Romantic musical superstar, Ferenc Liszt, was born in the Hungarian village of Doborjan—at the time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and today a part of modern Austria (called "Raiding"). Ferenc (called "Franz" in the West) was born to a musician father who began teaching his son to play the piano by the age of seven. By eight Franz was crafting simple compositions and, by nine, he was performing concerts. After hearing the prodigy play, a group of wealthy music patrons agreed to finance Franz's musical education in Vienna—the capital city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Liszt spent the rest of his boyhood studying, composing and touring. When his father died in 1827, the 16 year old Franz quit touring, moved with his family to Paris, and began teaching piano and composition—running all over the city (from morning to night) to keep appointments and pay for the family's small apartment. His long hours and bad habits (smoking and drinking) wore-down the young man.
Eventually, Liszt turned his attention to playing—determined to become a virtuoso pianist. He met a wealthy countess, which likely helped him financially. She left her husband and the two moved to Geneva where Liszt continued to compose, teach, write and tour. Liszt toured the continent, performing for many of the crowned heads of Europe. He became enormously popular. In the 1830's and 1840's, his virtuoso playing (and his handsome, youthful, Romantic looks) created a sensation called "Lisztomania." His appeal was not reserved for the elite; Liszt was a popular "rockstar" in his time with people up and down the economic ladder. Liszt is considered by some to have been the greatest pianist who ever lived—and he became a very wealthy man and a generous philanthropist. As a composer, his music was considered novel and adventurous. He flirted with "atonality," setting the stage for the Modern composers of the Twentieth Century. In his later years, he spent his time composing religious music.
Liszt died in Bayreuth, Germany, home of the famous musical festival, on 31 July 1886. He had fallen down the stairs some five years previously and had never fully recovered. He is buried in a handsome tomb in Bayreuth.
The bronze-clad commemorative plaque, shown above, was made in the 1920's or 1930's. The nicely-sculpted bas relief portrait was electroplated and then hand painted. Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.
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