LISZT, FRANZ. (1811-1886). Hungarian-born composer and pianist. SP. (Twice: “F. Liszt”). 1p. Imperial Cabinet. Weimar, July, 1885. A fine sepia photograph by Louis Held of the elderly composer playing the piano. Signed on the recto and inscribed in French on the verso a year before his death to American violinist ARMA SENKRAH (ANNA LORETTA HARKNESS) (1864-1900), “affectionately” from “the too old ex-pianist…”
From 1839-1847, Liszt toured “the whole of Europe, from Ireland to Turkey, from Portugal to Russia… This was Liszt’s most brilliant period as a concert pianist: he was adulated everywhere and honors were showered on him,” (The New Grove Dictionary).
In 1847, Liszt met Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein who was to have an immense impact on his life and work, including convincing him to abandon his career as a piano virtuoso and pursue composition. Having served as conductor of the Weimar court orchestra since 1843, Liszt followed the princess’ suggestion to give up touring and settle in Weimar in 1848 and conduct the orchestra full-time.