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Franz Liszt

A Story of Central European Subjectivity

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Erika Quinn

This biography of the musician Franz Liszt contributes to our understanding of national identity formation and its interaction with cosmopolitanism. Liszt exemplified the nineteenth-century quest for subjective definition and fulfillment. Seeking to gain agency, authority, and community, Liszt experimented with various subject positions from which to forward his goals. The stances he selected, anchored in ideas about nation, religion, and art, allowed him to retain his cosmopolitan sensibility while making specific aesthetic and creative claims. Quinn’s analysis of Liszt’s correspondence and musical criticism, as well as of contemporary reviews of his performances, compositions, and essays, demonstrates the lack of a nationalist exclusivity in Liszt’s life was a historical phenomenon rather than a personal quirk as previous scholarship has often claimed.