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Mozart Death Essay, Research Paper

For the past two hundred years, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s death has been

shrouded in mystery. Some say his great rival, Antonio Salieri, or the

Freemasons murdered him. Others say he was simply exhausted. And some believe he

died from sickness. It has been established that Mozart suffered from various

illnesses, which no doubt contributed to his death. But some researchers have

concluded that physical and mental exhaustion greatly affected Mozart, and

contributed to his early death. These researchers claim that by cramming more

work and play into one year than most people did in ten years, Mozart literally

?burned himself out?. The constant strain on his body forced it to succumb

to the plaguing illnesses that continuously nagged at Mozart?s health, and

that he otherwise might have been able to withstand. It has been said that

Mozart had a peculiar mental and physical lifestyle, and that he was a child who

never grew up. Physically, he had childlike energy levels, and worked at an

incredibly exhausting pace. The only way he knew to gain respect was to write

music. An early Mozart biographer, Ignaz Arnold wrote, ?No need for poison

here?his powers were worn out, his constitution destroyed.? He also wrote

?what straining of his imagination, what constant wearing-down of his spirit,

what excitement of his brain fibers! What continuous sapping of his vital life

forces!? In a word: his whole life was?the consumption of life. History

shows us a host of great spirits who burned themselves out. In this passage, he

is talking about the destruction of Mozart?s ?creative energies?. He also

wrote about Mozart?s physical exhaustion, six piano concertos, one piano

quintet, one string quartet, and two sonatas and two sets of variations for

piano are listed, as well as a few smaller compositions. This enormous output

was not the work of a composer writing in undisturbed peace and seclusion, but

of one whose schedule included teaching obligations, as well as all kinds of

other distractions of which would have been enough to make an ordinary person

nervous. And all of this is more amazing considering that Mozart was sickly and

frail. Despite these setbacks, he almost never slowed his pace. For years, often

during sickness, Mozart continued to compose, give performances, travel, teach,

and maintain a lively social life. It is clear that Mozart was always on the go,

and this could not have been healthy for him, considering his physical state. I

believe that his grueling schedule led to exhaustion, which, along with his

illness, finally led to his death. Some people believe that the Freemasons

murdered Mozart because he revealed secrets about their organization in his

opera, The Magic Flute. After reading a little about this, I found no evidence

that the Freemasons had anything to do with Mozart?s death. In fact, I

discovered that the Masons cared very much for Wolfgang and he for them, as

well. Mozart joined the Freemasons in December 1784. He belonged to the lodge

called Zur Wohltatigkeit, which translates into Beneficence. Freemasonry was

very popular with the intellectually elite during the early 1780?s. When

Mozart joined the lodge, it consisted of 200 members, led by Master Ignaz von

Born. Master von Born was a scientist, mineralogist, and writer, who Mozart

supposedly used as a model for Sarastro, a character in The Magic Flute.

Mozart?s father, Leopold, and his close friend Joseph Haydn also joined the

lodge, no doubt under Mozart?s influence. Mozart was a dedicated member of his

lodge. He wrote music for their ceremonies, including Maurerische Trauermusik

(K.477), which was written for the funeral of two aristocratic members. The

heavy symbolism in this piece reveals Mozart?s total involvement in the

Masonic theories about life and death, and their symbolic relationship to the

Master Masonic Degree. He even used these theories in a letter to his father,

who was then on his deathbed. The Freemasons promoted brotherhood and moral

principles in their organization and in society as a whole. They looked after

their ?brethren?, including Mozart. When Mozart was having a financial

crisis, at the end of the 1780?s, and could not pay his bills, Michael

Puchberg, the treasurer of Mozart?s lodge, loaned him a considerable amount of

money to make it through. Puchberg was a close friend of Mozart?s, and after

Mozart died, he waited until Mozart?s wife, Costanze, had regained her

financial stability before asking for repayment. Upon his death, the lodge

published a speech held at the funeral ceremony in Mozart?s honor. They also

printed one of his last pieces, Kleine Freymaurer-Kantate in score for

Costanze?s benefit. Antonio Salieri was the court composer in Austria. Shortly

after Mozart?s death, gossip spread that in great envy, he murdered Mozart. In

his last years, Salieri even confessed to killing Mozart, but he was very ill,

and his ramblings were influenced by his insanity. I do not believe that Salieri

murdered Mozart. In 1823, Salieri, who was then in a mental institution,

admitted to the poisoning of Mozart. Word spread around Europe, and many people

apparently believed the rumors, including Ludwig van Beethoven. In his journal,

he wrote, ?Salieri is very ill again. He is quite deranged. In his ravings he

keeps claiming that he is guilty of Mozart?s death and made away with him by

poison. This is the truth, for he wants to make a confession of it, so it is

true again that everything has its reward?. Although there was no real motive

for Antonio Salieri to kill Mozart, people soon invented one. For example, the

famous Russian writer, Aleksandr Pushkin wrote a one-act play entitled Mozart

and Salieri. In this play, Pushkin suggested that Salieri was overwrought with

jealousy because he knew that he could never write as beautiful music as

Mozart?s. He was angry that God would grant such talent to an ?idle

hooligan?, and he supposedly poisoned his rival in slow stages. The idea that

Salieri killed Mozart out of professional jealousy was so intriguing that it

became the most popular theory of Mozart?s death. In 1898, another Russian

composer, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov turned Pushkin?s play in to an opera, also

