Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 September 2021
For such a public figure who was clearly image-conscious, Liszt was surprisingly reticent when it came to biography. Unlike several of his closest friends, most obviously Berlioz and Wagner, he did not attempt to sum up his life for posterity in the form of memoirs, which undoubtedly would have been a best-seller had he written them. In many ways, his attitude to ‘life-writing’ was remarkably laissez-faire. He famously instructed his biographer Lina Ramann, ‘My biography is more to be invented rather than written after the fact’1 and largely maintained a hands-off approach as Ramann began work on the story of his life. This chapter attempts an overview of Liszt’s relationship with ‘life-writing’, beginning with his rare forays into autobiography, then his own experiments as a biographer and ending with a discussion of how biographers have depicted him from the nineteenth century until today.