Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/719

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LISZT.
703
 

evening of the same day he astonished his host and a circle of friends by an improvisation on some of the themes. The 6th April was the date of the concert, and when the composer walked into the hall he received such ovations as had probably never been offered to an artist in England before. Even before he entered his arrival was announced by the shouts of the crowd outside, who hailed him as if he were a king returning to his kingdom. During the afternoon Liszt had been entertained at the Royal Academy of Music, where the Liszt Scholarship, raised with so much zeal by Mr. Walter Bache, was presented by him to the master. A short programme was performed, Messrs. Shakespeare and Mackenzie conducting, and when Liszt rose from his seat and moved towards the piano, the excitement of the students and of the rest of the audience knew no bounds. A visit to Windsor, where he played to Her Majesty a reminiscence of the Rose Miracle scene from 'St. Elisabeth,' filled up most of the following day (April 8), on the evening of which Mr. Walter Bache's Grosvenor Gallery Reception took place. The brilliant scene of Saturday was here repeated, with the very important additional feature of a solo from Liszt himself. [See Bache, vol. iv. p. 529.] The events which followed in the course of the great man's visit included a performance of 'St. Elisabeth' at the Crystal Palace on the 17th. On the 22nd, a week later than he intended, Liszt left England, pleased with his reception, and promising to repeat his visit. No wonder that his death was felt by English people as the loss of a personal friend. The last music he wrote was a bar or two of Mackenzie's 'Troubadour,' upon which he had intended to write a fantasia.

The remaining incidents in the life of Liszt may only be briefly touched upon. Paris gave him a performance of 'St. Elisabeth' at the Trocadéro. The master left Paris in May, and visited in turn Antwerp, Jena, and Sondershausen. He attended the summer festival here while suffering from weakness and cold. 'On m'a mis les bottes pour le grand voyage,' he said, excusing himself to a friend for remaining seated. His last appearance upon a concert platform was on July 19, when, accompanied by M. and Mme. Munkácsy, he attended a concert of the Musical Society of Luxemburg. At the end of the concert he was prevailed upon to seat himself at the piano. He played a fantasia, and a 'Soirée de Vienne.' It need not be said that the audience, touched and delighted by the unlooked-for favour, applauded the master with frenzy. In the pages of Janka Wohl's 'François Liszt' there is an account of a scene during Liszt's stay at the Munkácsys' house, according to the writer a record of the last time the greatest master of the pianoforte touched his instrument. A flying visit had been paid to Bayreuth on the marriage of Daniela von Bülow—Liszt's granddaughter—with Herr von Thode on July 4. Liszt returned again for the performance of 'Parsifal' on the 23rd. He was suffering from a bronchial attack, but the cough for a day or two became less troublesome, and he ventured to attend another play, an exceptionally fine performance of 'Tristan,' during which the face of Liszt shone full of life and happiness, though his weakness was so great that he had been almost carried to and from the carriage and Mme. Wagner's box. This memorable performance of 'Tristan,' in which the singers (Sucher, Vogl, etc.) and players surpassed themselves, lingered in Liszt's mind until his death. When he returned home he was prostrate, and those surrounding him feared the worst. The patient was confined to his bed and kept perfectly quiet. The case was from the first hopeless, the immediate cause of death being general weakness rather than the severe cold and inflammation of the lungs which supervened on July 31. His death that night was absolutely painless.

Since the funeral in the Bayreuth cemetery on Aug. 3, Liszt's ashes have not been disturbed, although Weimar and Budapest each asserted a claim to the body of the illustrious dead. Cardinal Haynauld and the Princess Wittgenstein (heiress and executrix under his will) gave way before the wishes of Liszt's sole surviving daughter, Cosima Wagner, supported as they were by public opinion and the known views of Liszt himself, who had not looked with favour on the removal of the remains of Beethoven and Schubert, and had expressed a hope that it might not also be his fate to 'herumfahren.' These towns, as well as others, have therefore raised a monument to the genius who was associated with them. The memory of Liszt has been honoured in a practical way in many places. Liszt societies existed during the master's lifetime, and they have now been multiplied. Immediately after the funeral a meeting of the leading musicians was held at Bayreuth, at which Richter made a speech and urged that all the living forces of the artistic world should unite to preserve the memory of the master by perfect renderings of his own and other modern works. The Grand Duke of Weimar, Liszt's friend and protector, sent the intendant of the theatre to Bayreuth to confer with Richter upon the best means of perpetuating Liszt's intentions. He proposed a Liszt foundation after the manner of the Mozarteum at Salzburg. A Liszt museum was to be established in the house where he lived at Weimar, and scholarships were to be offered to promising young musicians, and on similar lines scholarships have been instituted elsewhere.

An outcome of this project is the Fondation-Liszt, instituted by his firm friend the Duke of Weimar after his death, to continue instruction on the basis he had laid.

The first competition for the Liszt Royal Academy scholarship took place in April 1887.[1] The scholarship is open for competition by male and female candidates, natives of any country, between 14 and 20 years of age, and may be awarded to the one who may be judged to evince the greatest merit in pianoforte playing or in composition. All candidates have to pass

  1. For this England is indebted to the exertions of the late Mr. Walter Bache (who raised upwards of 1100l. for the purpose).