At the End of his Life …

The Death of Mozart on December 5, 1791, was Completely Unexpected

Mozart's funeral

Lithography by Joseph Heicke (1811–1861) c. 1860 (University Library Salzburg) Source: Wikimedia
Mozart's grave at St. Marx Cemetery in Vienna while the lilacs bloom

Mozart's grave at St. Marx Cemetery in Vienna while the lilacs bloom

Source: Wikimedia

In his last days, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart toiled on his requiem with the help of his student Xaver Süßmayer. He would not finish it. The last bars were composed by Süßmayer after the death of Mozart.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was doing poorly on the eve of December 4. He had a high fever and was delusional. When a doctor drew blood and placed a cool cloth on his forehead, Mozart lost consciousness. At 1am on December 5 he died suddenly and unexpectedly. Constanze was wracked by grief. Friends took care of the burial. After the death of Mozart, his corpse was briefly consecrated in a cheap fir coffin outside St. Stephen’s Cathedral. He was brought to the St. Marx Cemetery outside Vienna without any funeral cortege. Only the undertaker kept him company as the corpse, covered in a linen cloth, was lowered into a simple grave with five further deceased. The exact spot remains unknown. A monument, erected many years after the death of Mozart at St. Marx Cemetery, commemorates the great composer and musician.

Digressions: Funeral Regulations in Vienna under Joseph II

Much has been written about the outrageously pathetic funeral of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – pathetic at least by modern standards. It is mostly overlooked that the funeral practice was indeed in accordance with contemporary funeral regulations under Joseph II. Emperor Joseph II hated the opulent and extremely expensive funerals in Vienna and officially forbade his subjects to indulge in such frivolities. Corpses were not even laid to rest in coffins, but just taken to their final resting place in them. Five deceased were buried in each grave, tombstones and flower decorations were forbidden.