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MOZART, THE FREE MASONS AND A MYSTERIOUS DEATH

As death, when we come to consider it closely, is the true goal of our existence, I have formed during the last few years such close relationships with this best and truest friends of mankind that death’s image is not only no longer terrifying to me, but is indeed very soothing and consoling. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart wrote his first masonic work at age 16 (1772) when he was commissioned to write music for the Bavarian lodge “Zur Behutsamkeit” (translated: with Restraint). Twelve years later, at age 28, just three years after moving to Vienna, Mozart became one of 32 members of the Vienna mason lodge, “Zur Wohltätigkeit” (translated: Charity) on December 14, 1784. His rise amongst his fellow lodge brothers was swift. Within three weeks, on January 7, 1785, he ascended to the position of “journeyman” and in less than a month after that, on February 1, 1785, became a “master.” Lodges were composed of varying members of society and “Zur Wohltätigkeit” was a bourgeoisie lodge, consisting of middle class intellectuals and quite a few Illuminati.

Free Mason Lodge Book with Mozart as Visitor

Free Mason Lodge Book Documenting Mozart’s Visit to another lodge

A bit over two months after Mozart became a master in his lodge, his father, Leopold, also joined “Zur Wohltätigkeit.” But not even the connections that he no doubt secured through life as free mason, were enough to help accelerate Mozart’s income to keep pace with his increasing I-O-Us. By the summer of 1788 things came to a head when Mozart began appealing to his masonic brother Michael Puchberg, for loans. A letter in June 1788 from Mozart to Puchberg begins: “Dear Brother! Your true friendship and brotherly love embolden me to ask an enormous favor of you…” His letters begging for money continued on into 1791, the year when Mozart composed his final great work —the Magic Flute with references to many of the free mason symbols, rituals, themes and beliefs (more in next post: Mozart, the Free Masons and the Magic Flute).

“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.”

Around the same time, a mysterious stranger showed up on his doorstep as a messenger of a man who did not wish to be known but wanted to commission Mozart to write a Requiem for a person “who is and forever would be very dear to him.” The stranger paid cash and Mozart was in no position to turn it down. The composer had a law suit pending against him and his family for money he owed to Prince Lichnowsky — the equivalent of what today would amount to over 50,000 USD. In the end, however, the assignment plagued him and Mozart became obsessed with the idea that he was writing the Requiem for himself. Convinced that he had been poisoned with acqua toffana (an Italian-made arsenic that young wives liked to use to hasten their widowhood), Mozart told his wife, Constanze, that he feared he must die.

Just a a bit over a month after the premiere of The Magic Flute, in November 1791 Mozart became bedridden for 15 days. Family members reported that at first his hands and feet swelled, and then he was almost completely unable to move. This was followed by vomiting.

Mozart died on December 5, 1791. He was 35 years old.

On the day of his death he asked for the score to be brought to his bedside. ‘Did I not say before, that I was writing this Requiem for myself?’ After saying this, he looked yet again with tears in his eyes through the whole work. – Biographer Niemetschek

After Mozart’s death, the stranger came once again to fetch the unfinished Requiem. The mystery was apparently solved — the Requiem had been commissioned by a count for his dying wife. He had commissioned several works of music and had intended to publish them in his own name.

Nevertheless, many have theorized about the causes of the sudden death and poisoned-like appearance of the body of the seemingly healthy Mozart – amongst them Russian writer, Alexander Pushkin, in one of his short plays known as The Little Tragedies and written in 1830 and entitled Mozart and Salieri. Did fellow composer, Antonio Salieri, murder Mozart? The two seemed to get along so well. In fact, in October 1791, not even two months before he died, Mozart had even taken along Salieri and his mistress in his carriage to a performance of The Magic Flute, where they sat with Mozart in his box.

Conspiracy theories of Mozart’s death abound, including one that blames the free masons for killing Mozart for revealing free mason secrets in The Magic Flute.

