All about Franz
Franz Liszt was born in Hungary in 1811. His father, Adam, noticed Franz's early interest in music and encouraged the young boy to play the piano. At one point, Adam needed to get permission to leave Hungary so Franz could further his musical education in Vienna.
Franz was a virtuoso. This means he was extremely gifted in his musical ability. By the age of 12, Franz was performing concerts throughout Europe. He was known as the 'darling of Paris.' By the age of 14, he was writing difficult pieces and his career was guaranteed.
Franz was the Ricky Martin of his day. Young girls flocked to his concerts and swooned and fainted in the audience. He loved all this attention and used it to his advantage. As a young performer, Franz would come out on stage in a green tuxedo and gloves. One by one, he would peel the gloves from each finger and remove his gloves to the screams and sighs of his audience. Once the gloves were off, he would walk up to the piano, flip back the tails of his tuxedo jacket, sit down at the piano, toss his head; flinging his long hair around, and begin to play. Sometimes he would wipe his brow with a handkerchief after a particularly difficult piece, and throw the handkerchief into the audience. The young women in the audience would fight over the handkerchief, tearing it to bits. To be in the possession of just one shred of this fabric was a prize worth having. In 1865, at the age of 54, Franz joined a religious order and became known as Abbe Liszt. He continued to play until the year of his death in 1886.
Liszt is most famous for his Hungarian Rhapsodies, the second rhapsody is often played to during Bugs Bunny cartoons. In fact, there is one cartoon that shows Bugs portraying Liszt in the tux and tails, peeling the gloves from his hands, tossing his ears back and playing with compassion. Take some time to listen to Liszt and other great classical composers. You will find their works at your local library or at your school. Pay attention to TV commercials, cartoons, and movie scores, and see if you can recognize some classical music along the way. Have fun with music!