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Mozart and Scatology


Reproduction of the distinctive manuscript of Mozart’s canon “Difficile lectu“. The phrases “lectu mihi mars” luxuriate in been intended to be heard as “Leck du mich im Arsch” (“lick my arse”), a phrase recurrently used in Mozart’s household circle.[1]

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart displayed scatological humour in his letters and a few leisure compositions. This materials has long been a puzzle for Mozart scholarship. Some scholars try to thrill in it by manner of its function in Mozart’s household, his society and his times; others try to thrill in it as a results of an “impressive record”[2] of psychiatric stipulations from which Mozart is claimed to luxuriate in suffered.


Self-portrait in pencil of Maria Anna Thekla Mozart, from 1777 or 1778

A letter dated 5 November 1777[3] to Mozart’s cousin Maria Anna Thekla Mozart is an instance of Mozart’s exhaust of scatology. The German normal[4] is in rhymed verse.

Properly, I wish you supreme night time

But first shit in your mattress and fabricate it burst.

Sleep soundly, my esteem

Into your mouth your arse you will shove.[5]

Mozart’s canonLeck mich im ArschK. 231 (K6 382c) entails the lyrics:

Leck mich im A[rsch] g’schwindi, g’schwindi!

This might occasionally be translated into English as “lick me in the arse/ass,[6] fleet, fleet!”

“Leck mich im Arsch” is a archaic vulgarism in German, euphemistically known as the Swabian salute (German: schwäbische Gruß).[7] The closest English counterpart is “Kiss my arse/ass”.


David Schroeder writes:

The passage of time has created an practically unbridgeable gulf between ourselves and Mozart’s time, forcing us to misinterpret his scatological letters even extra drastically than his numerous letters. Very simply, these letters embarrass us, and now we luxuriate in tried to suppress them, trivialize them, or veil them out of the epistolary canon with pathological excuses.[8]

As an illustration, when Margaret Thatcher used to be apprised of Mozart’s scatology during a seek recommendation from to the theatre to behold Peter Shaffer‘s play Amadeus, director Peter Corridor relates:

She used to be no longer chuffed. In her ideal headmistress vogue, she gave me a severe wigging for placing on a play that depicted Mozart as a scatological imp with a esteem of 4-letter phrases. It used to be inconceivable, she said, that a one that wrote such exquisite and dapper tune will most definitely be so putrid-mouthed. I said that Mozart’s letters proved he used to be just that: he had an extraordinarily infantile sense of humour … “I fabricate no longer contemplate you heard what I said”, replied the High Minister. “He couldn’t luxuriate in been esteem that”. I offered (and despatched) a duplicate of Mozart’s letters to Number Ten the following day; I was even thanked by the correct Non-public Secretary. But it completely used to be useless: the High Minister said I was tainted, so tainted I was.[9]


Benjamin Simkin, an endocrinologist,[10] estimates that 39 of Mozart’s letters include scatological passages. Honest about all of these are directed to Mozart’s hang household, particularly his father Leopold, his mom Anna Maria, his sister Nannerl, and his cousin Maria Anna Thekla Mozart. Based mostly fully on Simkin, Leopold, Anna Maria and Nannerl also included scatological humour of their hang letters.[11] Thus, Anna Maria wrote to her husband (26 September 1777; normal is in rhyme):

Are you ready my esteem.

Preserve solid and wholesome for the fateful day,

the day that I fracture your insides.

Into your mouth your arse you will shove.

I wish you supreme night time, my dear,

But first, shit in your mattress and fabricate it burst.[12]

Even the pretty straitlaced Leopold used a scatological expression in one letter.[13]

A lot of of Mozart’s scatological letters luxuriate in been written to his cousin (and doable esteem curiosity, in accordance with Solomon)[14]Maria Anna Thekla Mozart; these are often known as the “Bäsle letters”, after the German note Bäsle, a puny form which implies “cramped cousin”. In these letters, written after Mozart had spent a lovely two weeks with his cousin in her native Augsburg,[15] the scatology is mixed with note play and sexual references. Robert Spaethling’s rendered translation of fragment of a letter Mozart despatched from Mannheim November 5, 1777:

Deares cozz buzz!

