Poor old Wolfgang. If only the old workaholic had known that, although consigned to a pauper’s grave, he would be feted around the world 2½ centuries later! It’s a pity also that he died so young - although I don’t support all this speculation about how good he might have been had he lived a normal lifespan. No, I have a theory that Mozart, like many artists from other disciplines - Keats (25), Charlie Parker (34), Aubrey Beardsley (25), and so on - was so prolific because he knew he wouldn’t make it to middle age. Or perhaps even because they didn’t want to.
Most of us reach what Benny Green called our ‘Schopenhauer factor’: the point at which our creativity tails off and we don’t get any better at what we do. Quite often, no-one tells us – or they keep us on for nostalgia: Sinatra, Catherine Deneuve, Matisse and many, many others. Did Bird see it coming, and not want to hang around?
Just before John Betjeman died at the age of 78, he was asked by a BBC interviewer if he had any regrets about things he would like to have achieved. ‘More sex’, he said.
Have a happy birthday, Wolfgang.