LISZT: an informal biography
Franz Liszt – handsome, charismatic, sexy – is still described as ‘the best pianist who ever lived’. This can never be proved – but his legend perseveres because of his personality and the effect he had on his contemporaries; for everyone who admired him for his technique at the keyboard, or his compositions, thousands (especially women) were captivated by his personality. His recitals resembled modern pop concerts, women fainting, tearing hairs from his head, picking up his cigar-butts as souvenirs, and many of them delighted to find themselves in his bed – a bed shared by such characters as Lola Montez and the Lady of the Camellias. The scandal of his life story – never married, he left a number of children (the last dying as recently as 1963 – accompanies an indelible vision of the artist as maniac – eccentric in dress as in manner. Yet he was a serious musician, and a composer whose music has affected all that written after him. And he took holy orders, ending his life as the Abbe Liszt (visited in his monastic cell by the Pope, and by an emotionally unbalanced women he nevertheless took to bed). It is an astonishing life story, of an astonishing man whose name is as well-known to day as when he was at the height of his career.
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