Liszt Portrait by Lehmann


Beethoven Portrait by Waldmueller [1823]



When Franz Liszt was born on October 22, 1811 at Raiding [then part of Hungary, today part of the Austrian state of Burgenland], Beethoven was 40 years old.  What did Beethoven and Liszt have in common at age 40?  Beethoven not only had his years as a successful pianist behind him, but he could also look back on many great successes as a composer, in his so-called second creative period.  At age 40, Liszt, in the year 1851, was Kapellmeister in Weimar, and he, too,  already had his years as a brilliant solo pianist behind him while he could still look forward to many creative years as a composer in Weimar.  This exciting dynamic could easily lead us astray from the actual task we have set ourselves with respect to this presentation.  Since the Liszt year 2011 brought with it many new contributions to Liszt literature, we have decided to concentrate on Liszt's enrichment through Beethoven and his reverence for him and active support for his legacy.

As "chronological guideline" we refer to Alan Walker's excellent Liszt article in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2d ed., ed. Stanley Sadie.  New York and London:  Grove 2001; Vol. 14, pp. 755-85, which is also referred to in Michael Saffles Franz Liszt  A Guide to Research unter Dictionary and Encyclopedia Entries and Related Publications on p. 22.

Let us embark on our journey into Liszt's world during Beethoven's lifetime and let us approach this topic from this angle. 




With respect to Liszt's lineage and upbringing, let us take a look at some excerpts from Walker's Liszt contribution to the New Grove, followed by a link to Lina Ramann's description: 

" . . . German was his native tongue and he grew up unable to speak Hungarian.  In this he was no diffrent from many thousands of Magyars born at that time and place" [Walker: 756].

" . . . His [Liszt's] sense of pride was shared by his ancestors, one of whom [his paternal grandfather, Georg Liszt] had magyarized the family name by changing he spelling from 'List' to 'Liszt'" [Walker, 756].


Adam Liszt


Walker then describes Liszt's father as folllows:

"Liszt's father, Adam Liszt [1776-1827], worked for many years as a clerk on the Esterhazy estates in Western Hungary.  A gifted amateur singer, pianist and cellist, Adam often took part in the summer concerts at Eisenstadt, where he became acquainted with Joseph Haydn" [Walker: 756].

Shortly before Franz Liszt was born, Walker continues, Adam Liszt was transferred to Raiding.  In this section, Walker also mentions Adam Liszt's religiosity and his studies for the priesthood at the Franciscan Abbey Malacka in Slovakia.  However, as Walker mentiones, Liszt was dismissed "'by reason of his inconstant and changeable nature'" [Walker: 756], while he never forgot the Fransiscans. 



Anna Liszt


About Liszt's mother, Walker writes:

"Liszt's mother, Maria Anna Lager [1788-1866], came from a working-class family in Krems [lower Austria] and spent much of her adolescence in poverty, working as a chambermaid in Vienna.  12 years younger than Adam, she met him in Mattersdorf in the summer of 1810, and they married in January 1811.  Franz was their only child" [Walker: 756].

Those of you who read German can compare Walker's comments to lina Ramann's lengthy description via this link:


Lina Ramann, Franz Liszt: Seine Eltern


With respect to Liszt's childhood, particularly with respect to his musical development, Walker writes:

"The boy's musical genius asserted itself in his sixth year. He overheard his father playing a concerto by Ferdinand Ries and was later able to sing one of its themes from memory. Therafter Adam gave his son regular lessons, and the boy made such rapid progress that within 22 months he had mastered a large repertory of music by Mozart, Bach, Clementi, Hummel and others, and showed exceptional ability as an improviser" [Walker: 756].

With respect to the first concert tours resulting from this, Walker reports:

"Adam presented his son to the public for the first time in Oedenburg, in November, 1820, when the nine-year-old boy played the Concerto in E-flat by Ries and extemporized on popular melodies" [Walker: 756].



View of Oedenburg respectively Sopron


Walker continues:

"Such was the success of this concert that Adam arranged for a more ambitious one in nearby Pressburg. It coincided with an assembly of the Hungarian Diet and the boy's playing captured the attention of a number of Hungarian noblemen -- including Counts Amade, Szapary, and Michael Eszterhazy -- who later came forward with money to support the boy's education abroad. The Pressburger Zeitung reported that his playing 'was beyond admiration and justifies the higher hopes' [28 November 1820] [Walker: 756]. 


View of Pressburg respectively Bratislava in 1787


Walker then discusses Franz Liszt's musical training in Vienna:

"Adam had already begun to seek out the best teachers for his son. Hummel was considered in Weimar, but his fee was prohibitive. So Adam turned to Carl Czerny in nearby Vienna. Many years later, Czerny recalled their first meeting in his autobiography:

One morning in the year 1819 . . . a man with a small boy of about eight years approached me with a request to let the youngster play something at the fortepiano. He was a pale, sickly looking child who, while playing, swayed about on the stool as if drunk, so that I often thought he would fall to the floor. His playing was also quite irregular, untidy, confused, and he had so little idea of fingering that he threw his fingers quite arbitrarily all over the keyboard. But that notwithstanding, I was astonished at the talent which Nature had bestowed on him. He played something which I gave him to sight-read, to be sure, like a pure 'natural', but for that very reason one saw that Nature herself had formed a pianist" [Walker: 756]. 


Carl Czerny


As Walker [p. 756] further reports, in the spring of 1822, Adam Liszt took an unpaid leave from his post at Raiding and went to Vienna with his small family, where Franz received piano lessons for free from Carl Czerny.  According to Walker, Czerny's teaching provided a solid foundation for Liszt's further development as a pianist:

" . . . and was soon able to play scales and arpeggios in all possible combinations "with masterful fluency", "Never before had I had so eager, talented or industrious a student", writes Czerny. The boy worked his way through Clementi's Gradus ad Parnassum and Czerny's own School of Velocity, and he studied works by Hummel, Moscheles, Bach and Beethoven. Since Czerny forced him to learn everything very quickly, and to commit it to memory, the youthful Liszt became a formidable sight-reader" [Walker: 756].

And Liszt was reported as having managed all of that within fourteen months, based on Czerny's lessons and on his onwn diligence.  Moreover, he received theory lessons from Antonio Salieri, also for free.  Salieri taught him counterpoint and to read scores in all keys.

