Short summary: Maria Anna Liszt née Lager (1788-1866) was born in Krems, Austria. Her father died when she was eight, and her mother followed six months after. As a young woman, she worked as a chambermaid in Vienna, and later moved to Mattersdorf, where her brother Franz lived. Georg Liszt was the overseer of the Esterházy estate in Mattersdorf. Twenty-two year old Anna married thirty-four year old Adam Liszt in January 1811. She spent time in Graz with her sister while a young Liszt toured in the early 1820s. Around 1827, she moves to Paris with Franz after Adam’s death. In 1839, Anna takes Liszt’s two daughters, Blandine and Cosima, in after Marie and Franz’s relationship begins to fizzle. Daniel arrived in Paris to join them in 1841. Anna raised the three children, while Liszt sent her money. (Walker, Liszt Vol. I, 45-46, 102, 129, 383)
What was her education?
Klara Hamburger claims her to be uneducated.
What was her role of music in her life?
She probably could not read music, but she was often put in charge of certain business aspects of Liszt's life. For example, he would often write to her asking her to send music to him.
What was her profession?
She worked for a while as a chambermaid and eventually Liszt supported her.
Did she have lovers?
What was the closeness of relationship to Liszt?
We have at least 70 letters from Anna to Liszt and another 28 from Liszt to Anna. Hamburger describes the nature of the letters "intimate and loving."
What was her opinion of Liszt and the church?
She did not seem thrilled about his involvement. Many sources reference both his father and mother discouraging him from joining the church. After the news of Liszt joining the Franciscans she wrote: "I must honestly tell you, I was not enchanted in the least. What business have you with the Franciscans?"
Her last letter to her son is included in the Hamburger article and is about Liszt's orders. She is very upset and speaks of breaking into tears.
What was her relationship with her grandchildren?
She was their caretaker and spent more time with them than their mother or father.
She took over the care of the three children after Liszt and d'Agoult's relationship ended. Neither parent wanted the task of educating these children, a task that Anna Liszt took up willingly. Liszt also requested that the children be removed from the influence of their mother. Later in d'Agoult's life, she decided that she wanted contact with her children, but Liszt argued against this. Anna, naturally, took her son's side.
What was her relationship to husband?
Twenty-two year old Anna married thirty-four year old Adam Liszt in January 1811. She spent time in Graz with her sister while a young Liszt toured in the early 1820s. Around 1827, she moves to Paris with Franz after Adam’s death.
What was her legacy/public opinion after death?
She died at 78, and according to Adrian Williams, “a contemporary report tells us that when Anna Liszt died, in her seventy-eighth year, her coffin was followed by an ‘endless line of carriages of the old hereditary nobility and of the aristocrats of finance, of senators and deputies, of poets and writers, of journalists, artists, and actors.’” (Williams 976)
What was her childhood like?
She was born on May 9, 1788. Her mother died when she was eight and her father died on her ninth birthday. After that the family home was sold she went to live with relatives and then to Vienna as a chamber maid.
From Franz Liszt: Eine Lebenschronik In Bildern Und Dokumenten by Alfred Brendel
How did Anna Liszt feel about the women in Liszt's life?
Liszt and Marie united in Switzerland in 1835. Towards the end of that year, Marie writes to Anna, who never replies. This troubles Liszt, as he asks her in a letter dated January 1836 why she did not answer.
In 1839, Liszt mentions in a letter to Marie that he is sorry that his mother has not been more helpful (about what is vague). He asks Marie not to hold a grudge against her, and to be nice. This implies that their relationship may have been rather touchy.
In 1843, Marie suggests that Anna return to Germany - Liszt agrees but admits the he does not know how to persuade his mother to leave Paris.
Princess Carolyne von Sayn-Wittgenstein:
Klára Hamburger suggests in her chapter, "Franz Liszt: 1811-1886" in the book The Liszt Companion edited by Ben Arnold that,
"(Sayn-Wittgenstein's) influence turned out to be injurious in many respects, including his relationship to his mother and children as well as his writing and essays." (Hamburger, 11)
Hamburger also suggests that Anna Liszt often defended her son when rumors of him and the princess spread. She encouraged him not to get involved with her.