Liszt was the son of a steward in the service of the Esterházy
family, patrons of Haydn
. He was born in 1811 at Raiding in Hungary
and moved as a child to Vienna
, where he took piano lessons from Czerny
and composition lessons from Salieri
. Two years later, in 1823, he moved with his family to Paris
, from where he toured widely as a pianist.
Influenced by the phenomenal violinist Paganini
, he turned his attention to the development of a similar technique as a pianist and in 1835 left Paris with his mistress
, the Comtesse d'Agoult, with whom he travelled widely during the following years, as his reputation as a pianist of astonishing powers grew.
In 1844 he separated from his mistress, the mother of his three children, and in 1848 settled in Weimar
as Director of Music Extraordinary, accompanied by Princess Sayn-Wittgenstein and turning his attention now to composition
and in particular to the creation of a new form, the symphonic poem
In 1861 Liszt moved to Rome, where he found expression for his long-held religious
leanings. From 1869 he returned regularly to Weimar, where he had many pupils, and later he accepted similar obligations in Budapest
, where he was regarded as a national hero.
He died in Bayreuth
in 1886, four years after the death of his son-in-law Wagner
. As a pianist, he had no equal, and as a composer he suggested to a younger generation of musicians the new course that music was to take.