Mozart’s Crap

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You know who Mozart is. I shouldn’t need to spend any time explaining that in the 18th century, a musical prodigy was born in Salzburg, Austria, to a chapel director/violin teacher. That this little ruffian was learning the harpsichord at the age of 3 and not a year later was mastering the violin and displaying a proficiency for arithmetics, and that by age 6, had composed his first concerto. [1] You’ve heard his most famous works; Allegro, The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, Requiem, to name a small few. You’ve maybe also heard some crackpot theories about Salieri murdering him rather than one of the possible 140 causes of death scholars are still quibbling over. [2]

What is perhaps not as well known about the eccentric powdered Mozart is his obsession and love affair with…crap.

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“Lectu mihi mars” or “Leck du mich im Arsch” (For those who don’t know the fun parts of German, “Lick My Arse”)

Indeed, when it was discovered in some of his letters and manuscripts that Mozart had a propensity for fecal preoccupation, there was some embarrassed rejection of the material by later family and scholars of the 19th century (See Victorian prudes)–how could a genius such as Mozart, write about passing a bowel movement on his cousin’s nose? [3] Even Margaret Thatcher, U.K. Prime Minister, wasn’t pleased with the reality of a famous classical composer degrading himself with potty humor and refused to believe it factual. [4]

But the fact of the matter is, it runs in the family.

We lead a most charming life, up early, late to bed, and visitors the whole day; we live like princes. Addio, ben mio, keep well. Stretch your arse up to your mouth. I wish you good-night; Shit in your bed with a resounding crash. It’s already after one o’clock; now you can keep making rhymes yourself.

A note written by Mozart’s mother to her husband on September 26th, 1777 [5]

A leading theory to account for Mozart’s affinity for scatology is to assume he was a sufferer of Tourette’s syndrome–A disorder characterized by involuntary tics, movements, and vocalizations–as a defensible explanation for why Mozart insisted on writing limericks about ‘licking arses’ while he was busy writing and composing some of the most famous operas in existence. Despite gaining traction in the public mindset, however, this theory has been largely debunked. [6] As Mozart would say, what a load of shit.

Notably, there doesn’t appear to be a credible primary source to ascertain Mozart suffered from involuntary tics or movements, nor does simply writing potty jokes in letters translate at all to the coprolalia symptom present in only 10-15% of those diagnosed. [7] In short, Mozart was just a bit of an oddball not unlike other weirdo geniuses, and attempting to diagnose him retroactively, ignores another layer of his cleverness–even if it is about things best left in the toilet. The letter quoted below, which Mozart wrote to his cousin, is one such example. It contains a proficiency in alliteration, mirror construct, synonyms, echo effects, lyrical syntax, and, well, poop. [8]

Dearest cozz buzz!

I have received reprieved your highly esteemed writing biting, and I have noted doted that my uncle garfuncle, my aunt slant, and you too, are all well mell. We, too, thank god, are in good fettle kettle. Today I got the letter setter from my Papa Haha safely into my paws claws. I hope you too have gotten rotten my note quote that I wrote to you from Mannheim. So much the better, better the much so! But now for something more sensuble [sic].

So sorry to hear that Herr Abbate Salate has had another stroke choke. But I hope with the help of God fraud the consequences will not be dire mire. You are writing fighting that you’ll keep your criminal promise which you gave me before my departure from Augsburg, and will do it soon moon. Well, I will most certainly find that regrettable. You write further, indeed you let it all out, you expose yourself, you let yourself be heard, you give me notice, you declare yourself, you indicate to me, you bring me the news, you announce onto me, you state in broad daylight, you demand, you desire, you wish, you want, you like, you command that I, too, should could send you my Portrait. Eh bien, I shall mail fail it for sure. Oui, by the love of my skin, I shit on your nose, so it runs down your chin…

Mozart to his cousin, Maria Anna Thekla Mozart, on November 5th, 1777. [8]

It’s actually even been suggested that Mozart was…behaving completely normal. Defecation, it turns out, has strong roots in not only Mozart’s family discourse but in German culture too. Alan Dundes writes, “The fact that the anal themes so prominent in German folklore are also to be found among the so-called elite. In sum, anality would appear to be an integral part of general German national character and is not limited to either an occasional peasant or a single exceptional theologian, musician, or poet.” [9]

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German proverb: “Geld ist Dreck, aber Dreck is kein Geld.” [Money is shit, but shit is not Money]

So to all those parents out there hoping their little baby will be the next concerto prodigy just remember that your kid already has something in common with Mozart: They both giggle when they flatulate. Or, mothers, you’ll know it when you receive this beautiful loving poem from your child pinned to your pillow.

