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Franz Liszt

Despite turning his back on the virtuoso life aged just thirty-five, the Hungarian Franz [Ferenc] Liszt, born on 22 October 1811, 'the year of the Comet,' and living until 31 July 1886, was the greatest transcendental pianist of the 19th century. Extravagant, economic, epic, exquisite, drawing freely on 'the musical compositions of all languages, nations, and epochs from Palestrina to Parsifal' (Busoni), he was a prolific composer and transcriber, whose innovative approach to thematic transformation, harmony and orchestration influenced equally both contemporaries and future progressives - from Wagner (his son-in-law) and the Russians to Mahler, Schoenberg and Bartók. His art, like his personality, famously combined and conflicted the religious, satanic and 'eternal feminine' in a creative tension of involving consequence. AO

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