Liszt, Franz

BORN 22 Oct 1811, Raiding - DIED 31 Jul 1886, Bayreuth, Bayern
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 although she was married they left for Weimar, the city that had offered him the position of Court Conductor long before. Now he accepted and he held this position in Weimar from 1848 to 1861. In Weimar he conducted the first night of Wagner's Tannhäuser on February 16, 1849 and 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, who had shown great promise, died in Berlin.

In 1861 he went to Rome with Caroline to seek an annulment of Caroline's marriage. But after this was granted her family prevented her from marrying Liszt, fearing that her daughter from her first marriage would lose her rights. Liszt resigned from his position in 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". Liszt 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 in Budapest in 1871 because of her love for him). From 1869 onwards he also worked at Weimar again, where he offered masterclasses to young musicians.

His daughter Cosima left Von Bülow to join Wagner and eventually she married him. Although her separation 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 objections of the princess.

From 1869 to 1886 Liszt spent most of his time in Rome, Weimar and Pest. In 1886 he went on a final tour and he 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 at the time.

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

Related persons
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• was teacher to Bülow, Hans von
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• has a connection with Cherubini, Luigi
• knew Chopin, Frédéric
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• was admired by Eliot, George
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1/12/1822Public debut of Franz Liszt. At the Landständischer Saal in Vienna he played work by Hummel, Rossini and Beethoven. 
12/12/1823Luigi Cherubini refuses to admit Franz Liszt to the Conservatory in Paris. Cherubini declared that according to a new rule only French students were admitted to the piano class. [Cherubini, Luigi]
17/10/1825Premiere of Don Sanche by Franz Liszt at the Salle Le Peletier, Paris. Rodolphe Kreutzer was the conductor and Adolphe Nourrit sang. Liszt had written this opera in one act in 1824-1825. The French libretto was by Théaulon and de Rancé. The score was lost for thirty years until it was found in 1903. [Kreutzer, Rodolphe][Nourrit, Adolphe]
5/12/1830Premiere of "Symphonie Fantastique" by Berlioz at the Conservatoire in Paris. It was a program symphony and an important work of early Romanticism. After the concert Franz Liszt took him out for dinner. They had met the day before and Liszt was very enthousiastic about the music of Berlioz. [Berlioz, Hector]
26/2/1831Franz Liszt attends Frederic Chopin debut in Paris. It took place at the Salle Pleyel and the two men met and immediately befriended each other. [Chopin, Frédéric]
20/4/1832Charity concert by Paganini in Paris for cholera victims. Franz Liszt was in the audience and after hearing Paganini he decided afterwards that he wanted to become a virtuoso on the piano like Paganini was on the violin. [Paganini, Niccolò]
9/12/1832The "Symphonie Fantastique" and "Le Retour à la vie" by Berlioz are performed at the Conservatoire in Paris. His friend Franz Liszt was in the audience and so was his future wife Harriet Smithson. [Berlioz, Hector][Smithson, Harriet]
3/10/1833Berlioz marries the actress Harriet Smithson. The wedding took place at the British Embassy in Paris. Liszt was among the witnesses. [Berlioz, Hector][Smithson, Harriet]
0/0/1835Franz Liszt and Marie Pleyel spend the night together in Chopin's apartment in Paris. Pleyel was married but she was known to have affairs. The affair ended the friendschip between Liszt and Chopin. Late in the spring Liszt moved to Genova and they rarely met afterwards. [Chopin, Frédéric][Pleyel-Moke, Marie Félicité]
31/7/1835Piano duel between Franz Liszt and Sigismond Thalberg. It was held at the home of the home of Countess Cristina Belgiojoso. They were both proclaimed victors afterwards. [Thalberg, Sigismund]
4/2/1837Thalberg hears Liszt perform for the first time in Paris [Thalberg, Sigismund]
31/3/1837Liszt and Thalberg both play at a benefit concert for Italian refugees [Thalberg, Sigismund]
24/7/1837Franz Liszt and Marie d'Agoult leave Nohant. They had been staying with George Sand for two months. [d'Agoult, Marie]
10/8/1837Franz Liszt and Marie d'Agoult arrive in Geneva. They were on their way from Nohant to Italy. [d'Agoult, Marie]