On Monday, I will have the honor of embracing you and kissing your hand

But before that I will already have shit in my pants [9]

Fact check it, yo!

[1] Mozart. (1854). The Illustrated Magazine of Art, 4(24), 331-334. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20538517

 [2] Karhausen, L. (2010). Mozart’s 140 causes of death and 27 mental disorders. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 341(7786), 1328-1329. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25766569

[3] Head, M. (2002). Music & Letters, 83(4), 614-618. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3526384

[4] (1992, October 16) The Mozart Miracle. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/4715973/The-Mozart-miracle.html

[5] Schroeder, D. P. (1999) Mozart in Revolt: Strategies of Resistance, Mischief, and Deception. Retrieved from books.google.com

[6] Davies, P., Karhausen, L., & Heyworth, M. (1993). Mozart’s Scatological Disorder. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 306(6876), 521-522. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/29718658

 [7] Karhausen, L. (1998) Weeding Mozart’s medical history. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, PDF. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1296923/pdf/jrsocmed00020-0044.pdf

[8] Spaethling, R. (2005) Mozart’s Letters, Mozart’s Life. Retrieved from books.google.com

[9] Dundes, A. & Pagter, C. (1978) Work Hard and You shall Be Rewarded: Urban Folklore from the Paperwork Empire. Retriever from books.google.com

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Day 13 in Italia! 

Yesterday was the final leg of our road trip through Italy until we need to drive to Rome for our return flight home. We are now in Cosenza and since it was another day of travel, I have little in the way of an adventure to share for this day. However, since traveling through Italy, I’d like to share with you the soundtrack I’ve picked up and appreciated from the radio, tv, and locals in Italy. It’s not road tripping without travel music and the Italian artists and songs I’ve had the pleasure of hearing and discovering are a revelation in their own right. Below are my top 5 Italian songs so far from Italy–music that anyone can enjoy and listen to regardless of language barrier!

1) Vivere a Colori by Alessandra Amoroso

Vivere a Colori or “Living Color” has got to be the most popular song in Italy at the moment. I actually discovered it before even coming over to Italy, falling in love and buying it on ITunes in preparation. Imagine my surprise that I actually hit a genuine goldmine with this find. It’s all over Italy–from constant radio airplay, to game shows on TV, to hearing the locals singing the chorus in the street! As for Alessandra herself, you can find her CD in rest stops all over the country too–this woman is on top of the world! She made it big 7 years ago on an Italian talent show similar to The Voice but as a more broad artistic catch all for youth aspiring to be singers, dancers, actors, presenters, etc. and attending an academy of sorts. Alessandra won and has since gone on to be the first female Italian artist to win the MTV Europe Music Award for Best European Act. I highly recommend the rest of her CD (Vivere a Colori) and especially Comunque andare or “Still going” if you dig this tune!

2) Sofia by Alvaro Soler

Okay so technically this song is Spanish but I promise that Italians don’t care and this song is all over the radio as well! I’m also not saying that Alvaro wrote this song for me but he totally did. Sure I may be a little biased to finally have a song written after me (I guess I just needed to search in Latin countries this whole time!) but this one is super peppy and catchy complete with that typical whistling thing that pretty much every alternative act copies back home. Alvaro is younger than me and kind of a big deal–he’s handsome, a Spaniard, and making bilingual hits in Spanish, Italian, and has even been messing around with Jennifer Lopez on one of his hits for the U.K./USA. Keep an eye on this one–oh, and his music I suppose.

3) Senza Fare Sul Serio by Malika Ayane 

This one I discovered on the Italian version of MTV and holy crap am I obsessed with it. First of all, it doesn’t take Goggle Translate to understand and identify with the monotony of a 9-5 work week and the excruciating way we all tend to fall into a mind numbing habit. Malika in this video looks freaking fabulous doing it though (I’m totally pumping gas in that get up when I come home) and the end of the video is pretty much exactly me and why I’m even typing to you from Italy in the first place. There is hope, everyone! Check out Malika if you love this, she reminds me of the Italian version of P!nk.

4) Eterni by Zero Assoluto

Mmmkay. I don’t even know if Italy has access in their region to Stranger Things on Netflix but if they don’t then they’re lying. And if this song wasn’t created for and inspired by the show then they are ALSO lying. What’s amazing to me about this video is that it seems that Italy as the same cultural and nostalgic yearning for the 80’s that we do–and it even looks the exact same way! …unless this is literally just Stranger Things. The lights and the letter decoder gave it away. Bah, this one is for you nerds!

5) Due Giganti by Alessio Bernabei 

I don’t really know what to say about this one other than I really want to jump around in a pool with a dude who looks good in a wet suit and maybe sounds a little like Justin Bieber meets something actually decent.