Brahms and Liszt students try the Mozart cure

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The Independent Online
HIS OWN alcohol-fuelled excesses drove him to an early grave - but Mozart has become a weapon in a campaign to curb student drinking. An American university is to play his works around the campus at peak party times in the hope that they might dissuade students from getting Brahms and Liszt.

While some might believe that only a world alcohol shortage could achieve such a goal, campus police in Pittsburgh hope that Eine Kleine Nachtmusik etc at full blast from 10pm to 2am, Thursday to Saturday, will do the trick.

The theory has scientific backing. Research has shown that classical music has a soothing effect on children, encouraging them to be better behaved and work more effectively. Moreover, the creative output of Wolfgang Amadeus is said to boost your brain power or at least raise your IQ.

The "Mozart effect" may therefore result in campus-wide Damascene conversions as students confront the revelation that there are better ways to spend a Friday night than downing 10 pints before falling down drunk. Such, at any rate, are the hopes of the Pittsburgh campus police who videotaped the area before the experiment began and plan to compare the atmosphere pre- and post- Mozart.

Something radical, they say, has to be done, as binge drinking has presented them with a serious problem. Although no one under the age of 21 can legally buy alcohol, there have been 16 drink-related deaths in US colleges since 1997.

It remains to be seen whether Mozart has the desired effect, but British student spokespersons are less than impressed.

Zoe Abrams of Manchester University students' union said she was angered by such a "draconian" policy, but the worst of her outrage was reserved for the choice of composer. "Mozart is the most conservative and middle brow of the lot," she said. "What gives them the right to inflict such punishment on the students who don't even drink?"

Delia Saunders at Birmingham University's guild of students thought the idea "bizarre".

"I don't think anything is going to stop students drinking and I think it will just annoy them," she said.

"We have various policies here to encourage sensible drinking but I don't think we'll be introducing this at Birmingham."