Franz Liszt (October 22, 1811 – July 31, 1886) was a world famous Hungarian composer, virtuoso pianist and teacher.
Liszt became renowned throughout Europe for his great skill as a performer during the 19th century. He is said to have been the most technically advanced and perhaps greatest pianist of all time. He was also an important and influential composer, a notable piano teacher, a conductor who contributed significantly to the modern development of the art, and a benefactor to other composers and performers, notably Richard Wagner, Hector Berlioz, Camille Saint-Saëns, Edvard Grieg and Alexander Borodin.
As a composer, Liszt was one of the most prominent representatives of the "Neudeutsche Schule" ("New German School"). He left behind a huge and diverse body of work, in which he influenced his forward-looking contemporaries and anticipated some 20th-century ideas and trends. Some of his most notable contributions were the invention of the symphonic poem, developing the concept of thematic transformation as part of his experiments in musical form and making radical departures in harmony.
An attempted escape from Soviet-dominated Hungary led to imprisonment and communist forced labour in the period 1950–1953. In 1956, on the eve of the Hungarian insurrection and after a stunning account of Bartók's second piano concerto (EMI References) Cziffra escaped with his wife (Soleilka - of Egyptian origin) and son to Vienna where his recital at the Brahmsaal caused a sensation. News of this event reached the magazine The New Yorker. His Paris debut the following year caused a furore - his London debut at the Royal Festival Hall in Liszt's first concerto and Hungarian Fantasy similarly. His meteoric career continued with concerts throughout Europe and debuts at the Ravinia Festival (Grieg and Liszt concertos with Carl Schuricht) and Carnegie Hall New York with Thomas Schippers. He always performed with a large leather wristband, as a memento of his years in labour. Georges Cziffra died in Senlis, France, 72 years old, from a heart attack resulting from series of complications from lung cancer due to smoking and alcohol. In "Cannons and Flowers", his autobiography, Cziffra recounts his life story up until 1977, the year he founded the Cziffra Foundation, sited in the Saint Frambourg chapel in Senlis, which he bought and restored, with the aim of helping young musicians at the outset of their careers.
Cziffra is most known for his dazzling recordings of Franz Liszt's virtuoso works. He also recorded many of Frédéric Chopin's compositions and those of Robert Schumann (his account of Carnaval de Vienne was admired by Alfred Cortot). Cziffra is also well-known for his rather-demanding transcriptions of several orchestral works for the piano - among them, one of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee, written in interlocking octaves.
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