Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Part 2: Italy, Salzburg and Paris 1769 - 1779
Review Part 1: Family and Early Years. 1756 - 1769
Crossing the Alps, Wolfgang wrote to his mother:
I feel so happy on this journey. It's lovely and warm in the carriage and our driver is a bold chap, who drives like the wind, whenever the roads allow!
Fade up Allegri's Miserere. Establish and cushion under:
They gave concerts in Verona and at the Augustinian Monastery in Milan. Also in Milan Wolfgang met the cultured and influential Count Firmian, who secured a commission for him to write an opera for the next winter season. It was based on
Mithridatus, King of Pontus
, a tragedy by the French playwright Racine.
Father and son then moved onto Lodi, Parma, and Bologna, where Wolfgang was taught counterpoint by Padre Martini, a priest of 64, with whom he formed a close friendship. Thence they stopped in Florence, before arriving in Rome for Easter.
St Peter's, Rome, 1630 painting by Viviano Codazzi
Swell the Miserere again and dip under:
Both Leopold and Wolfgang were intensely religious, so on arrival they went straight to the basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican.
Play Miserere excerpt to the end
Over Easter they heard
. Although the Roman Pontiffs had reserved to themselves the exclusive use of this Miserere, forbidding its publication, Wolfgang went back to his lodgings and copied out most of it from memory.
He and Leopold visited Naples and while there visted the volcano of Vesuvius. Wolfgang wrote to his sister:
It was smoking furiously: thunder and lightning and all the rest. I had a great desire today to ride on a donkey, since it's the custom in Italy. I thought that I too should try it.
On their return to Rome, Wolfgang received a great honour. A pontifical decree named him a Cavalier of the Order of the Golden Spur. Two days later the Pope received them. They left Rome covered in glory. On the way home from Bologna Leopold wrote to his wife about the fourteen-year-old Wolfgang:
You must not think that he has grown very tall. It is only that his limbs are becoming bigger and stronger. He has no longer any singing voice. He is most annoyed, for he can no longer sing his own compositions.
Staying with their friends the Pallavicinis, Wolfgang discovered a copy of
A Thousand and One Nights
in Italian, a story of love, jealousy, and beautiful girls that he immediately started reading. Back in Milan again, he completed the opera
, which he directed, while playing the harpsichord.
Then in Venice, where they arrived for the Mardi Gras carnival, they called on Johann Wider a wealthy merchant with six daughters. Wolfgang wrote to his friend Johann Hagenauer, son of their Salzburg landlord:
The Grand Canal by Canaletto
I am charmed with Venice. The particularly splendid pearl ...
Probably the eldest of the Wider sisters.
.. and all the other pearls too, admire you very greatly. I assure you that they are in love with you; and they hope that like a Turk you will marry them all, and make all six of them happy.
And he wrote to his sister:.
Tell Johann that Wider's pearls are always talking about him, and that he must soon come back to Venice and submit to the
, that is have his bottom spanked, when he is lying on the ground, so he may become a true Venetian. They tried to do it to me - the seven women altogether - and yet they could not pull me down.
Hasse who was then in Venice, wrote:
Young Mozart is certainly wonderful for his age. I hope he will not be spoilt, in spite of his father's adulation, but will grow into an honest fellow.
On their second trip to Italy in August 1771, when Mozart was fifteen, Milan was hot and sticky.
I'm huffing and puffing with the heat - I think I might burst!
He was happy with his lodgings, however:
There's a fiddler above us, another fiddler beneath us , a singing teacher giving lessons next door and opposite us an oboe player. It's great for composing - it gives you lots of ideas!
He was working on a new opera,
Ascanio in Alba
. The premiere was to celebrate the marriage of Princess Beatrice to Archduke Ferdinand.
Back in Salzburg before their final trip to Italy, Wolfgang was appointed Concert Master to Hieronymus Colloredo, the new Prince Archbishop.
Back time the Exsultate, Jubilate so the vocal fades up here.
Then on his final trip to Italy, at the age of 17, Wolfgang was particularly impressed by Venanzio Rauzzini, a castrato in his late twenties. He wrote him a three movement motet called Exsultate, Jubilate. It is the first of his works to be still widely performed today, though now usually by a soprano. Kiri te Kanawa says:
Prince Archbishop Hieronymus von Colloredo
KIRI TE KANAWA:
Of all my concert pieces, this is the one I enjoy singing the most.
Bring up the Exsultate again and fade out as appropriate
Meanwhile in Salzburg the composer had a great number of friends and admirers and had the opportunity to work in many genres, composing symphonies, sonatas, string quartets, serenades, and a few minor operas.
Establish an excerpt from the adagio of
Violin Concerto number 5
and then take behind:
Between April and December 1775, he developed an enthusiasm for violin concertos, producing a series of five (the only ones he ever wrote). This is a short excerpt from Karajan conducting Menuhin in the
Violin Concerto Number 5
Bring up the Violin Concerto again and fade as appropriate
Despite his artistic successes, Mozart was frustrated by being confined to Salzburg by the orders of the Prince Archbishop. He wrote to his friend, Padre Martini in Bologna..
