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Hugely renowned in his native Europe, the young Béla Bartók can hardly have imagined that he would receive perhaps the most important commission of his life while languishing with an unknown disease on a hospital bed in New York, after several barren years. But the final chapter in Bartók’s life story was full of surprises.
Franz Liszt was born in the Hungarian town of Raiding on October 22, 1811—a little more than a year after the births of Chopin and Schumann. Unlike those two composers, however, he reached old age: he died at 75, three years after his friend and son-in-law Richard Wagner. He’s one of very few composers whose life makes the 19th century look rather short.