Liszt, Franz

BORN 22 Oct 1811, Raiding - DIED 31 Jul 1886, Bayreuth
GRAVE LOCATION Bayreuth, Bayern: Stadtfriedhof (A 2b/560 (small mausoleum))

Liszt made his public debut when he was nineteen years old. Soon afterwards prince Esterhazy heard him and was much impressed. Funds were raised for a serious musical education and Liszt went to Vienna to study composition with Salieri and piano with Czerny. After two years he was set to pursue his studies at the conservatory in Paris, but Cherubini, then the director of that institution, refused to admit him because he was a foreigner. After a further private eduction he played at the houses of rich families and in 1824 he made his debut in London. He caused a sensation and soon played at Drury Lane and before George IV.

The experience of seeing him perform usually put his audiences in Paris in a state ecstasy and when in 1830 he met Paganini, Berlioz and Chopin, they inspired him to exploit his romantic spirit and to find his own style as a composer.

The duchess d'Agoult left her husband in 1833 to follow Liszt and their liaison resulted in three children: Blandine, Cosima and Daniel. They separated in 1839. Under her writer's name Daniel Stern, Marie D'Agoult published the novel "Nélida", relating her relationship with Liszt. He probably never forgave her for doing so. Among Liszt's many other affairs with women was the one with Lola Montez, ending in Liszt locking Montez into a hotel room and running away himself.

When count Festetics heard Liszt in Vienna he immediately invited him to Pecs, where he gave a famous concert on January 4th, 1840. On that occasion he received a sword in the name of the people.

In 1848 he was in Ukraine, where he stayed at the estate of the rich Caroline of Sayn-Wittgenstein. They fell in love and allthough she was married they left for Weimar, the city that had offered him the position of Court Conductor long before.

He held this position in Weimar from 1848 to 1861. There he conducted the first night of Wagner's Tannhäuser on February 16, 1849. In Weimar he wrote the Faust and Dante symphonies and twelve symphonic poems. In 1856 composer and pianist Hans von Bülow asked for Cosima's hand. Liszt thought him a strange man, but after Marie d'Agoult had spoken against the marriage Liszt gave his approval. In 1859 his son Daniel died in Berlin.

In 1861 they went to Rome to seek an annulment of Caroline's marriage. But after this was granted but her family prevented her from marrying Liszt, fearing that her daughter from her first marriage would lose her rights. Liszt resigned from Weimar and decided to stay in Rome.

Princess Caroline now devoted all her energy to writing a huge work called "The Inner Causes of the Outer Weakness of the Church" and she was continuously smoking black cigars whilst writing.

Liszt lost his daughter Blandine in 1862 and turned to religion. He lived for a while at a cloister in the church of Santa Maria del Rosario on the Monte Carlo. In 1865 he took minor orders and became an Abbé. When Gregorovius saw him in Rome he cried "Mephistopheles disguised as an Abbé". He took appartments in Rome and resumed his work as a piano teacher. Around this time he had his last known love affair with the young Olga Janina, who managed to seduce him after he initially resisted her (she even threatened him with a revolver because of her love for him). From 1869 onwards he also worked at Weimar again, where he offered a masterclass to young musicians.

His daughter Cosima left Von Bülow to join Wagner and eventually she married him. Allthough her seperation from Von Bülow caused an estrangement between Liszt and Wagner, Liszt still supported Wagner's musical cause, against the wishes of Caroline. In 1872 a reconcilation between Wagner and Liszt followed, despite the princess' objections.

From 1869 to 1886 Liszt spent most of his time in Rome, Weimar and Pest. In 1886 he did a final tour and played in Antwerp, Brussels, Paris, Weimar, Bayreuth, Luxemburg and at Windsor Castle for queen Victoria. On his way to Bayreuth he caught a chill and after the doctor allowed him to drink his daily bottle of brandy congestion of the lungs followed and he died on July 31st. Cosima buried him and went on with the Bayreuth Festival that took place in that period.

