The Death of Franz Liszt Based on the Unpublished Diary of His Pupil Lina Schmalhausen
Edited by Alan Walker
"If only I do not die here." After falling ill during a visit to Bayreuth, Franz Liszt uttered this melancholy refrain throughout his final days, which were spent in rented rooms in a house opposite Wahnfried, the home of his daughter Cosima and his deceased son-in-law Richard Wagner. Attended by incompetent doctors and ignored and treated coldly by his daughter, the great composer endured needless pain and indignity, according to a knowledgeable eyewitness. Lina Schmalhausen, his student, caregiver, and close companion, recorded in her diary a graphic description of her teacher's illness and death. Alan Walker here presents this never-before-published account of Liszt's demise in the summer of 1886.
Walker, whose three-volume biography of Liszt was praised as "without rival" by Time, states that "no one who is remotely interested in the life and work of Franz Liszt can remain unaffected by the diary." Schmalhausen's tale of neglect, family indifference, and medical malpractice was considered so explosive at the time of its writing that it was kept from public view. The twenty-two-year-old Schmalhausen was regarded with suspicion by many in the composer's inner circle, as well as by other confidants, and a sanitized and inaccurate depiction of Liszt's death made its way into the history books.
For this volume, Walker has overseen the translation and thoroughly annotated the eighty-one-page handwritten diary, and added a selection of illustrations. A prologue contains important background information on Liszt himself and on Lina Schmalhausen's diary. An epilogue discusses the funeral and ensuing controversies over disposition of the composer's remains.