MUSIC: THE BOOK OF LISZTS

FINALLY, A BIOGRAPHY THAT DOES JUSTICE TO ALL FACETS OF FRANZ LISZT'S MESSY LIFE AND PROTEAN WORK

It is mainly the image of Liszt as music's first international superstar, and one of the Romantic Century's great Don Juans, that remains fixed in our collective memory: a slim, strikingly handsome six-footer with a flowing mane of shoulder-length hair, a piano conjurer able to summon near orchestral effects and rouse audiences to such frenzied emotional states that the poet Heinrich Heine coined the term "Lisztomania." "I think I laughed--laughed like an idiot" is how Edvard Grieg described his ecstatic reaction to Liszt's playing. George Eliot's recorded impressions of Liszt come very close to swooning.

Confronted by such a charismatic figure,...

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