Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in popular culture

The composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) led a life that was dramatic in many respects, including his career as a child prodigy, his struggles to achieve personal independence and establish a career, his brushes with financial disaster, and his death in the course of attempting to complete his Requiem. Authors of fictional works have found his life a compelling source of raw material. Such works have included novels, plays, operas, and films.


  • The first major works of literature inspired by Mozart were by the German writers E. T. A. Hoffmann and Eduard Mörike. Hoffmann published his Don Juan in 1812,[1] Mörike his Mozart's Journey to Prague in 1856.[2]
  • Mozart appears in Hermann Hesse's novels Der Steppenwolf [3] and Die Morgenlandfahrt.
  • In 1968, David Weiss published Sacred and profane: a novel of the life and times of Mozart,[4] a narrative account on the composer's life drawing heavily on the documented historical record, but with invented conversations and other details.
  • In modern fiction, the mystery surrounding the composer's death is explored within a popular thriller context in the 2008 novel The Mozart Conspiracy by British writer Scott Mariani,[5] who departs from the established Salieri-poisoning theory to suggest a deeper political motive behind his death.
  • Mozart has also featured as a sleuth in detective fiction, in Dead, Mister Mozart[6] and Too many notes, Mr. Mozart,[7] both by Bernard Bastable (who also writes as Robert Barnard). Bastable's stories involve the conceit of an alternate history scenario in which the young Mozart remained on in London at the time of his childhood visit to England, where he has lived a long – though not very prosperous – life as a hack musician, rather than returning to his native Salzburg or Vienna to die young and celebrated. The stories are set in the 1820s and have Mozart interacting with King George IV and his immediate family including the young Victoria.
  • Charles Neider's Mozart and the Archbooby[8] is an epistolary novel in which the young Mozart writes to his father about his new life in Vienna and his new problem, the Archbishop of Salzburg. Stephanie Cowell's Marrying Mozart: A Novel[9] provides a fictionalised account of Mozart's relationship with Aloysia Weber before his marriage to her sister, Constanze.
  • Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology (1986) is a defining cyberpunk short story collection, edited by Bruce Sterling. It contains a story, the "Mozart in Mirrorshades" by Bruce Sterling and Lewis Shiner,[10] in which Mozart appears as a DJ wannabe instead of being the real Mozart after he met the people and culture of his future.
  • In The Amadeus Net,[11] by Mark A. Rayner, Mozart is an immortal living in the world's first sentient city, Ipolis, where he supports himself by selling "lost" compositions and playing jazz piano in bars.
  • The alternate history novel Time for Patriots has a trio of time travelers cure Mozart's wife of an abscess on her ankle (historically documented), which allows them to treat him when he falls ill. In consequence he does an opera based on Benjamin Franklin and composes other works until his death in 1805.
  • "Naththai kuudennum Galaxy" – A Tamil short story of Konangi fictionalizes Mozart's funeral in the Tamil landscape.


  • Alexander Pushkin's play Mozart and Salieri[12] is based on the supposed rivalry between Mozart and Antonio Salieri, particularly the idea that it was poison received from the latter that caused Mozart's death. This idea is not supported by modern scholarship.[13]
  • Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus[14] focuses on the difference between true and sublime genius (Mozart) and mere high-quality craftsmanship (Salieri). Shaffer seems to have been especially taken by the contrast between Mozart's enjoyment of vulgarity (for which historical evidence exists, in the form of his letters to his cousin) and the sublime character of his music.
  • In 2007, he was portrayed by John Sessions in the Doctor Who audio adventure 100 in a story that explored the ramifications of Mozart being granted immortality.[15]


  • Shaffer's play was subsequently made into a 1984 film, Amadeus.
  • In 2010 Mozart's Sister, a biopic of his older sister Nannerl, a young Mozart is played by French child actor David Moreau.
  • Mentioned during the "I've got a dream" song in the 2010 film Tangled.

Mozart's music has been used extensively in films since the silent era. In 1930, Buñuel used his Ave Verum Corpus in L'Age d'Or,[16] Papageno's "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen" from The Magic Flute features in The Blue Angel (1930),[17] the "Rondo alla Turca" in the 1939 film Wuthering Heights,[18] "Là ci darem la mano" in The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945),[19] "Il mio tesoro" in Kind Hearts and Coronets,[20] the Symphony No. 34 in Vertigo (1959),[21] Eine kleine Nachtmusik in The Ipcress File (1965) and in Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975),[22] the Piano Concerto No. 21 in Elvira Madigan,[23] and in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), the march from Idomeneo in Barry Lyndon (1975),[24] the Jupiter Symphony in Annie Hall (1977),[25] and many others.


Children's literature

  • Children's author Daniel Pinkwater has Mozart appear as a character in several of his books, including The Muffin Fiend,[28] in which Mozart helps solve a crime involving an extraterrestrial creature who steals muffins from Vienna's bakeries.
  • Mozart (as well as his sister Nannerl) are a major component in the second "39 Clues" book, One False Note.[29]

Comic strip

  • Mozart, his wife, associates, etc., appear in a story arc in the comic strip Pibgorn.


Video games



  1. Hoffmann 1814.
  2. Mörike 1856.
  3. Hesse 1974.
  4. Weiss 1970.
  5. Mariani 2008.
  6. Bastable 1995.
  7. Bastable 1996.
  8. Neider 1991.
  9. Cowell 2004.
  10. Sterling & Shiner 1986.
  11. Rayner 2005.
  12. Pushkin 1830.
  13. Solomon 1996, p. 587.
  14. Shaffer 1981.
  15. Shearman 2007.
  16. White, Rob (2001). "British Film Institute Film Classics". Taylor & Francis. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  17. "The Magic Flute and the Siren Song: the seduction of Professor Rath through Mozart's opera and Dietrich's 'Falling in love again', in Sternberg's classic 1930 film The Blue Angel". Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  18. "Wuthering Heights | film by Wyler [1939]". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  19. Duncan, Dean W. (2003). "Charms that Soothe: Classical Music and the Narrative Film". Fordham Univ Press. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  20. Lee, M. Owen (2001). "The Operagoer's Guide: One Hundred Stories and Commentaries". Hal Leonard Corporation. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  21. "Vertigo". Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  22. Neumeyer, David Paul (17 August 2015). "Meaning and Interpretation of Music in Cinema". Indiana University Press. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  23. "Elvira Madigan | work by Mozart". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  24. Gengaro, Christine Lee (2 November 2012). "Listening to Stanley Kubrick: The Music in His Films". Scarecrow Press. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  25. Harvey, Adam (6 March 2007). "The Soundtracks of Woody Allen: A Complete Guide to the Songs and Music in Every Film, 1969–2005". McFarland. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  26. Rutten, Hans. "Info about the song "Travel"". Cycling Colors. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  27. "The Wombles – Minuetto Allegretto (Live at Glastonbury 2011)". 29 June 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  28. Pinkwater 1986.
  29. Korman 2008.

Works cited


Mozart in fiction

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