Mannheim, Nov. 20, 1777.
The gala began again yesterday [in honor of the Elector's name- day]. I went to hear the mass, which was a spick-and-span new composition of Vogler's. Two days ago I was present at the rehearsal in the afternoon, but came away immediately after the Kyrie. I never in my life heard anything like it; there is often false harmony, and he rambles into the different keys as if he wished to drag you into them by the hair of your head; but it neither repays the trouble, nor does it possess any originality, but is only quite abrupt. I shall say nothing of the way in which he carries out his ideas. I only say that no mass of Vogler's can possibly please any composer (who deserves the name). For example, I suddenly hear an idea which is NOT BAD. Well, instead of remaining NOT BAD, no doubt it soon becomes good? Not at all! it becomes not only BAD, but VERY BAD, and this in two or three different ways: namely, scarcely has the thought arisen when something else interferes to destroy it; or he does not finish it naturally, so that it may remain good; or it is not introduced in the right place; or it is finally ruined by bad instrumentation. Such is Vogler's music.
Cannabich composes far better than when we knew him in Paris, but what both mamma and I remarked here at once in the symphonies is, that one begins just like another, always slow and unisono. I must now, dear papa, write you something about the Holy Cross in Augsburg, which I have always forgotten to do. I met with a great many civilities there, and the Prelate is the most good-natured man in the world—a kind, worthy old simpleton, who may be carried off at any moment, for his breath fails sadly. He recently—in fact, the very day we left—had an attack of paralysis. He, and the Dean and Procurator, begged us when we came back to Augsburg to drive straight to the Holy Cross. The Procurator is as jolly as Father Leopold at Seeon. [FOOTNOTE: A cloister in Lower Bavaria, that Wolfgang often visited with his father, as they had a dear friend there, Father Johannes.] My cousin told me beforehand what kind of man he was, so we soon became as well acquainted as if we had known each other for twenty years. I lent him the mass in F, and the first of the short masses in C, and the offertorium in counterpoint in D minor. My fair cousin has undertaken to be custodian of these. I got back the offertorium punctually, having desired that it should be returned first. They all, and even the Prelate, plagued me to give them a litany, De venerabili. I said I had not got it with me. I really was by no means sure; so I searched, but did not find it. They gave me no peace, evidently thinking that I only wished to evade their request; so I said, "I really have not the litany with me; it is at Salzburg. Write to my father; it is his affair. If he chooses to give it to you, well and good; if not, I have nothing to do with it." A letter from the Deacon to you will therefore probably soon make its appearance. Do just as you please, but if you do send him one, let it be the last in E flat; they have voices enough for anything, and a great many people will be assembled at that time; they even write for them to come from a distance, for it is their greatest festival. Adieu!
Mannheim, Nov. 22, 1777.
THE first piece of information that I have to give you is, that my truthful letter to Herr Herzog in Augsburg, puncto Schmalzii, has had a capital effect. He wrote me a very polite letter in return, expressing his annoyance that I should have been received so uncourteously by detto Schmalz [melted butter]; so he herewith sent me a sealed letter to detto Herr Milk, with a bill of exchange for 150 florins on detto Herr Cheese. You must know that, though I only saw Herr Herzog once, I could not resist asking him to send me a draft on Herr Schmalz, or to Herrn Butter, Milk, and Cheese, or whom he would—a ca! This joke has succeeded; it is no good making a poor mouth!
We received this forenoon (the 21st) your letter of the 17th. I was not at home, but at Cannabich's, where Wendling was rehearsing a concerto for which I have written the orchestral accompaniments. To-day at six o'clock the gala concert took place. I had the pleasure of hearing Herr Franzl (who married a sister of Madame Cannabich's) play a concerto on the violin; he pleased me very much. You know that I am no lover of mere difficulties. He plays difficult music, but it does not appear to be so; indeed, it seems as if one could easily do the same, and this is real talent. He has a very fine round tone, not a note wanting, and everything distinct and well accentuated. He has also a beautiful staccato in bowing, both up and down, and I never heard such a double shake as his. In short, though in my opinion no WIZARD, he is a very solid violin-player.—I do wish I could conquer my confounded habit of writing crooked.
I am sorry I was not at Salzburg when that unhappy occurrence took place about Madame Adlgasserin, so that I might have comforted her; and that I would have done—particularly being so handsome a woman. [Footnote: Adlgasser was the organist of the cathedral. His wife was thought very stupid. See the letter of August 26, 1781.] I know already all that you write to me about Mannheim, but I never wish to say anything prematurely; all in good time. Perhaps in my next letter I may tell you of something VERY GOOD in your eyes, but only GOOD in mine; or something you will think VERY BAD, but I TOLERABLE; possibly, too, something only TOLERABLE for you, but VERY GOOD, PRECIOUS, and DELIGHTFUL for me! This sounds rather oracular, does it not? It is ambiguous, but still may be divined.
My regards to Herr Bullinger; every time that I get a letter from you, usually containing a few lines from him, I feel ashamed, as it reminds me that I have never once written to my best and truest friend, from whom I have received so much kindness and civility. But I cannot try to excuse myself. I only beg of him to do so for me as far as possible, and to believe that, as soon as I have a little leisure, I will write to him—as yet I have had none; for from the moment I know that it is even possible or probable that I may leave a place, I have no longer a single hour I can call my own, and though I have now a glimmer of hope, still I shall not be at rest till I know how things are. One of the oracle's sayings must come to pass. I think it will be the middle one or the last—I care not which, for at all events it will be something settled.
I no doubt wrote to you that Holzbauer's grand opera is in German. If not, I write it now. The title is "Gunther von Schwarzburg," but not our worshipful Herr Gunther, barber and councillor at Salzburg! "Rosamunde" is to be given during the ensuing Carnival, the libretto being a recent composition of Wieland's, and the music also a new composition of Herr Schweitzer. Both are to come here. I have already seen some parts of the opera and tried it over on the piano, but I say nothing about it as yet. The target you have had painted for me, to be given in my name to the shooting-match, is first-rate, and the verses inimitable. [Footnote: For cross-bow practice, attended weekly by a circle of his Salzburg friends. On the target was represented "the melancholy farewell of two persons dissolved in tears, Wolfgang and the 'Basle.'"] I have now no more to write, except that I wish you all a good night's rest, and that you may all sleep soundly till this letter comes to wake you. Adieu! I embrace from my heart—cart, my dear sister—blister, and am your dutiful and attached son,
WOLFGANG AMADE MOZART,
Knight of the Golden Spur, Member of the great Verona Academy, Bologna—oui, mon ami!
Mannheim, Nov. 26, 1777.
—MOREOVER, every one acquainted with Mannheim, even the nobility, advised me to come here. The reason why we are still in this place is that I have some thoughts of remaining the winter here, and I am only waiting for an answer from the Elector to decide my plans. The Intendant, Count Savioli, is a very worthy gentleman, and I told him to inform the Elector that, this being such severe weather for travelling, I am willing to remain here to teach the young Count [Carl Theodor's son]. He promised me to do his best for me, but said that I must have patience till the gala days were over. All this took place with the consent and at the SUGGESTION of Cannabich. When I told him that I had spoken to Savioli and what I had said, he replied he really thought it was more likely to be brought about than not. Indeed, Cannabich spoke to the Elector on the subject before the Count did so; and now I must wait to hear the result. I am going to call on Herr Schmalz to draw my 150 florins, for my landlord would no doubt prefer the sound of gold to that of music. I little thought that I should have the gift of a watch here, [see No. 74,] but such is again the case. I would have been off long ago, but every one says to me, "Where do you intend to go for the winter? Travelling is detestable in such weather; stay here." Cannabich also wishes it very much; so now I have taken steps to do so, and as such an affair cannot be hurried, I must wait with patience, and I hope soon to be able to send you good news. I have already two pupils certain, besides the ARCH ones, who certainly won't give me less than a louis each monthly. Without these I could not indeed manage to remain. Now let the matter rest as it is, or as it may be, what avail useless speculations? What is to occur we do not know; still in so far we do! what God wills!
Now for a cheerful allegro—non siete si pegro. [Footnote: "Don't be so desponding."] If we do leave this, we shall go straight to—where? To Weilburg, or whatever the name of the place may be, to the Princess, sister of the Prince of Orange, whom we knew so well at the Hague. There we shall stay—N. B., so long as we like the officers' table, and no doubt receive at least six louis- d'or.
A few days ago Herr Sterkel came here from Wurzburg. The day before yesterday, the 24th, I dined with Cannabich's, and again at Oberstjager von Hagen's, and spent the evening al solito with Cannabich, where Sterkel joined us, [Footnote: Abbe Sterkel, a favorite composer and virtuoso on the piano, whom Beethoven, along with Simrock, Ries, and the two Rombergs, visited in the autumn of 1791, in Aschaffenberg.] and played five duets [sonatas with violin], but so quick that it was difficult to follow the music, and neither distinctly nor in time. Every one said the same. Madlle. Cannabich played my six sonatas, and in fact better than Sterkel. I must now conclude, for I cannot write in bed, and I am too sleepy to sit up any longer.
Mannheim, Nov. 29, 1777.
I RECEIVED this morning your letter of the 24th, and perceive that you cannot reconcile yourself to the chances of good or bad fortune, if, indeed, the latter is to befall us. Hitherto, we four have neither been very lucky nor very unlucky, for which I thank God. You make us many reproaches which we do not deserve. We spend nothing but what is absolutely necessary, and as to what is required on a journey, you know that as well or better than we do. No one BUT MYSELF has been the cause of our remaining so long in Munich; and had I been alone I should have stayed there altogether. Why were we fourteen days in Augsburg? Surely you cannot have got my letters from there? I wished to give a concert. They played me false, so I thus lost eight days. I was absolument determined to go away, but was not allowed, so strong was the wish that I should give a concert. I wished to be urged to do so, and I was urged. I gave the concert; this accounts for the fourteen days. Why did we go direct to Mannheim? This I answered in my last letter. Why are we still here? How can you suppose that I would stay here without good cause? But my father, at all events, should—Well! you shall hear my reasons and the whole course of the affair; but I had quite resolved not to write to you on the subject until I could say something decided, (which even yet I cannot do,) on purpose to avoid causing you care and anxiety, which I always strive to do, for I knew that uncertain intelligence would only fret you. But when you ascribe this to my negligence, thoughtlessness, and indolence, I can only regret your having such an opinion of me, and from my heart grieve that you so little know your son. I am not careless, I am only prepared for the worst; so I can wait and bear everything patiently, so long as my honor and my good name of Mozart remain uninjured. But if it must be so, so let it be. I only beg that you will neither rejoice nor lament prematurely; for whatever may happen, all will be well if we only have health; for happiness exists—merely in the imagination.
