Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Scandalous Overtures: Mozart: How Did Mozart Really Die?

Mozart circa 1780, detail from portrait by Johann Nepomuk della Croce

Mozart circa 1780, detail from portrait by Johann Nepomuk della Croce

Conspiracy Theories

Pssst! Did you know that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld knowingly allowed Mossad to blow up the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001? Did you know that the fluoridation of our water is a communist conspiracy meant to contaminate our precious bodily fluids? Are you aware that global warming is fake, the moon landing was staged, vaccinations cause autism, Paul McCartney is dead (that’s why he’s barefoot on the Abbey Road cover) and has been portrayed by a double since 1966? Are we all cognizant of the fact that — along with Queen Elizabeth II and most other world leaders — Obama is a shape-shifting space lizard, a blood-sucking repto-humanoid alien from the Alpha Dragonis star system?(Check out the oeuvre of journalist David Ickes, who has made a career writing and lecturing on just that topic.)

Oh those whacky conspiracy theories and the Internet that proliferates them.

And yet, so desperate are some people to perceive logical narrative in the chaos of everyday events, so desperate are some people to see government as representative of evil, so desperate are some people to have something or someone to blame for their own misfortunes that they are often all too willing to suspend their disbelief and buy into twaddle that wouldn’t fool a small child.

Incredibly, even presumably smart people often get sucked in, for reasons emotional or political. For example, former South African President Thabo Mbeki and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai both supported a theory initially espoused by the East German Stasi and Russian KGB that the CIA created HIV/AIDS in order to commit genocide in Africa (although we should happily note that Maathai later apologized for ever having supported such a claim).

Very often the dissemination of such bunk is simply a function of cynicism-for-profit. An entire media industry has developed around political shock-jocks and TV “personalities” who cannot possibly believe much (if not most) of the nonsense they spout. Their pretense to “news reporting” notwithstanding, they are, in fact, entertainers who must continuously one-up themselves with newly manufactured materials in order to preserve their audience base. This, in itself, is nothing new: there have always been snake-oil salesman. The depressing part is that there are always so many gullible buyers.

You want a few more? Okay then!

The Death of Mozart

Wolfgang Gottlieb Mozart was assassinated by a cabal of Italian musicians living in Vienna, headed by the Imperial Court Composer himself, Antonio Salieri! (Gasp!)

Or how about this one, suggested by the philosopher and poet Georg Freidrich Daumer in 1861: that for revealing Masonic secrets in his opera The Magic Flute, Mozart was executed by the Masons! (Double gasp!)

And even better, this one suggested by Mathilde Ludendorff, the wife of the WWI German general. In a series of books, she claimed that Mozart — as an Austro-German patriot unwilling to write in the Italian style — was executed by a Jewish-Roman Catholic conspiracy, spearheaded by the Jesuits and the Masons, intent on establishing a cosmopolitan Jewish world-state! (Nnnnnngggg!)

Conspiracy theories thrive best when sensible explanations are in want. And indeed, the cause of Mozart’s death at the tender age of 35 has been shrouded in mystery and occluded by conspiracy theories almost from the moment he died in Dec. 1791. Watch the latest episode of Scandalous Overtures below, and we’ll debunk the theories and explain what almost certainly killed Mozart.

Watch the episode below:

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