He was one of the most celebrated violin virtuosi of his time, and left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique. His caprice in A minor, Op. Paganini composed his own works to play exclusively in his concerts, all of which had profound influences on the evolution of violin techniques. His 24 Caprices were probably composed in the period between to , while he was in the service of the Baciocchi court. Also during this period, he composed the majority of the solo pieces, duo-sonatas,trios and quartets for the guitar. These chamber works may have been inspired by the publication, in Lucca, of the guitar quintets of Boccherini.
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His championship of new composers like Wagner and Berlioz helped them to fame; equally important was his promoting past masters including Bach , Handel , Schubert and Beethoven. In his compositions he developed piano technique beyond recognition, made radical experiments in harmony and invented the symphonic poem.
Still in his teens he settled in Paris where he soon became a prominent figure in society, first and foremost because of his wizardry at the piano, but also because of his various romantic entanglements, which provided much material for gossip. Liszt became acquainted with a number of musical contemporaries at this time, including Berlioz, Chopin , Alkan and others. During the years to Liszt unfolded a virtuoso career unmatched in the history of performance.
He was the first to play entire programmes from memory; the first to play the full range of the keyboard repertory as it then existed from Bach to Chopin; the first consistently to place the piano at right-angles to the stage, so that its open lid reflected the sound across the auditorium; and the first to tour Europe from the Pyrenees to the Urals.
However, at 35 years of age he abandoned the concert stage, persuaded by his new lover Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein to concentrate on composition. Liszt settled in Weimar and went on to compose some of his most important masterpieces, include the Faust Symphony, the Symphonic Poems, and the two piano concerti.
In the so called War of the Romantics, he supported his son-in-law Wagner and the futuristic school of Weimar against the more conservative Leipzig school, most famously represented by Johannes Brahms , Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann.
Here his output consisted mainly of religious music. In his last years he abandoned the virtuoso style in favour of a bleak and introspective approach, pointing forward into atonality.
Major works: Orchestral: Symphonic poems incl. One feels both blessedness and anxiety, but rather more anxiety.
Violin Concerto No.2, Op.7 (Paganini, Niccolò)
S.141 Etude No. 3 La campanella (Allegretto)