titled Mozart and Salieri. This inspired British playwright Peter Shaffer to

write Amadeus. This led to the 1984 film of the same name that I already

completed a film critique on. All of these productions depicted Salieri as a

weak man with minimal talent, driven by an insane jealousy. The real question

is, did Salieri actually kill Mozart? There is no hard evidence at all and the

only points against Salieri are made up of hearsay. Although it is true that the

court composer did do his best to prevent the emperor from hearing Mozart?s

music, and he criticized his music in private conversations, this is hardly

enough to justify an accusation of murder. Even Mozart?s wife Constanze,

trusted him enough to have him tutor her son in later years at the piano, and

one of Salieri?s pupils, upon visiting him on his deathbed, later said ?the

reunion was a sad one; for his appearance shocked me, and he spoke only in

broken sentences of his approaching death; but finally with the words

?although this is my last illness, however I assure you in good faith that

there is no truth in the absurd rumor; you know what I mean?that I poisoned

Mozart. But no? tell the world that it is malice, pure malice; old Salieri,

who will soon be dead, has told you this.? In conclusion, although Antonio

Salieri was jealous of Wolfgang, it is very unlikely, in my opinion, that he

would go as far as to murder him. The people were obviously caught up in a false

accusation that was exciting, interesting, and incredibly romantic, without

taking into consideration reasonable thought. Throughout Mozart?s life, he was

plagued by many illnesses. Modern scholars have tossed aside the popular yet

unconvincing theory that Mozart was poisoned, and are focusing on a more

plausible cause of death, sickness. Before his death, Dr. Closset examined

Mozart. The doctor recorded symptoms such as fever, rash, and swelling of the

hands and feet. These symptoms are indicative of disease, but it is more

difficult to determine which disease actually killed him. Mozart was a frail

man, and continuous bouts with different diseases led him to become increasingly

unhealthy in his old age. The people who are trying to piece together what

disease killed Mozart believe that whichever disease it was, Mozart probably

suffered from it previously. Luckily, Mozart?s father, Leopold, wrote letters

to the rest of their family describing all of the illnesses that Wolfgang

suffered from. According to Leopold, at age six, Mozart suffered from his first

serious illness, an upper respiratory infection. He had two serious relapses of

this infection in 1762. In the same year, he contracted a case of rheumatic

fever, which was most likely a result of his strep infections. Two years later,

Mozart suffered from tonsillitis, and the following year he was struck with

typhoid fever. Leopold recorded the side effects of the typhoid, which included

weight loss, slow pulse, skin rash, high fever, and pneumonia. Mozart also

lapsed into a coma because of the typhoid fever. The sicknesses that Mozart

exhibited in his childhood were only the beginning of a long life filled with

various ailments. The next twenty-three years included such illnesses as a

second bout with rheumatic fever in 1766, smallpox in 1767, severe frostbite in

1770, hepatitis in 1771, a painful dental abscess in 1774, bronchitis in 1780, a

third attack of rheumatic fever in 1784, and another serious streptococcal

infection in 1787. In the 1800?s and early 1900?s, after examining

Mozart?s health record and the symptoms just before death, a few scholars put

together the disease theory and printed it. But it did not get much attention

because of all the excitement about the poisoning theory. Starting in the early

1960?s, another wave of disease theories came into light. Most of these

contained one of two main causes of death. The first suggestion that Mozart?s

death was brought about by another attack of rheumatic fever. The second cited

kidney failure due to repeated streptococcal infections as the cause of death.

Evidence supporting the rheumatic fever theory has been introduced. This

evidence includes Mozart?s symptoms, especially high fever and swollen hands

and feet, which are characteristic of rheumatic fever. Another shred of evidence

supporting this theory is the fact that Mozart suffered from recurring rheumatic

fever. Studies have shown that each successive attack weakens the heart, and a

final serious bout with the disease could have been the final blow for

Wolfgang?s heart. After studying all the evidence supporting the disease

theory, I have concluded that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart probably died from a

serious illness, more specifically rheumatic fever. Although this is the most

convincing theory, there will always be disagreement about the death of the

world?s greatest composer, Mozart.


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