Last Thursday week I went in the forenoon to wait on Count Savioli, and asked him if it were possible to induce the Elector to keep me here this winter, as I was anxious to give lessons to his children. His answer was, "I will suggest it to the Elector, and if it depends on me, the thing will certainly be done." In the afternoon I went to Cannabich's, and as I had gone to Savioli by his advice, he immediately asked me if I had been there. I told him everything, on which he said, "I should like you very much to spend the winter with us, but still more to see you in some permanent situation." I replied, "I could wish nothing better than to be settled near you, but I don't see how it is possible. You have already two Capellmeisters, so I don't know what I could have, for I would not be subordinate to Vogler." "That you would never be," said he. "Here not one of the orchestra is under the Capellmeister, nor even under the Intendant. The Elector might appoint you Chamber Court composer; only wait a little, and I will speak to Count Savioli on the subject." On the Thursday after there was a grand concert. When the Count saw me, he apologized for not having yet spoken to the Elector, these being still gala days; but as soon as they were over (next Monday) he would certainly speak to his Royal Highness. I let three days pass, and, still hearing nothing whatever, I went to him to make inquiries. He said, "My good M. Mozart, (this was yesterday, Friday,) today there was a chasse, so it was impossible for me to ask the Elector, but to-morrow at this hour I will certainly give you an answer." I begged him not to forget it. To tell you the truth, when I left him I felt rather indignant, so I resolved to take with me the easiest of my six variations of the Fischer minuet, (which I wrote here for this express purpose,) to present to the young Count, in order to have an opportunity to speak to the Elector myself. When I went there, you cannot conceive the delight of the governess, by whom I was most politely received. When I produced the variations, and said that they were intended for the young Count, she said, "Oh! that is charming, but I hope you have something for the Countess also." "Nothing as yet," said I, "but if I stay here long enough to have time to write something I will do so." "A propos," said she, "I am so glad that you stay the winter here." "I? I have not heard a word of it." "That does surprise me; how very odd! for the Elector told me so himself lately; he said, 'By the by, Mozart remains here all winter.'" "Well, when he said so, he was the only man who could say so, for without the Elector I of course cannot remain here;" and then I told her the whole story. We agreed that I should come the next day (that is, to-day) at four o'clock, and bring some piece of music for the Countess. She was to speak to the Elector before I came; and I should be certain to meet him. I went today, but he had not been there at all; but I shall go again to-morrow. I have written a Rondo for the Countess. Have I not then sufficient cause to stay here and await the result? As this important step is finally taken, ought I at this moment to set off? I have now an opportunity of speaking to the Elector myself. I shall most probably spend the winter here, for I am a favorite with his Royal Highness, who thinks highly of me, and knows what I can do. I hope to be able to give you good news in my next letter. I entreat you once more neither to rejoice nor to be uneasy too soon, and not to confide the affair to any one except Herr Bullinger and my sister. I send my sister the allegro and the andante of the sonata I wrote for Madlle. Cannabich. The Rondo will follow shortly; the packet would have been too heavy had I sent it with the others. You must be satisfied with the original, for you can more easily get it copied for six kreutzers a sheet than I for twenty-four. Is not that dear? Adieu! Possibly you have heard some stray bits of this sonata; for at Cannabich's it is sung three times a day at least, played on the piano and violin, or whistled—only sotto voce, to be sure.
Mannheim, Dec. 3, 1777.
I CAN still write nothing certain about my fate here. Last Monday, after going three days in succession to my ARCH pupils, morning and afternoon, I had the good fortune at last to meet the Elector. We all, indeed, thought that I had again come in vain, as it was so late in the day, but at length we saw him coming. The governess made the Countess seat herself at the piano, and I placed myself beside her to give her a lesson, and it was thus the Elector found us on entering. We rose, but he desired us to continue the lesson. When she had finished playing, the governess addressed him, saying that I had written a beautiful Rondo. I played it, and it pleased him exceedingly. At last he said, "Do you think that she will be able to learn it?" "Oh! yes," said I; "I only wish I had the good fortune to teach it to her myself." He smiled, and said, "I should also like it; but would it not be prejudicial to her to have two masters?" "Oh, no! your Highness," said I; "it all depends on whether she has a good or a bad one. I hope your Highness will place trust and confidence in me." "Oh, assuredly," said he. The governess then said, "M. Mozart has also written these variations on the Fischer minuet for the young Count." I played them, and he seemed to like them much. He now began to jest with the Countess. I thanked him for his present of a watch. He said, "I must reflect on your wish; how long do you intend to remain here?" My answer was, "As long as your Highness commands me to do so;" and then the interview was at an end. I went there again this morning, and was told that the Elector had repeated yesterday, "Mozart stays here this winter." Now I am fairly in for it; so you see I must wait.
I dined to-day (for the fourth time) with Wendling. Before dinner, Count Savioli came in with Capellmeister Schweitzer, who arrived yesterday evening. Savioli said to me, "I spoke again yesterday to the Elector, but he has not yet made up his mind." I answered, "I wish to say a few words to you privately;" so we went to the window. I told him the doubt the Elector had expressed, and complained of the affair dragging on so long, and said how much I had already spent here, entreating him to persuade the Elector to engage me permanently; for I fear that he will give me so little during the winter that it will be impossible for me to remain. "Let him give me work; for I like work." He said he would certainly suggest it to him, but this evening it was out of the question, as he was not to go to court; to-morrow, however, he promised me a decided answer. Now, let what will happen. If he does not engage me, I shall, at all events, apply for a sum of money for my travelling expenses, as I have no intention to make him a present of the Rondo and the variations. I assure you I am very easy on the subject, because I feel quite certain that, come what may, all will go right. I am entirely submissive to the will of God.
Your letter of the 27th arrived yesterday, and I hope you received the allegro and andante of the sonata. I now enclose the Rondo. Schweitzer is a good, worthy, upright man, dry and candid like our Haydn; only his mode of speaking is more polished. There are some very beautiful things in his new opera, and I don't doubt that it will prove a great success. "Alceste" is much liked, and yet it is not half so fine as "Rosamunde." Being the first German operetta no doubt contributed very much to its popularity; but now—N. B., on minds chiefly attracted by novelty—it scarcely makes the same impression. Herr Wieland, whose poetry it is, is also to come here this winter. That is a man I should indeed like to see. Who knows? Perhaps I may. When you read this, dear papa, please God, all will be settled.
If I do stay here, I am going to Paris during Lent with Herr Wendling, Herr Ramm, the hautboy-player, who plays admirably, and Ballet-master Cauchery. Wendling assures me I shall never regret it; he has been twice in Paris, and has only just returned from there. He says, "It is, in fact, the only place where either real fame or money is to be acquired. You are a man of genius; I will put you on the right path. You must write an opera seria and comique, an oratorio, and every kind of thing. Any one who composes a couple of operas in Paris receives a certain sum yearly. There is also the Concert Spirituel and the Academie des Amateurs, where you get five louis-d'or for a symphony. If you teach, the custom is three louis-d'or for twelve lessons; and then you get your sonatas, trios, and quartets published by subscription. Cannabich and Toeschi send a great part of their music to Paris." Wendling is a man who understands travelling. Write me your opinion of this scheme, I beg; it seems to me both wise and profitable. I shall travel with a man who knows all the ins and outs of Paris (as it now is) by heart, for it is very much changed. I should spend very little—indeed, I believe not one half of what I do at present, for I should only have to pay for myself, as mamma would stay here, and probably with the Wendlings.
On the 12th of this month, Herr Ritter, who plays the bassoon beautifully, sets off for Paris. If I had been alone, this would have been a famous opportunity for me; indeed, he spoke to me himself about it. Ramm (hautboy-player) is a good, jolly, worthy man, about thirty-five, who has travelled a great deal, so has much experience. The first and best musicians here like me very much, and respect me too. They always call me Herr Capellmeister. I cannot say how much I regret not having at least the copy of a mass with me, for I should certainly have had it performed, having lately heard one of Holzbauer's, which is also in our style. If I had only a copy of the Misericordias! But so it is, and it can't be helped now. I would have had one transcribed here, but copying does cost so much. Perhaps I should not have got as much for the mass itself as I must have paid for the copy. People here are by no means so very liberal.
Mannheim, Dec. 6, 1777.
I CAN tell you nothing certain yet. I begin to be rather tired of this joke; I am only curious to know the result. Count Savioli has spoken three times to the Elector, and the answer was invariably a shrug of the shoulders, and "I will give you an answer presently, but—I have not yet made up my mind." My kind friends here quite agree with me in thinking that this hesitation and reserve are rather a favorable omen than the reverse. For if the Elector was resolved not to engage me, he would have said so at once; so I attribute the delay to Denari siamo un poco scrocconi [we are a little stingy of our money]. Besides, I know for certain that the Prince likes me; a buon canto, so we must wait. I may now say that it will be very welcome to me if the affair turns out well; if not, I shall much regret having lingered here so long and spent so much money. At all events, whatever the issue may be, it cannot be an evil one if it be the will of God; and my daily prayer is that the result may be in accordance with it. You have indeed, dear papa, rightly guessed the chief cause of Herr Cannabich's friendship for me. There is, however, another small matter in which he can make use of me— namely, he is obliged to publish a collection of all his ballets arranged for the piano. Now, he cannot possibly write these out himself in such a manner that the work may be correct and yet easy. For this purpose I am very welcome to him; (this was the case already with one of his contredanses.) He has been out shooting for the last week, and is not to return till next Tuesday. Such things contribute, indeed, very much to our good friendship; but, independent of this, he would at least never be inimical to me, for he is very much changed. When a man comes to a certain age, and sees his children grown up, he then no doubt thinks a little differently. His daughter, who is fifteen, and his eldest child, is a very pretty, pleasing girl. She has great good sense for her age, and an engaging demeanor; she is rather grave and does not talk much, but what she does say is always amiable and good-natured. She caused me most indescribable pleasure yesterday, by playing my sonata in the most admirable manner. The andante (which must not be played QUICK) she executed with the greatest possible feeling; and she likes to play it. You know that I finished the first allegro when I had been only two days here, and that I had then only seen Madlle. Cannabich once. Young Danner asked me how I intended to compose the andante. "Entirely in accordance with Madlle. Rose's character," said I. When I played it, it seemed to please much. Danner mentioned afterwards what I had said. And it is really so; she is just what the andante is. To-day I dined for the sixth time with Wendling, and for the second time in the company of Herr Schweitzer. To- morrow, by way of a change, I dine there again; I actually have my board there. I must now go to bed, so I wish you good-night.