I actually luxuriate in obtained reprieved your highly esteemed writing biting, and I actually luxuriate in renowned doted thy my uncle garfuncle, my aunt slant, and likewise you too, are all successfully mell. We, too thank god, are in supreme fettle kettle … You write extra, certainly you let it all out, you present your self, you let your self be heard, you give me behold, you present your self, you illustrate to me, you articulate me the records, you order unto me, you issue in pudgy daylight hours, you ask, you want, you wish, you desire, you esteem, you state that I, too, must might well perchance send you my Portrait. Eh bien, I shall mail fail it for sure. Oui, by the esteem of my pores and skin, I shit in your nose, so it runs down your chin…[16]

One amongst the letters Mozart wrote to his father whereas visiting Augsburg stories an come across Mozart and his cousin had with a priest named Father Emilian:

[He was] an smug ass and a easy-minded cramped wit of his occupation … lastly when he used to be pretty drunk, which happened soon, he started on about tune. He sang a canon, and said: I actually luxuriate in never in my existence heard anything else extra shining … He started. I took the third voice, but I slipped in a wholly numerous text: ‘P[ater] E: o du schwanz, leck mich im arsch’ [“Father Emilian, oh you prick, lick me in the ass”]. Sotto voce, to my cousin. Then we laughed together for yet some other half hour.[17]


Mozart’s scatological tune used to be most most definitely leisure and shared among a closed neighborhood of inebriated company. All of it takes the form of canons (rounds), thru which each and each voice enters with the identical phrases and tune following a delay after the previous voice. Musicologist David J. Buch writes:

It could perchance just seem remarkable that Mozart made just copies, entered these objects into his personal works catalogue (thru which he tended to fling away out ephemeral works) and allowed them to be copied. The explanation he most fashioned these cramped and coarse pieces in ways equivalent to his extra serious and main works stays a thriller.

— Buch (2016), “Mozart’s bawdy canons, vulgarity and debauchery at the Wiednertheater”, Eighteenth Century Track[1]

Reactions of household and company[edit]

In 1798, Constanze despatched her tiresome husband’s Bäsle letters to the publishers Breitkopf & Härtel, who at the time luxuriate in been gathering materials in hopes of establishing prepared a Mozart biography.[18] In the accompanying letter she wrote “Even supposing in doubtful taste, the letters to his cousin are elephantine of wit and deserve declaring, even though they might be able to’t no doubt be revealed of their entirety.”[19]

In the 18th century[edit]

Gottfried Prehauser, an actor of 18th-century Vienna, playing Hanswurst

Schroeder (1999) means that in the 18th century scatological humour used to be a ways extra public and “mainstream”. The German-language fashioned theater of Mozart’s time used to be influenced by the Italian commedia dell’arte and emphasized the inventory persona of Hanswurst, a impolite and tough persona who would entertain his target market by pretending to eat mountainous and unlikely objects (as an instance, a total calf), then defecating them.[20]

Schroeder suggests a political underlay to the scatology in fashioned theater: its viewers lived under a plan of hereditary aristocracy that excluded them from political participation. The vulgarity of scatological fashioned theater used to be a counterpoint to the sophisticated custom imposed from above.[21] One amongst Mozart’s hang letters describes aristocrats in scatological terms; he identified the aristocrats recent at a concert in Augsburg (1777) as “the Duchess Smackarse, the Countess Pleasurepisser, the Princess Stinkmess, and the two Princes Potbelly von Pigdick”.[22]

In German custom[edit]

The folklorist and cultural anthropologist Alan Dundes instructed that curiosity in or tolerance for scatological matters is a particular trait of German nationwide custom, one which is retained to at the second: [23]

