Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was the greatest piano virtuoso of the 18th century. He originated the symphonic poem, pioneered the one-movement sonata form, and developed new harmonic combinations. He was significant contributor to the romantic movement in music.

He was born in Hungary, (whilst part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), but in a German-speaking area of that country, and was soon recognized as a child prodigy. His family took him  to Vienna, Austria,  to study piano under Czerny. In 1823 at the age of 12 his family moved to Paris in order to expose Franz to a greater audience. Here he learned fluent French, which became his first language for a long time thereafter.

Liszt rapidly became famous for his piano playing and composition, and infamous for his adulterous amorous affairs, which were a scandal all over Europe. Between 1832 and 1847 he toured widely over all of Europe, receiving enormous public adulation. Then in 1848 he settled down in Weimar, Germany, to concentrate on composition. In 1861 he moved to Rome, Italy,  then from 1849 he alternated between winters in sunny Rome and summers in cooler Weimar. Liszt was truly a pan-European composer. In fact, he never spoke the Hungarian language at all!

At the age of 54 he became an Abbé, and as a teacher, he had a huge influence on the brilliant pianists of his day. He wrote a great deal of virtuoso piano music.