I have this moment returned from Wendling's, and as soon as I have posted this letter I am going back there, for the opera is to be rehearsed in camera caritatis, as it were. I am going to Cannabich's afterwards, at half-past six o'clock, to give my usual daily music-lesson. A propos, I must correct a statement of mine. I said yesterday that Madlle. Cannabich was fifteen; it seems, however, that she is only just thirteen. Our kind regards to all our friends, especially to Herr Bullinger.
Mannheim, Dec. 10, 1777.
ALL is at an end, for the present, with the Elector. I went to the court concert the day before yesterday, in the hope of getting an answer. Count Savioli evidently wished to avoid me; but I went up to him. When he saw me he shrugged his shoulders. "What!" said I, "still no answer?" "Pardon me!" said he, "but I grieve to say nothing can be done." "Eh, bien!" said I, "the Elector might have told me so sooner!" "True," said he, "but he would not even now have made up his mind, if I had not driven him to it by saying that you had already stayed here too long, spending your money in a hotel." "Truly, that is what vexes me most of all," I replied; "it is very far from pleasant. But, at all events, I am very much indebted to you, Count, (for he is not called "your Excellency,") for having taken my part so zealously, and I beg you will thank the Elector from me for his gracious, though somewhat tardy information; and I can assure him that, had he accepted my services, he never would have had cause to regret it." "Oh!" said he, "I feel more convinced of that than perhaps you think." When I told Herr Wendling of the final decision, he colored and said, quite indignantly, "Then we must find the means; you must, at least, remain here for the next two months, and after that we can go together to Paris. To-morrow Cannabich returns from shooting, and then we can talk further on the subject." I left the concert immediately, and went straight to Madame Cannabich. On my way thither, Herr Schatzmeister having come away from the concert with me, I told him all about it, as he is a good worthy man and a kind friend of mine. You cannot conceive how angry he was. When we went into Madame Cannabich's house, he spoke first, saying, "I bring you a man who shares the usual happy fate of those who have to do with courts." "What!" said Madame, "so it has all come to nothing?" I told her the whole, and in return they related to me numbers of similar things which had occurred here. When Madlle. Rose (who was in the third room from us, busy with the linen) had finished, she came in and said to me, "Do you wish me to begin now?" as it was the hour for her lesson. "I am at your orders," said I. "Do you know," said she, "that I mean to be very attentive to-day?" "I am sure you will," answered I, "for the lessons will not continue much longer." "How so? What do you mean?—Why?" She turned to her mamma, who told her. "What!" said she, "is this quite certain? I cannot believe it." "Yes—yes; quite certain," said I. She then played my sonata, but looked very grave. Do you know, I really could not suppress my tears; and at last they had all tears in their eyes—mother, daughter, and Schatzmeister, for she was playing the sonata at the moment, which is the favorite of the whole family. "Indeed," said Schatzmeister, "if the Herr Capellmeister (I am never called anything else here) leaves us, it will make us all weep." I must say that I have very kind friends here, for it is under such circumstances that we learn to know them; for they are so, not only in words but in deeds. Listen to this! The other day I went, as usual, to dine with Wendling, when he said to me, "Our Indian friend (a Dutchman, who lives on his own means, and is an amateur of all the fine arts, and a great friend and admirer of mine) is certainly an excellent fellow. He will give you twenty florins to write for him three little easy short concertos, and a couple of quattros for a leading flute. Cannabich can get you at least two pupils, who will play well; and you could write duets for the piano and violin, and publish them by subscription. Dinner and supper you will always have with us, and lodgings you have at the Herr Hofkammerrath's; so all this will cost you nothing. As for your mother, we can easily find her a cheap lodging for these two months, till you have had time to write about the matter to your father, when she will leave this for Salzburg and we for Paris." Mamma is quite satisfied; so all that is yet wanting is your consent, of which I feel so sure that, if the time for our journey were now come, I would set off for Paris without waiting for your reply; for I could expect nothing else from a sensible father, hitherto so anxious for the welfare of his children. Herr Wendling, who sends you his compliments, is very intimate with our dear friend Grimm, who, when he was here, spoke a great deal about me to Wendling; this was when he had just come from us at Salzburg. As soon as I receive your answer to this letter, I mean to write to him, for a stranger whom I met at dinner to-day told me that Grimm was now in Paris. As we don't leave this till the 8th of March, I beg you, if possible, to try to procure for me, either through Herr Mesmer at Vienna, or some one else, a letter to the Queen of France, if it can be done without much difficulty; if not, it does not much matter. It would be better if I could have one—of that there is no doubt; this is also the advice of Herr Wendling. I suppose what I am now writing must appear very strange to you, because you are in a city where there are only stupid enemies, and weak and simple friends, whose dreary daily bread at Salzburg is so essential to them, that they become flatterers, and are not to be depended on from day to day. Indeed, this was why I wrote you nothing but childish nonsense, and jokes, and folly; I wished to await the event here, to save you from vexation, and my good friends from blame; for you very unwarrantably accuse them of working against me in an underhand way, which they certainly never did. Your letters obliged me to relate the whole affair to you. I entreat you most earnestly not to distress yourself on the subject; God has willed it so. Reflect also on this most undoubted truth, that we cannot do all we wish. We often think that such and such a thing would be very good, and another equally bad and evil, and yet if these things came to pass, we should sometimes learn that the very reverse was the case.
I must now go to bed. I shall have plenty of work to do during the two months of my stay,—three concertos, two quartets, five or six duets for the piano, and I also have thoughts of composing a new grand mass, and dedicating it to the Elector. Adieu! I will write to Prince Zeill next post-day to press forward matters in Munich; if you would also write to him, I should be very glad. But short and to the point—no cringing! for that I cannot bear. It is quite certain that he can do it if he likes, for all Munich told me so [see Nos. 56 and 60].
Mannheim, Dec. 14, 1777.
I CAN only write a few words, as I did not get home till four o'clock, when I had a lesson to give to the young lady of the house. It is now nearly half-past five, so time to close my letter. I will ask mamma to write a few days beforehand, so that all our news may not be of the same date, for I can't easily do this. The little time that I have for writing must be devoted to composition, for I have a great deal of work before me. I entreat you to answer me very soon as to my journey to Paris. I played over my concertone on the piano to Herr Wendling, who said it was just the thing for Paris; if I were to play that to Baron Bach, he would be in ecstasies. Adieu!
[A P.S. TO A LETTER FROM HIS MOTHER.]
Mannheim, Dec. 18, 1777.
IN the greatest haste and hurry! The organ that was tried to-day in the Lutheran church is very good, not only in certain registers, but in its whole compass. [Footnote: The mother writes: "A Lutheran of degree called on us to-day, and invited Wolfgang, with all due politeness, to try their new organ."] Vogler played on it. He is only a juggler, so to speak; as soon as he wishes to play in a majestic style, he becomes dull. Happily this seems equally tedious to himself, so it does not last long; but then, what follows? only an incomprehensible scramble. I listened to him from a distance. He began a fugue, in chords of six notes, and presto. I then went up to him, for I would far rather see than hear him. There were a great many people present, and among the musicians Holzbauer, Cannabich, Toeschi, &c.
A quartet for the Indian Dutchman, that true benefactor of man, will soon be finished. A propos, Herr told me that he had written to you by the last post. Addio! I was lately obliged to direct the opera with some violins at Wendling's, Schweitzer being unwell.
Mannheim, Dec. 20, 1777.
I WISH you, dearest papa, a very happy new-year, and that your health, so precious in my eyes, may daily improve, for the benefit and happiness of your wife and children, the satisfaction of your true friends, and for the annoyance and vexation of your enemies. I hope also that in the coming year you will love me with the same fatherly tenderness you have hitherto shown me. I on my part will strive, and honestly strive, to deserve still more the love of such an admirable father. I was cordially delighted with your last letter of the 15th of December, for, thank God! I could gather from it that you are very well indeed. We, too, are in perfect health, God be praised! Mine is not likely to fail if constant work can preserve it. I am writing this at eleven at night, because I have no other leisure time. We cannot very well rise before eight o'clock, for in our rooms (on the ground-floor) it is not light till half-past eight. I then dress quickly; at ten o'clock I sit down to compose till twelve or half-past twelve, when I go to Wendling's, where I generally write till half-past one; we then dine. At three o'clock I go to the Mainzer Hof (an hotel) to a Dutch officer, to give him lessons in galanterie playing and thorough bass, for which, if I mistake not, he gives me four ducats for twelve lessons. At four o'clock I go home to teach the daughter of the house. We never begin till half past four, as we wait for lights. At six o'clock I go to Cannabich's to instruct Madlle. Rose. I stay to supper there, when we converse and sometimes play; I then invariably take a book out of my pocket and read, as I used to do at Salzburg. I have already written to you the pleasure your last letter caused me, which is quite true; only one thing rather vexed me, the inquiry whether I had not perchance forgotten to go to confession. I shall not say anything further on this. Only allow me to make you one request, which is, not to think so badly of me. I like to be merry, but rest assured that I can be as serious as any one. Since I quitted Salzburg (and even in Salzburg) I have met with people who spoke and acted in a way that I should have felt ashamed to do, though they were ten, twenty, and thirty years older than myself. I implore of you therefore once more, and most earnestly, to have a better opinion of me.