Yet if Orations are any indication, Mozart’s Masonic brothers, did indeed seem sorry to see him go. The following text stems from the Circular Letter of the Lodge “zur Neugekrönten Hoffnung” (translated: Newly Crowned Hope) on Mozart’s Death, Read upon the Admission of a Master to the Venerable St. John.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Grave at St. Marx Cemetery in Vienna

Mozart’s Grave in St. Marx Cemetery in Vienna

The Great Architect of the Universe was obliged to wrest one of most beloved, most deserving members from our fraternal chain. Who did not know him?— who did not cherish him?— who did not love him?— our worthy brother Mozart – It was only a few weeks ago that he stood here amongst us, that he glorified the consecration of our Masonic Temple with enchanted tones. – Vienna, April 1792

Mozart’s funeral service was held in Vienna’s grand St. Stephan’s Cathedral. He was buried, as was customary at the time for folks who were not upper class or nobility, in a mass grave in Vienna’s St. Marx cemetery.

Read more about the poison theory and Mozart’s death: http://www.sierranevada.edu/snow/WhatKilledMozart.htm

Want to read more about Mozart and the Free Masons? Check on this book: Angermüller, Rudolph. Mozart’s Masonic Music. Vienna: Mozarthaus, 2015. Print.

In Vienna? Pay a visit to the Mozarthaus Vienna which currently has an exhibit about Mozart, the free masons and the Magic Flute. From the room believed to have been his billiard room, Mozart would have been gazed into the cobble-stoned lane of the Blutgasse (Blood Lane), which is also tied to the tales of the free masons and Knights of Templar.

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VIENNA LIFEBALL COMBATS AIDS AND HIV

One life, But we’re not the same, We get to Carry each other, Carry each other – U2, One
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More vulnerable than the burlesque actress donning nothing more than blue body paint, Lifeball organizer, Gery Keszler, made an on stage confession at this past Saturday night’s Lifeball that struck a chord still resonating days after the event.

Amidst the glitz and glam, golden clogs and leather flogs, Gery Keszler stood tall in front of an audience of thousands and announced that for over 20 years, he’s been living HIV positive. Tears streamed down his face as he shared his story of traveling to Australia as a young man and returning to Vienna with an illness so unknown in Austria that at first his physicians had no idea what was wrong with him.

And now, two decades later, even in the midst of one of the city’s most celebrated annual events, his greatest desire is to see a world in which no Lifeballs are needed to raise money and awareness for HIV and AIDs because both have been eradicated. And yet, throughout the years, despite medical advancements, Gery Keszler has witnessed the death of many friends along the way who haven’t been so lucky. And eventually, this leads to the question any of us would have – why them and why not me?

Vienna City Hall, Lifeball 2015

Vienna City Hall, Lifeball 2015

On stage between the carriages drawn by the Lipizzaner horses and fashion designed by Jean Paul Gaultier, death appeared spewing off quotes about life and death. For Viennese, death has always gone hand-in-hand with life and there is hardly a Viennese song or theater piece where death doesn’t make a sudden cameo appearance. And as always, death seems to be a rather witty, jolly fellow who is a bit disheartened that no one seems to like him. And yet, even in Vienna, or perhaps especially in a city like Vienna, where life and death, tomorrow and yesterday always seems to co-exist in a kind of tug-a-war until the city manages to shed off its old conservative ways like flakes of old skin giving way to the new underneath, the stigma of HIV and AIDs continues.

And not just in Vienna. When it comes to HIV and AIDs it’s like the whole world has become a group of Long Island gossiping grandmothers, raising their hands to their mouths as their voices lower to a barely audible whisper that so-and-so has AIDs. As if speaking the words aloud will summon the AIDs and HIV gremlins and incite them to spread ill will to all within hearing distance. It is as if we as a society have drafted an unspoken but agreed upon hierarchy of illnesses from honorable to dishonorable and HIV and AIDs has been placed at the bottom of the disease  totem pole next to leprosy and syphilis.

