Franz Liszt & Johannes Brahms

Many composers have achieved greatness in the music world, but two in particular are very unique. Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms have stood the test of time as outstanding composers in many similar and different ways, in both their music and their lives.

In each musician’s life, the music is not the only important aspect of his or her creation. Many composers and performers create music that is inspired by their lifestyles or past events, even the regions in which they were born and raised. Nationalism can play a big part in the output of an artist, as well as social and economical standards in a particular composer’s home country. All of this affects the product of the musician. To start at the beginning, Brahms and Liszt were born in completely different places. Brahms was born in Hamburg, Germany, whereas Liszt was born in Hungary. Though they were born miles apart, they did live during the same era. Franz Liszt was born on October 22nd in Doborjan, Hungary to Adam & Anna Liszt, and died in 1886. After the Treaty of Trianon (1920) the town was renamed, as it is known today as Raiding.

Upon Liszt\'s visit to Bayreuth to attend a Wagner fest hosted by Cosima, his daughter and widow of Wagner, he fell gravely ill with pneumonia. Surrounded by his adoring pupils Friedheim, Siloti, Stavenhagen and others, who were eventually refused admittance to his room by Cosima, the grand master died at 11:30 PM on July 31, 1886. At the organ playing solemnly at his funeral was Anton Bruckner [i].

Brahms, bedridden in Vienna on March 26th, dies on April 3rd, 1897 in Wien Austria.

Brahms was dying of liver cancer and lived only long enough to hear it performed in Vienna on March 7, 1897. His audience, seeing the beloved composer had only a few weeks to live, gave him a standing ovation between each movement. He died three weeks later.[ii]

Sadly, Brahms only lived to be 64 years old, though this was an unusually long lifetime for the era.

Childhood development and parental advisement also play a part in the lives of the composers, and perhaps might influence their music out put as well. Both Liszt and Brahms were very talented children and were performing at very early ages. However, Liszt was hailed as a child prodigy. These two children may have been very musically inclined, however they both grew up with very different lifestyles.

At the age of 6, Liszt’s father began to notice his love for music, and enrolled him in piano lessons. At the age of 8 he plays difficult Hummel & Bach pieces and shows a marked skill for improvisation. At age 9, he plays his first of several concerts winning aristocrat\'s attention and an award to study in Vienna. At age 14, Liszt played a concert in London before King George IV and finishes his opera Don Sanche that is performed in Paris. When Liszt is 15, he Tours France and Switzerland.

Brahms first learned music from his father who soon realized the talented boy needed a professional instructor. At the age of 10, Brahms\' first piano teacher, Otto Cossel, found Brahms gifted and lovable, but lamented that his bright young pupil wasted so much time with his "everlasting composing.” The youngster, whose father was an itinerant musician and whose mother took in boarders to make ends meet, earned his keep by playing German folk songs on the piano in waterfront dives and dance halls. But despite a childhood in sordid surroundings, Johannes Brahms became one of Europe\'s most celebrated musicians and one of the best-known composers of the Romantic Movement.[iii]

As childhood experiences influence the composer’s life, so does his education. The place, the time, the instructors, and the peers all lend to the composer’s experience in the education department, and this can greatly affect the musical output as well.

Liszt’s parents were ambitious. At the first sign of his musical talent, his parents moved him to Vienna to find a suitable teacher. After a year studying with Czery, Liszt performed a high-profile concert in the Kleines Redoutensaal. At this time, Liszt had already composed several amounts of work for his own performances, including rondos, two concertos, fantasies,