His fugues may have been perfection, but when it came to other forms of expression, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart stayed rough. Or so it seems from the letters Mozart left behind like a trail of smelly droppings -- to use an analogy of which the whole Mozart family would have approved.
Can't believe it? Just take a look at the most recent letter up at the archival blog Letters Of Note, from 21-year-old Mozart to his 19-year-old cousin and probable love interest, Marianne. The lengthy letter shows off the composer's fondness for wordplay and, yes, poop jokes, with lines like "I now wish you a good night, shit in your bed with all your might."
From there things only get "muckier" -- but don't put it all on young Amadeus. As it's said in our time, the parents must also be held to blame. In this case, that particular couplet at least seems to be inspired by a rhyme Mozart's mother Anna Maria used on her husband Leopold, also in correspondence. In "Mysterious Mozart," biographer Phillippe Sollers (translated by Armine Kotin Mortimer) introduces Anna Maria's original rhyme with the explanation that "the Mozarts in general write strange things to each other."
From the book: "Adio ben mio. stay well in body and mind / and try to kiss your own behind. / I wish you a good night / shit in bed with all your might, / it's already past one, so now you can make your own rhymes" (the reference to the time, Sollers explains, is another off-color joke, referencing the German infinitive "scheissen," or "to shit").
The passing on of this unusual bedtime rhyme from mother to son is making us feel like we get the Mozarts somehow. Like if they'd been born today, they'd play sonatas with their armpits on YouTube, and watch a lot of Farrelly brothers movies. And frequent certain online communities.
We've posted an excerpt of Mozart's note to Marianne below -- and we highly recommend you head to Letters Of Note to read the whole scheiss-show in full. It's pointed out that Robert Spaethling's translation yields several instances of the term "spuni cuni fait." The meaning of the phrase is unknown, but its existence in many of Mozart's letters has prompted elaborate attempts to crack the code at the fan site Mozart Forum, only one of which, surprisingly, goes below the waist.
READ an excerpt from Mozart's letter below. Head to Letters of Note for the rest:
Wouldn't you like to visit Herr Gold-smith again?—but what for?—what?—nothing!—just to inquire, I guess, about the Spuni Cuni fait, nothing else, nothing else?—well, well, all right. Long live all those who, who—who—who—how does it go on?—I now wish you a good night, shit in your bed with all your might, sleep with peace on your mind, and try to kiss your own behind; I now go off to never-never land and sleep as much as I can stand. Tomorrow we'll speak freak sensubly with each other. Things I must you tell a lot of, believe it you hardly can, but hear tomorrow it already will you, be well in the meantime. Oh my ass burns like fire! what on earth is the meaning of this!—maybe muck wants to come out? yes, yes, muck, I know you, see you, taste you—and—what's this—is it possible? Ye Gods!—Oh ear of mine, are you deceiving me?—No, it's true—what a long and melancholic sound!—today is the write I fifth this letter. Yesterday I talked with the stern Frau Churfustin, and tomorrow, on the 6th, I will give a performance in her chambers, as the Furstin-Chur said to me herself. Now for something real sensuble!
Oh yeah, real sensuble, Mo.