29/8/1837Franz Liszt and Marie d'Agoult arrive in Milan. They stayed with the Ricordi family who provided them with a carriage, a loge at the Scala and their summer house. But the heat in Milan made them decide to return to Bellagio at the Lake Como and stay their for a longer time. [d'Agoult, Marie]
6/9/1837Franz Liszt and Marie D'Agoult settle in Bellagio for a longer time. They rented rooms in a house that still exists and is now marked by a plaque. They stayed there until the end of October. [d'Agoult, Marie]
18/10/1837Franz Liszt and Marie d'Agoult rrive at Sesto Calende at the Lago Maggiore. They were forced to stay there for two days because they weren't immediately allowed to cross the border to the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia. [d'Agoult, Marie]
20/10/1837Franz Liszt and Marie d'Agoult arrive in Como [d'Agoult, Marie]
10/12/1837Franz Liszt contributes to a concert at la Scala in Milan. He was staying at Bellagio with Marie d'Agoult and probably needed money. On 3 December he had also appeared in a smaller concert in Milan. 
0/4/1838Clara Wieck hears Franz Liszt for the first time in Vienna [Schumann, Clara]
28/4/1838Franz Liszt and Sigismond Thalberg dine in Vienna. It was at the home of Prince Moritz Dietrichstein who was delighted to receive the two rivals. The next day Liszt gave a concert and afterwards they dined together again as guests of Klemens von Metternich. [Thalberg, Sigismund]
0/4/1839Count Leo Festetics hears Franz Liszt for the first time in Vienna. As a result he immediately invited Liszt to come to Pest. 
4/1/1840Triumph for Franz Liszt in Pest. He gave a concert at the Hungarian Theatre and was presented a sable of honour by the public. 
16/1/1840Franz Liszt performs in Györ. After the concert the bishop of Györ, Sztankovics, offered him a lunch in his palace. 
16/9/1840Franz Liszt performs at the Assembly Rooms, Stamford. Louisa Bassano sang at the occasion. 
0/4/1841Beethoven's "Emperor Concerto" performed by Berlioz and Liszt in Paris. Berlioz was the conductor and Liszt was the soloist. [Beethoven, Ludwig van][Berlioz, Hector]
12/8/1845Beethoven statue in Bonn unveiled. It was created by Ernst Hähnel and unveiled in honour of the 75th anniversary of Beethoven's birth. Franz Liszt was actively involved in the project and donated over 10,000 francs. Schlegel had been the head of the organising committee but he died in May, 1845. Professor Heinrich Breidenstein, who had first expressed the idea, took over his position. The ceremony was attended by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Hector Berlioz, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Ignaz Moscheles, Charles Hallé, Jenny Lind, Pauline Viardot, Lola Montez, Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn and Maria Kalergis. [Berlioz, Hector][Hallé, Charles][Lind, Jenny][Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Felix][Meyerbeer, Giacomo][Montez, Lola][Schumann, Robert][Viardot-Garcia, Pauline]
27/7/1846A concert by Franz Liszt in Zagreb is an outstanding succes 
16/2/1849Liszt 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. [Wagner, Richard]
13/5/1849Wagner 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. [Wagner, Richard]
28/8/1850Premiere of the opera "Lohengrin" by Richard Wagner in Weimar conducted by Franz Liszt. Richard Wagner had finished the opera early in 1848 but after his revolutionary activities he had been forced to leave Dresden in 1849. Liszt staged the opera in Weimar. Wagner was in exile at the time and couldn't attend. The opera was a success although the lead tenor Karl Beck disappointed. [Milde-Agthe, Rosa von][Wagner, Richard]
6/10/1853Liszt 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 taken place and they stayed until Saturday. [Bülow, Hans von][Wagner, Richard]
25/4/1854Clara Schumann hears Liszt's "Piano sonata in B Minor" and strongly dislikes it. She received it on this day and it was dedicated to her husband Robert. Johannes Brahms played it for her and she strongly disliked it. The piece was performed in public in 1857 by Hans von Bülow and it would become both popular and influential. [Brahms, Johannes][Bülow, Hans von][Schumann, Clara][Schumann, Robert]
17/2/1855Premiere of Piano Concerto No. 1 by Franz Liszt. It was performed in Weimar. Liszt was at the piano and Berlioz was the conductor. Liszt had written the main themes in a sketch book in 1830. [Berlioz, Hector]
20/4/1856Hans 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. [Bülow, Hans von][d'Agoult, Marie][Liszt, Cosima]
7/1/1857Premiere of Piano Concerto No. 2 by Franz Liszt. It was performed in Weimar. Liszt had dedicated it to his pupil Hans von Bronsart who was at the piano. Liszt was the conductor. 
