Liszt the Teacher

The exhibition Liszt the Teacher aims to present Liszt's exceptionally broad mentality and artistic approach, first manifestations of which already at his early age clearly outlined the need to transfer universal education.

 Louis Held:
Ferenc Liszt among his students (October 1884)
(Liszt Museum)



During his career as a teacher he practically realised or sought to achieve these aims, which he had written in 1835 (On the position of artists and their place in society). His essay mentioned the creation of a new music collection of his most outstanding contemporary works, and a music library spanning the period of music history from the Renaissance to the music of his time. This collection of music, which he called The Pantheon of Music, would have been enriched by essays, biographies and commentaries on the works, thus creating, together with the music, a veritable musical encyclopaedia. He wanted to make the publications widely available in cheap editions, as well as to introduce music education in folk schools and other schools. To ensure this goals, he wished to organise higher musical education, not only in the centres, but also in country towns, under the leadership of the most eminent artists. He also wanted to establish a department of philosophy and music history as part of higher music education. He called for the creation of choirs in churches to perform sacred music from the Gregorian chant onwards, and for a reform of the performance of Gregorian chant. In addition to teaching, he also set the task of reviving regular concert and opera life, where trained performers could continue their careers and make their music more widely known. Throughout his life, Liszt was able to achieve many of his goals, and he pursued education in this context. The theme of the exhibition is therefore not limited to Liszt's work as a piano teacher, but it also includes a number of specific examples of the questions of interpretation, Liszt’s need to expand the repertoire of the teaching material, his musical interpretations of other composers' works preserved in his instructive editions, and his suggestions to improve some places in compositions of others. In the discussion of the themes of piano teaching, we gain an insight into his individual technical solutions, as we do through the fascinating musical examples of the Technische Studien, in which he summarised his ambitions in this direction, and, through a specific, less well-known example, his openness to the initiatives of the new schools of his time. Among the most valuable written sources from the period are Liszt's letters, sketchbooks, music scores, diary entries and reminiscences by contemporaries and pupils, and surviving recordings of his pupils. We know from Madame Boissier's diary that Liszt taught his daughter Valerie as early as 1832, not only by listening to her playing, but also by drawing her attention to the importance of literature, poetry, music history and philosophy, and by reading excerpts from the works of Blaise Pascal and Victor Hugo. In the last two years of his life, his pupil, August Stradal wrote about a very interesting analogy of Liszt's teaching method: his master taught freely, without any academic constraints, like the Greek philosophers. Stradal compares Liszt's teaching method to that of Socrates, and then mentions Michelangelo, who also allowed his pupils to observe him creating, and they improved their own works as its result. Liszt tried to present to his students an ideal of an artist that he had a lifelong ambition to follow, and which he described in his characterisation of the famous singer of his time, Pauline Viardot: he respected in her a cosmopolitan, her open mind, her talent for different languages, an openness to the methods of different schools of singing and their synthesis. He appreciated her general high culture, her refined style, her elegant behaviour. Liszt, as far as he was able, guided his pupils in this direction, which is why his intellectual legacy remains so influential to our days, too.


 Louis Held:
Ferenc Liszt in his workroom at the Hofgärtnerei in Weimar (June 1884)
(Liszt Museum)

Budapest, 25 June 2023.

                           Dr. Zsuzsanna Domokos


The exhibition is jointly organised by the Liszt Museum and the Cervantes Institute Budapest.

We thank the Liszt Museum Foundation and the Péter Horváth Stiftung for their support.


The exhibition is presented in Prezi. You can move paragraphs forward or backward by using the navigation buttons, the SPACE button or by pressing the arrow at the bottom of the screen. The mouse can be used to override the built-in skip, position any part, and the mouse scroll wheel can be used to zoom in or out on the selected document.

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The creators of the exhibition




Follow the links below to view the virtual exhibition:

Case 1 - Educational institutions, private students

Case 2 - Received musical heritage

Case 3 - Franz Liszt and the Modern Piano Technique

Case 4 - Franz Liszt’s piano technique based on the accounts of his students

Case 5 - Franz Liszt and the piano: starship and advertising in the music industry

Case 6 - Chevé method

Case 7 - Liszt's students' repertoire I.

Case 8 - Liszt's students' repertoire II.

Case 9 - Liszt's students' repertoire III.

Case 10 - Freedom of performance in the works of others - instructive editions

Case 11 - Franz Liszt, performer and promoter of old church music

Case 12 - August Stradal

Case 13 - William Mason

Case 14 - Representatives of the Liszti piano tradition at the Budapest Academy of Music: Árpád Szendy and István Thomán.

Case 15 - Carl Lachmund the American student

Case 16 - Liszt Technische Studien

Case 17 - Liszt's students I.

Case 18 - Franz Liszt lessons at the Liszt Academy