Lifeball 2015 marked the 23rd year of the event. Twenty-two Lifeballs have come and gone and Gery Keszler has witnessed friends sicken and die from a disease that with proper treatment and care should no longer be a death sentence. And all the while, as he has been greeting and receiving guests and messages of goodwill from the Prince Harrys, Bill Clintons and Elton Johns of the world, he has never once mentioned his very personal connection to HIV. Saturday night, standing on stage with tears streaming down his face, a babbling heap of conflictedness, mourning the death of a friend who died merely two weeks ago of the disease, Gery Keszler announced, “I am HIV positive. And I don’t know why I’m still here when so many others I have loved are not.”

Thank you, Gery Keszler for a wonderful Lifeball and a memorable evening. Hopefully, future generations challenged with a disease, any disease, will never have to waste precious time and energy combating social stigmas attached to them so severe that causes those afflicted to be damned to decades of silence about their personal battle and suffering.

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 One life, With each other, Sisters, Brothers

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READY TO LIFEBALL

Just as only a lover can reveal to a man what life means to him and develop its innermost significance… – Austrian writer Hermann Bahr, 1901, in his “Speech on Klimt” describing Klimt’s artwork.

Gearing up for Vienna’s 2015 LifeBall

Print This Post “Dress – good buy. Worn once. Wedding.” The taxi driver gave me a thumbs up and pocketed my Euros. One thing was sure, he was happy to see that thing go.

Second sure thing, if gowns could talk, this one would have tales to tell because it was going to the Lifeball. With me!

This year’s theme? GOLD – VER SACRUM ala Austrian artist, Gustav Klimt.

Gold Accessories for Lifeball

Gold Accessories for Lifeball

Klimt! The name “…intimately associated in the art-lover’s mind with sensuous lines, erotic and beautiful women, and decorative golden detail.” (Essential Klimt)

After the confirmation that I had accomplished the next-to-impossible task of securing a ticket, I moved into action mode. That evening I charged head first into Willhaben’s “Abendkleid” collection, scouring countless computer screens and hundreds of gowns. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning, my weary eyes in blurred determination spotted it like a fata morgana on a distant horizon — a flowing toga-looking dress bearing a bold gold sash and dotted with gold spheres destined for Gustav’s magic.

Close of Gown

Close of Gown

Next stop, basement of Libro in a hunt for fabric paints (don’t kids do crafts anymore?).

A kitchen table, a bottle of nail polish remover, 99 cent paintbrushes and a Klimt coffeetable book of art I had scored a few years ago for half price at Borders in North Carolina and I was set. I am no artist, but the lights in Vienna’s City Hall were bound to be forgiving. Or the alcohol flowing. Or both. Let’s face it, by midnight, all Cinderellas will have hurried home and every man, woman and Conchita is stunning in any costume.

Contrary to other Vienna balls, come 1 am at the Lifeball, it’s not just the ladies kicking off their heels to jam in their stockings, it’s the guys too. In fact, the entire night, you’re getting sympathetic nods, as they too adjust their mascara, dab some clear nail polish on the run in their ‘hose, and duck into a corner to readjust their bra straps.

Faschingsprinz

Gold Glam at Vienna’s Faschingsprinz – perfect of Lifeball accessories

“Hmm Hmm Hmmm giiirl! Where did you get such a sassy hair feather? That so accentuates the azure in that gown!” OK. Maybe the German version of that. But you get the idea. And hey! Maybe not. Because the Lifeball is without bounds and without borders. Folks are from anywhere and everywhere. And you won’t know if they are black, white, grey, brown, yellow or polka-dotted green. Speak German, English or Swahili. You also won’t know if they are homosexuals, heterosexuals, transsexuals, asexuals or what-ever. Are they male, female, neither or both? You won’t know. Because no one cares. Everyone is there to have fun, party, celebrate and raise money for a good cause. So get with the program!

Amongst this crowd, if you don’t want to blend into the background like a sparrow in a parade of peacocks, you better go for the gold and accessorize.

Fortunately, I live in the district with probably the very best shop in town for Lifeball needs – Faschingsprinz. Don’t judge this shop by its website. They seem to have last updated their important events list in 2010, but I’m sure that’s just because they’re too busy uniting creative customers with their artistic needs. No idea where to start with your Lifeball outfit? Go there. And if you’re tempted by those sparkling red no-place-like home heels, go for it. They’re bound to match someone’s leather outfit.

Armed with leis of golden flowers and sparkly Egyptian style eye make up damning me to hours of mirror time, I headed home to pimp up my parade.

Lifeball 2014

Lifeball 2014

Full Gown for Lifeball

Full Gown for Lifeball

By midnight, pleased my gown project didn’t end in disaster (I have a low success threshold when it comes to creative projects), I was sleep-deprived enough to convince myself that the smock-donning man who was still inspiring multitudes with his beautiful works of art almost a hundred years after his death would have forgiven my attempt to emulate his technique — considering it was for a good cause. But even at that hour I seriously doubted he would have exhibited the thrilled enthusiasm of the taxi driver husband who was so eager to get the gown gone that he offered to perform a home delivery on a Craigslist sale item. A good buy. A very good buy.

Friends have asked why I would want to go to a ball alone. Truth is, I only got one ticket so it wasn’t really a decision. Sure it’d be a blast to go with some friends but if last year’s ball is any indication, I’m not worried.

At the Lifeball there are no sparrows, only peacocks. And I will just sync my step with the suicidal stilettos, shiny heels, sensible sandals and ripped stockings of my fellow Dorothies dreaming of a better place somewhere over the rainbow. That in Vienna, year for year, exists for an entire amazing night. Because beyond the gold, flash, and pizazz is a celebration of “life’s innermost significance” – what distinguishes but unites us. No matter color, creed or sexual orientation. Everyone coming together in a night of awesomeness to fight HIV and AIDs and celebrate life.

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Sparkly Red Shoes

Shoes from Faschingsprinz high and sparkly enough to transport anyone over a rainbow

And I’m ready. Ready to Lifeball.

And maybe get a selfie with Conchita Wurst!

KC’s 2014 Lifeball Good Times and Memories: Celebrating Life in the Garden of Earthly Delights

Vienna Lifeball: Vienna’s City Hall (Rathaus)

Saturday, May 16, 2015
Ball Opening: 9:30 pm
Entrances: Open as of 7:30 pm
The Vienna Ringstrasse will be closed Saturday evening from Schwarzenbergplatz to Schottentor from 6 pm – 11:30 pm.

Don’t have a ball ticket?

Come to the Rathaus (U2 Schottentor or Rathaus) and admire the costumes as ball guests enter the ball parading down the red carpet to the Vienna City Hall.

Want a preview of what’s to come? Check out the Lifeball Style Bible – Klimt’s paintings staged with live models – a feast for the eyes! No wonder the man caused a ruckus when he opted to stop painting the cherubs and go for something a bit more modern – over 100 years ago!

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Celebrating Life in the “Garden of Earthly Delights” at Vienna’s 2014 Lifeball

A couple of years ago I had to catch a 6 am train to Budapest. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I boarded the subway expecting nothing but a quick ride to the train station. But when I boarded the U-4, I noticed that the only other person in my wagon at such an ungodly hour on a Sunday morning, was a handsome young man sitting in the next set of seats sharing his bench with a rather large plastic pink flamingo. Austrians might like garden gnomes but I have never witnessed them escorting them on outings via the U4. And a flamingo? This is Vienna, not Miami. Pigeons and magpies but no flamingos.

Vienna Lifeball 2014 Entrance Bracelet

Vienna Lifeball 2014 Entrance Bracelet

Baroque Couple

Baroque Couple with stunning body paint, gorgeous costumes and bashful smiles

By the time we had reached Schwedenplatz, I started to worry about them. Was this city worldly enough to tolerate a a lonely guy, with only a plastic flamingo as a companion?

At Stadtpark, a group of two girls and a guy, also in their early twenties, boarded our train. I determined then and there that if need be, I would exhibit the civil courage necessary to defend my fellow passenger and his fine feathered friend. Thus, we’d be three against three. First a smirk, then a shameless smile, and before we’d even reached Karlsplatz, the three of them were barreled over in laughter. At 5:15 am on a Sunday morning mind you. The young man played it cool and politely feigned obliviousness. But then one of them had the audacity to address the elephant in the U-4.

Me and my friend at the Lifeball 2014

Me and my friend at the Lifeball 2014

“What’s up with the flamingo?”

And this past Saturday evening, as I made my way, slightly self-conscious, to the Vienna Rathaus donning a sparkly grassy green ballgown, flowered heels and tights, white-feathered, garden party hat and discreet fairy wings, I feared there may be a person or two who, at the worst, would question my state of my mental health, at best, my fashion sense. But as I reached the barriers, a group of  about 20 guys standing beside the security guards cheered and high-fived me with a, “Hey!!! Way to Go!!! Lifeball! Yeah!”

Some charmingly mischievous Lifeball Guests

Some charmingly mischievous Lifeball guests who I thought may have walked in from Alice in Wonderland

Fascinating Creatures at Vienna's Lifeball

Fascinating Creatures at Vienna’s Lifeball – they looked intimidating but smiled (only one time) when I asked for a photo with them

Because nowadays, everyone in the city knows the annual event of the Vienna Lifeball and everyone welcomes its. Once a year, Bill Clinton flies into town to get together with the founding father and “face of the Lifeball”, Gery Keszler. Together they work to increase AIDs awareness while raising money to battle HIV and AIDs. The red ribbon event is one of the biggest and most spectacular of its kind in the world. And IT WAS SPECTACULAR.

This year’s theme was, “Garden of Earthly Delights” and the costumes were extraordinary. The stairs and rooms of the Rathaus were over-flowing with peacocks, baroque couples, walking lawns, snakes, flower-pots with legs, Medusas, swans, farmers, gnomes, butterflies, bird cages…If you could find it in a garden, it was there too. Live music in the courtyard, (remember Erasure?), discos in countless rooms, pole dancing, massage parlors, and a “Oops!-your-costume/hair-needs-a-quick-fix” room. Amazing. Fun. Prominent people, famous people, politicians, costume designers, singers, actors, actresses, and ordinary people like me. All getting together for a great cause and a wonderfully unforgettable time.

Me and Peacock Man

Me and Peacock Man in his wonderfully gorgeous golden and blue costume.

Garden Gnome from the other side of the fence

Black Leather Garden Gnome from the other side of the fence –  Hitler had forbidden gnomes

Which brings me back to that flamingo. The athletic young man with the bird? A dancer who had delicately balanced his flamingo atop his head while opening the Lifeball that year.

Now it sat tamely by his side. But his night of partying was not yet over. The group invited him and his feathered companion to a bar at next stop. They disembarked together, talking, laughing and enjoying themselves and I smiled. No longer about the flamingo, but about living in a place tolerant and worldly enough where  flamingos, Lifeballs and Conchita Wursts can not only be possible but celebrated.

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Lifeball

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_Ball

 

Vienna's Lifeball welcomes prominent guests from around the world

Former US Pres Bill Clinton and US Ambassador to Austria, Alexa Wesner, were amongst the VIP guests who attended to 2014 Lifeball at Vienna’s Rathaus

Lifeball 2014 with Conchita Wurst

Lifeball 2014 with Conchita Wurst

Can you find Conchita Wurst in this photo at Vienna's 2014 Lifeball?

Can you find Conchita Wurst in this photo at Vienna’s 2014 Lifeball?

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