Liszt gained renown in Europe during the early nineteenth century for his prodigious virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age, and in the 1840s he was considered to be the greatest pianist in history. However, Liszt himself stated that Charles-Valentin Alkan had superior technique to his own. Liszt was also a well-known and influential composer, piano teacher and conductor. He was a benefactor to other composers, including Frédéric Chopin, Richard Wagner, Hector Berlioz, Camille Saint-Saëns, Edvard Grieg, Ole Bull and Alexander Borodin.
As a composer, Liszt was one of the most prominent representatives of the New German School (''Neudeutsche Schule''). He left behind an extensive and diverse body of work in which he influenced his forward-looking contemporaries and anticipated some 20th-century ideas and trends. Some of his most notable contributions were the invention of the symphonic poem, developing the concept of thematic transformation as part of his experiments in musical form, and making radical departures in harmony. He also played an important role in popularizing a wide array of music by transcribing it for piano.