How Did Mozart Die? Let Me Count the Ways…

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


The real killers (Photo: Carbon NYC/Flickr)The real killers (Photo: Carbon NYC/Flickr)This, via Brainiac, is undoubtedly the best (only?) academic paper you’ll read all week. French doctor Lucien Karhausen, fed up with his colleagues’ incessant efforts to figure out what killed Mozart, has taken to the pages of British Medical Journal to settle the matter once and for all. Conclusion? Everyone’s full of it:

I have identified 140 (sometimes overlapping) possible causes of death, in addition to 85 other conditions. But Mozart died only once.

Among those 225 diagnoses, Karhausen finds 27 unique psychiatric disorders, and enough physical ailments and conspiratorial assailants to kill Rasputin 10 times over. Researchers have based their diagnoses on translation errors, as well as deep and thoughtful analysis of a misidentified skull:

For some, Mozart manifested cachexia or hyperthyroidism, but for others it was obesity or hypothyroidism. Ludendorff, a psychiatrist, and her apostles, claimed in 1936 that Mozart had been murdered by the Jews, the Freemasons, or the Jesuits, and assassination is not excluded by musicologists like Autexier, Carr, and Taboga.

Epic. As MoJo‘s Dave Gilson noted back in September, researchers have turned the diagnosis of fictional characters into a medical parlor game, explaining, for instance, that Tintin suffered from hormone deficiency and Tiny Tim from distal renal tubular acidosis.

But if anything, it’s even more prevalent with historical figures. To wit: Last month, a Cal State, San Bernardino professor released a study arguing that King Tut was killed by a hippo. That came four years after researchers revealed that King Tut died from a double infection of malaria. Prior to that, researchers believed he had heen murdered. To date, no one has dared suggest that Tutenkhamen might still be alive, but it’d certainly be a provocative thesis and as such probably warrants further study.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate