Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Stars on the Stage: Franz Liszt

We cannot discuss virtuosos this month without mentioning Franz Liszt (1811–1886). Liszt could be considered the most well-known virtuoso of his time, beginning studies with his father at age six. Once apparent that the young boy had great talent, he went on to study piano and theory with other prominent musicians including Carl Czerny and Antonio Salieri.

Courtesy of telegraph.co.uk
The picture above depicts Liszt’s “star” status during his day. His ability to stretch boundaries and develop new techniques made him stand out among his contemporaries and the public loved him. Liszt spent much of his life as a touring pianist, pioneering the idea of a solo recital that has remained popular to this day. He also memorized his music and played a wide repertoire from various eras—methods common today but revolutionary during the nineteenth century. When he first moved to Paris as a youth, Liszt was given a new seven-octave double escapement action piano that allowed quicker repetition of notes. He became one of the first pianists to master this virtuosic technique.

Liszt stopped performing in 1848 and decided to devote the rest of his days to teaching, conducting, and composing. Next time, we’ll look at one of his virtuosic piano compositions!