16/7/1857Franz Liszt meets Ary Scheffer in Scheveningen. Liszt was in the Netherlands for a festival and Scheffer was staying with his brother in Scheveningen near The Hague. In 1837 Scheffer had painted Liszt in Paris. They walked along the sea and talked about politics, literature, music and painting. [Scheffer, Ary]
19/7/1857Franz Liszt visits Marie Félicité Pleyel-Moke in Brussels. He knew her from Paris and she was at that time a teacher at the Conservatory in Brussels. [Pleyel-Moke, Marie Félicité]
20/7/1857Franz Liszt visits the Rubenshuis in Antwerp. He was on his way back from The Netherlands and spent a few days in Brussels with his daughters who had come over from Paris. On this they they went to Antwerp and apart from the Rubenshuis they also visited the cathedral and the zoo. [Liszt, Cosima]
14/10/1864Fransz 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. [Liszt, Cosima]
26/6/1870Premiere 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. [Bausewein, Kaspar][Brahms, Johannes][Joachim, Joseph][Possart-Deinet, Anna von][Saint-Saëns, Camille][Vogl, Heinrich][Vogl, Therese][Wagner, Richard]
25/11/1871Olga Janina threatens to kill Franz Liszt. She entered his apartment in Budapest with a pistol as well as poison. She threatened to shoot Liszt and poison herself aterwards. It took Liszt hours before he could convince her to leave his apartment. She fled from Budapest afterwards and found shelter with Franz Servais in Halle. 
22/5/1872The first stone is laid for Richard Wagner's Festspielhaus in Bayreuth. It took place on Wagner's 59th birthday. It had cost him much effort to find the funding for the theatre in which he wanted to perform his Ring. Fransz Liszt took part in the ceremony. On this occasion the first meeting between Malwida von Meysenbug and Friedrich Nietzsche took place. [Meysenbug, Malvida, Freiin von][Wagner, Richard]
0/3/1875Festival in honour of Wagner at Makart's studio in Vienna. Franz Liszt played the piano. [Makart, Hans ][Wagner, Richard]
23/5/1881Franz Liszt arrives in Antwerp for a festival dedicated to him. He was invited for a Liszt festival in Antwerp. He stayed with the Lynen family. On 25 May he revisited the cathedral and on 26 May he attended the festival that was organised in his honour at the ociété royale d'Harmonie. Peter Benoit was the conductor and one of the performers was his former pupil Anna Mehlig. [Benoit, Peter]
7/5/1882Evening party for Franz Liszt at the Lynen family home in Antwerp. Jules Zarembski and his wife Johanna, both former pupils of Liszt, performed a piece by Saint-Saëns. Zarembski and Liszt performed Liszt's "Schubert Märsche". 
22/10/1885Franz Liszt celebrates his 74th birthday in Innsbruck. Present were Lina Schmalhausen, Bernard Stavenhagen, István Thomán and Conrad Ansorge. [Ansorge, Conrad]
7/4/1886Franz Liszt performs for queen Victoria at Windsor Castle. He had played for her before. He was visiting London and caused much exitement when he visited several performances of his own works. 
19/7/1886Franz Liszt attends a concert in his honour at the Casino of Luxembourg. At the end of the event he played three of his own compositions. He was in bad health and it was his last public performance. the next day he left for Bayreuth. 
21/7/1886Franz Liszt arrives in Bayreuth. He had travelled to Bayreuth to attend the wedding of his granddaughter Daniele as well as the Festspiele. [Bülow, Daniela von]
3/8/1886Funeral of Franz Liszt in Bayreuth. Liszt probably would have wanted to be buried elsewhere, but his daughter Cosima was living in Bayreuth and had quickly decided that he should be buried there. [Liszt, Cosima]


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)


Plaque at the villa Altenburg in Weimar where Franz Liszt lived from 1848 to 1861.
Picture by Androom (13 Aug 2020)


• Bacharach, A.L. (ed.), Lives Of The Great Composers, Volume 2, Penguin Books, London, 1947
• Blunt, Wilfrid, The Dream King, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1973
• Gutman, Robert, Richard Wagner, Der Mensch, sein Werk, seine Zeit, Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, München, 1989
• Halloran, Annemarie, Liszt’s Heroes: An investigation into the Artistic Interdependence, 2005
• Marek, George R., Cosima Wagner, Ein Leben für ein Genie, Knaur, München, 1993
• Prahacs, Margit, Franz Liszt, Briefe aus Ungarischen Sammlungen 1835-1886, Bärenreiter, Kassel, 1966
The Hector Berlioz Website: Berlioz and Liszt
Franz Liszt - Wikipedia
Sigismond Thalberg - Wikipedia

Littmann, Max

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 07 Sep 2021