Mozart’s Deathbed Brilliance

It’s a tragically beautiful scene in a strikingly beautiful movie. In Milos Foreman’s 1984 masterpiece Amadeus, we see Mozart in bed, dying, while feverishly voicing his beautiful Requiem. Confutatis. Maledictis.

It’s a haunting look into his genius and the toll it has taken on him. As each note takes Mozart closer to death , we – like Salieri here – are greedy, inadequate observers, impatiently waiting for the finished piece.



Is this a true picture of how Mozart finished his K26 Requiem in D Minor?



No, it’s not. This  incredibly well-realized scene is fiction.

Mozart did indeed die – in 1791, at the age of 35 – before finishing his Requiem. But, there was no deathbed transcribing with the cinematically maligned Antonio Salieri.

It was Mozart’s pupil, Franz Xaver Süssmayr who, at the request of widow Constanze, followed Mozart’s dying instructions in completing the piece.


Header: Posthumous Portrait of Mozart. Barbara Kraft. 1819


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Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton