You write to me that I ought to pay a good many visits in order to make new acquaintances, and to renew former ones. This is, however, impossible, from the distances being so great, and it is too muddy to go on foot, for really the mud in Paris is beyond all description. To go in a carriage entails spending four or five livres a day, and all for nothing; it is true the people say all kinds of civil things, but there it ends, as they appoint me to come on such and such a day, when I play, and hear them exclaim, "Oh! c'est un prodige, c'est inconcevable, c'est etonnant!" and then, Adieu! At first I spent money enough in driving about, and to no purpose, from not finding the people at home. Unless you lived here, you could not believe what an annoyance this is. Besides, Paris is much changed; the French are far from being as polite as they were fifteen years ago; their manner now borders on rudeness, and they are odiously self- sufficient.
I must proceed to give you an account of the Concert Spirituel. By the by, I must first briefly tell you that my chorus-labors were in a manner useless, for Holzbauer's Miserere was too long in itself, and did not please, so they gave only two of my choruses instead of four, and chose to leave out the best; but this was of no great consequence, for many there were not aware that any of the music was by me, and many knew nothing at all about me. Still, at the rehearsal great approbation was expressed, and I myself (for I place no great reliance on Parisian praise) was very much satisfied with my choruses. With regard to the sinfonie concertante there appears to be a hitch, and I believe that some unseen mischief is at work. It seems that I have enemies here also; where have I not had them? But this is a good sign. I was obliged to write the symphony very hurriedly, and worked very hard at it. The four performers were and are perfectly enchanted with the piece. Le Gros had it for the last four days to be copied, but I invariably saw it lying in the same place. Two days ago I could not find it, though I searched carefully among the music; and at last I discovered it hidden away. I took no notice, but said to Le Gros, "A propos, have you given my sinfonie to be copied?" "No; I forgot all about it." As, of course, I have no power to compel him to have it transcribed and performed, I said nothing; but I went to the concert on the two days when the sinfonie was to have been performed, when Ramm and Punto came to me in the greatest rage to ask me why my sinfonie concertante was not to be given. "I don't know. This is the first I hear of it. I cannot tell." Ramm was frantic, and abused Le Gros in the music-room in French, saying how very unhandsome it was on his part, etc. I alone was to be kept in the dark! If he had even made an excuse—that the time was too short, or something of the kind!—but he never said a syllable. I believe the real cause to be Cambini, an Italian maestro; for at our first meeting at Le Gros's, I unwittingly took the wind out of his sails. He composes quintets, one of which I heard at Mannheim; it was very pretty, so I praised it, and played the beginning to him. Ritter, Ramm, and Punto were all present, and gave me no peace till I agreed to continue, and to supply from my own head what I could not remember. I therefore did so, and Cambini was quite excited, and could not help saying, "Questa e una gran testa!" Well, I suppose after all he did not quite relish this, [The symphony in question has also entirely disappeared.]
If this were a place where people had ears to hear or hearts to feel, and understood just a little of music, and had some degree of taste, these things would only make me laugh heartily, but as it is (so far as music is concerned) I am surrounded by mere brute beasts. But how can it be otherwise? for in all their actions, inclinations, and passions, they are just the same. There is no place in the world like Paris. You must not think that I exaggerate when I speak in this way of the music here; refer to whom you will, except to a Frenchman born, and (if trustworthy) you will hear the same. But I am now here, and must endure it for your sake. I shall be grateful to Providence if I get away with my natural taste uninjured. I pray to God every day to grant me grace to be firm and steadfast here, that I may do honor to the whole German nation, which will all redound to His greater honor and glory, and to enable me to prosper and make plenty of money, that I may extricate you from your present emergencies, and also to permit us to meet soon, and to live together happily and contentedly; but "His will be done in earth as it is in heaven." I entreat you, dearest father, in the meantime, to take measures that I may see Italy, in order to bring me to life again. Bestow this great happiness upon me, I implore you! I do hope you will keep up your spirits; I shall cut my way through here as I best can, and trust I shall get off safely. Adieu!
