These pages are dedicated to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), whose music exhibits serenity, taste, and balance, while wewighing a wide range of feeling in several forms, among them vocal and instrumental, sacred and secular. Mozart’s fame is undoubtedly based on two deviant frames of reference. First, Mozart, being the most famous child prodigy in music history, as both a performer and a composer. Secondly, his unquestioned brilliance as an adult composer of Classicla symphonies, opera, sonatas, church music, chamber music and concerti.
Born Johannes Chrysotomus Wolfgang Theophilus Mozart in Salzberg, Vienna on January 27th, 1756, Mozart was destined for greatness.Mozart’s father, Leopold Mozart, a musician himself, took Wolfgang completely under his wing, teaching him everything; Wolfgang did not go to school at all. Wolfgang was a child prodigy and his father sought to ripen that great musical talent.By the tender age of three, Mozart began to play the harpsichord and in 1761, at age five, he began to compose. Although it has long been questioned to the degree in which Wolfgang composed his pieces, some believing that Leopold, a noted composer himself, “helped” young Wolfgang with these early compositions. In my opinion, any child who has the drive, patience, and discipline to sit down and make an effort to play an instrument or compose musical pieces, whether he had assistance or not, in my eyes deserves as much credit as he would get if he didn’t have any assistance. At that age, many children think about toys, not perfecting a craft.
Beginning in 1762, Wolfgang accompanied Leopold on a series of trips to Paris and London, all over Europe. He was taken on concert tours that took him to the leading European concert halls and royal courts. It’s as if Wolfgang painted every town red. Francis I of Vienna referred to him as “ein kleine hexenmeister,” or a “little master-wizard.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, greatest German writer of the 19th century and author of The Damnation of Faust, wrote a letter to a friend stating, “I was fourteen years old, but I see it, as if I were still, there, the little man with his child’s sword and his curly hair…A rare phenomenon like that of Mozart remains a truly inexplicable thin.” And in Paris, young Mozart bedazzled royally. He was as an unknown source put it, “so extraordinatory a phenomenon that one finds it difficult to believe unless one has seen him with one’s own eyes and heard him with one’s own ears.”
October 13, 1781 March 30, 1785 May 23, 1789 May 17, 1790
December 18, 1772
Iâ€™ve just completed Lucio Silla. Not at all a hard piece to perform but
certainly a much enjoyable one. Which reminds me that I should write to
Nanneral. I miss her much, my dear sister, I hope she is safe and sound. Well
a little bit of news on my part, tomorrow we dine at Herr Von Mayerâ€™s. Yes! It
is true; he has willingly invited us. Tomorrow we shall rehearse at the theater
but Signor Castiglioni, the impresario, has urged me not to say anything about
it because otherwise everybody will come rushing along, and we surely donâ€™t
want that. Listen Here! Today we left Count Firmianâ€™s to go home and when we reached
our street, we opened the front door and what do you suppose happened then? We
went in! I make my self-laughâ€¦Anyhow I need to write to Nannerl and rest up
for next dayâ€™s work.
May, 1 1778
I have come to terms that I shall do my utmost to get along here by teaching,
and to earn as much money as possible, which I am now doing in the fond hope
that my circumstances may soon change; for I cannot deny, and must confess, that
I should be delighted to be released from this place. Giving lessons here is no
joke! Let me tell you, it is exhausting; unless you take a large number of
pupils, you cannot make much money. But wait! You must not think that this is
laziness on my part- not at all! It just goes completely against my genius and
the way I live. It is known that I have my being, so to speak, entirely in
music, I am immersed in it all day long and I am prevented from doing this by my
way of life here. True, I shall have a few hours left, but I shall need those
few hours more for rest then forward. I told you in my last entry about the Opera. I cannot help it. I must write a
full scale Opera or none at all. If I write a small one, I shall get very
little for it (for everything is taxed here). And should it have the misfortune
not to please these stupid French, all would be over. – I would never get the
chance to compose another-I would have gained nothing by it- and my reputation
would have suffered. If, on the other hand, I write a full length Opera, the
remuneration will be better. I shall be doing the work I like best and am best
at- and I shall have better hopes, success, for with a large- scale work you
have a better chance of making your name. I assure you that if I am
commissioned to write an Opera, I shall have no qualms at all. True, this
language is an invention of the devil- and I fully realize the difficulties,
which all composers have encountered. But in spite of this I feel I am just as
capable of overcoming them as anyone else. On the contrary, whenever I fancy,
as I often do. That I have got the commission, s to be on fir, and I tremble
from head to foot with eagerness to teach the French more thoroughly to know,
appreciate, and fear the Germans. For why is a full length Opera never
entrusted to a Frenchman? Why must it always be a foreigner? For me the most
detestable aspect would be the singer. Well, I am ready- I wish to avoid a
duel, for I do not care to wrestle with dwarfs. Night!
