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Coll Antropol. 2011 Jan;35 Suppl 1:169-73.

Could a neurological disease be a part of Mozart's pathography?

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University of Zagreb, Croatian Institute for Brain Research, Department of Neurology, Neuron Diagnostic Center, Zagreb, Croatia.


As expected, since we recently celebrated the 250th anniversary of birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, there has been again a renewal of interest in his short but intensive life, as well as in the true reason of his untimely dead. Mozart lived and died in time when the medical knowledge was based mostly on subjective observations, without the established basics of standardized medical terminology and methodology. This leaves a great space for hypothesizing about his health problems, as well as about the cause of his death. The medical academic community attributed to Mozart approximately 150 different medical diagnoses. There is much speculation on the possible causes of Mozart's death: uremia, infection, rheumatic fever, trichinellosis, etc. Recently some authors have raised the question about a possible concomitant neurological disease. According to available records, Mozart has shown some elements of cyclotimic disorder, epilepsy and Gilles de la Tourette syndrome. Furthermore, the finding of a temporal fracture on (allegedly) Mozart's skull, gives a way to speculations about the possibility of a chronic subdural hematoma and its compressive effect on the temporal lobe. Despite numerous theories on Mozart's pathography that also include a concomitant neurological disorder, the medical and history records about Mozart's health status indicate that he probably had suffered from an infective illness, followed most likely by the reactivation of rheumatic fever, which was followed by strong immunologic reaction in the last days of his life. Taking all the above into consideration, it is reasonably to conclude that Mozart's neurological disturbances were caused by the intensity of the infective disease, and not primarily by a neurological disease.

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