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Understanding the Music: Liszt - Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major
Born in Raiding, Hungary, in 1811, Franz Liszt was one of the important composers
of the 19th century, the founder of the solo piano recital, and considered the
greatest pianist of his time. When he was a child his family moved to Vienna,
Austria, where he studied piano with Carl Czerny and composition with Antonio
Salieri. In 1823 he moved with his parents to Paris, where he soon established
himself, at age 12, as a remarkable concert artist.
In the next ten years Liszt gave piano concerts in Paris. Influenced by Paganini's
phenomenal ability on the violin, he developed a similar technique as a pianist.
In 1835 he left Paris, travelling widely as his reputation as a pianist of astonishing
powers grew. In 1848 he took a full-time conducting post in Weimar, Germany, where
he wrote or revised most of the major works for which he is known.
His compositions for the piano established a revolutionary, difficult playing
technique that gave to the piano a variety of textures and sounds. Among his works
for the piano are the 12 Transcendental Etudes (1851), the 20 Hungarian
Rhapsodies (1846-1885), Six Paganini Etudes (1851), Concerto No.
1 (1849, revised 1853),.and Concerto No. 2 (1848, revised 1856-1861).
Liszt's orchestral works include the symphonic poems, Les preludes (1854)
and the Faust and Dante symphonies (both 1857).
After 1871, Liszt divided his time between Rome, Weimar, and Budapest, continuing
to teach and compose. He died in Bayreuth, Germany in 1886.