Paris, May 14, 1778.
I HAVE already so much to do that I don't know how I am to manage when winter comes. I think I wrote to you in my last letter that the Duc de Guines, whose daughter is my pupil in composition, plays the flute inimitably, and she the harp magnificently; she has a great deal of talent and genius, and, above all, a wonderful memory, for she plays all her pieces, about 200 in number, by heart. She, however, doubts much whether she has any genius for composition, especially as regards ideas or invention; but her father (who, entre nous, is rather too infatuated about her) declares that she certainly has ideas, and that she is only diffident and has too little self-reliance. Well, we shall see. If she acquires no thoughts or ideas, (for hitherto she really has none whatever,) it is all in vain, for God knows I can't give her any! It is not the father's intention to make her a great composer. He says, "I don't wish her to write operas, or arias, or concertos, or symphonies, but grand sonatas for her instrument and for mine." I gave her to-day her fourth lesson on the rules of composition and harmony, and am pretty well satisfied with her. She made a very good bass for the first minuet, of which I had given her the melody, and she has already begun to write in three parts; she can do it, but she quickly tires, and I cannot get her on, for it is impossible to proceed further as yet; it is too soon, even if she really had genius, but, alas! there appears to be none; all must be done by rule; she has no ideas, and none seem likely to come, for I have tried her in every possible way. Among other things it occurred to me to write out a very simple minuet, and to see if she could not make a variation on it. Well, that utterly failed. Now, thought I, she has not a notion how or what to do first. So I began to vary the first bar, and told her to continue in the same manner, and to keep to the idea. At length this went tolerably well. When it was finished, I told her she must try to originate something herself—only the treble of a melody. So she thought it over for a whole quarter of an hour, AND NOTHING CAME. Then I wrote four bars of a minuet, saying to her, "See what an ass I am! I have begun a minuet, and can't even complete the first part; be so very good as to finish it for me." She declared this was impossible. At last, with great difficulty, SOMETHING CAME, and I was only too glad that ANYTHING AT ALL CAME. I told her then to complete the minuet—that is, the treble only. The task I set her for the next lesson was to change my four bars, and replace them by something of her own, and to find out another beginning, even if it were the same harmony, only changing the melody. I shall see to-morrow what she has done.
I shall soon now, I think, receive the poetry for my two-act opera, when I must first present it to the Director, M. de Vismes, to see if he will accept it; but of this there can be no doubt, as it is recommended by Noverre, to whom De Vismes is indebted for his situation. Noverre, too, is soon to arrange a new ballet, for which I am to write the music. Rudolf (who plays the French horn) is in the royal service here, and a very kind friend of mine; he understands composition thoroughly, and writes well. He has offered me the place of organist at Versailles if I choose to accept it: the salary is 2000 livres a year, but I must live six months at Versailles and the remaining six in Paris, or where I please. I don't, however, think that I shall close with the offer; I must take the advice of good friends on the subject. 2000 livres is no such very great sum; in German money it may be so, but not here. It amounts to 83 louis-d'or 8 livres a year— that is, 915 florins 45 kreutzers of our money, (which is certainly a considerable sum,) but only to 383 ecus 2 livres, and that is not much, for it is frightful to see how quickly a dollar goes here! I am not at all surprised that so little is thought of a louis-d'or in Paris, for it does not go far. Four dollars, or a louis-d'or, which are the same, are gone in no time. Adieu!
Paris, May 29, 1778.
I AM pretty well, thank God! but still I am often puzzled to know what to make of it all. I feel neither hot nor cold, and don't take much pleasure in anything. What, however, cheers and strengthens me most is the thought that you, dearest papa, and my dear sister, are well; that I am an honest German, and though I cannot SAY, I may at all events THINK what I please, and, after all, that is the chief thing. Yesterday I was for the second time at Count Sickingen's, ambassador from the Elector Palatine; (I dined there once before with Wendling and Ramm.) I don't know whether I told you what a charming man he is, and a great connoisseur and devoted lover of music. I passed eight hours quite alone with him. The whole forenoon, and afternoon too, till ten o'clock at night, we were at the piano, playing all kind of music, praising, admiring, analyzing, discussing, and criticizing. He has nearly thirty scores of operas. I must not forget to tell you that I had the satisfaction of seeing your "School for the Violin" translated into French; I believe it is about eight years since the translation appeared. I have just returned from a music-shop where I went to buy a sonata of Schobert's for one of my pupils, and I mean to go again soon to examine the book more closely, that I may write to you about it minutely, for to-day I have not time to do this.
Paris, June 12, 1778.
I MUST now write something that concerns our Raaff. [Footnote: Mozart wrote the part of Idomeneo for Raaff in the year 1781.] You no doubt remember that I did not write much in his favor from Mannheim, and was by no means satisfied with his singing—in short, that he did not please me at all. The cause, however, was that I can scarcely say I really heard him at Mannheim. The first time was at the rehearsal of Holzbauer's "Gunther," when he was in his every-day clothes, his hat on his head, and a stick in his hand. When he was not singing, he stood looking like a sulky child. When he began to sing the first recitative, it went tolerably well, but every now and then he gave a kind of shriek, which I could not bear. He sang the arias in a most indolent way, and yet some of the notes with too much emphasis, which is not what I like. This has been an invariable habit of his, which the Bernacchi school probably entails; for he is a pupil of Bernacchi's. At court, too, he used to sing all kinds of airs which, in my opinion, by no means suited his voice; so he did not at all please me. When at length he made his debut here in the Concert Spirituel, he sang Bach's scena, "Non so d' onde viene" which is, besides, my great favorite, and then for the first time I really heard him sing, and he pleased me—that is, in this class of music; but the style itself, the Bernacchi school, is not to my taste. He is too apt to fall into the cantabile. I admit that, when he was younger and in his prime, this must have made a great impression and taken people by surprise; I could like it also, but there is too much of it, and it often seems to me positively ludicrous. What does please me in him is when he sings short pieces—for instance, andantinos; and he has likewise certain arias which he gives in a manner peculiar to himself. Let each occupy his proper place. I fancy that bravura singing was once his forte, which is even still perceptible in him, and so far as age admits of it he has a good chest and a long breath; and then his andantino! His voice is fine and very pleasing; if I shut my eyes and listen to him, I think his singing very like Meissner's, only Raaff's voice seems to me more agreeable. I speak of the present time, for I never heard either in his best days. I can therefore only refer to their style or method of singing, for this a singer always retains. Meissner, as you know, had the bad habit of purposely making his voice tremble at times,—entire quavers and even crotchets, when marked sostenuto,—and this I never could endure in him. Nothing can be more truly odious; besides, it is a style of singing quite contrary to nature. The human voice is naturally tremulous, but only so far as to be beautiful; such is the nature of the voice, and it is imitated not only on wind instruments, but on stringed instruments, and even on the piano. But the moment the proper boundary is passed it is no longer beautiful, because it becomes unnatural. It seems to me then just like an organ when the bellows are panting. Now Raaff never does this,—in fact, he cannot bear it. Still, so far as a genuine cantabile goes, Meissner pleases me (though not altogether, for he also exaggerates) better than Raaff. In bravura passages and roulades, Raaff is indeed a perfect master, and he has such a good and distinct articulation, which is a great charm; and, as I already said, his andantinus and canzonetti are delightful. He composed four German songs, which are lovely. He likes me much, and we are very intimate; he comes to us almost every day. I have dined at least six times