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Author: Paul Allen Sommerfeld, Ph.D., Music Reference Specialist, Music Division
Created: April 2, 2020
Last Updated: September 1, 2022
Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was one of the most famous and influential musical figures of 19th-century Europe. Known both for his imaginative approach to music composition and virtuosic skill at the piano, Liszt devoted himself to the dissemination of music both old and new through his own compositions, transcriptions, performances, and writings.
As a conductor and teacher, Liszt touted the New German School, which was dedicated to progress in music that heralded Richard Wagner and Hector Berlioz as its champions. Yet Liszt also committed himself to preservation and promotion of the the past, including the music of J.S. Bach, Franz Schubert, Carl Maria von Weber, and Ludwig van Beethoven. Liszt's piano performances of such works as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and the Hammerklavier Sonata forged new audiences for music previously viewed as incomprehensible.
The Performing Arts Reading Room holds the largest collection of primary and secondary sources for Liszt outside of Europe. These materials include music manuscripts, sketches, first and early editions of music scores, letters and correspondence, critical editions, scholarly literature on Liszt, facsimiles, special collections, iconography, and access to a variety of subscription databases.
Contact the Recorded Sound Research Center or the Moving Image Research Center directly for information on recordings or film footage.
The Music Division maintains a digital collection that includes many - but not all - of the Library's collection material focused on Liszt.
The Performing Arts Reading Room is the access point for the collections in the custody of the Music Division at the Library of Congress. Numbering approximately 20.5 million items and spanning more than 1000 years of Western music history and practice, these holdings include the classified music and book collections, music and literary manuscripts, iconography, microforms, periodicals, musical instruments, published and unpublished copyright deposits, and close to 500 special collections in music, theater, and dance.