Liszt wrote and played some of the most complicated and awe-inspiring
piano pieces since in the history of the piano. Why? Because he could.
His 'Studies of Trascendental Music,' for instance, could only be performed
by maybe a dozen piano virtuosos. Born in Hungary, Liszt is said to have
impressed Beethoven with his prowess on the keys at an early age. At the
age of 12, he was already touring France as a child protege.
Liszt was so gifted that he had to develop new
techniques to do justice to his capabilities on the piano. He was often
criticized for being too much of a showman. Liszt, however, composed some
of the most illustrious pieces to come out of the Romantic period. He
found a great deal of his inspiration from literature and art, from writers
such as Victor Hugo and the painter Eugene Decroix. He was influenced
greatly by his religious faith and was even invited by the pope at the
time to play for him.
Liszt will probably be best remembered
for his development of the symphonic poem in which the main themes are
narratives of the heroic ideals of Romanticism, exalting the intensity
of emotions above all else. Lisz also gave freely of his time to tutor
the developing pianists well into his 70s.