with Count von Sickingen, and always stay from one o'clock till ten. Time, however, flies so quickly in his house that it passes quite imperceptibly. He seems fond of me, and I like very much being with him, for he is a most friendly, sensible person, possessing excellent judgment and a true insight into music, I was there again to-day with Raaff. I took some music with me, as the Count (long since) asked me to do so. I brought my newly completed symphony, with which, on Corpus Christi day, the Concert Spirituel is to commence. The work pleased them both exceedingly, and I am also well satisfied with it. Whether it will be popular here, however, I cannot tell, and, to say the truth, I care very little about it. For whom is it to please? I can answer for its pleasing the few intelligent Frenchmen who may be there; as for the numskulls—why, it would be no great misfortune if they were dissatisfied. I have some hope, nevertheless, that even the dunces among them may find something to admire. Besides, I have been careful not to neglect le premier coup d'archet; and that is sufficient. All the wiseacres here make such a fuss on that point! Deuce take me if I can see any difference! Their orchestra begins all at one stroke, just as in other places. It is too laughable! Raaff told me a story of Abaco on this subject. He was asked by a Frenchman, in Munich or elsewhere,—"Monsieur, vous avez ete a Paris?" "Oui." "Est-ce que vous etiez au Concert Spirituel?" "Oui." "Que dites-vous du premier coup d'archet? avez-vous entendu le premier coup d'archet?" "Oui, j'ai entendu le premier et le dernier." "Comment le dernier? que veut dire cela?" "Mais oui, le premier et le dernier; et le dernier meme m'a donne plus de plaisir." [Footnote: The imposing impression produced by the first grand crash of a numerous orchestra, commencing with precision, in tutti, gave rise to this pleasantry.] A few days afterwards his kind mother was taken ill. Even in her letters from Mannheim she often complained of various ailments, and in Paris also she was still exposed to the discomfort of cold dark lodgings, which she was obliged to submit to for the sake of economy; so her illness soon assumed the worst aspect, and Mozart experienced the first severe trial of his life. The following letter is addressed to his beloved and faithful friend, Abbe Bullinger, tutor in Count Lodron's family in Salzburg.
Paris, July 3, 1778.
MY VERY DEAR FRIEND,—
Mourn with me! This has been the most melancholy day of my life; I am now writing at two o'clock in the morning. I must tell you that my mother, my darling mother, is no more. God has called her to Himself; I clearly see that it was His will to take her from us, and I must learn to submit to the will of God. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Only think of all the distress, anxiety, and care I have endured for the last fourteen days. She died quite unconscious, and her life went out like a light. She confessed three days before, took the sacrament, and received extreme unction. The last three days, however, she was constantly delirious, and to-day, at twenty minutes past five o'clock, her features became distorted, and she lost all feeling and perception. I pressed her hand, I spoke to her, but she did not see me, she did not hear me, and all feeling was gone. She lay thus till the moment of her death, five hours after, at twenty minutes past ten at night. There was no one present but myself, Herr Heiner, a kind friend whom my father knows, and the nurse. It is quite impossible for me to describe the whole course of the illness to-day. I am firmly convinced that she must have died, and that God had so ordained it. All I would ask of you at present is to act the part of a true friend, by preparing my father by degrees for this sad intelligence. I have written to him by this post, but only that she is seriously ill; and now I shall wait for your answer and be guided by it. May God give him strength and courage! My dear friend, I am consoled not only now, but have been so for some time past. By the mercy of God I have borne it all with firmness and composure. When the danger became imminent, I prayed to God for only two things—a happy death for my mother, and strength and courage for myself; and our gracious God heard my prayer and conferred these two boons fully on me. I entreat you, therefore, my best friend, to watch over my father for me; try to inspire him with courage, that the blow may not be too hard and heavy on him when he learns the worst. I also, from my heart, implore you to comfort my sister. Pray go straight to them, but do not tell them she is actually dead—only prepare them for the truth. Do what you think best, say what you please; only act so that my mind may be relieved, and that I may not have to dread another misfortune. Support and comfort my dear father and my dear sister. Answer me at once, I entreat. Adieu! Your faithful
W. A. M.
Paris, July 3, 1778.
