Rare Stories about Franz Liszt

Liszt is a famous Hungarian composer who was renown around Europe as a virtuoso performer. He is considered by many to have been the greatest pianist in history.

Franz Liszt Anecdote
Franz Liszt Anecdote

Popular Franz Liszt

Franz Liszt's amorous exploits provided ample material for gossips. He began a ten year relationship with Marie d'Agoult who left her husband in 1835 to elope with him to Switzerland. He subsequently had several affairs, most notably with the Polish Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein, the courtesan Marie Duplessis, and the dancer Lola Montes. Naturally, Liszt (whose daughter Cosima was illegitimate) was rumored to have fathered several children, including the pianist Franz Servais. He denied it. "I know his mother only by correspondence," he declared, "and one cannot arrange that sort of thing by correspondence."
(Sources: Alan Walker, Franz Liszt (vol. I))

Listening to the Emperor

While performing one evening, Franz Liszt was dismayed to observe his patron, Emperor Alexander of Russia, loudly conversing with another member of the audience. Liszt promptly stopped playing and, according to some accounts, left the piano. Alexander naturally asked him why he had stopped playing. "When the Emperor speaks," he tartly replied, "one ought to be silent."
(Sources: John Walbaum, The Know-it-all's Guide to Life; Janka Wohl, Liszt: Recollections of a Compariot; J. Mainwaring, Memoirs of the Life of the Late George Frederic Handel)

The Best Pianist Ever

At an orchestral concert given by him and conducted by Berlioz, the ‘March to the Scaffold’ from the latter’s Symphonie Fantastique…was performed, at the conclusion of which Liszt sat down and played his own arrangement, for the piano alone, of the same movement, with an effect even surpassing that of the full orchestra.
(Halle, op.cit.)

Listzt's Admirers

The infatuated maid of honor at the court of Saxe-Weimar, [had a] peculiar personal flavor of stale tobacco. [It] mystified all her friends and fellow-couriers until an accident one day revealed the astounding fact that she permanently wore in her bosom, as a sacred relic of her musical idol, an old cigar-stump that Liszt had thrown away in the street under her very eyes – she had reverently picked up the unsavory morsel, enshrined it in a costly locket enriched with the monogram ‘F.L.’ in brilliants, and suspended it round her virgin neck, whence it steadfastly gave forth the sickly reek that so long perplexed the Grand Ducal Household.
(William Beatty Kingston: Music and Manners. 1887)