Damian Thompson Damian Thompson

The unknown German composer championed by Mahler

I once met a lady on the bus to Reading who claimed her father had studied with Liszt – Mrs Ball, it turns out, was not fibbing

Mrs Ball's father, the German composer Jean Paul Ertel, pictured in 1902

I was sceptical when the lady on the bus to Reading town centre told me that her father knew Liszt. Who wouldn’t be? This was a long time ago, mind: probably 1980, and I was on my way into school. I think our conversation started because I was reading a book about music.

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