Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in popular culture

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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 also appears in Hermann Hesse's novel Der Steppenwolf.[3]
  • 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. It is in the same style as Naked Came I, the same author's bestselling 1963 historical novel based on the life of sculptor Auguste Rodin.
  • 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 wherein 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 compose other works until his death in 1805.
  • 'Naththai kuudennum Galaxy' – A Tamil short story of Konangi fictionalizes Mozart's funeral in the Tamil landscape.


  • Aleksandr 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 film, 1984 Amadeus. The scene where Mozart dictates music to Salieri on his deathbed is entirely an author's fancy, created especially for the film; for the question of whether Mozart did any dictation on his deathbed at all see: "Death of Mozart". In the film he was played by Tom Hulce, who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal.
  • 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 Disney film 'Tangled'.


Popular Music[edit]

Children's literature[edit]

  • Children's author Daniel Pinkwater has Mozart appear as a character in several of his books, including The Muffin Fiend,[17] 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.[18]
  • Moonlight on the Magic Flute – part of the "Magic Treehouse series" – centers on the very young Wolfie Mozart.

Comic strip[edit]

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


  • Mozart appears in the episode "Calliope Dreams" of the Disney TV series The Little Mermaid, where, bound on a sea voyage, he loses several pieces of his possessions - a harp, a piano, and a bathtub - to a pair of overconfident sailors and the sea.
  • Little Amadeus, a television show produced in Germany in 2006, focuses on Mozart's life as a child in Salzburg. It has aired in English in Australia (ABC) and North America (KQED Kids).
  • Mozart is one of the main characters in the comedy anime ClassicaLoid.

Video games[edit]




Mozart in fiction[edit]