July 30, 1778
I have a letter in mind to write to Aloysia- my great love. But I need
assurance on it. I donâ€™t want to move in great haste but then again she needs
to know that I am still interested.
â€œDearest friend! I hope that you are in excellent health- I beg you to
take great care of it-for good health is the best think in the World. Thank
God, I am very well, as far as my health is concerned because I watch it. But
my mind is not at rest- nor will it be until I have heard (and what a comfort
that will be) that your merits have received their just reward. Yet my
condition and my situation will be the happiest on that day when I shall have
the infinite pleasure of serving you again and embracing you with all my heart.
This too is all that I can long for and desire, and my only consolation and my
sole comfort lie in this hope and desireâ€¦Addio, for the present, dearest
friend! I am very anxious to get a letter from you. So please do not keep me
waiting and do not make me suffer too long. In the hope of having news from you
very soon, I kiss your hands, I embrace you with all my heart, and am, and ever
shall be, your true and sincere friend.â€
Iâ€™m going to read it over once more and then send it off. It sounds well
enough for me. I really hope that she do write me back if anything else. W.A. Mozart
July 31, 1778
M. Grimm said to me the other day: â€œ What am I to tell your father? What
course do you intend to pursue? Are you staying here or going to Mannheim?â€
It was so hilarious; I really could not help laughing. I told him, â€œWhat am I
suppose to do in Mannheim now?â€ â€œI wish I had never come to Paris- but so
it is. I am here and I must use every effort to make a success of it.â€ He
then wanton to tell me that he hardly thinks that I will achieve much in Paris.
I had to ask him why not. I mean I see a crowd of second-rate bunglers getting
on fine; why shouldnâ€™t I, with my talents? He told me that heâ€™s afraid that
I am not being sufficiently active here- and I do not get about enough. That
was the basis of that brief conversation. But you know what really annoys me?
These stupid French people! They seem to think that I am still seven years old.
Why? Because that was my age when they first saw me. They treat me as if Iâ€™m
a beginner except of course the real musicians, who think very differently. But
everyone knows that itâ€™s the majority that counts. Well I have to go now.
Iâ€™ll write my final thoughts next time. Adieu! W.A. Mozart
August 7, 1778
You, most beloved friend, Confident, are well aware how I detest Salzburg-
and not only on account of the injustices which my dear father and I have
endured there, which would be enough to make us wish to forget such a place and blot it out of our memory for ever! But let us set that aside, if only we can
arrange things so as to be able to live there respectablyâ€¦ Perhaps I would be
misunderstood and give the impression that Salzburg is too small for me? If so,
then that assumption is greatly mistake. I have already given some of my
reasons to my father. In the meantime, content yourself with this one, that
Salzburg is not a place for my talent. In the first place, professional
musicians there are not held in much consideration; and secondly, one hears
nothing, there is not theatre, no Opera; and even if they really wanted one, who
is there to sing? For the last five or six years the Salzburg Orchestra has
always been rich in what is useless and superfluous, but very poor in what is
necessary. I donâ€™t even want to think about this hellhole anymore. I shall
write soon. â€˜Til then. W.A. Mozart
October 13, 1781
Not much news today, just ponderance. It is my view that in an Opera, the
poetry must be without question, the obedient daughter of the music. Why are
Italian Comic Operas so popular everywhere- in spite of their miserable
libretti- even in Paris, where I myself witnessed their success? Because the
music is all-important, and when one listens to it, one forgets everything else.
An Opera is all the more sure of success when the plot is well worked out and
the words are written solely for the music and not added here and there for the
sake of some silly rhyme, which, God knows, contributes nothing to the value of
any theatrical performance, whatever it is, but rather detracts from it. I
mean, words or even entire verses that ruin the composerâ€â„¢s whole concept.
Verse is indeed the most indispensable element for music-but rhymes further own
sake all the most detrimental. Those pretentious people who set to work in this
pedantic fashion will always come to quiet, and so will their music. The best
thing of all is when a good composer, who understands the stage and is talented
enough to have ideas of his own, comes across a skillful poet, that true
phoenix; then one need have no worries even concerning the applause of the
ignorant. Librettists seem to me almost like trumpeters with their tricks of
the trade! If we composers were always to stick just as faithfully to our rules
(which were good enough at a time when no one knew better), we would be
producing music just as mediocre as their mediocre libretti. Well, I think I have attached enough nonsense to you. ‘Til next time!
March 30, 1785
Oh what a wonderful day! Today I met with my dear friend Joseph Hayden. I was
so surprised to have him give me praise by saying: “I must tell you before God,
and as an honest man, that your son is the greatest composer known to me, either
in person or by name.”
Oh what s privilege- what an honor! He is the first truly great composer of
symphonies in my most humble opinion. With dozens of symphonies under his belt,
the symphony became a powerful new vehicle of human expression. His string
quartets, piano sonatas, the works have just been so inspiring to me. I hope that people don’t get the impression that I don’t shed blood,
sweat. People make a mistake who think that my art has come easily to me.
Nobody has devoted so much time and thought to composition as I. There is not a
famous master whose music I haven’t studied over and over.
hard- my music is my life. My music is something that I can never lose touch
with. I do it because I love it. It’s a pleasure playing for people, it
takes me to new heights and I try to take my listeners with me as well. I say-
Understand me- Love me? Give me the best instrument in Europe, but
listeners who understand nothing or do not wish to understand and who do not
feel with me in what I am playing, and all my pleasure is spoilt.
Anyway- I’ll write soon.
May 23, 1789
My Journal, my confident, my close friend. I am still in Berlin and I could
think of nothing but Constanze. I have to write her, for longing further to
myself can only dos o much, but I need to tell her. I am unshakably faithful to
her even in though, She holds her own beauty and I spend half an hour every
single evening looking at my portrait of her. I hope she knows for I write her
long loving letters- she should know that I am concerned; concerned, as a good
husband should be. I should check to see if she keeps every single one of my
letters. It shouldn’t be long until I am with her. On Thursday the 28th, I travel
to Dresden, where I shall spend the night. On June 1, I shall sleep in Prague
and on the 4th- the 4th? – With my dearest little wife; oh she shall prepare â€â€œ
my dear. She shall arrange her dear sweet nest very dainty, for my little
fellow deserves it indeed, he has really behaved himself very well and is only
longing to possess her sweetest – oh so unexplainable! Just picture, that
rascal; as I write he crawls on to the table and looks at me questioningly. I,
however, box his ears- but the rogue is simply unquestionable and now he knave
bums only more fierce and can hardly be restrained.
love. ‘Til then!
May 17, 1790
I am in dire need to write to my dearest friend and brother, Mason Johann
Michael Puchberg. I am at the moment so devoid of funds that I must lower my
standards and beg him, my dearest most humble friend, in God’s name, to
support me with however much he can spare. If, as I hope, I get the other money
in a week or two, I will immediately repay what he is going to lend me now- As
to what I have owed him for so long already. It’s important that I ask him to
be patient. Ahhh me!. If only you knew what grief and worry all this causes
me! Any how- next Saturday I intend to perform my quartets at my home, and I
intend to invite Mason and his wife, cordially. I hope with all my wits that my
dearest, best friend and brother don’t withdraw his friendship on account of
my importunity, but I pray he stands by me. I rely wholly on him and remain
ever in his deepest gratitude. I shall also, when I write to him, to include,
that I have two pupils at present and should like to increase the number to
eight- please, if he would spread the word that I am willing to give lessons.
Well, I’m off.