I see he's been typed as SEE, EII, EIE on this forum previously. He's famous for being somewhat flamboyant in appearance and in performance.
Some quotes + extracts I've taken from other websites:
...During a reading of poetry George Eliot sat next to Liszt and was carried away by 'the sweetness of his expression. Genius, benevolence, and tenderness beam from his whole countenance, and his manners were in perfect harmony with it. Then came the thing I had longed for - his playing. I sat near him so that I could see both his hands and face. For the first time in my life I beheld real inspiration - for the first time I heard the true tones of the piano. He played one of his compositions, one of a series of religious fantasies. There was nothing strange or excessive about his manner. His manipulation of the instrument was quiet and easy, and his face was simply grand - the lips compressed and the head thrown backward. When the music expressed quiet rapture or devotion a smile flitted over his features; when it was triumphant the nostrils dilated. There was nothing petty or egotistic to mar the picture.'Ralph Hill writes "some time in 1873, Amy Fay, an American young lady, came to Weimar in the hope of studying under Liszt. On the day after her arrival she went to the theatre, where she saw Liszt in a box. Her first impressions of the great man are interesting."
'Liszt is the most interesting and striking looking man imaginable. Tall and slight, with deep-set eyes, shaggy eye-brows, and long iron-grey hair, which he wears parted in the middle. His mouth turns up in the corners, which gives him a most crafty and Mephisophelian expression when he smiles, and his whole appearance and manner have a sort of Jesuitical elegance and ease. His hands are very narrow, with long and slender fingers that look as if they had twice as many joints as other people's! They are so flexible and supple that it makes you nervous to look at them. When he got up to leave the box, for instance, after his adieu to the ladies, he laid his hand on his heart and made his final bow - not with affectation, or in mere gallantry, but with a quiet courtliness which made you feel that no other way of bowing to a lady was right or proper. It was most characteristic. But the most extraordinary thing about Liszt is his wonderful variety of expression and play of feature. One moment his face will look dreamy, shadowy, tragic. The next he will be insinuating, amiable, ironic, sardonic; but always the same captivating grace of manner. He is a perfect study. I cannot imagine how he must look when he is playing. He is all spirit, but half the time, at least, a mocking spirit, I should say. All Weimar adores him, and people say that women still go perfectly crazy over him. When he walks out he bows to everybody just like a King!'He 'tried to persuade himself that now he would give himself up heart and soul to his true vocation of solitary and saint. He settled down in a cloister that had been placed at his disposal in the church of Santa Maria del Rosario, on the Monte Mario. There was no one in the vast place but Liszt, a Dominican priest, and a servant. The priest read mass every morning; Liszt was always present, sitting in a stall a few yards from his cell. In the latter he had a long work-table, a small library, about a dozen pictures of saints, a marble cast of Chopin's hand, and a small piano of advanced age, badly out of tune, and with a D in the bass missing. But, as usual, he was making the best of two worlds. His tribute having been paid to the spirit in the morning, in the evening he let the flesh have its fling in the kind of company it loved. Shrewd observers were conscious of something suspiciously like a pose in his way of living.' In 1865, for some reason best known to himself, Liszt took minor orders and became an Abbe...Jeremy Nicholas tries to sum up the "mass of contradictions" that was Liszt's personality:
Part of the fascination of Liszt lies in his contradictory personality. He could be as arrogant and egocentric as, at other times, he was humble and self-effacing; he was profoundly spiritual, yet delighted in the pleasures of the flesh - he had at least 26 major love affairs and fathered several illegitimate children; he was attracted to the life of a recluse, yet loved luxury and the adulation of the public; he practised at the highest level of his art, yet could indulge in meretricious theatrics; he was a Casanova, yet having taken orders in the Catholic Church, in 1865 he became an abbe...Liszt offered his students little technical advice, expecting them to "wash their dirty linen at home," as he phrased it. Instead, he focused on musical interpretation with a combination of anecdote, metaphor and wit. He advised one student tapping out the opening chords of Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata, "Do not chop beefsteak for us." To another who blurred the rhythm in Liszt's Gnomenreigen (usually done by playing the piece too fast in the composer's presence): "There you go, mixing salad again." Liszt also wanted to avoid creating carbon copies of himself; rather, he believed in preserving artistic individuality.
There were some pieces which Liszt famously refused to hear at his masterclasses. Among them were Carl Tausig's transcription of J. S. Bach's organ Toccata and Fugue in D minor, and Chopin's Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat minor. Liszt also did not like to hear his own Polonaise No. 2 in E Major, as it was overplayed and frequently badly played.
