Monday, March 10, 2008

Deciphering True From Falsetto in Mozart's Death

Those of us who have seen the Academy award-winning film Amadeus remember one Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. During the second half of the movie, we witness the man's failing mental and physical health. As with any story adapted from real-life events, the movie leaves the audience wondering what aspects of the story were factual and what was fictional. Australian composer Gordon Kerry looked for answers.
He began by examining the real circumstances of Mozart's death, and how he came to begin his requiem. The Schaffer version, Kerry says, bears no resemblance to the truth. Far from being destitute, morally corrupt and gravely ill when he was approached by the "dark stranger", Mozart was actually incredibly creative and reasonably prosperous.

"He really was very busy in the last months of his life. He really only fell ill a few weeks before he died. It looks like he had severe renal failure, and that may have given him paranoid delusions. That may be when he started to say 'I'm writing the requiem for my own death'. But it certainly wasn't like that when he began it."

"It's just coincidence that he died in the middle of writing a piece about death - and in circumstances that leant themselves to being mythologised."
We're beginning to wonder whether the Mozart music our mothers played to us while we were fertilizing has actually made any difference in our lives after all.

[Sydney Morning Herald]

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