Composers you have never heard of, and their strange deaths (part three)….


Known as František Kočvara in his native Prague, this rather odd fellow was a skilled double bass player and composer. He seems to have traveled considerably, finally finding a home in London where his works were published from the 1770s. He left little of note except one popular composition, The Battle of Prague. More notable is the manner of his death, which was quite shocking for the time and hints at some very dark fetishes indeed.

It seems that on September 2, 1791, he visited a prostitute, one Susannah Hill, at her lodgings in Westminster; he had a history of visiting such ladies in his travels. After dinner and alcohol, he paid her two shillings and bluntly asked her to castrate him. Exactly what was in those drinks, we don’t know. Anyway, she refused but didn’t want to lose his money, so she agreed when he asked her instead to fix a noose about his neck and tie the other end to a doorknob, so that he might be partially strangled while they engaged in the act. At some point, however, things went wrong and he died in one of the first recorded cases of erotic asphyxiation. Poor Susannah was brought to trial on a murder charge but was acquitted; the jury believed her when she insisted that it was an accident.

The account was considered too scandalous to report to the Georgian public, and the judge ordered the trial details to be destroyed. Naturally, they soon found the light of day anyway, since who could resist a story like this? A few years later in 1797, a pamphlet with the inventive title of Modern Propensities; or, An Essay on the Art of Strangling circulated. It depicted a drawing of the young lady and Kotzwara on the front cover, he with a noose about his neck and looking mightily pleased, she flashing an equally large smile as she puts the noose in place. This particular fetish survived into Victorian underground society, and respectable and wealthy gentlemen could secretly visit “Hanged Men’s Clubs” to engage in hoped-for arousal by similar techniques.

Michael Hutchinson , the lead singer of INXS and David Carradine of Kung Fu fame , all perished in a similar way courtesy of a hotel bedroom doorknob and the belt from their “Have a nice day!-Compliments from the hotel” bath robes.



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