Therefore, it is not really surprising that Liszt was also able to render his own variation of Anton Diabelli's Waltz.  His contribution was one of the fifty that had comissioned from Austrian composers.  You can listen to it via this link:

Liszt Variation on a Waltz by Diabelli


Not bad for a boy of about eleven to twelve years of age!  Our "connection" to Beethoven is, in this case, a link to our web page on Beethoven's Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op. 120:


Beethoven's Piano Variations
of his Third Creative Period:
Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op. 120

Returning to the lessons Liszt had received from Czerny, we refer to Walker's further report:

"Within a year, Czerny had overcome his initial reluctance to the idea of presenting Liszt to the Viennese public and allowed Adam to arrange several concerts. At one of these [1. December 1822], the Allgemeine Zeitung reported that Liszt's playing bordered on the incredible and referred to him as 'a little Hercules . . . fallen from the clouds'. Emboldened by the experience, Adam conceived the idea of leaving Austria altogether and taking his son to Paris. Czerny thought that such a move was premature and motivated by the pursuit of 'pecuniary gain', but a farewell concert was nevertheless announced for 13 April 1823" [Walker: 756-757].



The Young Franz Liszt at the Piano



After Walkers report on this, let us consult Thayer-Forbes:

"On April 13, 1823, the boy Franz Liszt, who was studying with Carl Czerny and had made his first public appeareance on the first day of the year, gave a concert in the small Redoutensaal. A few days earlier he along with his father was presented to Beethoven by Schindler. There is an entry in a conversation Book which, because of the handwriting and courtly language, was probably written by the father:

I have often expressed the wish to Herr von Schindler to make your high acquaintance and am rejoiced to be able now to do so. As I shall give a concert on Sunday the 13th I most humbly beg you to give me your high presence.[50]

The day before the concert, Schindler writes in a Coversation Book:

Little Liszt has urgently requested me humbly to beg you for a theme on which he wishes to improvise at his concert tomorrow. [Some words crossed out] humiliate dominationen Vestram, si placet scribere unum Thema--

He will not break the seal till the time comes.

The little fellow's free improvisation cannot yet, strictly speaking, be interpreted as such. The lad is a true pianist; but as far as improvisation is concerned, the day is still far off when one can say that he improvises.

Czerny Carl is his teacher.
Just eleven years.

Do come, it will certainly amuse Karl to hear how the little fellow plays.

It is unfortunate that the lad is in Czerny's hands--

After a brief change of subject Schindler returns to the conversation about Liszt:

Won't you make up for the rather unfriendly reception of the other day by coming tomorrow to little Liszt's concert?

It will encourage the boy. Will you promise me to come?[5*]

According to Nohl who got the story from Liszt himself, Beethoven did attend the concert, went afterwards upon the stage, lifted up the prodigy and kissed him.[57]--At the concert, however, the theme upon which he improvised was not one by Beethoven but a rondo theme of some 20 measures. According to the reviews the impprovisation did not please" [TF: 846- 848].

For those of you who enjoy reading German, with respect to the so-called "musical inauguration" of Franz Liszt by Beethoven, we can offer a link to the related section in Lina Ramann's Liszt biography:


Ramann, Lina, Franz Liszt,
Erster Band, Erstes Buch 6. Die musikalische Weihe

Walker [p. 757] further reports that before their departure for Paris, Adam Liszt had arranged for a last concert of his son in Hungary, that it took place on May 1, 1823 in Pest and that on this occasion, Franz Liszt was wearing a Hungarian national costume.

Before we follow Liszt's further development and his relationship to Beethoven, let us comment on the choice of our heading for this section. It comes from Lina Ramann's Liszt Biography. According to her, to the question what he would like to be when he would be grown up, young Franz Liszt reportedly answered: "I want to become one like he!", pointing to Beethoven's portrait.



In order to continue tracing the further influence on Franz Liszt of Beethoven and his work, we have to follow him along his life path.  With respect to his journey to Paris, Walker [p. 757] reports that Adam Liszt might have tried to follow in the footsteps of Leopold Mozart and his family when they travelled across Europe 60 years earlier.   This led Liszt's family to travel via Munich, Augsburg, Stuttgart and Straßburg, and, according to Walker, the performances of the young pianist Liszt were very successful.  They arrived in Paris in December, 1823.

Once there, Adam Liszt tried everything to arrange for a good musical training for his son.   Walker [p. 5757] rather sees the fact that Liszt, as a foreigner, was not accepted at the Paris Conservatory as an advantage, since in this way, his creativity was not hindered.

As an Englishman, of course, Walker [p. 757] particularly emphasizes Liszt's three concert tours through England, and that proably not unjustifiably.   After all, they were very successful.   On all three journeys [ in 1824, 1825 and 1827] he was accompanied by his father Adam, while his mother Anna remained behind in Graz, with relatives.  With respect to Liszt's last of these three tours to England, Walker reports:





"Liszt crossed the English Channel for a third time in May 1827. In London he and his father stayed at lodgings in Frith Street, Soho. Once again he appeaared at the Argyll Rooms and this time created a stir with his performance of Hummel's A minor Concerto. Muzio Clementi was observed at the morning rehearsal sitting at the back of the hall, 'his brilliant, dark eyes glistening as he followed the marvellous performance' (Salomon]. It was during this visit that Liszt composed a Scherzo in G minor, the manuscript of which bears the date 'May 27'. The piece indicates an advanced grasp of harmony for one so young, and more than a passing acquaintance with Beethoven's pieces in the same genre" [Walker: 758].

After the end of his 1827 visit to England, the still 15-year-old list would share the fate of the 16-year-old Beethoven in this respect: 

"Liszt left England wit his father in August 1827. They had now been touring more or less instantly for three years and Adam arranged a short holiday at Boulogne-sur-Mer to take the waters. Within days, however, Adam has succumbed to a typhoid fever.  He died in Boulogne on 28 August and was buried in haste the next day, in the Cimetiere de l'Est, following a funeral service at the church of St Nicolas. The experience proved to be deeply traumatic for Liszt, the topic of death and dying became a preoccupation which often came out in his music. While his later tours sometimes took him close to Boulogne (and on one occasion, in 1840, into the city itself, the memory was so painful that he never visited his father's grave. A funeral march (A 10), composed two days after his father's death, is believed to be the young Liszt's musical tribute to his father.

It was Liszt's duty to write to his mother and inform her of his father's death. During the tours Anna Liszt had stayed with a sister in Graz; she was reunited with her famous son in Paris after a separation of three years.  Adam left his family in straitened circumstances and the 16-year-old Liszt assumed the responsibility of being the sole breadwinner. He was obliged to sell the Erard grand piano to pay off some debts, and to seek a regular income as a fashionable teacher of the sons and daughters of the French aristocracy. At first he and his mother rented an apartment at 38 rue Coquenard, and then at 7 rue de Montholon in the district of Montmartre" [Walker: 758].

As Walker [p. 758] reports, Liszt's woprk as a piano teacher to members of the Paris aristocracy brought with it also his acquaintance with the 17-year-old Countess Caroline de Saint-Cricq. The two young people fell in love.  Although their relationship, as Walker reports, was innocent, it was immediately stopped by Caroline's parents. After that, Franz Liszt, probably as a reaction to mourning his father's death and the loss of his young friend Caroline, fell into a serious depression.  As Walker writes, during the Paris concert season of 1827-1828, Liszt did not perform in public.  This even led to the rumour that he died.  However, as Walker reports, what was true was that during this time, Liszt was not in good health.   Whether, during this time, Liszt attended the "maßstabsetzenden Aufführungen Beethoven'scher Sinfonik unter der Leitung von Francois Antoine Habeneck" [so-to-say the standard-creating performances of Beethoven's symphonic work under the baton of Francoise Antoine Habeneck, according to a report of the internet publication of the Beethoven-Haus in Binn in "Liszt und Beethoven", viewed on July 2, 2011] we cannot determine with certainty.


Francois Antoine Habeneck


As Walker [p. 759] reports, Liszt's depression led him to fall into a bout of sensitive religiosity, which he might have inherited from his father Adam.  Reportedly, he only awoke from it due to the canon shots of the revolution of 1832.   During this time, Liszt is also reported as having read a great deal, and that in French, which became his favorite language.  As Walker [p. 759] continues, after the revolution, Liszt began again to appear in Paris society.  Therefore, it might be possible that he made the acquaintance of the  "engagierten Beethoven-Interpreten Chretien Urhan" [the enthusiastic Beethoven interpreter Chretien Urhan, as reported in the internt publication of the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn in "List und Beethoven", cited on July 2, 2011].  He is further reported as having, for the first time, performed the Kreutzer-Sonata with him on the occasion of the St.-Cecilia celebrations in the Church of St.-Vincent-de-Paul in Paris.


Chretien Urhan


In spite of his depression years of 1827-1832, according to the Bonn internet publication "Liszt und Beethoven", in the year 1829, Liszt participated in an edition of Beethoven's piano works by Schlesinger in Paris. 

Walker [p. 759] further reports that, during his active years in Paris society [1832-1835], Liszt befriended composers and musicians such as Hector Berlioz, Frederic Chopin, Hiller and others.  However, the Italian master violinist and composer Niccolo Paganini should have the greatest influence on his work as pianist. 

His long-time affair with Countess Marie d'Agoult, however, as Walker writes [p. 760], led him to Switzerland in 1835, to avoid a Paris scandal through the birth of their first common daughter Blandine.  The couple temporarily settled in Geneva, where Blandine was born in October, 1835.  Liszt accepted a post at the newly-opened Geneva Conservatory.

As Walker further reports [p. 761], his competition with the pianist Sigismund Thalberg led Liszt back to Paris in 1837.  Their "duel" is reported as having taaken place on March 11 and remaind undecided, with the organizer of the event, Princess Belgiojoseo diplomatically stating,   "Thalberg is the first pianist in the world - Liszt is unique" [Walker: 761].

Were we to follow what is written in the internet publication "Liszt und Beethoven", already in 1836, Liszt proved his pianistic uniqueness by playing Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata, Op. 106,  "in unangefochtener Qualität" [with unrivalled quality], which led Berlioz to state that Liszt had solved the "Mystery of the Sphinx". "His return to Paris, according to "Liszt und Beethoven" also allowed him to perform five chamber music soirees there, with Beethoven works being the main attraction.   According to this publication, in this year, Liszt also began with the piano transcription of Beethoven's Symphonies No. 5 - 7, with which he created a thus not yet known form of piano transcription. 

As Walker [p. 761] reports, Liszt and Marie d'Agoult, after a stopover at George Sand's country retreat at Nohant, they continued their pilgrimage [pelerinage].  This time, they went to Northern Italy, to Lake Como, in order to await the birth of their second daughter Cosima there.  Cosima was born on December 24, 1837.  During this time, Liszt made the acquaintence of the Italian music publisher Ricordi in Milan.





Pest [on the right bank of the Danube]


Pursuant to Walker [p. 761], a decisive change in Liszt's life occurred in the spring of 1838, when he learned of the flood in Pest in newspapers while performing in Venice.  Walker reports that in April 1838, Liszt travelled to Vienna and gave ten benfit concerts for the flood victims.  Actually, only six concerts were planned.  However, the enthusiasm of the public made it possible for him to give four more concerts.  Walker writes that Liszt's playing was so amazing that Klara Wieck [Robert Schumann's later wife] said: "He can be compared to no other player . . . he arouses fright and astonishment. He is an original . . . he is absorbed by the piano" [Walker: 761].   Carl Czerny, too, is reported as having admired the playing of his former pupil and as having emhpasized that it  "had emerged from the monstrous complexities that had dogged it in earlier years and was now characterized by clarity and wonderful brilliance" [Walker: 762].  As Walker [p. 762] reports, with his Vienna concerts, Liszt earned 24,000 florins, the highest amount that Hungary received from a private donor for the Pest flood victims.

Perhaps, in this context, we can make a comparison between Liszt and Beethoven.  With respect to Beethoven, Thayer-Forbes [p. 537-538] reports in the chapter to 1812 in his standard biography:

"On July 26th, a large portion of the town of Baden, near Vienna, including the palace of Archduke Anton, the cloister of Augustines, the threatre and casino, the parochial church an the palace of Count Karl Esterhazy, was destroyed by a conflagration which broke out between noon and 1 o'clock. In all, 117 houses were burned. From Karlsbad under date of August 7, it is reported," writes the Wiener Zeitung of August 29th, that "scarcely had the misfortune which recently befell the inhabitants of Baden become known here before the well-known musician Herr van Beethoven and Herr Polledro formed the benevolent purpose to give a concert for the benefit of the sufferers. As many of the guests of high station were already prepared to depart and it became necessary to seize the favourable moment, and in the conviction that he who helps quickly helps threefold, this purpose was carried out within twelve hours. . . . Universal and rousing applause and receipts amounting to 954 florins, Viennese Standard, rewarded the philanthropic efforts" of the concert-givers. Beethoven himself gives a very different aspect of this concert in a letter to Archduke Rudolph:

                                                                                                                                                           Franzensbrunn, August 12, 1812
Your Imperial Highness!
. . . -- Y.I.H. is likely to have heard of a concert which I gave with the help of Herr Polledro for the benefit of the city of Baden destroyed by fire. The receipts were nearly 1000 florins V.S. and if I had not been hindered in the arrangements 2000 florins might easily have been taken in-- It was, so to speak a poor concert for the poor. I found only some of my earlier sonatas with violin at the prublishers here, as Polledro insisted I had to yield and play an old sonata-- The entire concert consisted of a trio played by Polledro, the violin sonata by me, another piece by Polledro and then an improvisation by me-- Meanwhile I am glad that the poor Baden people benefited somewhat by the affair-- . . . " [TF: 537-538; --].


View of Baden near Vienna


Two aspects can be observed here:  with respect to their generosity, both artists can be easily compared, while Liszt, on the other hand, due to his better health and younger years and also due to the improved possibilities for solo pianists, had a better vantage point and could generate more earnings for the Pest flood victims than Beethoven could for the victims of the Baden fire [24,000 florins compared to about 1,000 florins].

As Walker [p. 762] further reports, Liszt then followed Marie d'Agoult to Rome to await the birth of their third child there.  HI only son, Daniel, was born there on May 9, 1939.    In Walker's opinion, this time was the beginning of the end of List's relationship with Marie d'Agoult, as he now began to follow a different path: 




"During the years 1939 to 1847 Liszt unfolded a virtuoso career unmatched in the history of performance. He is still the model followed by pianists today. He was the first to play the full range of the keyboard reportory [as it then existed] from Bach to Chopin; the first consistently to place the piano in right-angles to the stage, so that its open lid reflected the sound across the auditorium, the first to tour Europe from the Pyrenees to the Urals. Even the term 'recital' was his. He introduced it on 9 June 1840 at a concert in London at the Hanover Square Rooms. It was Liszt's way of announcing that his career was taking a new direction, henceforth he would present concerts without the benefit of assisting artists. . . . His recitals have never been fully chronicled, but he gave well over 1000 during these fleeting years. . . .

The Glanzzeit began with six Beethoven Memorial Concerts in Vienna, between 18 November and 4 December 1839. At the first concert, Liszt gave the premiere performance of his new transcription of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony in the presence of the Dowager Empress and her retinue. The Viennese press spoke truer than it knew when it hailed Liszt as "Protector of Beethoven". Liszt's lifelong championship of the composer was intensified, and as the tours unfolded he introduced his audiences to works such as the Hammerklavier Sonata and the Diabelli Variations, which wre still generally unknown" [Walker: 762].

During his Glanzzeit, his great tours drove Franz Liszt on and on.  Some stops along his accellerating path were:

1. His journey to Hungary in 1839/1840. There, he was honored and celebrated as a national hero, at the Budapest National Theatre.  The speech that Liszt [Walker: 762] held was also filled with national pride.  He further writes that Liszt again dealt with Hungarian Gypsy music [regarding this, Walker refers to Liszt's 'Gesammelte Schriften' VI, p. 125-127] with the result that some 'folk melodies' found entry into his 'Hungarian Rhapsodies'.  According to Walker, Liszt's adversaries claimed that he was not dealing with 'real' Hungarian music, but only with Gypsy music.  However, Liszt had also been impressed by Hungarian folk melodies that he had become familiar with due to Gypsy interpretations of them.

2. Pursuant to Walker [p. 763], in March, 1840, Liszt visited Leipzig and met Robert Schumann there, who is reported as having written about him: "We had, at least, seen the lion shake his mane" [Walker: 763].

3. According to Walker [p. 763], Liszt gave sensational concerts in Berlin and met Felix Mendelssohn, Giacomo Meyerbeer and Spontini.  Berliners bade farewell to Liszt with a jubilant reception "Unter den Linden". Somewhat more matter-of-fact is Walker's report that in Berlin, Liszt gave 21 concerts and played 80 works, 50 of them by.

4. Walker [p. 764] describes Liszt's journey to Great Britain in the years 1840 and 1841 as somewhat less succesful.   Liszt had to play in many smaller centres such as Oxford, Chichester and Exeter in the south and Manchester, Halifax, Preston and Darlington in the north, before smaller audiences.    His escursions to Scotland and Ireland were not much more successful.  His 'British' manager,   the conductor Louis Lavenn reportedly lost more than 1,000 Pounds and Liszt did not receive a fee.

5.  Was Walker writes, Liszt's 1842 visit to Hamburg was more successful, and he quotes from Hans Christian Andersen's comment: " . . . strong passions . . . in his . . . face . . . demon nailed fast to the instrument . . . tones . . . came from his blood, --his thoughts . . . he was a demon who could liberate his soul from thraldom--as he continued to play, the demon vanished . . . I saw that face assume a nobler and brighter expression . . . divine soul shone from his eyes . . . " [Walker: 764].   In this context, Walker described Liszt as "the quintessential romantic".

6. According to Walker [p. 764], this was followed by Listz's visit to Spain and his playing before King Carlos and Queen Isabel, his visit to Turkey and his playing for Sultan Abdul Ngid Khan in Istanbul.  In Russia, instead of receiving orders or honors of the usual kind, Tsar Nicholas reportedly presented to dancing bears to Listz.  Here, the famous "anekdote" was to have occurred according to which the Tsar is supposed to have entered loudly, and Liszt is supposed to have interrupted his play with the words: "When the Tsar speaks, even music has to remain silent".

According to Walker [p. 764], his touring further weakened Liszt's relationship with Marie d'Agoult who had returned to Paris in March, 1839.    Their three children were looked after by Anna Liszt.  Liszt always visited his children when he was in Paris and took care of them, financially.  His relationship with Marie d'Agoult finally found an end when, in 1844, he had an affair with Lola Montez.

Chronologically, it is appropriate to divert to the following topic here:



The Inauguration of the Beethoven Monument in Bonn


After all, no other artists has contributed so much to it, both financially and ideally than Liszt.  Let us therefore trace this development step by step:

* On December 17,  1835, Bonn Beethoven enthusiasts asked the general public to make donations for the erection of a monument to Beethoven in Bonn.

*  In 1839 Liszt, from Pisa, wrote to his friend Hector Berlioz that he wanted to participate in financing the monument.  As sculptor, Liszt had the Italian Bartolini in mind.

*  However, the monument was only completed in 1845.  One of the reasons for this was that the Comittee members resented that Liszt had not suggested a German sculptor to work on the monument. 

*  However, the Bonn Committee agreed to Listzt's proposal.  However, due to Bonn weather conditions, they refused to accept marble as a material for it and suggested iron ore, instead.  They requested sketches from Bartolinin for their review and approval.

*  In 1840, Bartonlini came to Bonn, where the head of the Committee, Dr. H.K. Breidenstein, confronted him with the resentments of Bonners to a foreign sculptor; after all, even King Friedrich Wilhelm IV [of Prussia] had agreed to a selection process of artists for this purpose.  Therefore, Liszt withdrew his condition that Bartolini was to build the monument.

*  Liszt wanted to contribute 10,000 florins respectively 2,666 Taler, and he even wanted to donate more if needed.  He then deposited the money with the Viennese banker Eselles.

* In October 1840, artists were invited to provide models for a monument.  The winner was Ernst Hähnel of Dresden, and the Nuremberg bronze caster Daniel Burgschmiet was to make the cast.

* The monument was completed and delivered to Bonn in August, 1845.    He had joined the Committee in 1840.  The Festival was to have an international character, and invitations were to go out to artists in various countries.

*  The Festival Program consistd of an Inaugurative Choir [by Dr. Breidenstein], a Festival Cantata by Liszt, and of the following Beethoven works:  the Ninthn Symphony, the Missa Solemnis, the Mass in C major, parts of the Oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives, of the Fifth Symphony, the Coriolan  and Egmont Overtures, of the Fidelio Finale, of the Concerto in E major, of a string quartet,  Adelaide, and so forth.

*  Conducting duties were shared by Louis Spohr and Franz Liszt.  Louis Spohr conductded on the first day, namely the Ninth Symphony and the Missa Solemnis, and Liszt conducted the concert on the second day, namely the Fifty Symphony, the Fidelio Finale, and he also performed the E-major Concerto.

*  Liszt arrived already in Bonn already in July, 1845, and did not agree with the 'Reitbahn' as Festival venue.  He suggested that a new Festival Hall be built and provided the money for it.  He hired the architect  Zwirner who, at that time, was working on the restauration of the Cathedral in Cologne.  In only eleven days, an acoustically "excellent" Festival Hall was built.

*  Lina Ramann quotes Berlioz who reported that the arriving artists were not representative enough.  According to Berlioz, missing were Spontini, Onslow, Auber, Halevy, A. Thomas, Habeneck, Benedict, Mendelssohn, Marschner, Reißinger, Richard Wagner, Pixis, Ferdinand Hiller, Robert Schumann, Krebs, Louis Schlosser, die brothers Müller, St. Heller, Glinka, Snel, Bender, Otto Nicolai, Erdl, the brothers Lachner and the brothers Bohrer. However, present were many Beethoven admirers and "hundreds of artists."

* Unfortunately, a Festiva Brochure was not printed.  As already mentioned, on August 11, the first concert took place with Spohr conducting, with an orchestra consisting of musicians from various cities that played "excellently."

* On August 12, the Inauguration took place as which Spohr, Liszt, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Hector Berlioz, Lindpaintner, Cheland, Fr. Schneider, Moscheles, Halle, Fetis, Anton Schindler, Gerhard Wegeler, Mangold, Rellstab, Jules Janin, Staudigl and Chorley were present.

* On August 13, in the third concert, Liszt's Festival Cantata was performed, and disagreements* arose which lead, among other things, to the fact that Liszt would not be invited to the second Beethoven Festival in 1870.  At that time, his adversary Ferdinand Hiller organized the Festival.
*With respect to the "disagreements", Alessandra Comini writes in her book, "The Changing Image of Beethoven" [p. 335]:


Montez Portrait by Josef Stieler


"One disruptive personality Smart had not noticed (but Moscheles had) in the crowded banquet hall before he prudently left it was Lola Montez (1818? to 1861) (Fig. 119). As the evening wore on she suddenly indulged in the sort of daring public display that soon would bring her to the mesmerized attention of Ludwig I, contributing to the loss of his throne in 1848. Here in Bonn she seemed determined to unseat Liszt, insisting at the Goldener Stern banquet hall entrance (the hotel had already refused her lodgings) that she was his guest. Pushing her way trough the packed room she managed to take a seat opposite the highly embarrased Liszt, and after the "Vous avez oublie les francais" ruckus broke out, the self-declared Spanish dancer from Limerick, Ireland, jumped on top of the main dining table and executed a bit of fandango to "quiet" the room so that the poet Wolff could speak. After that the international debacle was in full swing. Beethoven was forgotten as the failures of Liszt, the Bonn committee and the festival in general were hotly debated in several languages. What was not forgotten was the scandalous link the appearance of Lola Montez had forged with Liszt in the collective memory of Bonn's citizenry. Twenty-five years later, when the one-hundredth anniversary of Beethoven's birth was celebrated in Bonn, the city fathers did not even send him an invitation to attend."

Whether or not Lola Montez was the reason for Liszt's exclusion from the next Beethoven Festival or wheter she was the reason for his final separation from Marie d'Agoult, the latter, under the pen name of "Daniel Stern" wrote a novel with the title "Nelida", in which she described an impotent artist by the name of Regnier, and with it, rendered a damning character depiction of her former partner Liszt.

Liszt, on the other hand, continued his European tour and, within eighteen months, from 1846 to 1847, went from Prague, Pest, Temesvar, Arad, Bukarest to Iasi in Moldavia.  According to Walker [p. 765], in February 1847 he had arrived in Kijiv.  From there, he travelled to Odessa, sailed across the Black Sea to Constantinople, where, in June 1847, he played for the Sultan in the Tichragan Palace. As Walker continues, in Juli, he was back in Odessa and gave concerts there.  His last performance for a fee was that in Elisavetgrad in September 1847. At that time, he was only 35 years old.