We live in this world in order to learn industriously and, by interchanging our ideas, to enlighten one another and thus endeavour to promote the science and the fine arts.
Oh, how often have I longed to be near you, most Reverend Father, so that I might be able to talk with you. For I live in a country, where music leads a struggling existence. Generosity is not one of our faults.
There were always two sides to Mozart's personality. He was as interested as ever in the opposite sex and in a brief escape to Munich, he wrote to his sister:
Professor Padre Martini
Please give every kind of message to Mademoiselle Mitzerl, and assure her of my undying love. Visions of her, clad only in her negligee, are ever before my eyes. I must admit that attractive girls abound here, but none, none so ravishing as her.
'Mademoiselle Mitzerl' was in fact the sixty-four year old grandmother, who had recently become the Mozart's landlady in Salzburg.
By the way at this time Mozart had a pet starling, a relation of the myna bird, who used to imitate his compositions.
Βring up the Piano Concerto no. 9, establish and take under:
In 1776 he turned his efforts to piano concertos, culminating in the
E-flat concerto Number 9
of early 1777, considered by critics to be a breakthrough work. It was dedicated to Victoire Jenamy, the pianist daughter of a famous dancer and choreographer.
As a small child I remember vividly listening to Mozart again and again.
Here is a short extract from the Japanese soloist, Mitsuko Uchida's rendering.
Bring up the Piano Concerto again and play out as appropriate:
Mozart grew increasingly discontent with Salzburg and redoubled his efforts to find a position elsewhere. One reason was his low salary, 150 florins a year. He also longed to compose operas, and Salzburg provided only rare occasions for these..
So he resigned his position in Salzburg and set out with his mother for Munich, Augsburg, Mannheim and Paris. The Archbishop would not grant leave of absence to his father.
Introduce the Sinfonia Concertante and play under:
During this tour Mozart was influenced by the increasing technical competence of the European orchestra of that era, in particular by the Mannheim court orchestra, which may well have inspired his composition of the emotionally profound Sinfonia Concertante for violin, viola and orchestra.
Bring up the Sinfonia Concertante and play out as appropriate:
Leopold hoped that his son, now twenty-one years old, might obtain some profitable court appointment; but in this he was disappointed. Neither father nor son had a great admiration for the minor nobility, for whom Wolfgang now performed. From Augsburg, where his father had been born, he wrote:
The Duchess Smackbottom, the Countess Makewater, to say nothing of the Princess Dunghill, and her daughters, who are already married to the two Princes Potbelly von Pigtail. I shall be honestly glad to go off again to a place where there is a court.
However also in Augsburg, Wolfgang was strongly attracted to his cousin, Maria Anna Thekla. Again he wrote to his father:
Our little cousin is beautiful, charming, clever and gay. And a bit of a scamp. And we get on tremendously well, for, like me, she has a tremendous sense of mischief.
She and Wolfgang became good friends, perhaps even lovers. In the weeks and years to come he wrote her a series of letters. Sometimes he called her his Little Rabbit or:
My Crazy Little Witch,
I'm kissing your hands, your face, your knees, even your - - - , in a nutshell, anything you let me kiss!
Since leaving you I have never taken my trousers off, except for going to bed at night.
In Mannheim he promptly fell in love again.
Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.
Maria Anna Thekla
Could it be love such as this that inspired him, a little later in Paris, to write his concerto for flute and harp?
Establish Concerto for Flute and Harp. Play and then fade under:
This time his love was for a promising young vocalist, named Aloysia Weber, whose uncle was the composer of
, but whose father, the prompter of the theatre, was very nearly penniless. She was only 16, four years younger than Wolfgang. He dreamt of her coming to Paris with him.
Swell music and cut into narration where appropriate::
Aloysia Weber, Soprano. Mozart's love and later his sister-in-law
He even thought of marriage.
On hearing of this Leopold was furious:
I have read your letter with unmitigated horror and astonishment. It has deprived me of a whole night's sleep. You know full well our tribulations in Salzburg. You know my wretched income. You know why I agreed to let you go away. The aim of your journey was twofold: to win for yourself a permanent appointment, or, should you fail in this, to make your way in some big city, where large quantities of money may be earned.
It depends solely on your good sense, whether you die as an ordinary musician, utterly forgotten, or as a famous Kapellmeister; whether captured by some woman, you die bedded on straw in an attic full of starving children, or whether, after a Christian life spent in contentment, honour and renown, you leave this world with your family well provided for and your name respected by all.
Your first duty is to consider the well-being of your parents, or else your soul will be condemned to eternal damnation.
He ordered his wife and son to start instantly for Paris, but warned Wolfgang of Parisian women.