MONSIEUR MON TRES-CHER PERE,—
I have very painful and sad news to give you, which has, in fact, been the cause of my not having sooner replied to your letter of the 11th. My dearest mother is very ill. She has been bled according to her usual custom, which was indeed very necessary; it did her much good, but a few days afterwards she complained of shivering and feverishness; then diarrhoea came on and headache. At first we only used our home remedies, antispasmodic powders; we would gladly have had recourse to the black powder, but we had none, and could not get it here. As she became every moment worse, could hardly speak, and lost her hearing, so that we were obliged to shout to her, Baron Grimm sent his doctor to see her. She is very weak, and still feverish and delirious. They do give me some hope, but I have not much. I hoped and feared alternately day and night for long, but I am quite reconciled to the will of God, and hope that you and my sister will be the same. What other resource have we to make us calm? More calm, I ought to say; for altogether so we cannot be. Whatever the result may be, I am resigned, knowing that it comes from God, who wills all things for our good, (however unaccountable they may seem to us;) and I do firmly believe (and shall never think otherwise) that no doctor, no man living, no misfortune, no casualty, can either save or take away the life of any human being—none but God alone. These are only the instruments that He usually employs, but not always; we sometimes see people swoon, fall down, and be dead in a moment. When our time does come, all means are vain,— they rather hurry on death than retard it; this we saw in the case of our friend Hefner. I do not mean to say by this that my mother will or must die, or that all hope is at an end; she may recover and be restored to health, but only if the Lord wills it thus. After praying to God with all my strength for health and life for my darling mother, I like to indulge in such consolatory thoughts, and, after doing so, I feel more cheerful and more calm and tranquil, and you may easily imagine how much I require comfort. Now for another subject. Let us put aside these sad thoughts, and still hope, but not too much; we must place our trust in the Lord, and console ourselves by the thought that all must go well if it be in accordance with the will of the Almighty, as he knows best what is most profitable and beneficial both for our temporal and spiritual welfare.
I have composed a symphony for the opening of the Concert Spirituel, which was performed with great applause on Corpus Christi day. I hear, too, that there is a notice of it in the "Courrier de l'Europe," and that it has given the greatest satisfaction. I was very nervous during the rehearsal, for in my life I never heard anything go so badly. You can have no idea of the way in which they scraped and scrambled through my symphony twice over; I was really very uneasy, and would gladly have had it rehearsed again, but so many things had been tried over that there was no time left. I therefore went to bed with an aching heart and in a discontented and angry spirit. Next day I resolved not to go to the concert at all; but in the evening, the weather being fine, I made up my mind at last to go, determined that if it went as badly as at the rehearsal, I would go into the orchestra, take the violin out of the hands of M. La Haussaye, the first violin, and lead myself. I prayed to God that it might go well, for all is to His greater honor and glory; and ecce, the symphony began, Raaff was standing beside me, and just in the middle of the allegro a passage occurred which I felt sure must please, and there was a burst of applause; but as I knew at the time I wrote it what effect it was sure to produce, I brought it in once more at the close, and then rose shouts of "Da capo!" The andante was also liked, but the last allegro still more so. Having observed that all last as well as first allegros here begin together with all the other instruments, and generally unisono, mine commenced with only two violins, piano for the first eight bars, followed instantly by a forte; the audience, as I expected, called out "hush!" at the soft beginning, and the instant the forte was heard began to clap their hands. The moment the symphony was over I went off in my joy to the Palais Royal, where I took a good ice, told over my beads, as I had vowed, and went home, where I am always happiest, and always shall be happiest, or in the company of some good, true, upright German, who, so long as he is unmarried, lives a good Christian life, and when he marries loves his wife, and brings up his children properly.