In German folklore, one finds an inordinate quantity of texts fascinated about anality. Scheiße (shit), Dreck (dust), Mist (manure), Arsch (ass), and numerous locutions are strange. Folksongs, folktales, proverbs, folk speech—all attest to the Germans’ longstanding particular curiosity on this space of human exercise. I’m no longer claiming that numerous peoples of the world attain no longer whisper a wholesome recount for this space, but pretty that the Germans appear to be preoccupied with such subject matters. It’s a ways thus no longer so remarkable a topic of difference because it’s miles of level.[24]

Dundes (1984) offers big coverage of scatological humor in Mozart, but also cites scatological texts from Martin Luther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Heinrich Heine, and numerous luminaries of German custom. Karhausen (1993) asserts that “scatology used to be strange in Mitteleuropa [central Europe]”, noting as an instance that Mozart’s Salzburg colleague Michael Haydn also wrote a scatological canon.[25]

One of the main most phrases used by Mozart in his scatological materials luxuriate in been no longer normal with him but luxuriate in been fragment of the folklore and custom of his day: Mieder (2003) describes the Bäsle letters as tantalizing “Mozart’s intentional play with what’s for basically the most fragment preformulated folk speech”.[26] An instance given by Robert Spaethling is the folkloric foundation of a phrase considered above, “Gute Nacht, scheiß ins Bett dass’ Kracht”, claimed by Spaethling to be a “kids’s rhyme that is composed recent in south German language areas currently”.[27] Likewise, when Mozart sang to Aloysia Weber the phrases “Leck mich das Mensch im Arsch, das mich nicht will” (“Whoever does no longer desire me can kiss my ass”) on the occasion of being romantically rejected by her, he used to be evidently singing an current folk tune, no longer a track of his hang invention.[28]

Clinical accounts[edit]

An early 20th-century observer who suspected that Mozart’s scatological affords will most definitely be interpreted by psychological pathologies used to be the Austrian creator Stefan Zweig, who accrued a mountainous sequence of musical manuscripts. His sequence included the Bäsle letters (at the time, unpublished) as successfully because the autographs of Mozart’s scatological canons “Difficile lectu” and “O du eselhafter Peierl“.[29] Zweig despatched copies of the Bäsle letters to the successfully-known psychiatrist Sigmund Freud with the following recommendation:

These nine letters … throw a psychologically very worthy gentle on his erotic nature, which, extra so than any numerous main man, has parts of infantilism and coprophilia. It would actually be a extremely attention-grabbing gaze for one among your pupils.[30]

Freud it looks declined Zweig’s recommendation. As Schroeder notes, later psychobiographers seized on the letters as proof for psychopathological tendencies in Mozart.[31]

Some authors in the 1990s interpreted the materials as proof that Mozart had Tourette syndrome (TS).[32] Simkin catalogued the scatological letters and when put next their frequencies with identical vulgarisms from numerous participants of Mozart’s household—they are a ways extra frequent. The scatological affords luxuriate in been mixed by Simkin with biographical accounts from Mozart’s hang time that instructed that Mozart suffered from the tics characteristic of Tourette syndrome.[33] His grunt used to be picked up by newspapers worldwide, causing a world sensation, and records superhighway internet sites luxuriate in fueled the hypothesis.[34]

While most frequently discussed, the Mozart/Tourette hypothesis has didn’t sway mainstream thought on this field. Indeed, Kammer (2007) states that the work proposing the hypothesis has been “promptly and harshly” criticized.[2] The main commentary asserts both scientific misdiagnosis and errors of Mozart scholarship.[35] Kammer concluded that “Tourette’s syndrome is a ingenious but remarkable prognosis in the scientific history of Mozart”. Evidence of motor tics used to be stumbled on lacking and the notion that involuntary vocal tics are transferred to the written form used to be labeled “problematic”.[2] Neurologist and creator Oliver Sacks revealed an editorial disputing Simkin’s grunt,[36] and the Tourette Syndrome Association pointed out the speculative nature of this knowledge.[34] No Tourette’s syndrome skilled or group has voiced concurrence that there is credible proof to realize that Mozart had Tourette’s.[37] One TS specialist acknowledged that “even though some internet sites record Mozart as a one that had Tourette’s or OCD, it be no longer fine from the descriptions of his behavior that he actually had both”.[38]