Before we follow Liszt on his further path and before we search for any connections to Beethoven in his life, Walker can offer us a look at Liszt a pianst and composer of piano reductions and, in part, also in his dealing with Beethoven works in this context:

* Walker stresses that Liszt brought the piano out of the salon into the concert hall;

* According to Walker, Liszt's hands enabled him to develop a sophisticated technique for piano playing;

* In Walker's opinion, only the Bechstein and Steinway pianos that were built after 1850 were able to do justice to Liszt's works of the years 1830 - 1840;

* With respect to Liszt's piano reductions, Walker [p. 767] divides Liszt's oeuvre into two categories, namely into  "paraphrases" and "transcriptions", a classification that Liszt, himself, had invented;

* In the "paraphrase", the arranger's fantasy was not only allowed but even desired, while in the "transcription", the transcriber should adher faithfully to the original;

* Liszts "transcriptions"', according to Walker, are so "literal" that they could be considered the "discs or records" of the 19th century.  It is due to this reason that Liszt's transcriptions remained to be of enduring interest. In Walker's view, Liszt's genius allowed him to find individual, pianistic solutions for the faithful transcription of orchestral works, such as Beetoven's symphonies:   "After examining Liszt's impeccable transfers of the Beethoven Symphonies Tovey remarked that 'they prove convincingly that Liszt was by far the most wonderful interpreter of orchestral scores on the pianoforte, the world is ever to see' . . . " [Walker: 768].  As Walker continues, unfortunately, in the 20th centry, piano reductions were regarded as "second class music." 

According to Walker, during his stay in Kijiv, Liszt had made the acquaintance of Princess Caroline von Sayn-Wittgenstein and had entered a new relationship with her.


Caroline von Sayn-Wittgenstein
in 1847


In contrast to Countess d'Agoult, Liszt's new life partner was seven years his junior, namely 28 yers old, when they met.  She was separated from her husband and strived for an annulment of her forced marriage.  For several months, Liszt was her guest at her estate of Woronice in the Ukraine.


LISZT'S WEIMAR YEARS [1848 - 1861]

As Walker reports, the Duke of Weimar had already offered the position of Court Kapellmeister to Liszt in 1842.  At that time, Weimar had already been a very special cultural centre for 100 years, namely as the city of Wieland, Herde, Goethe and Schiller, which also had an orchestra and an opera house.   Walker ask why, in 1848, Liszt accepted the invitation of the Duke of Weimar and concludes that:

"Liszt attached himself to Weimar and his courtly duties, because he and the Grand Duke, Carl Alexander, were bonded together by mutual admiration and common ideals. Liszt wanted to create 'an Athens of the North', as he put it, and he believed that Carl Alexander would dip into the royal purse to make this possible. Liszt ultimately left Weimar disillusioned, but the 13 years he spent there from 1848 to 1861 saw the creation of some of his best work" [Walker: 768].



The Altenburg in Weimar 


As Walker [p. 768-769] reports, in Weimar, Liszt and Princess Caroline lived in a large house at the edge of  town, in the so-called  "Altenburg."   Here, in his favorite room, the "blue room" overlooking the garden, Liszt composed and taught.   He taught the first generation of his students such as Hans von Bülow, Peter Cornelius, Karl Klindworth, Carl Tausig and William Mason.  According to Walker, the Altenburg soon turned into a Mecca for modern musicians, in which Berlioz, Wagner, Anton Rubinstein and even the young Brahms were guests.  Contrary to many critics, Walker insists that Princess Caroline had a good influence on Liszt's creativity, since she supported his ideas and since, during his most creative compositional years, she offered him a comfortable home.  In his Last Will, Liszt had written, 'All my joys came from her, and all my sorrows go to her to be appeased'.

In Weimar, already in 1844, Liszt had proven his capabilities as a conductor by conducting Beethoven's works, but also with his direction of the Beethoven Festival in Bonn.  [To this, we can add our reference to Alex Schröters brief overview for the Liszt-Beethoven exhibition of the Beethovenhaus in Bonn, supported by the Weimar Class Foundation and the Liszt Ferenc MEmorial Musieum in the Liszt-Year 2011, namely to his mentioning that Liszt's prior occupation with the transcription of all of Beethoven's symphonies, to him, represented a degree of involvement with and immersion into the works of Beethoven that brought about his instant successes when he conducted Beethoven's works]. Therefore, it is not surprising that Walker reports of Liszt, that, shortly after having arrived in Weimar, he enlarged the orchestra and hired better musisicans.  Liszt, so Walker, also looked after the welfare of the musician by increasing their salaries and their pensions. Within a period of two years, writes Walker, Liszt had established an ensemble of 45 permanently employed musicians, and for special occasions, he had hired muscians from the nearby orchestras of Erfurt and Jena, so that he could increase the number of players to 100. In 1850, he hired Joseph Joachim as Concertmaster.  However, due to their differences regarding "modern" music, they parted company soon thereafter.

Very interesting is Walkers 'following description of Franz Liszt as conductor:




"Liszt's conducting soon began to command attention, partly because of the novelty of his programmes, and partly because of his new approach to technique. He was engaged in various European centres as a guest conductor, including the Ballenstedt Festival (1852), the Karlsruhe Music Festival (1853), and the Niederrehinische Musikfest in Aachen (1857). During the ten years in which he regularly directed orchestras Liszt cultivated a repertory of body signals which were considered revolutionary at the time but which have become commonplace. He often abandoned a geular square-cut beat in favor of great arcs that offered the shape of the phrase (as Furtw¨ngler was later to do). He sometimes put down the baton and conducted with hand gestures alone (like Stokowski). To dramatize the difference between pianissimo and fortissimo he would croch low over the podium for the former and raise himself to his full height for the latter, arms outstretched. The most telling signals came from his face, which registered all the emotions of the music as he tried to get the players to work as one. He also introduced tempo rubato, an almost unheard-of effect for an orchestra in the 1850's. His extant orchestral parts are filled with dynamic markings that show he strove to unfold different layers of sound simultaneously. We can hardly imagine what the orchestral players would have made of such injuctions as 'the instruments must sound like ghosts' (Hunnenschlacht), or 'like blasphemous mocking laughter' (Dante Symphony), 'take the E# high'. Lina Ramann astutely declared that 'Liszt at the head of an orchestra is a continuation of Liszt at the piano' (Ramann, H1880-94, i, 92). List disparaged the old-fashioned Prussian Kapellmeister, whose metronomic approach led him to refer to them as 'windmills'. In his manifesto 'On Conducting' (outlined in a letter to Richard Pohl, Briefe, C1893-1905, i, 142-5), he declared: 'We are helmsmen, not oarsmen, implying that it was the conductor's job to set the compass and plot the course, while the players rowed the boat. He elevated the conductor to 'musician-in-chief', shaming those who thought their job was done if they could get the band to start and finish together. Had Liszt not resigned his position in Weimar after a mere ten years (he stepped down from the podium almost for good in 1959) he might well have been recognized as the founder of modern conducting" [Walker: 770-771].

