Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was one of the most famous concert pianists of his time. Indeed, he did much to popularise the piano and played a key role in inventing the piano recital. Having made his career as a pianist, Liszt retired early from the concert stage and became a composer of orchestral music and a conductor. He was an early advocate for the music of Richard Wagner and conducted the première of Wagner’s opera Lohengrin in 1850. Liszt’s daughter Cosima married Wagner (who was 36 years her senior). Interestingly, for someone who scandalised Paris society in 1835 when he eloped with a married woman – Marie d’Agoult, the mother of his three children – Liszt later took religious orders and was known as ‘Abbé Liszt’ for the last two decades of his life. He was innovative as a performer and innovative as a composer. ‘If one person can be credited as being the fountainhead of modern music’, writes pianist Stephen Hough, ‘it is Franz Liszt.’

© Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra