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“Sorrowful and great is the artist’s destiny.” – Franz Liszt

It’s one of music’s great tragedies that no recordings were ever made of Liszt playing the piano. Inspired as a young man by the virtuosic violin performances of Niccolò Paganini (arguably music’s first rockstar, complete with legions of fawning admirers), Liszt went on to be regarded by many of his contemporaries as the greatest pianist of all time. His feats at the piano are legendary – for example, he is said to have once sight read (!) Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor from start to finish (a piece I plan to include in a later entry, which will show just how incredible this feat really is). Grieg recounted this event in a letter to his parents:

“I really wondered if he would play my concerto unrehearsed from the score. I myself believed this was impossible. Liszt, however, obviously did not share my view…

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