Mannheim, Dec. 27, 1777.
A PRETTY sort of paper this! I only wish I could make it better; but it is now too late to send for any other. You know, from our previous letters, that mamma and I have a capital lodging. It never was my intention that she should live apart from me; in fact, when the Hofkammerrath Serrarius so kindly offered me his house, I only expressed my thanks, which is by no means saying yes. The next day I went to see him with Herr Wendling and M. de Jean (our worthy Dutchman), and only waited till he should himself begin the subject. At length he renewed his offer, and I thanked him in these words: "I feel that it is a true proof of friendship on your part to do me the honor to invite me to live in your house; but I regret that unfortunately I cannot accept your most kind proposal. I am sure you will not take it amiss when I say that I am unwilling to allow my mother to leave me without sufficient cause; and I certainly know no reason why mamma should live in one part of the town and I in another. When I go to Paris, her not going with me would be a considerable pecuniary advantage to me, but here for a couple of months a few gulden more or less do not signify."
By this speech my wish was entirely fulfilled,—that is, that our board and lodging do not at all events make us poorer. I must go up-stairs to supper, for we have now chatted till half-past ten o'clock. I lately went with my scholar, the Dutch officer, M. de la Pottrie, into the Reformed church, where I played for an hour and a half on the organ. It came right from my heart too. We— that is, the Cannabichs, Wendlings, Serrariuses, and Mozarts—are going to the Lutheran Church, where I shall amuse myself gloriously on the organ. I tried its tone at the same rehearsal that I wrote to you about, but played very little, only a prelude and a fugue.
I have made acquaintance with Herr Wieland. He does not, however, know me as I know him, for he has heard nothing of me as yet. I had not at all imagined him to be what I find him. He speaks in rather a constrained way, and has a childish voice, his eyes very watery, and a certain pedantic uncouthness, and yet at times provokingly condescending. I am not, however, surprised that he should choose to behave in this way at Mannheim, though no doubt very differently at Weimar and elsewhere, for here he is stared at as if he had fallen from the skies. People seem to be so ceremonious in his presence, no one speaks, all are as still as possible, striving to catch every word he utters. It is unlucky that they are kept so long in expectation, for he has some impediment in his speech which causes him to speak very slowly, and he cannot say six words without pausing. Otherwise he is, as we all know, a man of excellent parts. His face is downright ugly and seamed with the small-pox, and he has a long nose. His height is rather beyond that of papa.
You need have no misgivings as to the Dutchman's 200 florins. I must now conclude, as I should like to compose for a little time. One thing more: I suppose I had better not write to Prince Zeill at present. The reason you no doubt already know, (Munich being nearer to Salzburg than to Mannheim,) that the Elector is at the point of death from small-pox. This is certain, so there will be a struggle there. Farewell! As for mamma's journey home, I think it could be managed best during Lent, by her joining some merchants. This is only my own idea; but what I do feel quite sure of is, that whatever you think right will be best, for you are not only the Herr Hofcapellmeister, but the most rational of all rational beings. If you know such a person as papa, tell him I kiss his hands 1000 times, and embrace my sister from my heart, and in spite of all this scribbling I am your dutiful son and affectionate brother.
Mannheim, Jan. 7, 1778.
I HOPE you are both well. I am, thank God! in good health and spirits. You may easily conceive my sorrow at the death of the Elector of Bavaria. My sole wish is that our Elector here may have the whole of Bavaria, and transfer himself to Munich. I think you also would like this. This forenoon at twelve o'clock, Carl Theodor was proclaimed at court Duke of Bavaria. At Munich, Count Daun, Oberststallmeister, immediately on the death of the Prince, received homage in the name of the Elector, and sent the dragoons to ride all round the environs of the city with trumpets and kettledrums, and to shout "Long live our Elector, Carl Theodor!" If all goes well, as I hope it may, Count Daun will receive a very handsome present. His aid-de-camp, whom he dispatched here with the tidings, (his name is Lilienau,) got 3000 florins from the Elector.
Mannheim, Jan 10, 1778
YES, indeed! I also wish that from my heart. [Footnote: In the mother's letter, she had written, "May God grant us the blessing of peace'" for there was much talk about the invasion of Bavaria by the Prussians and Austrians, on account of the succession.] You have already learned my true desire from my last letter. It is really high time that we should think of mamma's journey home, for though we have had various rehearsals of the opera, still its being performed is by no means certain, and if it is not given, we shall probably leave this on the 15th of February. When that time arrives, (after receiving your advice on the subject,) I mean to follow the opinions and habits of my fellow-travellers, and, like them, order a suit of black clothes, reserving the laced suit for Germany, as it is no longer the fashion in Paris. In the first place, it is an economy, (which is my chief object in my Paris journey,) and, secondly, it wears well and suits both country and town. You can go anywhere with a black coat. To-day the tailor brought Herr Wendling his suit. The clothes I think of taking with me are my puce-brown spagnolet coat, and the two waistcoats.
Now for something else. Herr Wieland, after meeting me twice, seems quite enchanted with me. The last time, after every sort of eulogium, he said, "It is really fortunate for me having met you here," and pressed my hand. To-day "Rosamunde" has been rehearsed in the theatre; it is well enough, but nothing more, for if it were positively bad it could not be performed, I suppose,—just as some people cannot sleep without lying in a bed! But there is no rule without an exception, and I have seen an instance of this; so good night! Now for something more to the purpose. I know for certain that the Emperor intends to establish a German opera in Vienna, and is eagerly looking out for a young Capellmeister who understands the German language, and has genius, and is capable of bringing something new into the world. Benda at Gotha has applied, but Schweitzer is determined to succeed. I think it would be just the thing for me, but well paid of course. If the Emperor gives me 1000 gulden, I will write a German opera for him, and if he does not choose to give me a permanent engagement, it is all the same to me. Pray write to every kind friend you can think of in Vienna, that I am capable of doing credit to the Emperor. If he will do nothing else, he may at least try me with an opera, and as to what may occur hereafter I care not. Adieu! I hope you will put the thing in train at once, or some one may forestall me.
Mannheim, Jan. 17, 1778.
NEXT Wednesday I am going for some days to Kirchheim-Boland, the residence of the Princess of Orange. I have heard so much praise of her here, that at last I have resolved to go. A Dutch officer, a particular friend of mine, [M. de la Pottrie,] was much upbraided by her for not bringing me with him when he went to offer his new-year's congratulations. I expect to receive at least eight louis-d'or, for as she has a passionate admiration of singing, I have had four arias copied out for her. I will also present her with a symphony, for she has a very nice orchestra and gives a concert every day. Besides, the copying of the airs will not cost me much, for a M. Weber who is going there with me has copied them. He has a daughter who sings admirably, and has a lovely pure voice; she is only fifteen. [Footnote: Aloysia, second daughter of the prompter and theatrical copyist, Weber, a brother of Carl Maria von Weber's father.] She fails in nothing but in stage action; were it not for that, she might be the prima donna of any theatre. Her father is a downright honest German who brings up his children well, for which very reason the girl is persecuted here. He has six children,—five girls and a son. He and his wife and children have been obliged to live for the last fourteen years on an income of 200 florins, but as he has always done his duty well, and has lately provided a very accomplished singer for the Elector, he has now actually 400 florins. My aria for De' Amicis she sings to perfection with all its tremendous passages: she is to sing it at Kirchheim-Boland.
Now for another subject. Last Wednesday there was a great feast in our house, [at Hofkammerrath Serrarius's,] to which I was also invited. There were fifteen guests, and the young lady of the house [Pierron, the "House Nymph"] was to play in the evening the concerto I had taught her at eleven o'clock in the forenoon. The Herr Kammerrath and Herr Vogler called on me. Herr Vogler seems quite determined to become acquainted with me, as he often importuned me to go to see him, but he has overcome his pride and paid me the first visit. Besides, people tell me that he is now very different, being no longer so much admired; for at first he was made quite an idol of here. We went up-stairs together, when by degrees the guests assembled, and there was no end to talking. After dinner, Vogler sent for two pianos of his, which were tuned alike, and also his wearisome engraved sonatas. I had to play them, while he accompanied me on the other piano. At his urgent request I sent for my sonatas also. N. B.—Before dinner he had scrambled through my sonata at sight, (the Litzau one which the young lady of the house plays.) He took the first part prestissimo—the Andante allegro—and the Rondo more prestissimo still. He played great part of the bass very differently from the way in which it is written, inventing at times quite another harmony and melody. It is impossible to do otherwise in playing at such a pace, for the eyes cannot see the notes, nor the hands get hold of them. What merit is there in this? The listeners (I mean those worthy of the name) can only say that they have SEEN music and piano-playing. All this makes them hear, and think, and feel as little—as he does. You may easily believe that this was beyond all endurance, because I could not venture to say to him MUCH TOO QUICK! besides, it is far easier to play a thing quickly than slowly; some notes may then be dropped without being observed. But is this genuine music? In rapid playing the right and left hands may be changed, and no one either see or hear it; but is this good? and in what does the art of reading prima vista consist? In this—to play the piece in the time in which it ought to be played, and to express all the notes and apoggiaturas, &c., with proper taste and feeling as written, so that it should give the impression of being composed by the person who plays it. His fingering also is miserable; his left thumb is just like that of the late Adlgasser, all the runs downwards with the right hand he makes with the first finger and thumb!
Mannheim, Feb. 2 1778.
I COULD no delay writing to you till the usual Saturday arrived, because it was so long since I had the pleasure of conversing with you by means of my pen. The first thing I mean to write about is how my worthy friends and I got on at Kirchheim-Boland. It was simply a holiday excursion, and nothing more. On Friday morning at eight o'clock we drove away from here, after I had breakfasted with Herr Weber. We had a capital covered coach which held four; at four o'clock we arrived at Kirchheim-Boland. We immediately sent a list of our names to the palace. Next morning early, Herr Concertmeister Rothfischer called on us. He had been already described to me at Mannheim as a most honorable man, and such I find him to be. In the evening we went to court, (this was on Saturday,) where Madlle. Weber sang three airs. I say nothing of her singing, but it is indeed admirable. I wrote to you lately with regard to her merits; but I cannot finish this letter without writing further about her, as I have only recently known her well, so now first discover her great powers. We dined afterwards at the officers' table. Next day we went some distance to church, for the Catholic one is rather far away. This was on Sunday. In the forenoon we dined again with the officers. In the evening there was no music, because it was Sunday. Thus they have music only 300 times during the year. In the evening we might have supped at court, but we preferred being all together at the inn. We would gladly have made them a present also of the dinners at the officers' table, for we were never so pleased as when by ourselves; but economy rather entered our thoughts, since we were obliged to pay heavily enough at the inn.
