Mozart and Billiards

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in 1756 and died in 1791 at the age of only 35. During his short life he composed a huge number of musical works, many of which are still performed today. However, he also found time for recreation and two of his chief delights were billiards and bowls. Both these games are played today by many people, although the game of billiards is less common than snooker. In Mozart’s day, he would have played by propelling the balls with a pusher rod rather than the modern snooker cue.

There is little doubt that he pursued these games not just their own sake but because he found in the movement and control of a rolling ball congenial accompaniment to the movement within his own copious and productive mind.

There are recorded instances of him stopping in the middle of a game of billiards to make notes, or of him humming, as he played, a theme which was later found in one of his works. It is known that he was particularly fond of playing billiards alone while keeping his notebook handy – although the notes he made were always only the briefest indication of an idea, for he did his actual composing in his head.

The ever-flowing rhythms in his mind induced him incessantly to tap away at the table, a chair-back, or anything to hand, and there is no doubt that he spent some of his most fruitful hours alone at the billiard table.

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