Wolfgang Mozart Falls Ill With Scarlet Fever

From start to finish, music was a family business but it was grueling work, too, and the risks were great.

This was made painfully clear in late October, when Wolfgang became ill with something diagnosed as "scarlet fever rash"; now thought to be erythema nodosum, a rheumatic nodular eruption now often associated with tuberculosis. Leopold, under the advice of a local physician, administered a cure that included an occasional glass of milk with ground melon seeds and a pinch of poppy seed. Within two weeks Wolfgang was well again, but the episode was a portent of more serious health problems to come.

Almost lost among Leopold's letters of this period is a brief reference to the fact that his son was cutting a new tooth. This otherwise mundane comment is a startling reminder of just how small he was. J.G. Wolfgang Mozart, the toast of Viennese society, was still two months shy of his seventh birthday.