They are always on the lookout for strangers to keep them, who run after young people in an astonishing way in order to get at their money, draw them into their net, or even land them as husbands. Any such calamity would be the death of me!
In fact Mozart had a very simple goal in mind -- he wanted to make a career.
Bring up the Paris Symphony and take under the following
He was asked to write a symphony for a prestigious Parisian concert series, and fulfilled the commission with what is now known as his
Leopold had been hounding him in letter after letter, urging him to make his music more accessible.
Be guided by the French taste. If you can win applause and get paid well, the devil take the rest!
He wrote to his father:
I was exceedingly anxious at rehearsal, for never in my life have I heard a worse performance. You can have no conception of how they bungled and scrambled through it the first time and the second. Really I was quite frightened and would have liked to rehearse it once more, but there was so much else to rehearse. Accordingly I went to bed with fear in my heart, discontent and anger in my mind. I resolved to go to the concert the next day with the proviso that if things went as ill as at the rehearsal, I would snatch Herr Lahouse's violin bow from him and conduct myself!
Comedie-Francaise 18C watercolour by A. Meunier
I prayed God it might go well, dedicating all to His greater honour and glory, and ecce! -- the symphony began!
Bring up and enjoy the end of the first movement, followed by "bravos" and clapping.
The audience was quite carried away.
I was so happy that I went straight to the Palais Royale after the symphony, ate an ice, said the rosary I had vowed -- and went home.
ANNA MARIA MOZART:
In Paris, the incessant rounds of socializing, teaching and job hunting meant that Mozart had to leave his mother alone for days at a time. She did not speak French. Neglected and isolated, she kept up a brave front. She wrote:
I don't get out much, it is true, and the rooms are cold, even when a fire is burning. You just have to get used to it.
Mozart's family with his dead mother's portrait on wall
Her health began to deteriorate. She only had heavily polluted Seine water to drink. A letter of June 12 is full of gossip but shorter than usual because, she reported, she had been bled the day before and couldn't write much. Her last words to Leopold were:
ANNA MARIA MOZART:
Addio. Keep well both of you. I kiss you several thousand times and remain your faithful wife. I must stop, for my arm and eyes are aching.
Three weeks later, Anna Maria was dead.
Introduce Laudate Dominum and weave through the following
Her son wrote to a family friend.
Her life flickered out like a candle.
Leopold took it upon himself to blame his son.
You had your engagements. You were away all day, and as she didn't make a fuss, you treated her condition lightly. All this time her illness became more serious.
I have wept enough, but what did it avail? Dear Father and Sister, weep, weep your fill, but take comfort at last. Remember that Almighty God willed it thus - and how can we rebel against Him? Let us rather thank Him for His goodness for she died a happy death. There are three things that console me - my entire and steadfast submission to the will of God, the sight of her easy and beautiful death, and the thought that we shall see her again - that we shall live together far more happily and blissfully than ever in this world.
Bring up Laudate Dominum again and play out as appropriate
Immediately before and after his mother's death, Wolfgang who was becoming very much his own man, was producing some of his most mature work, including the
Flute and Harp Concerto
Bring up and establish the Flute and Harp Concerto again. Then take under
He wrote to Aloysia a rather formal letter, very different to the ones, he had written to his cousin, Maria Thekla:
My situation will be the happiest on the day, when I shall have the infinite pleasure of serving you again and embracing you with all my heart..
Bring up the Flute and Harp Concerto again. Then fade out
While Wolfgang was in Paris, Leopold was pursuing opportunities for him back in Salzburg, and, with the support of local nobility, secured him a post as court organist and concertmaster. But Wolfgang was reluctant to accept. After leaving Paris on 26 September 1778, he tarried in Mannheim and Munich, still hoping to obtain an appointment outside Salzburg.
In Munich, he met for a second time Aloysia Weber. She was now a very successful singer; and she made it plain that she was no longer interested in him. Perhaps she knew of his continuing flirtation with his little cousin. According to a tale told in Georg Nikolaus von Nissen's biography:
When he entered, she appeared no longer to know him, for whom she previously had wept.
Accordingly, he sat down at the piano and sang in a loud voice, 'Leck mir das Mensch im Arsch, das mich nicht will,' — 'The one who doesn't want me can lick my arse.'
If this tale is true and as Aloysia was later to be Mozart's sister in law, one wonders what she made of it.
Joseph Lange, the Court actor, who was to become Aloysia's husband, observed:
Aloysia Weber and Mozart
Never was Mozart less to be apprehended in his speech and action, than when he was busy on an important work. Then he spoke not only with haphazard confusion, but sometimes made jokes of a kind, which with him one was not used to. Indeed, he even deliberately neglected his behaviour.
Mozart finally reached home on 15 January 1779 and took up the new position, but his discontent with Salzburg was undiminished.
Part 3: The Early Vienna Years. 1779 - 1784.
Music of the Great Composers
Johann Sebastian Bach
Ludwig van Beethoven
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