Franz Liszt in Austria

The title of the exhibition may trigger several questions and uncertainties: does it refer to the Austrian territory of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy of Liszt’s time, or Austria as it is today?...

The title of the exhibition may trigger several questions and uncertainties: does it refer to the Austrian territory of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy of Liszt’s time, or Austria as it is today? We tried to provide a wide selection of information that covers both eras mentioned above. The distinction is only relevant when talking about Liszt’s birthplace, because the area near the western border of Hungary was annexed to Austria as a result of the peace treaty following WWI and has been a part of Burgenland ever since. What used to be Doborján in Liszt’s time is now the Austrian town of Raiding. Adam Liszt was born in the German speaking village of Nemesvölgy west of Pressburg that was part of Moson county Hungary at the time and is today the Austrian town of Edelstal. Liszt’s mother, Anna Lager was Austrian, she was born in Krems. Liszt’s father considered himself to be Hungarian, and decided to spell his name the Hungarian way (Liszt and not List). There is evidence that from a very early age on Franz Liszt considered himself to be of Hungarian nationality. Among the special documents one can find the copies of birth certificates and Anna Lager’s original letter donated to the Liszt Museum Budapest by Peter Lange. At the same time our international exhibition – partnered with Martin Czernin, the curator of the museum located at Liszt’s birthplace – has brought a few interesting samples of publications on the composer’s Austrian reception today especially in Raiding.

Among the topics we covered are the many connections between Liszt and Austria. Liszt’s early years as a pupil in Vienna and his encounter with the tradition of the Viennese virtuoso school had a great impact on his career as a pianist and a composer. Another important part of the exhibition presents documents and accounts of Liszt’s Viennese concerts he gave or concerts where his compositions were introduced. Liszt had strong ties with the Habsburg dynasty, whose members were often present at his concerts as early as 1838. There are several documents in our permanent exhibition like the deed of conferment of the knight’s cross of the order of Franz Joseph Liszt received after composing the Coronation Mass or the portraits of the two Habsburg princesses on the wall. We portrayed some of Liszt’s Viennese friends like Joseph Kriehuber and Kaspar von Zumbusch both of whose works are part of the exhibition in the Budapest Liszt apartment. Ludwig Bösendorfer the Austrian piano maker was also a friend of the composer and Liszt bought several pianos from him, while he also used instruments made by others, like Graf or Streicher. The most important composer we discuss is Franz Schubert. Liszt transcribed some of his songs and performed them at his concerts in Vienna as early as 1838. A very special and precious document that is exhibited for the first time is manuscript of Liszt’s transcription of Erlkönig to orchestra. The exhibition covers the most interesting aspects of the 1870 and 1877 Beethoven memorial celebrations in relation to Liszt. A less known Liszt contemporary was Johann von Herbeck. The most important personal relation, in Vienna was his beloved uncle Eduard von Liszt. Since a great part of Eduard Liszt’s estate is in the possession of the Liszt Museum Budapest (other items are in the Landesmuseum Eisentadt and Raiding) the exhibition discusses his role in the life of the composer. Some other places Liszt visited in Austria are Graz, Eisenstadt (Kismarton in Liszt’s time), Achensee, Graz, Hall in Tirol, Innsbruck, Pottendorf and Salzburg.

The exhibition is organized as a part of the program of the international collaboration between the Liszt Houses in Europe.

Curators: Dr. Zsuzsanna Domokos and Dr. Martin Czernin,

with collaboration of Anna Peternák, Ágnes Watzatka, Júlia Fedoszov, Lilla Bokor, Katalin Avar and Miklós Török

Installation: Tímea Bősze

Lending institutions:

  • Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, Research Library
  • Stamp Museum
  • Budapest History Museum, Kiscelli Museum
  • MTA Institute for Musicology, Museum
  • Hungarian National Museum, Historical Gallery
  • Diözesanarchiv Eisenstadt
  • Landesmuseum Burgenland, Eisenstadt
  • Franz Liszt Gesellschaft, Raiding
  • Schottenstift, Wien