Scatological affords[edit]

In letters[edit]

Benjamin Simkin’s compilation lists scatological letters by Mozart to the following individuals: [39]

In tune[edit]

The canons luxuriate in been first revealed after Mozart’s loss of life with bowdlerized lyrics;[citation needed] as an instance “Leck mir den Arsch fein rein” (“Lick me in the arse fine and clear”) turned “Nichts labt mich mehr als Wein” (“Nothing refreshes me greater than wine”). In some conditions, ideal the first line of the distinctive scatological lyrics is preserved. The following record is ordered by Köchel catalog quantity. Voices and conjectured dates are from Zaslaw and Cowdery (1990: 101–105); and hyperlinks marked “salvage” result in the bring together edition of the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe.

  • Leck mich im Arsch” (“Lick me in the arse”), K. 231 (K6 382c), for six voices. (Ranking). Smooth a whereas in the 1780s. First revealed as “Lass froh americasein” (“Let us be chuffed”).
  • Leck mir den Arsch fein recht schön sauber” (“Lick my arse just successfully and clear”), K. 233 (K6 382d). (Ranking). First revealed as “Nichts labt mich mehr als Wein” (“Nothing pleases me greater than wine”). The tune of this canon used to be as soon as notion to be by Mozart but used to be confirmed in 1988 by Wolfgang Plath to be by Wenzel Trnka, before the entirety to the Italian phrases “Tu sei gelosa, è vero”.[40] Because the editors of the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe veil, the work practically with out a doubt must be judicious a piece of Mozart’s, but because the creator of the lyrics pretty than because the composer.Berke & Rehm (2007: 69)
  • Bei der Hitz im Sommer eß ich” (“In the heat of summer I eat”), K. 234 (K6 382e). (Ranking). As with K. 233, the tune is no longer by Mozart; before the entirety it used to be the canon “So che vanti un cor ingrato” by Wenzel Trnka.[citation needed]
  • “Gehn wir im Prater, gehn wir in d’ Hetz”, K. 558, for four voices. (Ranking). 1788 or earlier.
  • Difficile lectu mihi Mars, K. 559, for three voices. (Ranking). C. 1786–1787.
  • O du eselhafter Peierl, (“Oh, you asinine Peierl”) for four voices, K. 560a. (Ranking). C. 1786–1787. A beautiful revised model, “O du eselhafter Martin”, is catalogued as K. 560b.
  • Bona nox” (“Factual night time”) K. 561, for four voices. (Ranking). 1788 or earlier.


