Good question, and nobody seems to know. The cause of Mozart’s death has been a matter of debate almost since the guy shoved off. Various doctors have advanced various possibilities…it could have been this, it could have been that. Today’s New York Times has an article in the Arts and Leisure section about the efforts of a physician to categorize the various candidates into groupings such as poisoning, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, etc. etc. The medical reports have been parsed to death, but vocabularies have changed a lot since 1792, and what was current lingo then is largely incomprehensible now. Beyond that, the reports were written in Viennese medical German, so it’s quite easy to miss the meaning, even for native speakers of German. The words now don’t mean what they meant then. None of this has stopped anybody, including a lot of physicians, from having a shot at determing what killed Mozart. The author suggests that one reason for this enthusiasm for post mortem diagnosis on the part of doctors is that a lot of them are themselves musicians, and so feel a sympathy with the composer. I thought about that for a second or two, but, in my experience, it’s true. I know quite a number of MDs who are really quite accomplished musicians. Here in Galveston, a number of the regulars in the Galveston Symphony are physicians, so maybe there’s something to it. There is also the mystery, the puzzle, and that’s a draw. An apparently health man gets sick and dies. Why? I have some hesitations about the “healthy” part. I think that the general health of people in Mozart’s time was pretty lousy. Most of them got plenty of exercise, that’s for sure. In fact, they were worked to death. But, infectious diseases were common, nutrition was poor, sanitation was, shall we say, quaint, clean water hard to get. When you add it all up, even accounting for class differences, I’ll say that most people harbored something, or more than one something, that would carry them off pretty early in life. Throw in the occasional war, invasion or plague, and you wind up with a lot of unhealthy people. So, nobody knows what killed Mozart and it’s unlilkely anybody will ever find out for sure. But, they’ll keep trying.