5. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Of course, it’s not just modern musicians who were masons. Notable classical composers can also be found among the Freemason ranks, including Bach and Mozart. Mozart joined a lodge in Vienna, called “Zur Wohltätigkeit” in 1784, 7 years before his death. He was an apprentice at first, but swiftly became Master, probably in 1785. In the same year, his lodge merged with another and formed the new lodge “Zur Neugekrönten Hoffnung”. To celebrate, Mozart composed two songs and these formed part of a much bigger body of work that had masonic influences, including “Kleine Freimaurer-Kantate” (literally “A Little Freemason-Cantata”) and “The Magic Flute“. Sometime, as with the Cantata, the influence was overt, other times it was incredibly subtle. For instance, the masons give great value to the number 3, so Mozart often used 3-part harmony. And a special dotted figure within the music was supposed to represent the knocking on the door during an initiation ceremony. One of the most famous and public freemasons in history.
4. Buzz Aldrin
Ever wondered where involvement in freemasonry might take you? Maybe to the moon? That what happened to Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, who is famous as being the second man on the moon, after Neil Armstrong. A devoted mason, Aldrin took a masonic flag with him on the Apollo 11 craft and also special permission from the masons to claim “Masonic Territorial Jurisdiction for The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, on The Moon”. He was also a devout Presbyterian, so had a home communion kit with him as well. He may not have been the first man on the moon, but he was certainly the first man to take communion on the moon!
3. Winston Churchill
The list of politicians who are also freemasons is staggeringly long and the great British Prime Minister was no exception. When he joined the order in 1901, it was all the rage, with the newly-ascended King Edward VII a former Grand Master. Churchill joined the Studholme Lodge, along with other MPs, knights and royalty and quickly became a Master Mason in the tradition of his ancestors before him. In fact, there was even a Churchill Lodge – the same one that Oscar Wilde managed to get himself expelled from. However, his Masonic career was shortlived, and he resigned from the lodge in 1911, after becoming First Lord of the Admiralty. This has led commentators to conclude that freemasonry wasn’t a vital part of Churchill’s success, although he did call in favors from his masonic contacts for years afterwards.
2. John Wayne
Another mason to follow family tradition, John Wayne was raised as a mason in July 1970, at Marion McDaniel Lodge 56 as his father had been before him. He was also very politically active, and at one point was asked to run for office on behalf of the Republican party. He declined, but supported his friend and fellow actor Ronald Reagan in his bid to become Governor of California. Wayne was never shy of controversy, believing in white supremacy and claiming that the American settlers had done no wrong when taking the Native Americans’ land. He was also a member of the ultra right-wing John Birch Society for a while. So he was both prominent and powerful – no wonder the masons welcomed him into their society at the end of his life.
1. George Washington
It won’t surprise you to know that there have been a fair few freemasons in the White House. After all, when a society is this powerful, you’d expect its members to reach the pinnacle of political success. So, Gerald Ford was a mason, and Roosevelts Teddy and Franklin. But one of the most famous presidents and the founder of America was also a mason. He was initiated in 1752, but apparently wasn’t the most dedicated in attending meetings. He declined a Grand Master position in 1777, saying that he had never even been a Master of a lodge. However, the year before he became president, he accepted the offer to become Master of the Alexandria Lodge in Washington, which is now the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. So, he may not have been the most dedicated member of the masons, but they certainly seem keen to claim him as one of their own!