Liszt, like most of his contemporaries or near contemporaries, showed his extraordinary musical talent at a very young age (he lived at a time when there were a lot of child prodigies). His natural talent and his hands, which were larger than normal, seemed to be made expressly for the keyboard.
He studied first with his father and then in Vienna with Czerny (and in the same city studied composition with Salieri) turning him into one of the greatest keyboard virtuosos of all times. He revolutionized both piano technique and the very relationship with the music-loving public. Idolized by the public, intimate with noble social circles (among the companions he had during his life were two noble ladies: the Countess Marie d'Agoult, with whom he had two daughters, Blandine and Cosima, who would become Richard Wagner
's future wife, and the Princess Caroline Von Sayn-Wittgenstein) a contemporary of Schumann
, who became a fervent apostle of his revolution in music, he held concerts throughout Europe often at a very hectic pace, like a modern day superstar.
The death of his son, Daniel and then Blandine and his fallout with Wagner
because of Wagner
's relationship with Cosima, drove him to seek comfort in religion in his later years and he entered the monastery, Madonna del Rosario in Rome and in the Vatican took minor orders. He died in Bayreuth in 1886.
Liszt was a prolific composer and his work includes numerous symphonic works (among them the famous poem, Les Préludes), vocal symphonies (Dante-Symphonie and Tasso-Symphonie), both sacred and secular choral and vocal works, various concertos, among them two Concertos for piano and orchestra and the well-known Totentanz, an extraordinarily important corpus of compositions for organ, chamber music and naturally piano works.
In addition to the pieces that have become tedious because they are so popular, such as the (famous Liebestraum or La Rapsodia Hongroise in C sharp minor n.2), also the 12 Études d'exécution transcendantes, 6 Études d'après Paganini, Années de pèlerinage and 19 Rhapsodies hongroises, the extraordinarily beautiful Sonata in B minor as well as numerous transcriptions (more than 200) and paraphrases.
The critics are rethinking Liszt's later works, which seem to be a prelude to an extremely new modern language.