Published on Franz Liszt Group, on September 2nd, 2021. If you want to know how the Story Behind series started, I give details in “Story Behind” Series #1″.
(No comment, only the picture.)
I couldn’t miss the occasion to post a new “story behind” about this picture. This famous photograph is often used to represent Liszt. We can see him sitting at an upright piano. There was a series of pictures taken at the piano. We sometimes see one of these with Liszt’s signature on the score. Liszt was often signing pictures of him to give to his pupils and friends. He signed one of these directly on the score. Here is the picture in question.
This picture was taken in 1869 by Edgar Hanfstaengl, son of Franz Hanfstaengl, a Bavarian painter, lithographer, and photographer. A prominent lithographer in Dresden, Franz opened his photograph studio in Munich in 1853. He became court photographer, taking portraits of King Ludwig II, Otto von Bismarck and Empress Elisabeth of Austria. He also worked with many artistic figures, among which Liszt, Wagner and Clara Schumann. He was a frequent visitor of Liszt and took series of pictures of him in 1856, 1858, 1867. On November 12, 1868, he transferred his studio to his son Edgar, who took over. This photograph is from the August 1869 series.
At the time this picture was taken, Liszt was already an Abbé (since 1865). 1869, the year of the picture, was the year he came back to Weimar. Liszt previously lived in Weimar from 1848 to 1861. He left when the Altenburg was closed, after his failed wedding with Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein. In 1869 his protector and long-time friend the Grand Duke Carl Alexander invited him back to Weimar and put at his disposal a house where he lived until the end of his life, famous for being the place where he gave his masterclasses: the Hofgärtnerei. Today, this Weimar building is known as the Liszt-Haus, or Liszt Museum. Everything inside the building has been kept as it was left in 1886 when Liszt died. I was there two weeks ago. Here is a picture of the salon, taken by me on August 16, 2021.