Lisztomania [list-uh-mey-nee-uh] is a term used to describe the intense fan frenzy directed toward Hungarian composer Franz Liszt during his performances. The phenomenon first occurred in Berlin in 1841 and was later coined by German poet Heinrich Heine in a feuilleton (newspaper supplement) in 1844. Liszt’s playing was reported to raise the mood of the audience to a level of mystical ecstasy. Admirers would swarm over him, fighting over his handkerchiefs and gloves. Fans would wear his portrait on brooches and cameos.

Women would try to get locks of his hair, and whenever he broke a piano string, admirers would try to obtain it in order to make a bracelet. Some female admirers would even carry glass vials into which they poured his coffee dregs. According to one report: ‘Liszt once threw away an old cigar stump in the street under the watchful eyes of an infatuated lady-in-waiting, who reverently picked the offensive weed out of the gutter, had it encased in a locket and surrounded with the monogram ‘F.L.’ in diamonds, and went about her courtly duties unaware of the sickly odor it gave forth.’

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