Fonds - Franz Liszt collection

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Franz Liszt collection

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  • 1841-1883 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

20 letters from Liszt 1 letter to Liszt and other material

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Name of creator

Biographical history

Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was a Hungarian composer and pianist, born in Raiding near Sopron. He made his debut at the age of nine and subsequently studied in Vienna with Czerny and Sallieri. Later on in Paris he came to know all the principal artistic figures of the period and was influenced by Hector Berlioz, Frederic Chopin and Nicolo Paganini. He lived with Mme. D'Agoult (better known by her pen name, Daniel Stern) between 1833 and 1844 and they had three children. Their daughter Cosima became the wife of Hans von Bülow and later married Wagner. Liszt's reputation as a performer rests mainly on the great tours of Europe and Asia Minor which he undertook between 1838 and 1847. In 1848 he was persuaded by Princess Carolyne von Sayn-Wittgenstein, sister of the Tsar of Russia, to give up his career as a travelling virtuoso and to concentrate upon composition. He accepted an appointment to settle at Weimar where he lived with the Princess for the next twelve years, a period during which he wrote or revised most of the major works for which he is known. In the face of increasing opposition at Weimar and hoping that the Pope would sanction a divorce for the Princess, Liszt moved to Rome in 1861, composing mainly religious music for the next eight years. Invited to return to Weimar to give master classes in piano in 1869 and given a similar invitation to return to Budapest two years later, he spent the remaining years of his life making regular journeys between Rome, Weimar and Budapest. He died in Bayreuth, Bavaria.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Collection consists of twenty letters written by Liszt to a variety of correspondents, and one letter addressed to Liszt from the Executive Committee for the Mozart Jubilee. The collection also includes translations of documents, a conference report for a concert held in Budapest, as well as a piano completion certificate for one of Liszt's students.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

There have been eleven accruals. Letters 1, 4-6, 8, 11-12 were purchased from The Piano Institute of America in October 1978. Letter 7, was purchased in September 1986. Letters 2, 3, 9, 10, were purchased at auction at Sotheby's by Bertram Rota on 22 November 1989. Letter 14, was purchased at auction at Sotheby's by Bertram Rota for McMaster University on 17 May 1990. Letter 13, was purchased from J&J Lubrano Rare Books, Great Barrington, Massachusetts on 4 June 1990. Letter 15, was purchased at auction at Sotheby's by Bertram Rota on 21 November 1990. Letter 16 was purchased via E-bay from Alexander Autographs on 21 November 1990. Letter 17 was purchased via E-bay from Kotte Autographs on 18 December 2002. Letters 18 and 19 were both purchased from Clive Farahar and Sophie Dupre Rare Books on 5 March 2003. The eleventh accrual (25-2003) was purchased from Alexander Autographs, May 2003.


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No further accruals are expected.

General note

The letters are in French and German. Translations into English are available for some of the letters.

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