I must give you a piece of intelligence that you perhaps already know—namely, that the ungodly arch-villain Voltaire has died miserably like a dog—just like a brute. This is his reward! You must long since have remarked that I do not like being here, for many reasons, which, however, do not signify as I am actually here. I never fail to do my very best, and to do so with all my strength. Well, God will make all things right. I have a project in my head, for the success of which I daily pray to God. If it be His almighty will, it must come to pass; but, if not, I am quite contented. I shall then at all events have done my part. When this is in train, and if it turns out as I wish, you must then do your part also, or the whole work would be incomplete. Your kindness leads me to hope that you will certainly do so. Don't trouble yourself by any useless thoughts on the subject; and one favor I must beg of you beforehand, which is, not to ask me to reveal my thoughts more clearly till the time comes. It is very difficult at present to find a good libretto for an opera. The old ones, which are the best, are not written in the modern style, and the new ones are all good for nothing; for poetry, which was the only thing of which France had reason to be proud, becomes every day worse, and poetry is the only thing which requires to be good here, for music they do not understand. There are now two operas in aria which I could write, one in two acts, and the other in three. The two-act one is "Alexandra et Roxane," but the author of the libretto is still in the country; the one in three acts is "Demofonte" (by Metastasio). It is a translation interspersed with choruses and dancing, and specially adapted to the French stage. But this one I have not yet got a sight of. Write to me whether you have Schroter's concertos in Salzburg, or Hullmandell's sonatas. I should like to buy them to send to you. Both of them are beautiful. With regard to Versailles, it never was my intention to go there. I asked the advice of Baron Grimm and other kind friends on the point, and they all thought just as I did. The salary is not much, and I should be obliged to live a dreary life for six months in a place where nothing is to be gained, and my talents completely buried. Whoever enters the king's service is forgotten in Paris; and then to become an organist! A good appointment would be most welcome to me, but only that of a Capellmeister, and a well-paid one too.
Now, farewell! Be careful of your health; place your trust in God, and then you will find consolation. My dearest mother is in the hands of the Almighty. If He still spares her to us, as I wish He may, we will thank Him for this blessing, but if He takes her to Himself, all our anguish, misery, and despair can be of no avail. Let us rather submit with firmness to His almighty will, in the full conviction that it will prove for our good, as he does nothing without a cause. Farewell, dearest papa! Do what you can to preserve your health for my sake.
Paris, July 9, 1778.
I HOPE you are prepared to receive with firmness most melancholy and painful intelligence. My last letter of the 3d must have shown you that no good news could be hoped for. That very same day, the 3d, at twenty minutes past ten at night, my mother fell asleep peacefully in the Lord; indeed, when I wrote to you she was already in the enjoyment of heavenly bliss, for all was then over. I wrote to you in the night, and I hope you and my dear sister will forgive me for this slight but very necessary deception; for, judging of your grief and sorrow by my own, I could not prevail on myself to startle you suddenly by such dreadful intelligence; but I hope you have now summoned up courage to hear the worst, and that, after at first giving way to natural and only too just anguish and tears, you will eventually submit to the will of God, and adore His inscrutable, unfathomable, and all-wise providence. You can easily conceive what I have had to endure, and what courage and fortitude I required to bear with composure seeing her become daily worse and worse; and yet our gracious God bestowed this boon on me. I have, indeed, suffered and wept, but what did it avail? So I strove to be comforted, and I do hope, my dear father, that my dear sister and you will do likewise. Weep, weep, as you cannot fail to weep, but take comfort at last; remember that God Almighty has ordained it, and how can we rebel against Him? Let us rather pray to Him and thank Him for His goodness, for she died a happy death. Under these heart-rending circumstances there were three things that consoled me—my entire and steadfast submission to the will of God, and the sight of her easy and blessed death, which made me feel that in a moment she had become so happy; for how far happier is she now than we are! Indeed, I would fain at that moment have gone with her. From this wish and longing proceeded my third source of consolation—namely, that she is not lost to us forever, that we shall see her again, and live together far more happily and blessedly than in this world. The time as yet we know not, but that does not disturb me; when God wills it I am ready. His heavenly and holy will has been fulfilled. Let us therefore pray a pious Vater unser for her soul, and turn our thoughts to other matters, for there is a time for everything.
I write this in the house of Madame d'Epinay and M. Grimm, with whom I now live; I have a pretty little room with a very agreeable prospect, and am as happy as it is possible to be under my present circumstances. It will be a great aid in restoring my tranquillity, to hear that my dear father and sister submit with calmness and fortitude to the will of God, and trust Him with their whole heart, in the entire belief that He orders all for the best. My dearest father, do not give way! My dearest sister, be firm! You do not as yet know your brother's kind heart, because he has not yet had an opportunity to prove it. Remember, my loved ones both, that you have a son and a brother anxious to devote all his powers to make you happy, knowing well that the day must come when you will not be hostile to his wish and his desire,—not certainly such as to be any discredit to him,—and that you will do all that lies in your power to make him happy. Oh! then we shall all live together as peacefully, honorably, and contentedly as it is possible to do in this world, and at last in God's good time all meet again above—the purpose for which we were destined and created.
I received your last letter of the 29th, and see with pleasure that you are both, thank God! in good health. I could not help laughing heartily at Haydn's tipsy fit. Had I been there, I certainly should have whispered in his ear "Adlgasser!" It is really disgraceful in so clever a man to render himself incapable by his own folly of performing his duties at a festival instituted in honor of God; when the Archbishop too and his whole court were present, and the church full of people, it was quite abominable.[Footnote: The father had written, "Haydn (organist of the church of the Holy Trinity) played the organ in the afternoon at the Litany, and the Te Deum laudamus, but in such a dreadful manner that we were quite startled, and thought he was about to undergo the fate of the deceased Adlgasser [who was seized with paralysis when playing the organ] It turned out, however, that he was only rather intoxicated, so his head and hands did not agree"] This is one of my chief reasons for detesting Salzburg— those coarse, slovenly, dissipated court musicians, with whom no honest man of good breeding could possibly live! instead of being glad to associate with them, he must feel ashamed of them. It is probably from this very cause that musicians are neither loved nor respected with us. If the orchestra were only organised like that at Mannheim! I wish you could see the subordination that prevails there—the authority Cannabich exercises; where all is done in earnest. Cannabich, who is the best director I ever saw, is both beloved and feared by his subordinates, who, as well as himself, are respected by the whole town. But certainly they behave very differently, have good manners, are well dressed (and do not go to public-houses to get drunk). This can never be the case in Salzburg, unless the Prince will place confidence either in you or me and give us full powers, which are indispensable to a conductor of music; otherwise it is all in vain. In Salzburg every one is master—so no one is master. If I were to undertake it, I should insist on exercising entire authority. The Grand Chamberlain must have nothing to say as to musical matters, or on any point relating to music. Not every person in authority can become a Capellmeister, but a Capellmeister must become a person of authority.
By the by, the Elector is again in Mannheim. Madame Cannabich and also her husband correspond with me. If what I fear were to come to pass, and it would be a sad pity if it did,—namely, that the orchestra were to be much diminished,—I still cherish one hope. You know that there is nothing I desire more than a good appointment,—good in reputation, and good in money,—no matter where, provided it be in a Catholic country. You fenced skilfully indeed with Count Stahremberg [FOOTNOTE: A prebendary of Salzburg, to whom the father had "opened his heart," and told him all that had occurred in Salzburg. Wolfgang's reinstatement in his situation was being negotiated at the time.] throughout the whole affair; only continue as you have begun, and do not allow yourself to be deluded; more especially be on your guard if by any chance you enter into conversation with that silly goose—-; [FOOTNOTE: He probably alludes to the Archbishop's sister, Countess Franziska von Walles, who did the honors of her brother's court, and who, no doubt, also interfered in this matter.] I know her, and believe me, though she may have sugar and honey on her lips, she has gall and wormwood in her head and in her heart. It is quite natural that the whole affair should still be in an unsettled state, and many things must be conceded before I could accept the offer; and even if every point were favorably adjusted, I would rather be anywhere than at Salzburg. But I need not concern myself on the matter, for it is not likely that all I ask should be granted, as I ask a great deal. Still it is not impossible; and if all were rightly organized, I would no longer hesitate, but solely for the happiness of being with you. If the Salzburgers wish to have me, they must comply with my wishes, or they shall never get me.
