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The Mozart Mystery: DNA Testing OnGoing


Some things are better left to the imagination. History is full of unspoken stories, unresolved mysteries and lost souls. But when you’re famous in life, you’re also famous in death. DNA testing has been used to confirm the identities of everyone from famous Egyptian queens to renowned German poets. And Mozart, who has captured the imagination of fans and historians since he revolutionized the music world over two hundred years ago, is no exception.

Mozart’s Skull Undergoes Forensic Testing

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born over 250 years ago in Salzburg and scientists have been testing a skull thought to be that of the great man himself. The mission was dubbed ‘CSI Mozart’ after a TV station approached scientists to undertake DNA analysis on the skull to uncover the truth. The scientists from the University of Innsbruck in Austria have experience in testing on ancient remains. But the forensic analysis on the skull kept in Mozart’s hometown of Salzburg and protected by the Mozarteum foundation since 1902, proved inconclusive.

DNA Testing With The US Army

The scientists who worked alongside the US Armed Forces’ DNA Identification Laboratory in Maryland failed to find anything conclusive from the DNA testing on the skull. The DNA of the skull was compared to DNA retrieved from the remains of Mozart’s relatives. The remains were thought to be those of Mozart’s grandmother and niece, but tests showed the two women’s remains were in fact not related. Additionally, neither of the female skeletons were related to the skull thought to be Mozart’s.

Tests Deepens Mystery

The tests carried out only deepened the mystery as the graves thought to be where Mozart’s family lay are also now in question. The skull in the Mozarteum is thought to be that which was dug up by the gravedigger who claimed to have buried Mozart. The gravedigger returned to the original burial site ten years later to dig up the skull from Vienna’s Central Cemetery. The skull was then displayed in the Mozarteum until 1940, when it was considered ‘indecent’ and moved to a safe. It seems, even with DNA testing, there is no end to Mozart’s skull mystery, despite months of tests.