This French Baroque master, the favourite opera of King Louis XIV,
died from a self-inflicted wound to his foot, which he stabbed with his
own pointed staff (used for keeping time) while conducting his Te Deum. Gangrene kicked in, spreading to his leg and finally killing him on March 22, 1687, three months after he had dealt the blow.
The English composer who penned the opera Dido and Aeneas
was taken too soon; he was just 36, and at the height of his career. He
died at his home in Dean’s Yard, Westminster, having caught a chill
after returning home late from the theatre (or tavern) one night to find
that his wife had locked him out… Or so the story goes. He is buried
adjacent to the organ in Westminster Abbey, and his Funeral Music for Queen Mary was played at his own funeral.
Teenagers often say they could “just die” when acne takes over their
faces, but in Scriabin’s case this is precisely what happened. The
Russian composer-pianist made his last public appearance in St
Petersburg on April 2, 1915. Just a few days later he noticed a pimple
on his upper lip. On April 7 the furuncle was infected and Scriabin was
bedridden and febrile. By the 11th, well-wishers crowded the
staircase of his flat, for two types of blood poisoning had set in.
Scriabin died a few days later, with his manuscript containing sketches
for the Misteriya open on the piano.
An insect bite was the undoing of this pupil of Schoenberg. A sting
gave rise to a carbuncle on his back; since the Bergs were poor his wife
attempted a home operation using a pair of scissors. As a result, the
Austrian composer died from blood poisoning on Christmas Eve, at the age
Berg wasn’t the only pupil of Schoenberg to die in particularly
unfortunate circumstances; fellow serialist composer Anton Webern also
met a tragic fate. It was September 15, 1945 – World War II had just
ended. Webern had stepped outside to enjoy a cigar without waking his
sleeping grandchildren, unaware that a curfew was being enforced by the
Allied occupying forces. He was shot dead by an American soldier who saw
him light up.
This French Baroque composer and virtuoso violinist separated from
his second wife in 1758, moving into a bachelor pad in a rough
neighbourhood in Paris. There, in 1764, he was found stabbed to death.
The mystery of his murder was never solved but it is believed that his
estranged wife was responsible and stood to gain financially. Leclair’s
nephew, Guillaume-François Vial, was the primary suspect at the time.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart(1756 – 1791)
Mozart’s untimely death while he was composing his Requiem
has been the subject of rumour, speculation and wild accusations for
more than 200 years. One of the lesser-known legends to have done the
rounds is that Mozart was poisoned with mercury by the Freemasons,
assassinated for publicly revealing the secrets of their Craft in the
libretto and plot of his opera The Magic Flute. The claim persisted in Nazi-era Germany in a 1936 article entitled Mozart’s Life and Violent Death, which
aligned the Jewish faith to suspicious Masonic practices. However,
there is no evidence that Mozart’s efforts were met with disapproval
from the Freemasons.
Another rumour has it that Franz Hofdemel, Mozart’s lodge brother, murdered the composer for having an affair with his wife Magdalena, a 23-year-old student of Mozart’s. Hofdemel is said to have attacked the pregnant Magdalena and committed suicide on the day of Mozart’s funeral.
The most frequently cited, romantic theory is that Antonio Salieri was so insanely jealous of Mozart’s genius that he conspired to kill him. Mozart endured 15 days of excruciating pain, swelling and discomfort before his death, but his symptoms on the whole were not consistent with poisoning.
As there were no signs of foul play no autopsy was conducted, historians and medical professionals today can only speculate on the condition that claimed him. The most commonly held belief is that Mozart died of rheumatic fever – indeed, there was a fever epidemic in Vienna at the time – but in the past ten years a new theory has emerged: that Mozart died from a disease caused by a parasitic worm called trichinella, spread by tainted meat. The offending dish? Pork chops – Mozart’s favourite, which he referred to in a letter dated October 7-8, 1791.