Mozart Diary: December 1791/Conclusion

 Our concluding post documents Mozart’s final days. And speaking of final days, if you haven’t already booked your tickets for our performance of Mozart’s Requiem this Wednesday 14 November then, like our friend Mozart, you are running out of time! Scroll down for details of how to book…

I don’t think I can last for much longer and I am told I have only a matter of weeks to live. The swelling in my hands and feet has resulted in an almost total inability to move and it is a struggle for me to put pen to paper. My sleep is interrupted by intense bouts of nausea and my family have traveled to be at my side.

I already have the taste of death on my tongue. How bitterly I regret leaving my wife and children without being properly provided for. Why do I have to go now? Now, when I am no longer a slave to fashion or a slave to speculators and when I can compose freely whatever my heart dictates. I have so much music left to compose and so many ideas still to realise.

Mozart died on 5 December 1791 at the age of 35. He was buried the next day at a ceremony attended by his family friends in a pauper’s grave, due to his family’s volatile financial situation, and even today it has proved impossible to establish Mozart’s final resting place with any degree of certainty.

Despite his early death, Mozart’s composition continued to be celebrated in concert halls and performances across the world and he has long been hailed as one of the greatest classical composers ever to have lived. Naturally, the sudden death of one our best-loved composers has exercised minds and pens for nearly two centuries. Although there is no way of knowing the whole truth, historians have managed to clear up some of the stranger parts of the story…

So what really happened?

There have been many theories to explain Mozart’s death with Schaffer’s play, Amadeus, going as far to suggest that Mozart was poisoned by rival composer Salieri! Below we explain two of the popular Requiem mysteries:

The Grey Messenger
It has been widely suggested that this messenger was a servant of Count Franz von Walsegg. The Count’s wife had died earlier that year and he commissioned the Requiem in her memory. Count Walsegg also fancied himself as a musician and had the unfortunate habit of passing other composer’s work off as his own! This is probably why the Requiem was commissioned anonymously – the Count didn’t want Mozart to know he was stealing his ideas…

Rumors of poisoning
Despite showing symptoms of poisoning (swelling limbs, accelerated fever etc.), modern historians tend to agree that Mozart died of natural causes, probably due to rheumatic fever. Over the past centuries, poison suspects have included the Freemasons, the husband of Mozart’s alleged mistress and poor old Salieri… Mozart’s assumption that he had been poisoned could be down to the fact that he was ill and perhaps a little delirious; his quirky and melodramatic personality has been well documented.

There is no evidence or suspicion of foul play in any of the documents that were recorded at Mozart’s death. Just goes to show… everyone loves a juicy rumor!

We hope you have enjoyed our four installments of the Mozart Diaries and if you’ve missed anything, please feel free to go back and have a read.

Mozart Requiem
Wednesday 14 November, 7.30pm
St John’s Smith Square

Tickets from £15
Box Office: 020 7222 1061 /sjss.org.uk

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