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Did Debt Kill Mozart? – Composer faced Garnishment of Half of his Income regarding May 2, 1789 loan & judgment – Owed Two Years’ Salary

The NY Times reporter Daniel J. Wakin reports on Monday, November 29, 2010, that famous composer Mozart died just two weeks after the entry of a judgment for twice his annual



"When his [Mozart's] name was discovered two decades ago in a Viennese archive from 1791, it caused a stir. The archive showed that an aristocratic friend and fellow Freemason, Prince Karl Lichnowsky, had sued Mozart over a debt and won a judgment of 1,435 florins and 32 kreutzer in Austrian currency of the time (nearly twice Mozart’s yearly income) weeks before the composer died. …scholars have generally assumed that it concerned a loan connected with a trip the two men made to Berlin."

‘"It gives us a concrete picture of the misery level that Mozart lived with in the last two and a half years of his life,’ Mr. Hoyt said in a recent interview."

Peter Hoyt is a Mozart scholar and assistant profesor of music history at the University of South Carolina and serves as a program annotator and lecturer for the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York. It is largely believed that the loan from Lichnowsky to Mozart carried a 4.0% interest rate, and had been unpaid for two years.

Mr. Wakin reports that the judgment against Mozart called for the garnisheering of half of his salary. Lichnowsky is not known to have pressed Mozart’s widow Constanze for repayment following Mozart’s debt.

Did this judgment and looming garnishment contribute to the death of one of the world’s leading composers?

Bankruptcy relief is there for you… it might not have been as freely available to Mozart in the form in which it is offered to Americans…don’t let your debts impact your ability to care for yourself and your family.

Debt may have contributed to the death of the world’s finest musical mind….think about it. The world is so much worse off for the early and untimely death of Mozart.

"If true, the conclusion could add depth and texture to our understanding of Mozart’s anxieties over financial problems at the end of his life and of his reception during one of his last journeys."

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