As Alex Schröter writes in his Liszt-Beethoven overview for the Beethovenhaus in Bonn, at the end of the 1850's, Liszt was also active as an editor of Beethoven's works, namely with respect to the edition of Beethoven's complete works published by Ludwig Holle in Wolfenbüttel.  Not less than 10 volumes of Beethoven's works were published with Liszt as editor.  Walker [p. 772], on the other hand, mentions Liszt as editor of Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas.

As Schröter further reports, from 1846 on, Liszt was also studying Beethoven's late works. To what extent this might have had an influence over his own compositional work in Weimar, cannot be determined with certainty. With respect to Liszt's embarking on his intensive work on instrumental composition, Walker writes that he enlisted the help of August Conradi who, since 1844, had been assisting him as a copyist. According to Walker, from February 1848 to the summer of 1849, Conradi stayed in Weimar. With respect to his compositions, Liszt first drafted a short score with notes regarding its instrumentation and then left it to Conradi to work on a full score that contained Liszt's suggestions. Conradi is reported as then having made further suggestions. This was then followed by Liszt's rehearsals with this score and by further revisions until Liszt would be satisfied. After Conradi, Joachim Raff is reported by Walker of having assisted him with his compostions. However, as Walker writes, Raff later exaggerated with respect to his involvement which then led to Liszt having been considered a less competent instrumental composer than he really was. Walker continues by explaining that later, Peter Raabe carried out a careful comparison of all known sketches with the published scores, so that Liszt's image as a capable instrumental composer could be restored.

With respect to Liszt's Weimar composition, Walker reports that in 1853 created the term "symphonic poem" for orchestral works consisting of one movement and that in Weimar, he had written twelve of them. However, as Walker writes, they did not find entry into the repertoire of Liszt compositons that is still being played, today. Walker mentions Liszt's masterwork, the Faust Symphony, that had been written between August and October of 1854, but also refers to the Sonata in b minor that Liszt had written in 1853 and dedicated to Robert Schumann. During this time, Liszt was also greatly involved in the study of Bach's organ works. With his own compositions, Ad nos ad salutarem and with his Fugue B A C H, so Walker, Liszt had transported the organ from the church into the concert hall. According to Walker, in Weimar, Liszt also matured as a L i e d e r composer, and some of his best works were lieder to texts by Heine, Hoffmann von Fallersleben, Uhland, Rellstag, Goethe and Schiller.

Already in our introduction to this section, we mentioned, by quoting Walker, that Liszt had left Weimar after thirteen years in a state of dissilusionment, since he could not realize his dream of transforming Weimar into an "Athens of the North." However, Walker also points to Princess Caroline von Sayn-Wittgenstein's struggle with respect to the annulment of her marriage as a shadow that hovered over her relationship with Liszt and mentions the latter's affair with Agnes Street-Klindworth in 1853.





According to Walker, in 1860, Princess Sayn-Wittgenstein went to Rome with a Petition for the Annullment of her marriage, in order to present it to Pope Pius IX.  On January 8, 1861, a decision was made in favor of the annullment. 

In August, 1861 Liszt followed the Princess to Rome, where their wedding was planned to take place on this 50th birthday, October 22, 1861.  However, in the last moment, the Vatican decided against the annullment.  As Walker writes, behind this decision was also the Monsignor and later Cardinal Gustav Hohenlohe, since his youngest brother, Prince Konstantin, had married Caroline's daughter Marie in Weimer, in October, 1859.  This this, the control over Caroline's estate went to the young couple.  In the event of a marriage between Liszt and Caroline, it was feared that claims to Caroline's estate could later also be made by any possible future children out of this marriage.  Was Walker reports, Caroline gave up on the idea of her marriage to Liszt in order to restore peace with her daughter. 

According to Walker, after this, Liszt turned increasingly to his Catholic faith and retreated intot he almost derelict Abbey at Monte Mario in order to mourn the loss of his only son Daniel who had passed away in 1859 and that of his daughter Blandine who had died in 1862.

In 1863, the Pope and Hohenlohe visited Liszt in his self-chose exile, and friendships beween the three of them developed.


Liszt around 1870


As Walker writes, in 1865, Liszt received the four minor orders of the Priesthood and, from then on, was often called "Abbe Liszt".  He now lived at the private apartment of Hohenlohe in the Vatican and pursued theological studies.  However, he was satisfied with the minor orders that did not require him to live a celibate life.

According to Walker, in November 1866, Liszt moved to the S. Francesca Romana, which remained his Roman residence until 1871, when the building was secularized.  He gave piano lessons again and received many visitors, as, for exmple, the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg.

As Walker reports, in Rome Liszt composed such sacred works as the oratorios The Legenf of St. Elizabeth and Christ.





        Liszt's Weimar Apartment 


As Walker writes, from 1869 to the end of his life, Liszt maintained three residences, namely one in Budapest, one in Rome and one in Weimar and visited them alternately.  Walker is strongly opposed to the concept that Liszt's travels were a consequence of his alleged unsteady character.  He writes:

"Liszt's travels were mainly a result of the demands on his time and talent by others. In Weimar is was to support Carl Alexander; in Budapest it was to help the fledgling Academy of Music; in Rome to maintain his personal loyalty to Princess Carolyne. Remove these causes and you remove the need for Liszt to have travelled at all. There was no monetary or material gain for him in any of these places, and since he invariably paid his own travel expenses, he was often out of pocket. This strained his already precarious financial situation, since he now made little money from the sale of his music, and on the rare occasions he played in public he invariably donated his services to charitable causes" [Walker: 782].