The following day, Monday, we had music again, and also on Tuesday and Wednesday. Madlle. Weber sang in all thirteen times, and played twice on the piano, for she plays by no means badly. What surprises me most is, that she reads music so well. Only think of her playing my difficult sonatas at sight, SLOWLY, but without missing a single note. I give you my honor I would rather hear my sonatas played by her than by Vogler. I played twelve times, and once, by desire, on the organ of the Lutheran church. I presented the Princess with four symphonies, and received only seven louis-d'or in silver, and our poor dear Madlle. Weber only five. This I certainly did not anticipate! I never expected great things, but at all events I hoped that each of us would at least receive eight louis-d'or. Basta! We were not, however, losers, for I have a profit of forty-two florins, and the inexpressible pleasure of becoming better acquainted with worthy upright Christian people, and good Catholics, I regret much not having known them long ago.
The 4th.—Now comes something urgent, about which I request an answer. Mamma and I have discussed the matter, and we agree that we do not like the sort of life the Wendlings lead. Wendling is a very honorable and kind man, but unhappily devoid of all religion, and the whole family are the same. I say enough when I tell you that his daughter was a most disreputable character. Ramm is a good fellow, but a libertine. I know myself, and I have such a sense of religion that I shall never do anything which I would not do before the whole world; but I am alarmed even at the very thoughts of being in the society of people, during my journey, whose mode of thinking is so entirely different from mine (and from that of all good people). But of course they must do as they please. I have no heart to travel with them, nor could I enjoy one pleasant hour, nor know what to talk about; for, in short, I have no great confidence in them. Friends who have no religion cannot he long our friends. I have already given them a hint of this by saying that during my absence three letters had arrived, of which I could for the present divulge nothing further than that it was unlikely I should be able to go with them to Paris, but that perhaps I might come later, or possibly go elsewhere; so they must not depend on me. I shall be able to finish my music now quite at my ease for De Jean, who is to give me 200 florins for it. I can remain here as long as I please, and neither board nor lodging cost me anything. In the meantime Herr Weber will endeavor to make various engagements for concerts with me, and then we shall travel together. If I am with him, it is just as if I were with you. This is the reason that I like him so much; except in personal appearance, he resembles you in all respects, and has exactly your character and mode of thinking. If my mother were not, as you know, too COMFORTABLY LAZY to write, she would say precisely what I do. I must confess that I much enjoyed my excursion with them. We were pleased and merry; I heard a man converse just like you; I had no occasion to trouble myself about anything; what was torn I found repaired. In short, I was treated like a prince. I am so attached to this oppressed family that my greatest wish is to make them happy, and perhaps I may be able to do so. My advice is that they should go to Italy, so I am all anxiety for you to write to our good friend Lugiati [impresario], and the sooner the better, to inquire what are the highest terms given to a prima donna in Verona—the more the better, for it is always easy to accept lower terms. Perhaps it would be possible to obtain the Ascensa in Venice. I will be answerable with my life for her singing, and her doing credit to my recommendation. She has, even during this short period, derived much profit from me, and how much further progress she will have made by that time! I have no fears either with regard to her acting. If this plan be realized, M. Weber, his two daughters, and I, will have the happiness of visiting my dear papa and dear sister for a fortnight, on our way through Salzburg. My sister will find a friend and companion in Madlle. Weber, for, like my sister in Salzburg, she enjoys the best reputation here, owing to the careful way in which she has been brought up; the father resembles you, and the whole family that of Mozart. They have indeed detractors, as with us, but when it comes to the point they must confess the truth; and truth lasts longest. I should be glad to go with them to Salzburg, that you might hear her. My air that De' Amicis used to sing, and the bravura aria "Parto m' affretto," and "Dalla sponda tenebrosa," she sings splendidly. Pray do all you can to insure our going to Italy together. You know my greatest desire is—to write operas.
I will gladly write an opera for Verona for thirty zecchini, solely that Madlle. Weber may acquire fame by it; for, if I do not, I fear she may be sacrificed. Before then I hope to make so much money by visiting different places that I shall be no loser. I think we shall go to Switzerland, perhaps also to Holland; pray write to me soon about this. Should we stay long anywhere, the eldest daughter [Josepha, afterwards Madaine Hofer, for whom the part of the Queen of the Night in the "Flauto magico" was written] would be of the greatest use to us; for we could have our own menage, as she understands cooking.
Send me an answer soon, I beg. Don't forget my wish to write an opera; I envy every person who writes one; I could almost weep from vexation when I hear or see an aria. But Italian, not German—seria, not buffa! I have now written you all that is in my heart; my mother is satisfied with my plan.
The mother, however, adds the following postscript:—
"No doubt you perceive by the accompanying letter that when Wolfgang makes new friends he would give his life for them. It is true that she does sing incomparably; still, we ought not to lose sight of our own interests. I never liked his being in the society of Wendling and Ramm, but I did not venture to object to it, nor would he have listened to me; but no sooner did he know these Webers than he instantly changed his mind. In short, he prefers other people to me, for I remonstrate with him sometimes, and that he does not like. I write this quite secretly while he is at dinner, for I don't wish him to know it."
A few days later Wolfgang urges his father still more strongly.
Mannheim, Feb. 7, 1778.
HERR SCHIEDENHOFEN might have let me know long ago through you that his wedding was soon to take place [see Nos. 7, 10, 19], and I would have composed a new minuet for the occasion. I cordially wish him joy; but his is, after all, only one of those money matches, and nothing else! I hope never to marry in this way; I wish to make my wife happy, but not to become rich by her means; so I will let things alone, and enjoy my golden freedom till I am so well off that I can support both wife and children. Herr Schiedenhofen was forced to choose a rich wife; his title imposed this on him. The nobility must not marry for love or from inclination, but from interest, and all kinds of other considerations. It would not at all suit a grandee to love his wife after she had done her duty, and brought into the world an heir to the property. But we poor humble people are privileged not only to choose a wife who loves us, and whom we love, but we may, can, and do take such a one, because we are neither noble, nor highborn, nor rich, but, on the contrary, lowly, humble, and poor; we therefore need no wealthy wife, for our riches being in our heads, die with us, and these no man can deprive us of unless he cut them off, in which case we need nothing more.
I lately wrote to you my chief reason for not going to Paris with these people, but another is that I have reflected well on what I have to do in Paris. I could not get on passably without pupils, which is a kind of work that does not suit me—of this I have a strong example here. I might have had two pupils: I went three times to each, but finding one of them not at home, I never went back. I am willing to give lessons out of complaisance, especially when I see genius, and inclination and anxiety to learn; but to be obliged to go to a house at a certain hour, or else to wait at home, is what I cannot submit to, if I were to gain twice what I do. I find it impossible, so must leave it to those who can do nothing but play the piano. I am a composer, and born to become a Kapellmeister, and I neither can nor ought thus to bury the talent for composition with which God has so richly endowed me (I may say this without arrogance, for I feel it now more than ever); and this I should do were I to take many pupils, for it is a most unsettled metier; and I would rather, SO TO SPEAK, neglect the piano than composition, for I look on the piano to be only a secondary consideration, though, thank God! a very strong one too. My third reason is, that I am by no means sure our friend Grimm is in Paris. If he is, I can go there at any time with the post-carriage, for a capital one travels from here to Paris by Strassburg. We intended at all events to have gone by it. They travel also in this way. Herr Wendling is inconsolable at my not going with them, but I believe this proceeds more from self-interest than from friendship. Besides the reason I gave him (about the three letters that had come during my absence), I also told him about the pupils, and begged him to procure something certain for me, in which case I would be only too glad to follow him to Paris, (for I can easily do so,)— above all, if I am to write an opera, which is always in my thoughts; but French rather than German, and Italian rather than French or German. The Wendlings, one and all, are of opinion that my compositions would please much in Paris. I have no fears on the subject, for, as you know, I can pretty well adapt or conform myself to any style of composition. Shortly after my arrival I composed a French song for Madlle. Gustel (the daughter), who gave me the words, and she sings it inimitably. I have the pleasure to enclose it for you. It is sung every day at Wendling's, for they are quite infatuated with it.
Mannheim, Feb. 14, 1778.
I PERCEIVE by your letter of the 9th of February that you have not yet received my last two letters. Wendling and Kamm leave this early to-morrow morning. If I thought that you would be really displeased with me for not going to Paris with them, I should repent having stayed here; but I hope it is not so. The road to Paris is still open to me. Wendling has promised to inquire immediately about Herr Grimm, and to send me information at once. With such a friend in Paris, I certainly shall go there, for no doubt he will bring something to bear for me. The main cause of my not going with them is, that we have not been able to arrange about mamma returning to Augsburg. The journey will not cost much, for there are vetturini here who can be engaged at a cheap rate. By that time, however, I hope to have made enough to pay mamma's journey home. Just now I don't really see that it is possible. Herr de Jean sets off to-morrow for Paris, and as I have only finished two concertos and three quartets for him, he sent me 96 florins (having made a mistake of four florins, thinking this sum the half of the 200); he must, however, pay me in full, for such was the agreement I made with Wendling, and I can send him the other pieces. It is not surprising that I have been unable to finish them, for I never have a single quiet hour here. I can only write at night, so I cannot rise early; besides, one is not always disposed to work. I could, to be sure, scrawl away all day, but a thing of this kind goes forth to the world, and I am resolved not to have cause to be ashamed of my name on the title-page. Moreover, you know that I become quite obtuse when obliged to write perpetually for an instrument that I cannot bear; so from time to time I do something else, such as duets for the piano and violin, and I also worked at the mass. Now I have begun the pianoforte duets in good earnest, in order to publish them. If the Elector were only here, I would very quickly finish the mass; but what must be must be!
