LISZT AND HIS CIRCLE
FRANZ LISZT was born in 1811, at the small Hungarian town of Raiding. His father, a steward on one of the Esterhazy estates, was a gifted musical amateur, and trained the child so well that the latter was able to perform in public when nine years old. His precocity aroused the interest of a group of noblemen, who subscribed a liberal sum for his education. The story goes that Beethoven heard the young Liszt, and exclaimed, "He will make my music understood by posterity." Liszt studied under Czerny and others at Vienna, with later lessons at Paris. His early ambition lay in the direction of opera, and his operetta "Don Sanche" was produced in 1825.
On the death of his father he began to make a living by means of piano playing, and soon grew famous in this field. He became a well- known member of the Parisian clique that included Hugo, Lamartine, George Sand, Chopin, Berlioz, and other celebrities. In 1834 he met the Countess d'Agoult (known in literature as Daniel Stern), with whom he became intimately connected. In 1836 came an old- fashioned piano contest with Thalberg, in which Liszt was plainly the victor.
In 1839, Liszt began his long piano tours, in which he spoke of a single concert as "piano recitals." He fully realized his ambition to become the Paganini of the piano; and his tremendous technique has remained unequalled. His profits increased greatly; and he was once able to give substantial relief to flood-sufferers in Pesth, as well as adding $10,000 to a Beethoven monument fund. In the mean time he revived his childish memories of Hungarian music, and echoed it in his piano rhapsodies.
Liszt was one of the first to assert the dignity of the musician's position. Beethoven had shown independence, but it was the exception in the epoch when such masters as Mozart and Haydn had to put up with various slights. The occasion arose when one of Liszt's princess friends asked if he had done good business on his last trip.