Liszt-Mania

I found this story on my day calendar called Jeff Kacirk's "Forgotten English", from October 22, 2013, which was the anniversary of the birthday of Franz Liszt.

He was a "Hungarian-born composer and consummate ladies' man, who followed the example set several decades earlier by Italian pianist Niccolo Paganini, giving more than 1,000 concerts between 1839 and 1847. His performance hystrionics included the tossing of his gloves to ecstatic female fans, commonly causing women to faint while witnessing his piano virtuosity and charisma – a charm unsurpassed until the Beatles appeared more than a century later."

Side-note: I find this particularly funny, because LIszt was very famously not that into romance and sex. Waaaay back when I started this blog, I spoke a little bit about Franz Listz because he was a surprising conquest of Lola Montez, the famous beauty/"dancer"/royal courtesan/de-facto Bavarian monarch. Franz Liszt was BFFs with French author George Sand, who said that Lizst loved "no one but God and the Holy Virgin", so it speaks to Lola Montez's considerable beauty and, uh . . . talents that she could even take Lizst as a lover. As I said in my earlier post, he tired of her and abandoned her "in a hotel, whereupon she spent several hours smashing the furniture". So he wasn't the only one in that relationship to enjoy theatrics and hystrionics.

ANYWAY

"The French in particular seem to have responded passionately to Liszt's style, perhaps due to a tradition explained by the etymology of the verb "to faint" in William Matthews's Words: Their Use and Abuse (1884): 'Faint is from the French se feindre, to pretend, so that originally fainting was a pretended weakness or inability. We have an example of the thing orginally indicated by the word in the French theaters, where professional  fainters are employed, whose business it is to overcome and sink to the floor under the powerful acting of the tragedians'".

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