How Haydn lost his head

It is often quite interesting the little tidbits of information that are left out of textbooks. For example: Mozart had a potty mouth and a dirty sense of humor, Schubert spent lots of time living with “friends” in Vienna, and Haydn, oh yeah, he was decapitated after he died.

The culprits? Joseph Carl Rosenbaum, a former secretary of the Esterhazy’s and Johann Nepomuk Peter, warden of a prison. While today this may seem a bit odd, people have been taking “souvenir” body parts of the rich and famous for years, including hair, fingers, teeth and whatever else was quickly removable. But the case of Haydn’s head is a bit of a different story. Originally it was taken to prove a scientific idea, about how genius and the shape of a person’s head were supposedly linked together. Instead of recanting the entire ordeal myself (including the details about how they removed his skull after decomposition had already begun), I’ll rely on the good folks at the history channel to tell you all about it! (below)

For further reading you can go here: or just search google. Like many tales of this nature, there are some interesting side stories that may or may not be true. Most notably, there are rumors that Brahms, who had access to Haydn’s head, handled it on several occasions and possibly used it for inspiration… or as a pen holder.

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