In Weimar, Liszt lived in the Hofgärtnerei [court nursery] and gave lessons there.  Walker describes Liszt as one of the greatest teachers of his time.  During his life time, he reportedly had more than 400 students and is considered to have invented the concept of the master class.  As Walker continues, among his later students were  d'Albert, Rosenthal, von Sauer, Joseffy, Friedheim, Siloti and Sophie Menter.  He was not an actual "pedagogue"." One of his mottos, so Walker, was that technique has to create itself out of the mind and not mechanically.  His emphasis on interpretation had made his classes extraordinay:

"He would take apart a Beethoven sonata, phrase by phrase, in an effort to get his pupils to comprehend the meaning behind the notes, and in so doing, he established traditions of performance which survive to this day. His comments were spiced with anecdote, metaphor and wit. To a young student tapping out the opening chords of the Walstein Sonata, he remarked drily: "Do not chop beefsteak for us" [Walker: 780].



It should also be noted that Liszt gave his lessons free of charge.

With respect to the fact that Liszt also added Budapest to his steady travel itinerary, Walker reports that in 1870, Rome was occupied by King Victor Emmanuel's troops, while Liszt was in Hungary.  Since he could not return to Rome, he stayed there.  This, in turn, caused his Hungarian friends to offer him an official position. In June, 1871, Liszt accepted from Emperor Franz Joseph the title of Royal Hungarian Council.  This position brought with it an annual salary of 4,000 Hungarian Forint and entitled him to sit in the Hungarian Parliament, which he never did. In March, 1875, according to Walker, Liszt was appointed as first President of the newly-founded Royal Hungarian Music Academy.  He helped to develop the curriculum and appointed faculty members.  He insisted that all piano students should learn composition and all students of composition should learn to play the piano; all candidates had to be able to improvise and read from sight, both scores and individual parts.  As Walker writes, by the end of the 19th century, three of the most important Hungarian composers, Bartok, Kidaly and Dohnanyi, had graduated from the Academy.  Also with respect to his work for it, Liszt refused to take payment.

Thus, as Walker describes above, Liszt travelled restlessly through Europe and through the last years of his lfe.  Let us take a look at him in the year 1886.  It can be safely assumed that his restless life style also contributed to his health condition.


Liszt 1886


As Walker [p. 782] reports, also in 1886, Liszt travelled across half of Europe.  In January, he was in Rome.  Prior to March 20th, he must have been in Budapest, since he arrived in Paris on this day, coming from there. In April, he spent three weeks in England.  On May 17, he arrived in Weimar.  About his health, Walker writes:

"The burdens of old age were clearly visible. He was by now partially blind and his body was so bloated with dropsy that the students who met him at the railway station had to support him as he alighted from the train." [Walker: 784].

On the following day, his daughter [Cosima] showed up at the Hofgärtnerei.  Liszt was very surprised, since he had not been in contact with her since Wagner's death in 1883.  Allegedly, Cosima visited him since she required his presence in Bayreuth for two purposes, namely for the wedding of her daughter Daniela on July 4th, and as moral support for the faltering Bayreuth Festival.

Liszt is reported as having travelled to Halle on June 1st and visited the eye specialist Alfred Graefe there who had suggested that he undergo eye surgery.

After that, he travelled to Luxemburg and gave a concert there on July 19th, after which he took the night train to arrive in Bayreuth on July 20th, with high fever. He did not stay at House Wahnfried, but rather in the Siegfriedestrasse. Cosima's duties as Festival Director only allowed her to visit him briefly every morning on her way to the Festspielhaus, in order to chat with him over a cup of coffee.  For the rest of the day, Liszt was occupied with dealing with his piano students who had followed him to Bayreuth.

Walker ]p. 784]  refers to Lina Schmalhausen's unpublished diary which gives a fairly accurate account of Liszt's days in Bayreuth.  After he had seen the Wagner family's physician, Dr. Karl Landgraf, on July 23rd, Liszt attended the performance of Wagner's opera Parsifal.  Once more, on July 25th, Liszt attended the Baureuth premiere of Tristan.   However, he was already very weak and could only get up during the intervals in order to receive ovations that were addressed at him.  During the night of July 27th, sweat-drenched, Liszt lay in fever fantasies so that even Cosima, for the first time, realized how serious his condition was.  She asked for the medical opinion of another doctor, Dr. Fleischer of the University of Erlangen.  His diagnosis was that Liszt had pneumonia.  Cosima refused Liszt's students to visit him and also adhered to Dr. Fleischer's prohibition of alcohol for her father.  Walker considers this as a mistake, since Liszt was used to both and since this would have eased his suffering during the last days of his life.  His health deteriorated, and Cosima set up a cot for herself in his room.  In the early morning of July 31st, a Saturday, Liszt grasped for air and fell into a coma from which he did not awake.  Dr. Fleischer was called who tried to give Liszt alcohol now.  Cosima had to leave since she had to prepare for a dinner at House Wahnfried that evening.  She did not see her father alive, again.  Liszt died on Saturday night, the 31st of July, at 11.30 pm.  The actual cause of death was a heart attack.

As Walker [p. 784] reports, the funeral took place on August 3, 1886.  Since Liszt's Testament from the year 1860 could not be found, his wishes were not adhered to:  he was not buried dressed as a member of the Order of the Franciscans.  The funeral was also not a simple one at hight, but it was also attended by many Bayreuth tourists.  Moereover, the officiating clergy was not a Catholic priest but rather a Lustheran pastor.  Liszt was buried at the Bayreuth City Cemetary, a Lutheran cemetary.

Liszt's Grave at the Bayreuth Cemetary

According to Walker [p 784], after the funeral, all interested parties began to quarrel as tot whether Liszt's remains should stay at Bayreuth.  The Executor of List's Will, Princess Carolyne tried everythin in order to remove him from "Heathen" Bayreuth.  The Franciscans wanted him to be brought to Budapest, Grand Duke Carl Alexander asked for him to be brought to Weimar, and there were further suggestions that he should be brought to Rome or even to his native village of Raiding. However, Cosima's will prevailed so that he remained in Bayreuth, in Wagner's shadow.  While Walker finds the debate interesting, he reminds us that Liszt himself had said that "for my body, I do not wish another place than that of the cemetery of the city in which I die."  With this, also the burial places of Beethoven and Liszt have something in common:  both composers were buried where they died, in Vienna respectively in Bayreuth.