Ahhh...Mozart! That living-large German composer from the 18th century! We all know him best from the film Amadeus, starring Tom Hulce as Mozart and F. Murray Abram as Antonio Salieri--portrayed in the film as Mozart's nemesis and fellow court musician.
Mozart was a prodigy and, from the age of three, his father paraded him around Europe like an organ-grinder and his monkey. He became famous for his ability to play and compose beautiful and complicated music.
Mozart's life is fascinating, but his death is even more so. He is said to have died from either disease (rheumatic fever, strep infection, typhoid fever, syphilis, or trichinosis); complications from an accident; or murder (poison). Mozart believed he was poisoned!
Let's look at the progression from illness to death:
- In 1789, Mozart tells his wife, Constanza, "I am only too conscious [that] my end will not be long in coming; for sure, someone has poisoned me!"
- Six months before his death, he says, "Someone has given me acqua toffana and has calculated the precise time of my death."
- In September 1791, Mozart becomes sick but is able to work until November, when his symptoms restrict him to his home, under the care of his wife and her sister, Sophie.
- His symptoms include swelling up like a puffer fish, diarrhea, vomiting, and stinking.
- Even though ill, he continues to labor on a work commissioned by an unknown supporter. It is called Requiem.
- On December 5, 1791, at the age of 35, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart experiences convulsions, lapses into a coma, and dies.
- In later years, Salieri tells a student, "I can assure you on my word of honour that there is no truth in that absurd rumour: you know, that I was supposed to have poisoned Mozart."
One more odd story before I go: Mozart was performing at the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna. When he came off the stage, he stumbled and a young Archduchess Maria Antonia helped him to his feet. After she sat down again, he fell into her lap and blurted, "Will you marry me?" The Archduchess later became Marie Antoinette of France.
No joke. I'm not kidding. I was there. :D
Now let's enjoy a little Amadeus and Piano Concerto No. 21.
Here is Mozart's Wiki Page; books about him, and CDs and downloads. You can also find out what acqua toffana is. :)
Source Articles: Wikipedia, Fun Trivia: Mozart; Goodreads Quotes: Mozart; Quotes on and from Mozart; h2g2 Mozart's Death: Murder, Accident, or Disease?