The final years of Liszt’s life were spent in much the same way as previous years. He continued to travel from Rome to Weimar and Budapest each year. He gave the occasional concert, mainly for charitable purposes to help raise funds for various causes. He composed, he wrote, and he taught.
Passing on knowledge seems to have been important to Liszt. In addition to writing, he taught extensively throughout his life. What started at a young age to help support himself and his mother became something that lasted his entire life. In the 1870s, there was a push to create a Royal Academy for Music in Budapest. Liszt was elected President in 1875. While there were many attempts to get him to move back to Budapest permanently, he never did. He continued to do things as he wanted to – travelling their once each year. He often declared that his academy students were his private students and therefore they often did not pay fees to the academy. There were attempts to enforce payment but again Liszt continued to do things his way and taught students without taking money. The academy did not really suffer financially as Liszt often gave benefit concerts for them and his students were able to study for very little or no money.
1881 seems to mark the beginning of the end for Liszt. After a fall down some stairs in Weimar, he started to develop a number of different health issues over the next few years. Ultimately he died of pneumonia in 1886. But he did what he love right up until close to the end. In 1886, he went to concerts in Budapest, Paris, and London. He gave a concert in Luxembourg in mid July. And then travelled to the festival in Bayreuth where his already tired and sick body developed the pneumonia that he would not recover from. But he was doing what he loved, surrounded by family and friends. You can’t really wish for more than that.