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The BBC's Anu Anand
"His wife thought... he was poisoned by a rival composer"
 real 28k

Monday, 11 June, 2001, 08:41 GMT 09:41 UK
Pork chop 'killed Mozart'
Mozart
Mozart: Death was put down to "severe miliary fever"
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was killed by eating pork, a new report suggests.

The world famous Austrian composer, who died in 1791, showed the symptoms of a disease caused by eating badly-cooked pork infected by a worm, an American doctor has said.

Mozart's symptoms, including a fever, rash, limb pain and swelling, match those brought on by trichinosis, according to Dr Jan V Hirschmann of Seattle's Puget Sound Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

His death was put down to a "severe miliary fever" at the time, and no autopsy was carried out.

Letter

Previous theories about what killed the composer, who died aged 35, include rheumatic fever, kidney stones, heart disease, pneumonia and poisoning.

There have also been suggestions of foul play concerning rival composer Antonio Salieri.

But Dr Hirschmann points to a letter Mozart wrote to his wife 44 days before he fell ill.

Mozart
A rheumatic fever theory was announced last year
"What do I smell?... pork cutlets! Che Gusto (What a delicious taste). I eat to your health," he wrote.

Trichinosis has an incubation period of about 50 days, says Dr Hirschmann, who is an infectious disease specialist.

His eight-page report is based on details from medical literature, historical documents and biographies.

Dr Hirschmann admitted that not being able to be proved wrong "makes it much more enjoyable to speculate".

Theories

Mozart's grave was dug up seven years after his death so it could be reused, and his remains were dispersed.

Dr Faith Fitzgerald, Davis professor of music at the University of California, last year put forward the theory that Mozart died of rheumatic fever.

She said there were about 150 different theories about the cause of the composer's death.

"It does strike me as somewhat strange the investment people have in something that is virtually unknowable," she said.

Doctors like to speculate on the composer's death because "it's fun and because it's Mozart," Dr Fitzgerald said.

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