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Carl Tausig Cooks His Cat

Carl Tausig

Carl Tausig was Liszt's favorite piano student. He died tragically at age 30. He came to Liszt as a boy, and Liszt took him in and taught him like a son. But Carl was a rascal, and all boy, with a streak of the devilish Huckleberry Finn in him.

When Tausig had grown older, Liszt lent him the precious, uncopied manuscript score to his just-composed Dante Symphony. Carl immediately took it and pawned it because he was short of money. 

Piano Is Easy

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Luckily Tausig was able to redeem the priceless, uncopied score and return it to Liszt before its absence was noticed. But the symphony made young Carl wonder exactly what Dante's Inferno would be like.

A Mischievous Teen

Not long after, Carl dared to stray into Liszt's trophy room and accidentally broke some delicate porcelain memento prized by the Master. The housekeeper confined Carl to his room as punishment, which rankled the imperious youth.


But no sooner had his brief confinement begun when he had a fiendish idea. Remembering the Dante Symphony, he absconded with the housekeeper's cat. He proceeded to imprison it in the oven attached to his huge porcelain room heater.

A Foolish Plan

What was worse than the screams of the unfortunate animal was the stench that pervaded the Liszt mansion for days. But the Master was lenient and Tausig was allowed to accompany the Master on the next tour. He got to observe first-hand the magical concert process only the great Liszt could display, from the inside out.

Tausig went on to some fame, opening a piano school in Berlin and concertizing occasionally. He became a fanatic devotee of Wagner, and it was Tausig who formulated the plan to raise money to build Wagner's Bayreuth theater. He also arranged many of Wagner's operas for piano, becoming one of a small circle of arrangers and pianists who prepared Wagner's work for production.

Poor Tausig died of typhoid at thirty, an event that depressed Liszt greatly, for his hopes were riding on the fortunes of Tausig. Liszt often said, dreamily, in later years, "The boy had fingers of steel."

Perhaps Tausig was taken to the same inferno as the one to which he doomed the housekeeper's cat.



Music History

What Killed the Golden Age of the Piano

I Meet Aaron Copland

George Sand Killed Chopin

Why Brahms Must Have Been Fat

Artur Rubinstein Was A Vampire

Igor Stravinsky Loses His Cool

Vladimir Horowitz Goes To The Racetrack

Beethoven Was No Beauty

The World’s Largest Blue Danube Waltz

Was Mozart Murdered?

Beethoven’s Rage Over A Lost Penny

Franz Schubert, The First Bohemian

Chopin’s Singing Piano Tone

Stravinsky’s Good Luck

Tchaikovsky’s Greatest Fan

Hector Berlioz and the Orchestral Train Wreck

Piano Lessons with Papa Bach

Piano Lessons with Frederic Chopin

The Great Piano Craze of 1910

The American Piano Wars

Why Hugo Wolf Went Insane

Rachmaninoff and the Evolution of Pop Songs

Musical Feuds

Piano In The Past Was Better

The Master’s Hands

Einstein’s Piano

Einstein’s Violin Improvisations In Gypsy Style

A History of Piano and Numbers

Ryan Seacrest’s Piano Concerto #2

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