b691c752c?clipfocus=p01w8bngSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 36 mins
Liszt: Annees De Pelerinage, Book One 'Switzerland'
- Liszt: The Fountains of the Villa d'Estehttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01w6mf5.jpg2014-03-25T15:39:00ZHoward Goodall and Suzy Klein discuss Franz Liszt's The Fountains of the Villa d'Este.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/2cd475bb-1abd-40c4-9904-6d4b691c752c?clipfocus=p01w6mfpSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 5 mins
Liszt: The Fountains of the Villa d'Este
- Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01w6kyh.jpg2014-03-25T15:11:00ZHoward Goodall and Suzy Klein discuss Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/2cd475bb-1abd-40c4-9904-6d4b691c752c?clipfocus=p01w6kzcSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 5 mins
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2
- Liszt: Sonata in B minorhttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01w59l8.jpg2014-03-24T18:52:00ZKenneth Hamilton with a personal recommendation from recent releases of Liszt's Piano Sonata in B minorhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/2cd475bb-1abd-40c4-9904-6d4b691c752c?clipfocus=p01w59lgSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 37 mins
Liszt: Sonata in B minor
- Liszt: Piano Concerto No.2http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01sqxhd.jpg2014-02-22T14:42:00ZChris de Souza provides a personal recommendation from recordings of Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 2.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/2cd475bb-1abd-40c4-9904-6d4b691c752c?clipfocus=p01sqxj7Selected ClipSelected ClipAudio 39 mins
Liszt: Piano Concerto No.2
- Suzy Klein follows the Liszt trail in Budapest - Leeds Piano Competition 2012http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p02cl3dy.jpg2012-09-30T23:00:59ZSuzy Klein visits Budapest, once the home of composer-pianist Franz Liszt.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/2cd475bb-1abd-40c4-9904-6d4b691c752c?clipfocus=p00z6rdpSelected ClipSelected ClipVideo 6 mins
Suzy Klein follows the Liszt trail in Budapest - Leeds Piano Competition 2012
- SoloCam: Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 2http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p02c9q5r.jpg2011-07-15T23:00:49ZBenjamin Grosvenor plays Liszt's Piano Concert No. 2 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Jiri Belohlavekhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/2cd475bb-1abd-40c4-9904-6d4b691c752c?clipfocus=p00j70vtSelected ClipSelected ClipVideo 19 mins
SoloCam: Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 2
- Benjamin Grosvenor - BBC Proms 2011http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p02c8kj6.jpg2011-04-13T23:00:30ZBenjamin Grosvenor, who will be the youngest soloist to perform at the First Night of the Proms, in an outdoor performance of Chopin arr. Liszt 'Maiden's Wish' at the launch of the BBC Proms 2011.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/2cd475bb-1abd-40c4-9904-6d4b691c752c?clipfocus=p00gbh3kSelected ClipSelected ClipVideo 4 mins
Benjamin Grosvenor - BBC Proms 2011
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