I am very grateful to you, dear papa, for your fatherly letter; I will preserve it as a treasure, and always refer to it. Pray do not forget about my mother's journey from Augsburg to Salzburg, and let me know the precise day; and I beg you will also remember the arias I mentioned in my last letter. If I recollect rightly, there are also some cadenzas which I once jotted down, and at all events an aria cantabile with coloraturas? I wish to have these first, for they will serve as exercises for Madlle. Weber. I have just taught her an andantino cantabile of Bach's. Yesterday there was a concert at Cannabich's, where from first to last all the music was of my composition, except the first symphony, which was Cannabich's. Madlle. Rose played my concerto in B, then Herr Ramm (by way of a change) played for the fifth time the hautboy concerto dedicated to Ferlendi, which makes a great sensation here. It is now quite Ramm's cheval de bataille. Madlle. Weber sang De' Amicis's aria di bravura quite charmingly. Then I played my old concerto in D, because it is such a favorite here, and likewise extemporized for half an hour, after which Madlle. Weber sang De' Amicis's air, "Parto m' affretto;" and, as a finale, my symphony "Il Re Pastore" was given. I do entreat you urgently to interest yourself in Madlle. Weber; it would make me so happy if good-fortune were to attend her. Husband and wife, five children, and a salary of 450 florins! Don't forget about Italy, and my desire to go there; you know my strong wish and passion. I hope all may go right. I place my trust in God, who will never forsake us. Now farewell, and don't forget all my requests and recommendations.
These letters alarmed the father exceedingly, so he wrote a long and very earnest letter to his son as follows:—"The object of your journey was to assist your parents, and to contribute to your dear sister's welfare, but, above all, that you might acquire honor and fame in the world, which you in some degree did in your boyhood; and now it rests entirely with you to raise yourself by degrees to one of the highest positions ever attained by any musician. This is a duty you owe to a kind Providence in return for the remarkable talents with which He has gifted you; and it depends wholly on your own good sense and good conduct, whether you become a commonplace artist whom the world will forget, or a celebrated Capellmeister, of whom posterity will read hereafter in books,—whether, infatuated with some pretty face, you one day breathe your last on a straw sack, your wife and children in a state of starvation, or, after a well-spent Christian life, die peacefully in honor and independence, and your family well provided for." He goes on to represent to him how little he has hitherto fulfilled the object of his journey, and, above all, the folly of wishing to place so young a girl on the Italian stage as a prima donna, both time and great training being previously required. Moreover, it would be quite unworthy of him to wander about the world with strangers, and to compose at random merely for money. "Get off to Paris without delay. Take your place by the side of really great people. Aut Caesar aut nihil. The very idea of Paris should have guarded you from all passing fancies."
To this Wolfgang replies:—
Mannheim, Feb. 19, 1778.
I ALWAYS thought that you would disapprove of my journey with the Webers, but I never had any such intention—I mean, UNDER PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES. I gave them my word of honor to write to you to that effect. Herr Weber does not know how we stand, and I certainly shall tell it to no one. I wish my position had been such that I had no cause to consider any one else, and that we were all independent; but in the intoxication of the moment I forgot the present impossibility of the affair, and also to tell you what I had done. The reasons of my not being now in Paris must be evident to you from my last two letters. If my mother had not first begun on the subject, I certainly would have gone with my friends; but when I saw that she did not like it, I began to dislike it also. When people lose confidence in me, I am apt to lose confidence in myself. The days when, standing on a stool, I sang Oragna fiaguta fa, [Footnote: Words sounding like Italian, but devoid of meaning, for which he had invented a melody. Nissen gives it in his Life of Mozart, p. 35.] and at the end kissed the tip of your nose, are indeed gone by; but still, have my reverence, love, and obedience towards yourself ever failed on that account? I say no more. As for your reproach about the little singer in Munich [see No. 62], I must confess that I was an ass to write such a complete falsehood. She does not as yet know even what singing means. It was true that, for a person who had only learned music for three months, she sang surprisingly; and, besides, she has a pleasing pure voice. The reason why I praised her so much was probably my hearing people say, from morning to night, "There is no better singer in all Europe; those who have not heard her have heard nothing." I did not venture to disagree with them, partly because I wished to acquire friends, and partly because I had come direct from Salzburg, where we are not in the habit of contradicting any one; but as soon as I was alone I never could help laughing. Why, then, did I not laugh at her in my letter to you? I really cannot tell.
The bitter way in which you write about my merry and innocent intercourse with your brother's daughter, makes me justly indignant; but as it is not as you think, I require to give you no answer on the subject. I don't know what to say about Wallerstein; I was very grave and reserved with Becke, and at the officers' table also I had a very serious demeanor, not saying one word to anybody. But let this all pass; you only wrote it in a moment of irritation [see No. 74]. Your remarks about Madlle. Weber are just; but at the time I wrote to you I knew quite as well as you that she is still too young, and must be first taught how to act, and must rehearse frequently on the stage. But with some people one must proceed step by step. These good people are as tired of being here as—you know WHO and WHERE, [meaning the Mozarts, father and son, in Salzburg,] and they think everything feasible. I promised them to write everything to my father; but when the letter was sent off to Salzburg, I constantly told her that she must have a little patience, for she was still rather too young, &c. They take in all I say in good part, for they have a high opinion of me. By my advice, Herr Weber has engaged Madlle. Toscani (an actress) to give his daughter lessons in acting. All you write of Madlle. Weber is true, except, that she sings like a Gabrielli, [see Nos. 10, 37,] for I should not at all like her to sing in that style. Those who have heard Gabrielli say, and must say, that she was only an adept in runs and roulades; but as she adopted so uncommon a reading, she gained admiration, which, however, did not last longer than hearing her four times. She could not please in the long run, for roulades soon become very tiresome, and she had the misfortune of not being able to sing. She was not capable of sustaining a breve properly, and having no messa di voce, she could not dwell on her notes; in short, she sang with skill, but devoid of intelligence. Madlle. Weber's singing, on the contrary, goes to the heart, and she prefers a cantabile. I have lately made her practise the passages in the Grand Aria, because, if she goes to Italy, it is necessary that she should sing bravuras. The cantabile she certainly will never forget, being her natural bent. Raaff (who is no flatterer), when asked to give his sincere opinion, said, "She does not sing like a scholar, but like a professor."
So now you know everything. I do still recommend her to you with my whole heart, and I beg you will not forget about the arias, cadenzas, &c. I can scarcely write from actual hunger. My mother will display the contents of our large money-box. I embrace my sister lovingly. She is not to lament about every trifle, or I will never come back to her.
Mannheim, Feb. 22, 1778.
I HAVE been now two days confined to the house, and taking antispasmodics, black powders, and elderflower tea as a sudorific, because I have had a catarrh, a cold in my head, sore throat, headache, pains in my eyes, and earache; but, thank God, I am now better, and hope to be able to go out tomorrow, being Sunday. I got your letter of the 16th and the two unsealed letters of introduction for Paris. I rejoice that my French song pleases you [see No. 92]. You must forgive my not writing much this time, but I really cannot—I am so afraid of bringing back my headache, and, besides, I feel no inclination to write to-day. It is impossible to write all we think—at least, I find it to be so. I would rather say it than write it. My last letter told you the whole thing just as it stands. Believe what you please of me, only nothing bad. There are people who think no one can love a poor girl without evil designs. But I am no Brunetti [a violinist in Salzburg], no Misliweczeck. I am a Mozart; and, though young, still a high-principled Mozart. Pardon me if, in my eagerness, I become somewhat excited—which is, I suppose, the term, though I might rather say, if I write as I feel. I might have said a great deal on this subject, but I cannot—I feel it to be impossible. Among my many faults I have also that of believing that those friends who know me, do so thoroughly. Then many words are not necessary; and if they do not know me, oh! how could I find words sufficient? It is painful enough to employ words and letters for such a purpose. This, however, is not at all meant to apply to you, dearest papa. No! You understand me too well, and you are too kind to try to deprive any one of his good name. I only meant it for—you can guess to whom I allude—to people who can believe such a thing.
I have resolved to stay in the house to-day, although Sunday, as it is snowing heavily. To-morrow I must go out, for our "house- nymph," Madlle. Pierron, my highly esteemed pupil, who has usually a French concert every Monday, intends to scramble through my hochgrafliche Litzau concerto. I also mean, for my sins, to let them give me something to hack away at, and show that I can do something too prima fista; for I am a regular greenhorn, and all I can do is to strum a little on the piano! I must now conclude, being more disposed to-day to write music than letters. Don't forget the cadenzas and the cantabile. Many thanks for having had the arias written out so quickly, for it shows that you place confidence in me when I beg a favor of you.
Mannheim, Feb. 28, 1778.
I HOPE to receive the arias next Friday or Saturday, although in your last letter you made no further mention of them, so I don't know whether you sent them off on the 22d by the post-carriage. I hope so, for I should like to play and sing them to Madlle. Weber. I was yesterday at Raafl's to take him an aria that I lately wrote for him [Kochel, No. 295]. The words are—"Se al labbro mio non credi, nemica mia." I don't think they are by Metastasio. The aria pleased him beyond all measure. It is necessary to be very particular with a man of this kind. I chose these words expressly, because he had already composed an aria for them, so of course he can sing it with greater facility, and more agreeably to himself. I told him to say honestly if it did not suit his voice or please him, for I would alter it if he wished, or write another. "Heaven forbid!" said he; "it must remain just as it is, for nothing can be more beautiful. I only wish you to curtail it a little, for I am no longer able to sustain my voice through so long a piece." "Most gladly," I answered, "as much as ever you please; I made it purposely rather long, for it is always easy to shorten, but not so easy to lengthen." After he had sung the second part, he took off his spectacles, and, looking at me deliberately, said, "Beautiful! beautiful! This second part is quite charming;" and he sang it three times. When I went away he cordially thanked me, while I assured him that I would so arrange the aria that he would certainly like to sing it. I think an aria should fit a singer as accurately as a well-made coat. I have also, for practice, arranged the air "Non so d' onde viene" which has been so charmingly composed by Bach. Just because I know that of Bach so well, and it pleases me and haunts my ear, I wished to try if, in spite of all this, I could succeed in writing an aria totally unlike the other. And, indeed, it does not in the very least resemble it. I at first intended this aria for Raaff; but the beginning seemed to me too high for Raaff's voice, but it pleased me so much that I would not alter it; and from the orchestral accompaniment, too, I thought it better suited to a soprano. I therefore resolved to write it for Madlle. Weber. I laid it aside, and took the words "Se al labbro" for Raaff. But all in vain, for I could write nothing else, as the first air always came back into my head; so I returned to it, with the intention of making it exactly in accordance with Madlle. Weber's voice. It is andante sostenuto, (preceded by a short recitative,) then follows the other part, Nel seno destarmi, and after this the sostenuto again. When it was finished, I said to Madlle. Weber, "Learn the air by yourself, sing it according to your own taste, then let me hear it, and I will afterwards tell you candidly what pleases and what displeases me."