  1. ^ a b Buch, David J. (2016). “Mozart’s Bawdy Canons, Vulgarity and Debauchery at the Wiednertheater”. Eighteenth Century Track. 13 (2): 283–308. doi: 10.1017/S1478570616000087. ISSN 1478-5706.
  2. ^ a b c Kammer, Thomas (2007) Mozart in the Neurological Department – Who Has the Tic? In J. Bogousslavsky and Hennerici M. G. (eds.), Neurological Disorders in Well-liked Artists – Phase 2. Frontiers in Neurology and Neurosciences, Vol. 22. Basel: Karger, pp. 184–192. Available in the market on-line Archived 2012-02-07 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Mozarts Bäsle-Briefe, p. 109, p. 110
  4. ^ “lezt wünsch ich eine gute nacht/scheissen sie ins bett dass es kracht/schlafens gesund/reckens den arsch zum mund”; Dundes (1984: 66)
  5. ^ Text and translation from Dundes (1984: 66)
  6. ^ “Arse” is British English, “ass” is American.
  7. ^ Dundes (1984: 42–48)
  8. ^ Schroeder (1999: 133)
  9. ^ Shaffer, Peter. (1985) Preface. Amadeus: A Play. Penguin Books.
  10. ^ Simkin, Benjamin. Clinical and Musical Byways of Mozartiana. Fithian Press. Retrieved on 28 October 2006.
  11. ^ Simkin (1992, 1563) lists one letter containing scatological humor from every of Leopold and Nannerl; and from Anna Maria, one, and yet some other which looks in Anderson (1938: 425).
  12. ^ Translation from Anderson (1938: 404). The German normal reads: “adio ben mio, leb gesund / Reck den arsch zum mund. / Ich winsch ein guete nacht / Scheiss ins beth das Kracht.”
  13. ^ This used to be “to shit oranges”, which implies approximately “to bring together upset”, utilizing in a letter written from Italy in 1770; Mieder (2003: 45)
  14. ^ For a discussion of the proof that Mozart and his cousin luxuriate in been in esteem, behold Solomon (1996: 161–166).
  15. ^ Schroeder (1999: 87–89)
  16. ^ Spaethling (2000: 87). The traditional reads “Ich habe dero mir so werthes schreiben richtig erhalten falten, und daraus ersehen drehen, daß der H: vetter retter, die fr: baaß has, und sie wie, recht wohl auf sind hind; wir sind auch gott lob und danck recht gesund hund. … sie schreiben noch ferners, ja, sie lassen sich heraus, sie geben sich blos, sie lassen sich verlauten, sie machen mir zu wissen, sie erklären sich, sie deüten mir an, sie benachrichtigen mir, sie machen mir kund, sie geben deütlich am tage, sie verlangen, sie begehren, sie wünschen, sie wollen, sie mögen, sie befehlen, daß ich ihnen auch mein Portrait schicken soll schroll. Eh bien, ich werde es ihnen gewis schicken schlicken. Oui, par ma la foi, ich scheiss dir auf d’nasen, so, rinds dir auf d’koi.”
  17. ^ Translation from Schroeder (1999: 135)
  18. ^ Solomon (1996: 500)
  19. ^ Abert (2008: 1360)
  20. ^ Schroeder (1999: 128)
  21. ^ Schroeder (1999: 127–130)
  22. ^ English rendering from Schroeder (1999: 135). The traditional German reads “Ducheße arschbömerl, die gräfin brunzgern, die fürstin richzumtreck, und die 2 Princzen Mußbauch von Sauschwanz”.
  23. ^ Mozart’s nationality used to be, strictly talking, that of the Prince-Archbishopric of Salzburg. His letters veil he felt his nationality to be German (behold e.g. his letter to his father of 17 August 1782; Mersman (1972: 204)); this used to be natural in a time when the territory comprising fashioned Austria and Germany used to be a patchwork of mainly cramped nation-states.
  24. ^ Dundes (1984:9)
  25. ^ Karhausen (1993). Haydn’s canon used to be entitled “Scheiß nieder, armer Sünder”, which Karhausen renders as “Shit snappy, unhappy sinner”.
  26. ^ Mieder (2003: 50)
  27. ^ Spaethling (2000: 18). As Spaethling notes, the rhyme also looks in Mozart’s canon “Bona nox“, and in an Italian translation (“cacate nel letto che egli fà fracasso”) is stumbled on a 1770 letter to his mom and sister written in Italy.
  28. ^ Possess Solomon (1996: 169, 552), citing Blümml.
  29. ^ Searle (1986)
  30. ^ Quoted from Schroeder (1999: 127)
  31. ^ Schroeder (1999: 127)
  32. ^ Gunne, L.M. (1991) Hade Mozart Tourettes syndrom? Läkartidningen 88: 4325–4326. [cited in Kammer 1983]

    Fog, R. (1995) Mozart’s strange verbal behavior: a case of Tourette syndrome? Maledicta 11: 59–62. [cited in Kammer 1983]