• Daughter: Liszt, Cosima
• Son: Liszt, Daniel

Related persons
• was the lover of Agoult, Marie Christine Sophie de Flavigny, comtesse d'
• was painted by Barabás, Miklos
• visited Beauharnais, Hortense de
• met Beethoven, Ludwig van
• was teacher to Bendel, Franz
• was teacher to Bülow, Hans von
• was the lover of Carolina, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein
• has a connection with Cherubini, Luigi
• knew Chopin, Frédéric François
• was pupil to Czerny, Carl
• was admired by Draeseke, Felix August Bernhard
• was admired by Eliot, George
• was teacher to Elmas, Stephan
• was a friend of Erkel, Ferenc
• met Fauré, Gabriel Urbain
• was a friend of Franz, Robert
• was a friend of Genast, Eduard
• cooperated with Gomperz-Bettelheim, Caroline von
• was the lover of Hagn, Charlotte von
• was photographed by Hanfstaengl, Franz Seraph von
• was a friend of Jaëll, Alfred
• was teacher to Jaëll, Marie
• was a friend of Joachim, Joseph
• was inspired by Kaulbach, Wilhelm von
• has a connection with Kemble, Adelaide
• was teacher to Klindworth, Karl
• was painted by Lenbach, Franz von
• has a connection with Maria Pavlovna, Grand Duchess of Russia
• was teacher to Menter, Sophie
• was a friend of Menter, Sophie
• was a friend of Meysenbug, Malvida, Freiin von
• was the lover of Montez, Lola
• was a friend of Mosonyi, Mihály
• was painted by Munkácsy, Mihály
• was photographed by Nadar
• admired Napoleon III Bonaparte, Empereur des Français
• knew Paganini, Niccolò
• met Parsons, Albert Ross
• cooperated with Pleyel-Moke, Marie Félicité
• was teacher to Rappoldi-Kahrer, Laura
• was pupil to Reicha, Anton
• knew Reinecke, Carl
• knew Romako, Anton
• was pupil to Salieri, Antonio
• met Sartori, Luigi
• supported Scheidemantel, Karl
• met Schubert, Franz Peter
• supported Smetana, Bedrich
• was teacher to Tausig, Karl
• knew Töpfer, Johann Gottlob
• was teacher to Viardot-Garcia, Pauline
• admired Wagner, Richard
• influenced Wagner, Richard
• was teacher to Wieniawsky, Joseph
• knew Zumsteeg, Emilie

1833/10/3: Berlioz marries the actress Harriet Smithson
The wedding took place at the British Embassy in Paris. Liszt was among the witnesses.
1849/2/16: Liszt conducts the premiere of Wagner's Tannhäuser in Weimar
An earlier version was first performed in Dresden in 1845. In 1849 Wagner was in exile in Switzerland.
1849/5/13: Wagner arrives in Weimar
He had been forced to flee from Dresden and in Weimar he attented a probe of his Tannhäuser that was conducted by Franz Liszt. Then news arrived that Wagner would be prosecuted and he left Weimar.
1853/10/6: Liszt visits Wagner in Basel
With him was a group of supporters, among them Hans von Bülow. They came from Karlsruhe where the music festival had and they stayed until Saturday.
1856/4/20: Hans von Bülow asks Franz Liszt for the hand of his daughter Cosima
At first Liszt wouldn't give his blessing because he thought Bülow, with his strange moods and headaches, a scary person. He hoped that she would marry a nobleman. After Cosima's mother Marie d'Agoult declared herself against the marriage, Liszt changed his mind and gave his approval.
1864/10/14: Fransz Liszt and his daughter Cosima visit Emile Ollivier at St. Tropez
Listz's daughter Blandine was married to Ollivier, but she had died in 1862. The next day Liszt left for Rome and Cosima for Germany.
1870/6/26: Premiere of Wagner's "Die Walküre" at the Hoftheater in Munich
Wagner wanted to stage it in 1871, but Ludwig II of Bavaria was the legal owner of the piece and didn't want to wait. Wüllner was the conductor and Joachim, Brahms, Saint-Saëns and Liszt were in the audience. Wagner wasn't there and Ludwig also stayed away. He had decided to wait for the second performance so that he would be able to see "Das Rheingold", that would be staged again during the summer, and "Die Walküre" in the right order.

• Bacharach, A.L. (ed.), Lives Of The Great Composers, Volume 2, Penguin Books, London, 1947
• Prahacs, Margit, Franz Liszt, Briefe aus Ungarischen Sammlungen 1835-1886, Bärenreiter, Kassel, 1966
Franz Liszt


Plaque for Franz Liszt at the Music Academy, Budapest. A small Liszt Museum is located here.
Picture by Androom (27 Jan 2001)


Franz Liszt at the Piano, painted by Elisa Ransonnet-Villez (Liszt Museum, Budapest).


"Ferenc Liszt" by Mihály Munkácsy (Hungarian National Museum, Budapest).

Bust statue of Franz Liszt at the Margaret Island, Budapest.
Picture by Androom (23 Aug 2002)


The mausoleum of Franz Liszt at the Stadtfriedhof in Bayreuth.
Picture by Androom (24 Jan 2006)


Inside the mausoleum of Franz Liszt at the Stadtfriedhof in Bayreuth.
Picture by Androom (24 Jan 2006)


In the house in Bayreuth where Franz Liszt died is now a small Liszt museum.
Picture by Androom (24 Jan 2006)


Bust of Franz Liszt in front of the house in Bayreuth where he died.
Picture by Androom (24 Jan 2006)


The statue of Franz Liszt at the Park an der Ilm, Weimar.
Picture by androom (21 May 2006)


The mausoleum of Franz Liszt at the Stadtfriedhof, Bayreuth.
Picture by Androom (11 Feb 2011)


Statue of Franz Liszt in Eisenstadt.
Picture by Androom (23 Aug 2012)


The Villa Altenburg in Weimar where Franz Liszt lived from 1848 to 1861.
Picture by Androom (31 Jul 2016)


The Liszthaus in Weimar.
Picture by Androom (01 Aug 2016)


The bed of Franz Liszt at his house in Weimar.
Picture by Androom (01 Aug 2016)


Livry, Emma

Published: 1 Jan 2006
Last update: 25 Nov 2016