Liszt did not charge for lessons. He was troubled when German newspapers published details of pedagogue Theodor Kullak's will, revealing that Kullak had generated more than one million marks from teaching. "As an artist, you do not rake in a million marks without performing some sacrifice on the altar of Art," Liszt told his biographer Lina Ramann. However, Carl Czerny charged an expensive fee for lessons and even dismissed Stephen Heller when he was unable to afford to pay for his lessons. Interestingly, Liszt spoke very fondly of his former teacher—who gave lessons to Liszt free of charge—to whom Liszt dedicated his Transcendental Etudes. He wrote the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, urging Kullak's sons to create an endowment for needy musicians, as Liszt himself frequently did.There are few, if any, good sources that give an impression of how Liszt really sounded from the 1820s. Carl Czerny claimed Liszt was a natural who played according to feeling, and reviews of his concerts especially praise the brilliance, strength and precision in his playing. At least one also mentions his ability to keep absolute tempo, which may be due to his father's insistence that he practice with a metronome. His repertoire at this time consisted primarily of pieces in the style of the brilliant Viennese school, such as concertos by Hummel and works by his former teacher Czerny, and his concerts often included a chance for the boy to display his prowess in improvisation.Following the death of Liszt's father in 1827 and his hiatus from the life as a touring virtuoso, it is likely Liszt's playing gradually developed a more personal style. One of the most detailed descriptions of his playing from this time comes from the winter of 1831/1832, during which he was earning a living primarily as a teacher in Paris. Among his pupils was Valerie Boissier, whose mother Caroline kept a careful diary of the lessons. From her we learn that:
Possibly influenced by Paganini's showmanship, once Liszt began focusing on his career as a pianist again, his emotionally vivid presentations of the music were rarely limited to mere sound. His facial expression and gestures at the piano would reflect what he played, for which he was sometimes mocked in the press.[n 7] Also noted were the extravagant liberties he could take with the text of a score at this time. Berlioz tells us how Liszt would add cadenzas, tremolos and trills when playing the first movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, and created a dramatic scene by changing the tempo between Largo and Presto.[n 8] In his Baccalaureus letter to George Sand from the beginning of 1837, Liszt admitted that he had done so for the purpose of gaining applause, and promised to follow both the letter and the spirit of a score from then on. It has been debated to what extent he realized his promise, however. By July 1840 the British newspaper The Times could still report:M. Liszt's playing contains abandonment, a liberated feeling, but even when it becomes impetuous and energetic in his fortissimo, it is still without harshness and dryness. [...] [He] draws from the piano tones that are purer, mellower and stronger than anyone has been able to do; his touch has an indescribable charm. [...] He is the enemy of affected, stilted, contorted expressions. Most of all, he wants truth in musical sentiment, and so he makes a psychological study of his emotions to convey them as they are. Thus, a strong expression is often followed by a sense of fatigue and dejection, a kind of coldness, because this is the way nature works.
His performance commenced with Händel's Fugue in E minor, which was played by Liszt with an avoidance of everything approaching to meretricious ornament, and indeed scarcely any additions, except a multitude of ingeniously contrived and appropriate harmonies, casting a glow of colour over the beauties of the composition, and infusing into it a spirit which from no other hand it ever received.He had an acquaintance with George Sand for a while (who is typed as SLI on Socioniko), which may point away from EIE...he was also friendly with Wagner for years which would rule out EII if Wagner was SLE (I think EIE myself, but either type may be good evidence). I don't feel able to suggest any typings but SEE is an interesting suggestion.When you think of rock n' roll, might not be the first name that comes to mind. But the classical pianist, born 200 years ago today, was in many ways the first rock star of all time.
In the mid-19th century, Liszt was tearing up the polite salons and concert halls of Europe with his virtuoso performances. Women would literally attack him: tear bits of his clothing, fight over broken piano strings and locks of his shoulder-length hair. Europe had never seen anything like it. It was a phenomenon the great German poet Heinrich Heine dubbed "Lisztomania."
"We hear about women throwing their clothes onto the stage and taking his cigar butts and placing them in their cleavages," says Stephen Hough, a world-renowned concert pianist.
Like many contemporary classical pianists, Hough is obsessed with Liszt — not only because he was really good, but also because he revolutionized the art of performance.
"Liszt was a very dynamic personality," Hough says. "He was someone who seduced people — not just in a sexual way, but in a dramatic way. He was someone who, like a great speaker, was able to capture an audience."
Before Franz Liszt, no one thought a solo pianist could hold anyone's attention, let alone captivate an audience. Liszt set out across Europe in 1839 to prove the conventional wisdom wrong. As part of that mission, he made a radical decision to never bring his scores onstage.
"Before Liszt, it was considered almost in bad taste to play from memory," Hough explains. " once chided a student: It looked almost arrogant, as if you were pretending that the piece you were playing was by you. Liszt saw that playing the piano, especially for a whole evening in front of an audience, it was a theatrical event that needed not just musical things happening but physical things on the stage."
Liszt deliberately placed the piano in profile to the audience so they could see his face. He'd whip his head around while he played, his long hair flying, beads of sweat shooting into the crowd. He was the first performer to stride out from the wings of the concert hall to take his seat at the piano. Everything we recognize about the modern piano recital — think , , or — Liszt did first. Even the name "recital" was his invention.
But although his life was the kind many musicians dream of, Liszt walked away from it all in his 30s.
"He wasn't someone who thought life just consisted of food, drink and all the pleasure you could wring out of it. He was someone who was always searching," Hough says. "I mean, he even considered the priesthood in his teens. So, he was never going to be satisfied just with pleasing the countesses. I think he also realized how superficial a lot of audiences' appreciation might be, and he wanted to retire and to do something more meaningful."
Later on in his life, Liszt became interested in conducting, and he re-defined that role as well: He started to work with individual musicians to help them shape the sounds that he was after.
"Before Liszt, a conductor was someone who just facilitated the performance, who would keep people together or beat the time, indicate the entries," Hough says. "After Liszt, that was no longer the case; a conductor was someone who shaped the music in an intense musical way, who played the orchestra as an instrument."
And, of course, Liszt would go on to compose around 1,400 works. He died in 1886, but all through the 20th century, his influence could be heard — in the works of fellow Hungarian composers Bela Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly, as well as in the writing of his son-in-law, Richard Wagner.