Even classical music can have explicit content
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a famous composer we all know. However, not everybody knows his interest in poop which wasn’t exclusively private but something he placed explicitly in his compositions.
These songs were published after Mozart’s death with bowdlerized (censured) lyrics. Here are some examples:
“Lass froh uns sein” (“Let us be joyful”) which was originally titled “Leck mich im Arsch” (“Lick me in the a**e”) composed in the 1780s.
Another one was “Nichts labt mich mehr als Wein” (“Nothing pleases me more than wine”) which was “Leck mir den Arsch fein recht schön sauber” (“Lick my a**e right well and clean”). Here are the lyrics:
Lick my a**e nicely,
lick it nice and clean,
nice and clean, lick my a**e.
That’s a greasy desire,
like the licking of roast meat, my daily activity.
Three will lick more than two,
come on, just try it,
and lick, lick, lick.
Everybody lick their a**e for themselves.
Other songs instead, appear as word jokes like Difficile lectu mihi Mars which contains the lyrics Difficile lectu mihi mars et jonicu difficile. The words seem in Latin but it’s a bilingual pun using German and Italian language so that when they are sung, they resemble leck du mi im Arsch (lick me in the a**e in English). The second pun is based on the Latin word jonicu whose syllables may be heard as the Italian word coglioni, meaning “balls, testicles”. The line thus translates as “It is difficult to lick my a**e and balls”.
“Bona nox” instead, originally contained the following lyrics:
Good night, good night,
Shit in your bed and make it burst;
Good night, sleep tight,
And stick your a*s to your mouth.
Scatological references, however, can be also found in some of Mozart’s letters he exchanged with his cousin Maria Anna Thekla Mozart (a probably love interest), one of which ends with:
…by the love of my skin, I shit on your nose, so it runs down your chin…
But also letters directed to Mozart’s own family, specifically his father Leopold, his mother Anna Maria, and his sister Nannerl contain scatological references which resemble some lines contained in Bona nox.
It was estimated that 39 of Mozart’s letters contain scatological passages.
However, it remains a mystery why Mozart decided to include these peculiar compositions in the catalog of his personal works but he left out some more neutral works. And it’s curious as well his interest in poop which may have been misread today because of a cultural and time gap.
Although we might consider such vulgarity more offensive or weird today, in the 18th century, scatological humor was more public and accepted than nowadays. Some suggest an influence by the Italian commedia dell’arte and by the character of the Hanswurst, a coarse and robust character who would entertain his audience by pretending to eat large and unlikely objects and then defecating them. Another interpretation suggests a political reading where the vulgarity of scatological popular theater was a reaction to the refined culture imposed from above. One of Mozart’s own letters describes aristocrats in scatological terms where he identified them as “the Duchess Smackarse, the Countess Pleasurepisser, the Princess Stinkmess, and the two Princes Potbelly von Pigdick“.
According to folklorist and cultural anthropologist Alan Dundes, the interest in or tolerance for scatological matters is a specific trait of German national culture explaining that there are several texts in the German folklore concerning scatology including works from Martin Luther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Heinrich Heine, for example. And their peculiar toilet is another piece of evidence.
A today’s point of view instead, read Mozart’s scatological interest due to psychological pathologies such as infantilism, coprophilia, and Tourette Syndrome, but all these theories were widely criticized.
Even Mozart’s mother used this kind of language, and in a letter to her husband she wrote:
Addio, ben mio. Keep well, my love.
Into your mouth your a**e you’ll shove.
I wish you good night, my dear,
But first, shit in your bed and make it burst.
So, in short, we can assume those expressions were part of the cultural humor of that time and not something restricted to Mozart himself or the youth’s colloquial language.
Anyway, it’s strange how some taboos were less rigid in the past than today. And it is the same for some habits such pooping together like used to happen in the Roman latrines, something today is considered shameful.