Mozart suffered incontinence of the emotions

THE FOUL-MOUTHED outpourings of Wolfgang Mozart and his obsession with anal matters were due to a nervous illness rather than the behaviour of an immature, coarse man with a personality problem, as has been suggested.

A new study provides evidence that Mozart suffered from Tourette's syndrome, which causes vocal and nervous tics and sudden involuntary outbursts of obscenities.

His obnoxious behaviour on occasions is well-documented, and was portrayed in the film Amadeus. Many of his letters and some of his lyrics reveal a startling vulgarity, which had to be censored after his death by his wife, Constanze. Last year, the newly-discovered text of a Mozart canon was translated as 'lick my arse, quickly, quickly'. Constanze had substituted the words 'let us be happy' when she sent the manuscript to the publishers.

In one letter to his father, Mozart describes how he entertained the director of the world-famous Mannheim orchestra by reciting obscene rhymes on such subjects as 'muck, shitting and arse-licking'. Scholars have long puzzled over the paradox of the sublime music Mozart was capable of, and his tendency to focus on buttocks and defecation.

Now researchers from the Department of Medicine at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles have analysed Mozart's letters, and contemporary descriptions of his behaviour in a report in tomorrow's issue of the British Medical Journal.

They point out that many of the 'scatological' letters coincide with periods of great emotion in Mozart's life, such as the birth and death of his first son, and the climax of his conflict with the Archbishop of Salzburg.

Some of the descriptions comment on the composer's inability to stand still, the involuntary jerks and the 'extraordinary grimaces' he made. 'His features would alter from one instant to another . . . his body was perpetually in motion . . .'

Mozart also had an obsession with nonsense words such as 'oragnia figarafa,' and certain words or phrases which reflect 'perseverating obsessive thoughts' are found in his letters.

The researchers concluded that there is good evidence to support the proposition that Mozart suffered from Tourette's syndrome or, as it has been described, 'an incontinence of the emotions'.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us