Mozart Timeline

Thus Spake Mozart… Mozart Quotations Part II

Did you know that the society of Salzburg in Mozart’s time was not as sophisticated and polite as we are led to believe? Bawdy pranks, rude cussing and a less than polite tone in conversation were daily occurrences. The Mozart family was no exception to this, and some surviving quotations by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart make us chuckle or blush when we hear them today.

19 March 2014 Events

Mozart was born to “common folk”. He grew up in the famous Getreidegasse – Grain Lane – in Salzburg, and as a rugrat he most certainly frolicked through the city’s alleys with other children, indulging in the rude language of the street. He may have been encouraged by the behaviour of his mother – she was known for not mincing her words! She loved to rhyme and gleefully employed words such as “arse”, “shit” and “pee” on a regular basis.

Little Wolfgang absorbed the rude language around him like a sponge. Throughout his entire life he had absolutely no qualms in expressing his feelings with “powerful” words. One quotation has survived that dates back to the time when he felt increasingly dissatisfied with his situation in Salzburg, yearning for more artistic freedom:  “I do not hope that it is necessary to say that I do care very little for Salzburg and not at all for the archbishop. I shit on both.”

Bawdy, but authentic and charming

Mozart hardly ever minded his tongue. It almost appears as though rude language and cussing helped him to master difficult situations or deal with his own anger. One time he commented on an inkblot on one of his manuscripts - a mishap that happened quite frequently to him - by not only calling it “Sau” – German for sow – but also cursing it in three further languages! Porco (Italian), Cochon (French) and Sus (Latin).

He also had no problem whatsoever employing the “Swabian Greeting”, which was elevated to literary honours by the famous German poet Goethe, who put it into the mouth of the eponymous character of his play Götz von Berlichingen: “Kiss my ass”. Mozart himself used the “Swabian Greeting” in his Canon, “Leck mich im Arsch” (lick my ass) K.231, 1782. And the following rhyme can be found in one of his letters: "Yesterday, though, we heard the king of farts/ It smelled as sweet as honey tarts/ While it wasn't in the strongest of voice/ It still came on as a powerful noise."

The “Swabian Greeting”

The “Swabian Greeting”

Relief of Götz von Berlichingen (in Weisenheim am Sand/Rheinland-Pfalz) Source: Wikimedia