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Liszt and Dr. Mason's Eyeglasses

No virtuoso was ever more careful than Liszt over personal appearance. He had quite enough of the “showman” in his make-up to realize how much clothes help to emphasize a great personality. He was not only particular over his own clothes, however, but extended his fastidiousness to the appearance of his pupils. When Dr. William Mason was a young student and a pupil of the great Hungarian master, he had the misfortune to be shortsighted. He accordingly wore eyeglasses to remedy this defect. At that time eyeglasses were comparatively unknown in Germany and were considered somewhat foppish by the conservative Teutons. Mason was very much surprised, however, when one day, Liszt said to him, “Mason, I don’t care to see you wearing those eyeglasses. I shall send my optician to suit you with some spectacles.”

Dr. Mason thought the abbé was joking, but sure enough, a week later the optician arrived, and he was obliged to submit to an examination. A few days afterwards two pairs of large spectacles duly arrived, and Dr. Mason realized that if he valued Liszt’s friendship he must consent to wear them, though personally he was rather distressed at the prospect. He never failed, however, to wear them when calling on Liszt. A short time afterwards, Liszt went to Paris. When he came back, he called the American to him, saying, “By the way, Mason, I find that eyeglasses are being worn nowadays by the best people; in fact, they are quite the correct thing. So I have no longer any reason to object to you wearing yours.”

 

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