Liszt was born in Hungary and became known at a young age throughout Europe as a virtuoso pianist – he took lessons from Carl Czerny and met Beethoven and Schubert in Vienna, where he made his public debut in 1822. His first composition appeared in 1823, a Variation on a Waltz by Diabelli. Throughout his life, Liszt composed original pieces and a large number of creative variations on the work of other composers. His most well-known work is that for the piano, but he also wrote for the organ, orchestra and voice. He pioneered the concept of the ‘symphonic poem’ – an orchestral piece to provide illustration for another artistic element such as a poem, story or painting. Besides composing, he also wrote essays and conducted, and was an extremely well-regarded piano teacher. As a concert pianist he was regarded by contemporaries as being the most technically advanced ever, and in the 1840s was said to be the best of all time.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is the subject of an earlier Bookmark.
Listen to Franz Liszt’s works online at the Classical Archives.