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Mozartís "Eine Kleine Nacht Musik," was considered pop music back in his day. Itís among the best known works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart who died just before he turned 36, in 1791.
The music giant was then buried in an unmarked grave which was later dug up, so the plot could be reused. What may also surprise you is the cause of his death was unclear until recently.
Studies now show he may have died from strep throat.
But at the time of Mozartís death, rumors suggested it was from unnatural causes. A Berlin newspaper article mentioned poisoning, which was reinforced by Mozartís own unfounded fear that he was being poisoned with a liquid cosmetic containing arsenic.
Then in 1823, a composer named Antonio Salieri tried killing himself, and confessed to poisoning Mozart. That rumor was also dispelled a year later.
So what do we know about Mozartís illness? He fell ill about November 20, 1791, and died 15 days later. Two of Viennaís finest physicians diagnosed him with severe miliary fever which simply meant he had a rash and a fever.
During his illness, Mozart maintained full consciousness. His hands and feet swelled, then the rest of his body did, too. Afterwards, he had a bout of violent vomiting and died peacefully.
His illness had a predictable course, even then, and none of the symptoms match with arsenic poisoning.
A recent epidemiological study of the death records and eyewitness accounts show Mozart may have died from complications of Strep throat. The epidemic may have started in a nearby military hospital.
Edema is one complication of strep infection and records show it was the third most common cause of death in the weeks before Mozartís death. If strep throat really killed the composer, we can put away the rumors and enjoy the legacy he most certainly left: great music.
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