If Mozart had eaten his veggies …

If Mozart had eaten more veggies, partied less, and gotten a bit of exercise, today he might be celebrating his 256th birthday.

Photo via singforyoursupperblog.com

I was made aware of this fact last Saturday during A Prairie Home Companion, when Garrison Keillor and pianist Rich Dworsky teamed up for a lovely-yet-cheeky tribute to Herr Mozart.

Tribute to Mozart

Mozart has been a constant throughout my life. As a kid, I mirthlessly mangled his piano sonatas (much to my family’s distress). And as a teen, I backpacked through Mozart’s old haunts in Salzburg and Vienna.

But it wasn’t until 1984 that I developed a true appreciation for Mozart’s music—and for the man. That was the year Jan (Milos) Forman’s film Amadeus hit the screen.

I remember slumping limply in my chair as the closing credits scrolled, and sitting motionless until the theater’s house lights came on. I couldn’t believe that such a brilliant composer—such an extraordinary human being—could die penniless at 35 and be dumped like trash into a communal grave.

The film awakened in me a fascination for Mozart’s enigmatic nature: a rebel, a romantic, a prankster, a gifted teacher, a devoted son, a prodigy and a spendthrift … all of these coexisted inside one complicated (and oft-misunderstood) man.

I’ve watched Amadeus several times since that first screening, and each time my appreciation for the film has deepened. But now my reaction to the ending is different: Mozart isn’t dead. He’s immortal.

Happy 256th birthday, Wolfie.



Post script: No offense to F. Murray Abraham, but I still think Tom Hulce should have won the Oscar for his beautifully nuanced performance. You rocked me, Amadeus!


  1. Can you believe I still haven’t seen that film?? I must look it up on NetFlix. Until then, Tom Hulce will forever just be “Pinto” in my mind…

    …anyway, Happy Birthday Mozart.

    • The honest truth: No, I *can’t* believe you haven’t seen this film! Get thee to NetFlix, Lis! 🙂 I’ll be very eager to hear what you think.

  2. This has always been a favorite movie of mine & should be obligatory in every classroom. There’s such a shortage of well-made classical composer movies (Immortal Beloved is another goodie), and I’m still waiting for one about my biggest classical crush, J.S. Bach.

    I’m inclined to disagree slightly about the acting awards: F. Murray did such a great job both as the young & old Salieri! I love that early scene when the priest doesn’t recognize any of his melodies until he plays Mozart and the priest get all giddy…ouch! But again, such a great movie, sure to make you want to become a brilliant tortured artist.

    Happy B-day Wolfie!

    • I’m a big Bach lover, too, but I don’t think he was nearly tortured enough to make good film fodder. Grin.

      As for your “inclination to disagree slightly” about the acting awards: You make excellent points. Those scenes with the priest really were extraordinary — and F. Murray sure showed his range in that role. After further reflection, I guess I was favoring Hulce because he was a younger and less-experienced actor, and he more than held his own opposite the seasoned veterans in that cast. It’s too bad only one person could win “best actor,” because they both turned in the performance of a lifetime.

  3. Amadeus is the one movie I think I’ve seen the most often and never get tired of. Everything about it is just wonderful. Play it on a good sound system to get the most out of it!

    • How funny, Ian: I’ve watched Amadeus more times than any other film, too, and I never get tired of it, either. From the music to the sets to the acting, it has such a tremendous depth to it that I find something new each time I watch it.

      By the way: Have you seen the recently-released director’s cut of Amadeus? If so, I’d love to know whether you prefer it to the theatrical release.

  4. It should be no surprise to you that I too have visited Mozart’s Geburtshaus on the beautiful Getreidegasse in Salzburg; and I have seen and bought the DVD of Amadeus; but he is not the tortured genius who almost ruined my life. That culprit is Amadeo Modigliani, who died on 24 January (1920). R.I.P. Dede.

  5. Your opening sentence made me and my husband laugh out loud – thanks for that! I remember singing Mozart’s Requiem (ah, those feverish last compositions in the film) in church, as a proper requiem mass conducted by a priest for Mozart himself, on the 200th anniversary of his death. It was even timed to coincide with the hour that he died (middle of the night, about 1a.m., as I recall) and was without doubt the most spine-tingling concert/ service I have ever been in. I hope it worked for him.

    • Even your *description* of the concert is enough to promote spine-tingles! I very much hope it worked for him, too. (Who’s to say what might be possible in this vast, wondrous universe?)

  6. As a better-late-than-never aside, for fun I just watched Disney’s animated Hunchback of Notre Dame, without thinking too much of the voice actor who played him…turns out it’s Tome Hulce! Funny little coincidence, eh?

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