New study says Mozart died of strep throat

Posted on: August 18, 2009

Tuesday (8/18) on Bloomberg.com, Elizabeth Lopatto writes, “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wasn’t killed at age 35 by his rival Antonio Salieri, according to the evidence in a study. The perpetrator was much less operatic: strep throat. A minor streptococcus epidemic, which probably originated in a military hospital, had erupted when Mozart died in 18th century Vienna, according to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The scientists ascertained that strep probably caused his death by analyzing the local death records for the winter of 1791 and the years before and after. Mozart’s cause of death has been a mystery since the Austrian composer died in December 1791. An account from his sister-in-law, Sophie Haibel, indicated his body was so swollen that he couldn’t turn in bed, and he remained lucid until his final day. The symptoms are consistent with kidney failure that sometimes follows strep infections. … Strep was frequently fatal before the advent of antibiotics, [the study’s lead author Richard H. C.] Zegers said.”

Posted August 18, 2009