In the course of a couple of days I went to see her, when she sang it for me and accompanied herself, and I was obliged to confess that she had sung it precisely as I could have wished, and as I would have taught it to her myself. This is now the best aria that she has, and will insure her success whereever she goes. [Footnote: This wonderfully beautiful aria is appended to my Life of Mozart.—Stuttgart, Bruckmaun, 1863.] Yesterday at Wendling's I sketched the aria I promised his wife [Madame Wendling was a fine singer], with a short recitative. The words were chosen by himself from "Didone": "Ah non lasciarmi no." She and her daughter quite rave about this air. I promised the daughter also some French ariettes, one of which I began to-day. I think with delight of the Concert Spirituel in Paris, for probably I shall be desired to compose something for it. The orchestra is said to be good and numerous, so my favorite style of composition can be well given there—I mean choruses, and I am very glad to hear that the French place so much value on this class of music. The only fault found with Piccini's [Gluck's well-known rival] new opera "Roland" is that the choruses are too meagre and weak, and the music also a little monotonous; otherwise it was universally liked. In Paris they are accustomed to hear nothing but Gluck's choruses. Only place confidence in me; I shall strive with all my might to do honor to the name of Mozart. I have no fears at all on the subject.
My last letters must have shown you HOW THINGS ARE, and WHAT I REALLY MEANT. I do entreat of you never to allow the thought to cross your mind that I can ever forget you, for I cannot bear such an idea. My chief aim is, and always will be, to endeavor that we may meet soon and happily, but we must have patience. You know even better than I do that things often take a perverse turn, but they will one day go straight—only patience! Let us place our trust in God, who will never forsake us. I shall not be found wanting; how can you possibly doubt me? Surely it concerns me also to work with all my strength, that I may have the pleasure and the happiness (the sooner the better, too) of embracing from my heart my dearest and kindest father. But, lo and behold! nothing in this world is wholly free from interested motives. If war should break out in Bavaria, I do hope you will come and join me at once. I place faith in three friends—and they are powerful and invincible ones—namely, God, and your head and mine. Our heads are, indeed, very different, but each in its own way is good, serviceable, and useful; and in time I hope mine may by degrees equal yours in that class of knowledge in which you at present surpass me. Farewell! Be merry and of good cheer! Remember that you have a son who never intentionally failed in his filial duty towards you, and who will strive to become daily more worthy of so good a father.
After these frank confessions, which would, he knew, restore the previous good understanding between him and his father, Mozart's genuine good heart was so relieved and lightened, that the natural balance of his mind, which had for some weeks past been entirely destroyed, was speedily restored, and his usual lively humor soon began to revive. Indeed, his old delight in doggerel rhymes and all kinds of silly puns seems to return. He indulges fully in these in a letter to his Basle (cousin), which is undoubtedly written just after the previous one.
Mannheim, Feb. 28, 1778.
MADEMOISELLE, MA TRES-CHERE COUSINE,—
You perhaps think or believe that I must be dead? Not at all! I beg you will not think so, for how could I write so beautifully if I were dead? Could such a thing be possible? I do not attempt to make any excuses for my long silence, for you would not believe me if I did. But truth is truth; I have had so much to do that though I have had time to think of my cousin, I have had no time to write to her, so I was obliged to let it alone. But at last I have the honor to inquire how you are, and how you fare? If we soon shall have a talk? If you write with a lump of chalk? If I am sometimes in your mind? If to hang yourself you're inclined? If you're angry with me, poor fool? If your wrath begins to cool?—Oh! you are laughing! VICTORIA! I knew you could not long resist me, and in your favor would enlist me. Yes! yes! I know well how this is, though I'm in ten days off to Paris. If you write to me from pity, do so soon from Augsburg city, so that I may get your letter, which to me would be far better.
Now let us talk of other things. Were you very merry during the Carnival? They are much gayer at Augsburg at that time than here. I only wish I had been there that I might have frolicked about with you. Mamma and I send our love to your father and mother, and to our cousin, and hope they are well and happy; better so, so better! A propos, how goes on your French? May I soon write you a French letter? from Paris, I suppose?
Now, before I conclude, which I must soon do because I am in haste, (having just at this moment nothing to do,) and also have no more room, as you see my paper is done, and I am very tired, and my fingers tingling from writing so much, and lastly, even if I had room, I don't know what I could say, except, indeed, a story which I have a great mind to tell you. So listen! It is not long since it happened, and in this very country too, where it made a great sensation, for really it seemed almost incredible, and, indeed, between ourselves, no one yet knows the result of the affair. So, to be brief, about four miles from here—I can't remember the name of the place, but it was either a village or a hamlet, or something of that kind. Well, after all, it don't much signify whether it was called Triebetrill or Burmsquick; there is no doubt that it was some place or other. There a shepherd or herdsman lived, who was pretty well advanced in years, but still looked strong and robust; he was unmarried and well-to-do, and lived happily. But before telling you the story, I must not forget to say that this man had a most astounding voice when he spoke; he terrified people when he spoke! Well! to make my tale as short as possible, you must know that he had a dog called Bellot, a very handsome large dog, white with black spots. Well! this shepherd was going along with his sheep, for he had a flock of eleven thousand under his care, and he had a staff in his hand, with a pretty rose-colored topknot of ribbons, for he never went out without his staff; such was his invariable custom. Now to proceed; being tired, after having gone a couple of miles, he sat down on a bank beside a river to rest. At last he fell asleep, when he dreamt that he had lost all his sheep, and this fear awoke him, but to his great joy he saw his flock close beside him. At length he got up again and went on, but not for long; indeed, half an hour could scarcely have elapsed, when he came to a bridge which was very long, but with a parapet on both sides to prevent any one falling into the river. Well; he looked at his flock, and as he was obliged to cross the bridge, he began to drive over his eleven thousand sheep. Now be so obliging as to wait till the eleven thousand sheep are all safely across, and then I will finish the story. I already told you that the result is not yet known; I hope, however, that by the time I next write to you, all the sheep will have crossed the bridge; but if not, why should I care? So far as I am concerned, they might all have stayed on this side. In the meantime you must accept the story so far as it goes; what I really know to be true I have written, and it is better to stop now than to tell you what is false, for in that case you would probably have discredited the whole, whereas now you will only disbelieve one half.
I must conclude, but don't think me rude; he who begins must cease, or the world would have no peace. My compliments to every friend, welcome to kiss me without end, forever and a day, till good sense comes my way; and a fine kissing that will be, which frightens you as well as me. Adieu, ma chere cousine! I am, I was, I have been, oh! that I were, would to heavens I were! I will or shall be, would, could, or should be—what?—A blockhead! W. A. M.
Mannheim, March 7, 1778.
I have received your letter on the 26th February, and am much obliged to you for all the trouble you have taken about the arias, which are quite accurate in every respect. "Next to God comes papa" was my axiom when a child, and I still think the same. You are right when you say that "knowledge is power"; besides, except your trouble and fatigue, you will have no cause for regret, as Madlle. Weber certainly deserves your kindness. I only wish that you could hear her sing my new aria which I lately mentioned to you,—I say, hear her sing it, because it seems made expressly for her; a man like you who really understands what portamento in singing means, would certainly feel the most intense pleasure in hearing her. When I am happily settled in Paris, and our circumstances, please God, improved, and we are all more cheerful and in better humor, I will write you my thoughts more fully, and ask you to do me a great kindness. I must now tell you I was so shocked that tears came to my eyes, on reading in your last letter that you are obliged to go about so shabbily dressed. My very dearest papa, this is certainly not my fault; you know it is not. We economize in every possible way here; food and lodging, wood and light, cost us nothing, which is all we could hope for. As for dress, you are well aware that, in places where you are not known, it is out of the question to be badly dressed, for appearances must be kept up.
My whole hopes are now centred in Paris, for German princes are all niggards. I mean to work with all my strength, that I may soon have the happiness of extricating you from your present distressing circumstances.
Mannheim, March. 11, 1778.
I HAVE duly received your letter of the 26th February, and learn from it with great joy that our best and kindest of all friends, Baron Grimm [the well-known Encyclopedist, with whom Mozart had become acquainted during his last visit to France], is now in Paris. The vetturino has offered to convey us to Paris by Metz (which, as you probably know, is the shortest route) for eleven louis-d'or. If to-morrow he agrees to do it for ten, I shall certainly engage him, and perhaps at eleven, for even then it will be the cheapest way for us, which is the main point, and more convenient too, for he will take our carriage—that is, he will place the body on wheels of his own. The convenience is great, as we have so many small packages that we can stow away quite comfortably in our own carriage, which we cannot do in the DILIGENCE, and besides we shall be alone and able to talk as we like. But I do assure you that if, after all, we go in the DILIGENCE, my sole annoyance is the bore of not being able to say what we choose and wish, though, as it is very necessary that we should take the cheapest conveyance, I am still rather disposed to do so.
THIRD PART PARIS. MARCH 1778 TO JANUARY 1779.
Paris, March 24, 1778.
