When you think of careers that would make women fight over your discarded clothing, concert pianist probably ranks somewhere near sewage treatment worker and that guy who tackles streakers at football games. Apparently nobody ever told Franz Liszt that because the guy was hounded by women everywhere where he went during the 19th century.
If you’re wondering why, you’re not alone, actual historians have never been able to properly pin down just why Liszt was so popular with the ladies. The most commonly accepted theory is that the hysteria was due to a combination of Liszt’s skill and boyish good looks assuming an ethereal form and punching the the women of the era right in the ovaries. Okay so we added that last part, but the rest is absolutely true.
Practically from the day he was born, Liszt was raised to be a kick-ass pianist, receiving lessons from stone pimps of the music world like Antonio Salieri, Carl Czerny and his own father, Adam Liszt, who’d played with such famous names as Beethoven and Hummel in his own time as a concert pianist. If those names don’t mean anything to you, replace them with Darth Vader, Theodore Logan and Spider-Man and you’ve got a rough idea of how awesome Liszt’s teachers were.
However, even with all those heavy-hitters of the piano world showing him the ropes, it was rather curiously a violinist who inspired Liszt to become a piano virtuoso. This violinist was none other than Niccolò Paganini, a.k.a., the Devil’s Violinist, who Liszt saw perform in 1832. Liszt was so inspired by Paganini’s mastery of his instrument and control over the admiring crowd that he vowed on that day that he’d master his instrument in a similar way. Either that, or like Paganini was accused of doing, he simply sold his soul to the devil in return for a the ability to play the piano with his eyebrows.
After watching Paganini play, Liszt adopted a far more crowd pleasing and fabulous way of playing the piano which started with him positioning the piano itself so that the audience could see his face as he played. Once the audience could see his face, when he began playing, Liszt would punctuate his performance with wildly flamboyant movements and facial contortions, much in the same way Angus Young beats the crap out of his guitar on stage today.
Liszt was also infamous amongst musicians for refusing to use sheet music while he played, a big taboo at the time, which often led to him improvising new sections to songs on the fly. Liszt was fighting the man before “the man” was even a thing that needed to be slapped in the face.
And you better believe that people ate that right up. Women would throw their clothes on stage and fight each other for his (pimp as hell) velvet gloves , there’s even stories about women clambering for his discarded cigar butts just so that they could store them in their cleavage. How that was supposed to turn someone on is anyone’s guess, but it happened and it was probably pretty awesome.
By far the best part though is that Liszt didn’t give a turd about fame or money. He played solely for the love of being a boss. Almost every penny Liszt earned as a pianist went straight to charity, which only made people love him even more. The guy played four shows a week for eight years straight, each one to a packed out crowd full of screaming women, and he composed enough songs in his lifetime to have performed a new piece at every single one. The only artist we think could even hold a candle to that is James Brown and that should count because he was powered by pure funk, the sexiest and most efficient power source known to man.
Liszt also refused to fall into the trap that befalls many young stars by retiring from playing in concert in his prime and continuing to pump out hit after hit well into his old age just to make sure everyone else in the entire world knew he could come out of retirement at any time and win all of the sex.
All of it.
Karl Smallwood is a freelance comedy writer you can hire! His work has been featured on Cracked, Toptenz and Gunaxin. You should probably click those links to make sure he isn’t lying. He also runs his own website where he responds to the various pieces of hate-mail he’s gotten over the years, in fact, he got so much hate-mail that he wrote a book about it that you can buy on Amazon. When he isn’t writing, Karl also Tweets and uploads pictures of himself drinking on Facebook.
Karl recently chronicled the amazing adventures of The Real-Life Iron Fist.