Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was a Hungarian composer and pianist who was a profound influence on his contemporaries. Ethan Mordden calls him "one of the most important composers in Western music (even though his own music) is not heard that frequently." Important works by Liszt include: Liebestraum (also known as "Dream of Love"), his two piano concertos, his Hungarian Rhapsodies, his piano sonata in B minor, several etudes for piano (including his 12 Transcendental Etudes), and his third symphonic poem, Les Preludes. The nineteen Hungarian Rhapsodies were written originally from piano; seven of them were later arranged for orchestra. Liszt's Second Hungarian Rhapsody is very familiar and the music is recognized even by people who cannot name the work or the composer.
In 1885 the New York Times wrote that
- it would not perhaps be going too far were he to be described as being the greatest living musician.... Himself the pupil of Beethoven, the father-in-law of Herr von Bülow and Richard Wagner, the preceptor of Rubenstein and Sophie Menter, his is the link between the music of the past and the music of the future.
Liszt's career as a pianist coincided with the rise of music played for the public as a commercial enterprise. His performances were fabulously successful, and in the 1840s the word "Lisztomania" was coined to describe the public reaction. The analogies with modern celebrity are strong; Richard Schickel wrote that "before Sinatra at the Paramount there had been, of course, Lisztomania in Europe.. A 1985 movie by Ken Russell entitled Lisztomania played on the similarities, with real-life rock star Roger Daltrey (lead singer of The Who) playing the role of Liszt.
Liszt was a romantic in two senses. He was an exponent of the musical style known as romanticism. He was also a man about whom it was said that "as long as he lived, women fluttered around him as moths about a candle."
Often referred to during his lifetime as Abbé Liszt, he studied theology in Rome and received a lower order of consecration, but was not a priest.
Franz Liszt - 200th anniversary in the year 2011. Franz Liszt’s musical career took him to various European countries that were to influence his work. His open-mindedness and cosmopolitan outlook made him a "true" European. It is thus no wonder that today he remains a prominent figure in numerous countries in different ways. 
- Piano Transcriptions from French and Italian Operas
- Liebestraume Nocturne in A flat Major No. 3.
Notes and references
- Mordden, Ethan (1980), A Guide to Orchestral Music, p. 179
- "Franz Liszt at Weimar," The New York Times, July 3, 1885, p. 2
- Schickel, Richard (1985) Intimate Strangers: The Culture of Celebrity
- "Franz Liszt not an Abbe." The New York Times, July 17, 1885, p. 4: "Of the consecrations, however, he only received the lower order, which formerly were frequently and even now occasionally vouchsafed to lay brethren. He is therefore neither subdeacon nor deacon, and still less a priest, and has neither the rights nor the responsibilities of the members of the higher clergy. He is not bound to wear the clerical garb; still less is he beholden to comply with any of the rules and duties imposed upon the higher clergy."