    Fog, R. and L. Regeur (1983) Did W.A. Mozart undergo from Tourette’s syndrome? World Congress of Psychiatry, Vienna. [cited in Kammer 1983]

    Schaub, S. (1994) Mozart und das Tourette-Syndrom. Acta Mozartiana 41: 15–20. [cited in Kammer 1983].
  33. ^ Simkin, Benjamin (1992) Mozart’s scatological disorder. BMJ 305: 1563–7. Available in the market on-line.
  34. ^ a b Did Mozart actually luxuriate in TS? Tourette Syndrome Association Retrieved on 14 August 2002.
  35. ^ Davies, Peter J. (1993) Letter to the Editor. BMJ 306: 521–522. Available in the market on-line; Karhausen (1993); Karhausen (1998)
  36. ^ Sacks (1992)
  37. ^ Ashoori & Jankovic (2007)
  38. ^ Packer, L. Well-liked Contributors with Tourette’s syndrome or Obsessive-Compulsive Dysfunction. Retrieved on 20 May perchance perchance even 2006.
  39. ^ Simkin, Benjamin (1992)”Mozart’s scatological disorder”, BMJ 305: 1563–7
  40. ^ Link (2006: 133)



  • Abert, Hermann (2008). Cliff Eisen (ed.). W. A. Mozart. Translated by Stewart Spencer. Current Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Anderson, Emily (1938). The Letters of Mozart and his Household. Macmillan.
  • Berke, Dietrich and Wolfgang Rehm (with collaboration of Miriam Pfadt) (2007) Neue Mozart-Ausgabe: Texte – Bilder – Chronik, 1955–2007. Kassel: Bärenreiter. Available in the market on-line
  • Dundes, Alan (1984). Life is esteem a Chicken Coop Ladder: Reviews of German National Persona thru Folklore. Detroit: Wayne Command University Press.
  • Link, Dorothea (2006). “È la fede degli amanti’ and the Viennese operatic canon”. In Simon Keefe (ed.). Mozart Reviews. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Mersmann, Hans [de], ed. (1972) Letters of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Dover Publications.
  • Mieder, Wolfgang (2003) “Now I Take a seat Relish a Rabbit in the Pepper”: Proverbial Language in the Letters of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Journal of Folklore Compare 40: 33–70. Available in the market on-line.
  • Shaffer, Peter (1981) Amadeus (fictional drama). Samuel French, Inc.
  • Schroeder, David P. (1999) Mozart in Insurrection: Systems of Resistance, Mischief, and Deception. Current Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-07542-1.
  • Solomon, Maynard (1996) Mozart: A Life. Current York: Harper Perennial.
  • Spaethling, Robert (2000) Mozart’s letters, Mozart’s existence: selected letters. Current York; W. W. Norton & Firm. ISBN 0-393-04719-9.
  • Zaslaw, Neal, and William Cowdery (1990) The Compleat Mozart: a records to the musical works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Current York: W. W. Norton & Firm.

Tourette syndrome hypothesis[edit]

The following articles luxuriate in righteous the notion that Mozart had Tourette syndrome:

  • Gunne, L.M. (1991) Hade Mozart Tourettes syndrom? Läkartidningen 88: 4325–4326. [cited in Kammer 1983]
  • Fog, R. (1995) Mozart’s strange verbal behavior: a case of Tourette syndrome? Maledicta 11: 59–62. [cited in Kammer 1983]
  • Fog, R. and L. Regeur (1983) Did W.A. Mozart undergo from Tourette’s syndrome? World Congress of Psychiatry, Vienna. [cited in Kammer 1983]
  • Schaub, S. (1994) Mozart und das Tourette-Syndrom. Acta Mozartiana 41: 15–20. [cited in Kammer 1983]
  • Simkin, Benjamin (1992) Mozart’s scatological disorder. BMJ 305: 1563–7. Available in the market on-line.

The following articles train criticism at the hypothesis:

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