Monday, 7 December 2015


 Tom Hulce as Mozart in Milos Foreman's "Amadeus"

Aside from the obvious liberties taken in the creating of that otherwise sublime film (Salieri’s involvement with Mozart and his Oeuvre), many viewers ostensibly took issue with writer Peter Shaffer's rather rococo depiction of Mozart’s character - with critics claiming he was inaccurately portrayed as a buffoon with crude humor. In fact, this facet of the Composer’s demeanor was actually true! A not insignificant amount of letters, written by Wolfgang Mozart and by the Mozart family were kept preserved by the composers father, Leopold. Originally published circa 1962 in a whopping seven volumes, they display a humor at best scatological, at worst, inappropriately suggestive and filled to the brim with exquisite word play (word reversals, and my personal favorite (as a budding yet amateur translator of libretti myself) - mixing the romance languages together in one letter). This humor, including, surprisingly, the scatological humor, was shared by other members of the Mozart family, including Wolfgang’s mother!
Take, for example, this excerpt from “Mozart’s Letters, Mozart’s Life”, as translated by Robert Spaethling (written by the composer while in Manheim to his cousin, Maria Anna Thekla Mozart back in Augsburg, dated 5th of November, 1777) - and bear in mind, this is the TAME stuff! (*Note the letters to his mother, and some additional letters written in the same vein to his cousin I have not included here due to their graphic nature. I am quoting this otherwise tame example in the interest of ‘decency’).

...Now I must relate to you a sad story that happened just this minute. As I am in the middle of my best writing, I hear a noise in the street. I start writing - get up, go to the window - and - the noise is gone - I sit down again, start writing once more-I have barely written words when I hear the noise again - I rise - but as I rise, I can hear something but very faint - it smells like something burning - wherever I go it stinks, when I look out the window, the smell goes away, when I turn my head back to the room, the smell comes back - finally, My Mama says to me: I bet you let one go? - I don’t think so, Mama. yes, yes, I’m quite certain. I put it to the test, stick my finger in my *** then put it to my nose, and-Ecce Provatum est! Mama was right! Now farewell, I kiss you 10000 times and I remain as always your
old young Sauschwanz,
Wolfgang Amadé Rosenkranz

From us two Travellers a thousand
Regards to my uncle and aunt.

To every good friend I send
My greet feet; addio nitwit...

For more "Amadeus" myth busting, click here. 

Did you know?

Rock n' roll legend Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones auditioned for the role of Mozart in Miloš Forman's masterpiece Amadeus?*

In an add-on documentary to the DVD release of the film, titled "The Making of Amadeus," the celebrated director admits taking in the rehearsals of several famous applicants (out of some 1400+ total), many of them vying for the coveted role.

In the video's backdrop (seen at 8:56 in the clip below), the film's official shooting log is overlaid onto the screen. Jagger's name appears twice, under “rehearsals” for the role of Mozart – describing the hopeful 'actor' as having read in his audition the character's lines on pages 68-70 of the official transcript.

Mention of the failed audition made the pages of Rolling Stone magazine that same year, shortly after Jagger lost out on the part to American actor Tom Hulce. That interview can be read in its entirety here.

Speaking to the interviewer of the Amadeus documentary, Forman admitted:

 “ I don't want to see known faces - we don't need stars, we don't need big names - we have Mozart and his music." 


*Interestingly enough, the role of Mozart was not Jagger's first associated attempt at realising on the silver screen the life and exploits of a western classical music icon - his name floated among executives filming the 1975 Franz Liszt surrealist/quasi-biopic "Lisztomania," directed by English filmmaker Ken Russell. The role eventually went to vocalist Roger Daltrey of the Who. 

Speaking to Rolling Stone magazine following his rejection for the role of Mozart, Jagger quipped: “You have to have your nose to the ground for what parts are going around the major studios, which are very few. They’re mostly written with some guy in mind, and you only get the part if he gets ill or something." 


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