Franz Liszt was a Hungarian composer born in Raiding, Hungary on October 22, 1811. As a child prodigy, he gave his first piano performance at age 9. The nobles in attendance at the concert were so impressed by his performance that they offered to finance his musical education for the next six years. He went to Vienna in 1821 and studied with Antonio Salieri. Two years later he settled in France and continued to study and perform in concerts. His fame grew quickly and he soon became a respected member of the artistic circles of the period.
In 1848, Liszt was appointed musical director at the court of Weimar in Germany and with the encouragement of Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein he devoted himself to composing. During his 11 years at the court he produced some of his most famous works: Faust Symphony, Sonata in B minor for Piano and symphonic poems. He also transcribed many of the works of his contemporaries, such as Chopin, Berlioz and Paganini.
In 1859 Liszt moved to Rome where he was made an abbé by the pope. He traveled quite a bit and built up a large following of devoted students. He died in Bayereuth, Germany on July 31, 1886.
The works of Liszt are noted for their colorful orchestration and emotional intensity. He was an important innovator of program music, which is music based on a story or theme. He was the greatest piano virtuoso of the 19th century and brought distinction to the role of concert pianist.
His critics have accused him of substituting brilliance and virtuosity in music for depth and subtlety. However, his finest piano compositions cannot be equaled for their romantic expressionism and emotion,