France

Conductor dies of gangrene after wounding own foot with conducting staff

March 22, 1687
Paris, France
Conductor Jean-Baptiste Lully dies of gangrene after wounding his own foot while conducting

Lully’s misfortune happened as he conducted a Te Deum, a hymn of praise, performed to celebrate the Louis XIV’s recent recovery from an illness. At the time, conductors did not wave a baton in the air to keep rhythm. Instead, a staff was pounded on the floor to the beat. While Lully was swept up in the moment, he accidentally struck his own foot which eventually turned gangrenous. He was refused to amputate the limb, stating he would not be able to dance without the foot. Without the amputation, the gangrene spread throughout his body, eventually affecting his brain and ultimately killing him on March 22, 1687.

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