Franz Liszt by Oliver Hilmes
Musician, Celebrity, Superstar

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Mr Hilmes’s account is superficial compared with Alan Walker’s three-volume “Franz Liszt”, which authoritatively analyses Liszt’s achievements as composer, conductor and polemicist...But Mr Hilmes is illuminating on the emergence—and continuance into old age—of Liszt’s preternatural gifts as a pianist.
-The Economist

Synopsis

Hungarian composer Franz Liszt (1811–1886) was an anomaly. A virtuoso pianist and electrifying showman, he toured extensively throughout the European continent, bringing sold-out audiences to states of ecstasy while courting scandal with his frequent womanizing. Drawing on new, highly revealing documentary sources, including a veritable treasure trove of previously unexamined material on Liszt’s Weimar years, best-selling author Oliver Hilmes shines a spotlight on the extraordinary life and career of this singularly dazzling musical phenomenon.
 
Whereas previous biographies have focused primarily on the composer’s musical contributions, Hilmes showcases Liszt the man in all his many shades and personal reinventions: child prodigy, Romantic eccentric, fervent Catholic, actor, lothario, celebrity, businessman, genius, and extravagant show-off. The author immerses the reader in the intrigues of the nineteenth-century European glitterati (including Liszt’s powerful patrons, the monstrous Wagner clan) while exploring the true, complex face of the artist and the soul of his music. No other Liszt biography in English is as colorful, witty, and compulsively readable, or reveals as much about the true nature of this extraordinary, outrageous talent.
 

About Oliver Hilmes

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Oliver Hilmes is the author of Cosima's Kinder, a study of the Wagner dynasty, and a best-selling biography of Alma Mahler. Stewart Spencer is an acclaimed translator and editor (with Barry Millington) of Wagner in Performance.
 
Published June 21, 2016 by Yale University Press. 368 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Franz Liszt
All: 2 | Positive: 0 | Negative: 2

The Economist

Above average
on Jul 02 2016

Mr Hilmes’s account is superficial compared with Alan Walker’s three-volume “Franz Liszt”, which authoritatively analyses Liszt’s achievements as composer, conductor and polemicist...But Mr Hilmes is illuminating on the emergence—and continuance into old age—of Liszt’s preternatural gifts as a pianist.

Read Full Review of Franz Liszt: Musician, Celebr... | See more reviews from The Economist

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Philip Hensher on Jul 29 2016

A biography of a major cultural figure should not start by sounding like a performing arts undergraduate describing themself on Twitter. And without meaning any disrespect, this must be regarded as an unnecessary book.

Read Full Review of Franz Liszt: Musician, Celebr... | See more reviews from Guardian
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