In June 1994 Michael Ende underwent an operation at a clinic in Munich. He had been diagnosed with cancer. Over the past two years he had suffered various ailments but specialists at Ulm University Clinic had failed to make an early diagnosis of the disease. Once Ende had recovered from the operation he underwent a cycle of chemotherapy. The treatment ended in January 1995 but the illness was terminal. Michael Ende started work on a new project - Mamonella oder der Geist in der Flasche (‘Mamonella or the Genie in the Bottle’), a libretto commissioned by the Bavarian State Theatre - but the piece was never finished. Far from the glare of publicity, Michael Ende celebrated his sixty-fifth birthday surrounded by friends. Birthday greetings poured in from fans around the world.
Michael Ende’s health had deteriorated dramatically. Conventional medical treatment could do nothing to help him, so he tried anthroposophical medicine at the Filder clinic near Stuttgart instead. His condition improved sufficiently for him to return home briefly in June, but the progress of the cancer went unchecked. Michael Ende passed away at 7.10 pm on 20th August 1995. Like his father before him, Michael Ende was in no doubt that beyond our world ‘one or perhaps several alternative worlds exist, undetected by our senses but just as real as this world or maybe even more so’.
The funeral took place on 1st September in Munich’s Waldfriedhof. In accordance with his wishes, Mozart’s Save Verbum Corpus and von Gluck’s Dance of the Spirits were played. The ceremony was concluded with a performance of the final chorus from Der Goggolori, ‘vom himmlischen und iridischen Glück’ (‘of heavenly and earthly felicity’), by the State Theatre’s choir. Michael Ende’s grave was marked by a bronze sculpture of an open book from which various imaginary creatures emerge. The headstone was the work of Ludwig Valentin Angerer Senior.