Cover image for Selected letters
Selected letters
Liszt, Franz, 1811-1886.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Correspondence. Selections. English
Publication Information:
Oxford : Clarendon Press ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xxxix, 1063 pages ; 25 cm
Reading Level:
1170 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML410.L7 A4 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The greatest pianist there has ever been, an innovative, forward-looking composer, and an outstanding conductor and teacher, Franz Liszt was one of the most charismatic and sought-after figures of the nineteenth century. Amongst much else, his letters record his creative work, his travels andconcerts throughout Europe, his relations with his family, and his liaisons with several remarkable women, above all the French countess and bluestocking who bore his children, and the Polish princess--described by one contemporary as `phenomenon without equal'--who strove to become his wife. His astonishingly wide and varied acquaintances included not only popes, cardinals, kings, queens, and emperors, but also Beethoven, Alexander von Humboldt, Victor Hugo, Hector Berlioz, George Sand, Chopin, Robert and Clara Schumann, Bedrich Smetana, and most notably, Richard Wagner. Outstandingfigures all, their names recur repeatedly in these fascinating and important letters, the majority of which are here made available in English for the first time.

Author Notes

A Hungarian composer, conductor, and pianist, Franz Liszt was a child prodigy who began studying piano with his father at the age of 6. At the age of 9, he gave his first public performance and a year later went to Vienna, where he studied with Karl Czerny and Antonio Salieri. By the end of Liszt's life, he was acknowledged as the greatest pianist of his time. One of the foremost musicians of the romantic period, Liszt enthralled audiences with his expressive interpretations and dramatic gestures in a style of playing that greatly influenced the advancement of pianistic techniques.

From about 1822 to 1848, Liszt lived in Paris, where he came under the influence of Niccolo Paganini. Paganini's virtuosity inspired him to accomplish unheard of feats in piano technique and expression. Between 1848 and 1861, Liszt was musical director for the court at Weimar in Germany, where he conducted performances of many important works, including those of Richard Wagner. After 1861, Liszt spent much time in Rome, where he became a friend of the Pope and took minor orders in the Catholic church. The rest of Liszt's life was divided among Rome, Weimar, and Budapest.

Liszt's compositions had an important impact on musical history. Avoiding traditional musical forms, he concentrated on program music. In this vein, "Liebestraume" (c.1850), is perhaps one of his most popular works. Also important are his 19 published "Hungarian Rhapsodies" and the "Sonata in B Minor" (1853). Not to be overlooked in historical importance are Liszt's transcriptions of other composers' works. These transcriptions familiarized a wide audience with major musical works and also demonstrated the piano's potential for interpreting orchestral music. Liszt also wrote books and essays on music, in many ways anticipating the music of the twentieth century.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Choice Review

As the 20th century draws to a close, it becomes ever more apparent that Franz Liszt was the central musical figure of the 19th, at least in Europe. Liszt composed many thousands of letters, mostly in French (although he always wrote to Wagner in German), and Williams has selected and translated 946 items from Liszt's pen (no letters to Liszt are included). The result is a remarkable memoir/autobiography in which the focus shifts prismatically as the reader moves from one letter to the next. Although most letters are addressed to either of Liszt's longtime female companions or to family members, those addressed to musicians are frequently amazing (cf. the letters to Schumann). Liszt's evolution from exuberant virtuoso to composer-conductor to elder statesman for music and for Hungary could hardly be documented better. Williams provides perfect translations and superb annotations, filling the gaps left by the correspondence. The best English-language collection of Liszt's letters, this volume is a wonderful complement to Alan Walker's magisterial biography Franz Liszt (v. 1, CH, Sep'83; v.2, Dec'89). Highly recommended for all music collections, academic and public. B. J. Murray; University of Alabama

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Letters and their Recipients
Note to the Reader
Selected Letters 1811-1836
Biographical Sketches
Sources Selective
List of Other Works
Index of Liszt's Works
General Index