7 December: Mozart’s hangover-fuelled masterpiece

Every day throughout Advent, the season of overindulgence, we’ll be telling a tale of an overindulgent composer

Published: December 7, 2017 at 10:00 am

Composer: Mozart


How indulgent: Worryingly indulgent

How: Mozart’s 1787 operatic masterpiece ‘Don Giovanni’ was described by French composer Gounod as ‘a work without blemish’, and inspired works from Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Françaix. However, Mozart composed the overture to the opera whilst suffering from a hangover. As far as food was concerned, his favourite dish was liver dumplings with sauerkraut.

Did you know: Mozart enjoyed regular visits to the inn, and is believed to have died of either kidney failure or syphilis. In the portrait above, the former prodigy is believed to have been posing at his favourite pub in Munich, the ‘At the Black Eagle’, whose owner Mozart knew well. The artist behind the portrait – Johann Georg Edlinger – is alleged to have met the composer at this inn.

Now indulge yourself with….. Overture to ‘Don Giovanni’

Those buoyant rhythms suddenly adopt a different guise when you realise that the inspiration may have been more alcoholic than divine.



Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.

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