In the film “Amadeus,” actor Tom Hulce played Mozart as atwitchy character who was sometimes out of control. Now a TVdocumentary in the U.K. suggests that Mozart had theobsessive compulsive disorder called Tourette’s syndrome.
British composer James McConnel, who also has Tourette’s,has made a film called “What Made Mozart Tic?” McConnelsays, “He wrote some absolutely disgusting letters andalthough people in the eighteenth century were pretty crudeanyway, he took it to another level. He wrote songs withtitles such as ‘Hung like an ox’ or ‘Lick out my arsehole,’which is really just his sense of humor going wrong, as canoften happen with people who have Tourette’s.”
Mozart’s fascination with making each line in his lettersrhyme, his obsession with clocks, shoe sizes and gadgets andhis documented foot-tapping and twitching all suggestTourette’s syndrome.
But the biggest clues are in his music. McConnel says, “It’sa mixture of chaos and control. Tourette’s is a constantbattle between the two, having a compulsion and trying tocontrol it, and that translates into music. He used a greatdeal of fugue in his music which is very complicated but wasvery unfashionable at the time. He lets his music run off inchaotic directions but then always brought it back undercontrol.”
But McConnel doesn’t think Tourette’s was the cause ofMozart’s music genius. He says, “He was a genius and he hadTourette’s syndrome and while it may have affected the wayin which his genius manifested itself and made him goagainst the grain, he would have been a brilliant composerwithout it.”
Mconnel’s own symptoms include twitching, switching offlights, counting car license plates and lining up shoes. Hesays, “It’s not embarrassing for people to be with me. I’mnot a freak and I can control my twitching for hours at atime, but it does eventually have to out itself.”
Producer Marion Milne says, “It’s a very positivedocumentary. We are not seeking to discredit Mozart butcelebrate who he was and his extraordinary achievement. Whenyou see this through James’s eyes, it’s very engagingbecause it is a strange condition and by the end of thedocumentary a lot of the medical and music experts can seewhere his arguments are coming from.”
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