“For classical music lovers, December 5 may be the saddest day of the year,” reports Dr. Howard Markel in Monday’s (12/5) PBS Newshour. “At 12:55 a.m., 225 years ago, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart drew his last breath…. Mozart was only 35. Ever since, generations of doctors have been obsessed with figuring out what caused Mozart’s premature death. At last count, there were more than 136 post-mortem diagnoses in the medical literature…. Diagnosing Mozart’s final illness is complicated by the fact that the doctors who attended him at the close of the 18th century understood disease and practiced medicine in very different ways when compared to today…. During his last two weeks of life, Mozart developed severe edema, [and] complained of pain all over his body, a fever, and a rash …. The many modern medical diagnoses explaining Mozart’s death include tuberculosis, mercury poisoning, syphilis, rheumatic fever, kidney failure due to chronic glomerulonephritis … Perhaps the most impressive of the lot was a 2009 retrospective epidemiological study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine [diagnosing] a streptococcal infection, which virulently progressed to an acute nephritic syndrome … caused by post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis…. The doctor in me is intrigued and muses, in pianissimo, ‘Maybe.’ ”

Posted December 9, 2016