YESTERDAY (Monday, the 23d), at four o'clock in the afternoon, we arrived here, thank God! safely, having been nine days and a half on our journey. We thought we really could not have gone through with it; in my life I never was so wearied. You may easily imagine what it was to leave Mannheim and so many dear kind friends, and then to travel for ten days, not only without these friends, but without any human being—without a single soul whom we could associate with or even speak to. Now, thank Heaven! we are at our destination, and I trust that, with the help of God, all will go well. To-day we are to take a fiacre and go in quest of Grimm and Wendling. Early to-morrow I intend to call on the Minister of the Palatinate, Herr von Sickingen, (a great connoisseur and passionate lover of music, and for whom I have two letters from Herr von Gemmingen and M. Cannabich.) Before leaving Mannheim I had the quartet transcribed that I wrote at Lodi one evening in the inn there, and also the quintet and the Fischer variations for Herr von Gemmingen [author of the "Deutsche Hausvater"], on which he wrote me a most polite note, expressing his pleasure at the souvenir I had left him, and sending me a letter to his intimate friend Herr von Sickingen, adding, "I feel sure that you will be a greater recommendation to the letter than the letter can possibly be to you;" and, to repay the expense of writing out the music, he sent me three louis- d'or; he also assured me of his friendship, and requested mine in return. I must say that all those who knew me, Hofrathe, Kammerrathe, and other high-class people, as well as all the court musicians, were very grieved and reluctant to see me go; and really and truly so.
We left on Saturday, the 14th, and on the previous Thursday there was an afternoon concert at Cannabich's, where my concerto for three pianos was given. Madlle. Rose Cannabich played the first, Madlle. Weber the second, and Madlle. Pierron Serrarius (our "house-nymph") the third. We had three rehearsals of the concerto, and it went off well. Madlle. Weber sang three arias of mine, the "Aer tranquillo" from the "Re Pastore," [Footnote: A festal opera that Mozart had composed in 1775, in honor of the visit of the Archduke Maximilian Francis to Salzburg.] and the new "Non so d' onde viene." With this last air my dear Madlle. Weber gained very great honor both for herself and for me. All present said that no aria had ever affected them like this one; and, indeed, she sang it as it ought to be sung. The moment it was finished, Cannabich exclaimed, "Bravo! bravissimo maestro! veramente scritta da maestro!" It was given for the first time on this occasion with instruments. I should like you to have heard it also, exactly as it was executed and sung there, with such precision in time and taste, and in the pianos and fortes. Who knows? you may perhaps still hear her. I earnestly hope so. The members of the orchestra never ceased praising the aria and talking about it.
I have many kind friends at Mannheim (both highly esteemed and rich) who wished very much to keep me there. Well! where I am properly paid, I am content to be. Who can tell? it may still come to pass. I wish it may; and thus it ever is with me—I live always in hope. Herr Cannabich is an honorable, worthy man, and a kind friend of mine. He has only one fault, which is, that although no longer very young, he is rather careless and absent, —if you are not constantly before his eyes, he is very apt to forget all about you. But where the interests of a real friend are in question, he works like a horse, and takes the deepest interest in the matter; and this is of great use, for he has influence. I cannot, however, say much in favor of his courtesy or gratitude; the Webers (for whom I have not done half so much), in spite of their poverty and obscurity, have shown themselves far more grateful. Madame Cannabich and her daughter never thanked me by one single word, much less thought of offering me some little remembrance, however trifling, merely as a proof of kindly feeling; but nothing of the sort, not even thanks, though I lost so much time in teaching the daughter, and took such pains with her. She can now perfectly well perform before any one; as a girl only fourteen, and an amateur, she plays remarkably well, and for this they have to thank me, which indeed is very well known to all in Mannheim. She has now neatness, time, and good fingering, as well as even shakes, which she had not formerly. They will find that they miss me much three months hence, for I fear she will again be spoiled, and spoil herself; unless she has a master constantly beside her, and one who thoroughly understands what he is about, she will do no good, for she is still too childish and giddy to practise steadily and carefully alone. [Footnote: Rosa Cannabich became, indeed, a remarkable virtuoso. C L. Junker mentions her, even in his musical almanac of 1783, among the most eminent living artists.]
Madlle. Weber paid me the compliment kindly to knit two pairs of mits for me, as a remembrance and slight acknowledgment. M. Weber wrote out whatever I required gratis, gave me the music-paper, and also made me a present of Moliere's Comedies (as he knew that I had never read them), with this inscription:—"Ricevi, amico, le opere di Moliere, in segno di gratitudine, e qualche volta ricordati di me." [Footnote: "Accept, my dear friend, Moliere's works as a token of my gratitude; and sometimes think of me."] And when alone with mamma he said, "Our best friend, our benefactor, is about to leave us. There can be no doubt that your son has done a great deal for my daughter, and interested himself much about her, and she cannot be too thankful to him." [Footnote: Aloysia Weber became afterwards Madame Lange. She had great fame as a singer. We shall hear more of her in the Vienna letters.] The day before I set off, they would insist on my supping with them, but I managed to give them two hours before supper instead. They never ceased thanking me, and saying they only wished they were in a position to testify their gratitude, and when I went away they all wept. Pray forgive me, but really tears come to my eyes when I think of it. Weber came down-stairs with me, and remained standing at the door till I turned the corner and called out Adieu!
In Paris he at once plunged into work, so that his love-affair was for a time driven into the background. Compositions for the Concert Spirituel, for the theatre, and for dilettanti, as well as teaching and visits to great people, occupied him. His mother writes: "I cannot describe to you how much Wolfgang is beloved and praised here. Herr Wendling had said much in his favor before he came, and has presented him to all his friends. He can dine daily, if he chooses, with Noverre [the famed ballet-master], and also with Madame d'Epinay" [Grimm's celebrated friend]. The mother herself scarcely saw him all day, for on account of their small close apartment, he was obliged to compose at Director Le Gros's house. She had (womanlike) written to the father about the composition of a Miserere. Wolfgang continues the letter, more fully explaining the matter.
Paris, April 5, 1778.
I MUST now explain more, clearly what mamma alludes to, as she has written rather obscurely. Capellmeister Holzbauer has sent a Miserere here, but as the choruses at Mannheim are weak and poor, whereas here they are strong and good, his choruses would make no effect. M. Le Gros (Director of the Concert Spirituel) requested me therefore to compose others; Holzbauer's introductory chorus being retained. "Quoniam iniquitatem meam," an allegro, is the first air by me. The second an adagio, "Ecce enim in iniquitatibus." Then an allegro, "Ecce enim veritatem dilexisti" to the "ossa humiliata." Then an andante for soprano, tenor, and bass Soli; "Cor mundum," and "Redde mihi," allegro to "ad se convertentur." I also composed a recitative for a bass air, "Libera me de sanguinibus," because a bass air of Holzbauer's follows. The "sacrificium Deo spiritus" being an aria andante for Raaff, with a hautboy and a bassoon solo obligato. I have added a short recitative with hautboy and bassoon, for here recitative is much liked. "Benigne fac" to "muri Jerusalem" andante moderate. Chorus. Then "Tunc acceptabis" to "super altare," allegro and tenor solo (Le Gros) and chorus. Finis. [None of this music is known.]
I must say that I am right glad to have done with this task, for it is really detestable not to be able to write at home, and to be hurried into the bargain; but now, God be praised! it is finished, and I hope it will make some effect. M. Gussec, whom you no doubt know, when he saw my first chorus, said to Le Gros (I was not present) that it was charming, and could not fail to be successful, that the words were so well arranged, and, above all, admirably set to music. He is a kind friend of mine, but very reserved. I am not merely to write an act for an opera, but an entire one in two acts. The poet has already completed the first act. Noverre [ballet-master], with whom I dine as often as I please, managed this, and indeed suggested the idea. I think it is to be called "Alexander and Roxana." Madame Jenome is also here. I am about to compose a sinfonie concertante,—flute, Wendling; oboe, Ramm; French horn, Punto; and bassoon, Ritter. Punto plays splendidly. I have this moment returned from the Concert Spirituel. Baron Grimm and I often give vent to our wrath at the music here; N.B.—when tete-a-tete, for in public we call out "Bravo! bravissimo!" and clap our hands till our fingers tingle.
Paris, May 1, 1778.
THE little violoncellist Zygmatofsky and his unprincipled father are here. Perhaps I may already have written you this; I only mention it cursorily, because I just remember that I met him at a house which I must now tell you about. I mean that of the Duchesse de Chabot. M. Grimm gave me a letter to her, so I drove there, the purport of the letter being chiefly to recommend me to the Duchesse de Bourbon, who when I was last here [during Mozart's first visit to Paris] was in a convent, and to introduce me afresh to her and recall me to her memory. A week elapsed without the slightest notice of my visit, but as eight days previously she had appointed me to call on her, I kept my engagement and went. I waited half an hour in a large room without any fire, and as cold as ice. At last the Duchess came in, and was very polite, begging me to make allowances for her piano, as none of her instruments were in good order, but I might at least try it. I said that I would most gladly play something, but at this moment it was impossible, as my fingers were quite benumbed from the cold, so I asked her at all events to take me to a room where there was a fire. "Oh! oui, Monsieur, vous avez raison"—was her answer. She then seated herself, and drew for a whole hour in company with several gentlemen, all sitting in a circle round a large table, and during this time I had the honor to wait. The windows and doors were open, so that not only my hands, but my body and my feet were cold, and my head also began to ache. Moreover, there was altum silentium, and I really did not know what to do from cold, headache, and weariness. I again and again thought to myself, that if it were not on M. Grimm's account I would leave the house at once. At last, to cut matters short, I played on the wretched, miserable piano. What however vexed me most of all was, that the Duchess and all the gentlemen did not cease drawing for a single moment, but coolly continued their occupation; so I was left to play to the chairs and tables, and the walls. My patience gave way under such unpropitious circumstances. I therefore began the Fischer variations, and after playing one half of them I rose. Then came eulogiums without end. I, however, said all that could be said—which was, that I could do myself no justice on such a piano, but I should be very glad to fix some other day to play, when a better instrument might be found. But the Duchess would not hear of my going away; so I was obliged to wait till her husband came in, who placed himself beside me and listened to me with great attention, while, as for me, I became unconscious of all cold and all headache, and, in spite of the wretched piano, played as I CAN play when I am in the right mood. Give me the best piano in Europe, and listeners who understand nothing, or don't wish to understand, and who do not sympathize with me in what I am playing, I no longer feel any pleasure. I afterwards told all this to M. Grimm.