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All the Necessary Attributes

Stephen Walsh: Franz Liszt, Celebrity

21 September 2016
Franz Liszt: Musician, Celebrity, Superstar 
by Oliver Hilmes, translated by Stewart Spencer.
Yale, 353 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 0 300 18293 4
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... that he arrived in Paris as a 12-year-old prodigy in December 1823 until his death in Bayreuth 63 years later. There are vital aspects of Liszt’s music and personality that are barely touched on by OliverHilmes’s new biography, but as a well-told, readable, fluently translated story of a strangely conflicted career that affected the lives of people as disparate as Lola Montez and Pope Pius IX it ...

She gives me partridges

Bee Wilson: Alma Mahler

5 November 2015
Malevolent Muse: The Life of Alma Mahler 
by Oliver Hilmes, translated by Donald Arthur.
Northeastern, 360 pp., £29, May 2015, 978 1 55553 789 0
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... in her hand luggage along with her cash and her jewellery. No sooner had she arrived than she found herself ‘in heaven’, immediately setting up a makeshift salon in her hotel suite, where, as OliverHilmes describes, ‘she received political figures, members of the high aristocracy from the toppled Austro-Hungarian Empire, as well as artists like the Russian painter Marc Chagall.’ In the song ...

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