The funeral of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on December 7, 1791 was a modest one (but far from the pauper's burial of legend). Along with family members were numerous friends and acquaintances of the late composer, among them was his old billiards buddy and fellow Mason, Franz Hofdemel. Several days after the funeral, Hofdemel brutally attacked and mutilated his wife, Magdalena. After slashing her in the face, arms, and throat, he then cut his own throat. A visitor found her lying in a pool of blood and came to her aid. She survived, Hofdemel did not. Magdalena was five months pregnant at the time of the attack and later gave birth to a son (there seems to be some discrepancies in the official account as to the child's name but it was said that she named him after both Mozart and Hofdemel). She was granted a generous pension by the Emperor and the Empress herself expressed public sympathy for the widow and the sad circumstances of the attack.
Almost immediately, speculation arose as to what could have caused the attack and how it related to Mozart's death. Magdalena had been a pupil of Mozart's and lurid accusations portrayed Hofdemel as attacking his wife and killing himself out of rage after learning that they had been lovers and that she was carrying the composer's child. It was even speculated that Mozart's untimely death had been due to his being poisoned by the jealous Hofdemel. There seemed little doubt that the story was widely believed and Magdalena would later leave Vienna to escape the rumours. Even years after Mozart's death, Ludwig van Beethoven would refuse to play in Magdalena's presence because "too great an intimacy had existed between her and Mozart".
The true story was probably less dramatic (it usually is). Mozart had been a notorious womanizer but he seemed reasonably devoted to his wife, Constanze. Hofdemel on the other hand, had been a chronic gambler whose debts exceeded the income he earned as a minor government official. Mozart had borrowed money from Hofdemel and his premature death made it highly unlikely that it would ever be repaid. Had it been the shock of Mozart's death and what it would mean to him financially that pushed Hofdemel over the edge? Had there been an affair between Amadeus and Magdalena? Or was it merely suspicion of an affair that made Hofdemel attack her? We will likely never know the truth.