Rupert Christiansen

Sex, Lies & Piano Recitals

Franz Liszt: Musician, Celebrity, Superstar

By

Yale University Press 353pp £25 order from our bookshop

Great composers have rarely cut much of a figure in the beau monde. Socially gauche (Beethoven), awkward around others (Mozart), or dull and suburban (Brahms), they have generally preferred to plough their own furrow and stick with their own kind: one certainly wouldn’t look to them for urbane glamour and sophisticated chic.

Except in the case of Franz Liszt. Soulfully beautiful, smoothly debonair, unstoppably priapic and all too preeningly aware of his own dazzling image, he shone as brightly in the salons as he did on the concert platform, always unctuously ready to kiss a courtly hand or yield to a princely whim. His rival as a piano virtuoso, Chopin, was chronically shy and his contemporaries Verdi, Wagner and Berlioz were growling bears, brusque and reclusive. Liszt, on the other hand, smiled at the spotlight and happily signed autographs.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What a charming, candid blogpost from one of our dear contributing editors. ,
    • RT : The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the clas… ,
    • Merry Christmas from Literary Review! Hope your stockings were laden with books, and the tree bending under the weight of further books....,
    • Last minute Christmas gift required? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions (20% no less!) with the cod… ,
    • In this issue's 'Silenced Voices', Lucy Popescu writes of Thailand's restrictive lese-majesty laws and their latest… ,
    • "Gunn was a disciple of the American formalist Yvor Winters, but Winters’s poetry could never give off such a scent… ,
    • Christmas gift hunting? Why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscr… ,