So the Prelate of Baumburg has died the usual prelatical death; but I had not heard that the Prelate of the Holy Cross [in Augsburg] was also dead. I grieve to hear it, for he was a good, honest, upright man. So you had no faith in Deacon Zeschinger [see No. 68] being made prelate? I give you my honor I never conjectured anything else; indeed, I do not know who else could have got it; and what better prelate could we have for music?
My friend Raaff leaves this to-morrow; he goes by Brussels to Aix-la-Chapelle and Spa, and thence to Mannheim, when he is to give me immediate notice of his arrival, for we mean to correspond. He sends numerous greetings to you and to my sister. You write that you have heard nothing for a very long time of my pupil in composition; very true, but what can I say about her? She will never be a composer; all labor is vain with her, for she is not only vastly stupid, but also vastly lazy.
I had previously answered you about the opera. As to Noverre's ballet, I only wrote that he might perhaps arrange a new one. He wanted about one half to complete it, and this I set to music. That is, six pieces are written by others, consisting entirely of old trumpery French airs; the symphony and contre-danses, and about twelve more pieces, are contributed by me. This ballet has already been given four times with great applause. I am now positively determined to write nothing more without previously knowing what I am to get for it: but this was only a friendly act towards Noverre. Herr Wendling left this last May. If I were to see Baron Bach, I must have very good eyes, for he is not here but in London. Is it possible that I did not tell you this? You shall find that, in future, I will answer all your letters minutely. It is said that Baron Bach will soon return here; I should be glad of that for many reasons, especially because at his house there will be always opportunity to try things over in good earnest. Capellmeister Bach will also soon be here; I believe he is writing an opera. The French are, and always will be, downright donkeys; they can do nothing themselves, so they must have recourse to foreigners. I talked to Piccini at the Concert Spirituel; he is always most polite to me and I to him when we do by chance meet. Otherwise I do not seek much acquaintance, either with him or any of the other composers; they understand their work and I mine, and that is enough. I already wrote to you of the extraordinary success my symphony had in the Concert Spirituel. If I receive a commission to write an opera, I shall have annoyance enough, but this I shall not much mind, being pretty well accustomed to it—if only that confounded French language were not so detestable for music! It is, indeed, too provoking; even German is divine in comparison. And then the singers—but they do not deserve the name, for they do not sing, but scream and bawl with all their might through their noses and throats. I am to compose a French oratorio for the ensuing Lent, to be given at the Concert Spirituel. M. Le Gros (the director) is amazingly well-disposed towards me. You must know that (though I used to see him every day) I have not been near him since Easter; I felt so indignant at his not having my symphony performed. I was often in the same house visiting Raaff, and thus passed his rooms constantly. His servants often saw me, when I always sent him my compliments. It is really a pity he did not give the symphony—it would have been a good hit; and now he has no longer the opportunity to do so, for how seldom are four such performers to be found together! One day, when I went to call on Raaff, I was told that he was out, but would soon be home; so I waited. M. Le Gros came into the room and said, "It is really quite a marvel to have the pleasure of seeing you once more." "Yes; I have a great deal to do." "I hope you will stay and dine with us to-day?" "I regret that I cannot, being already engaged." "M. Mozart, we really must soon spend a day together." "It will give me much pleasure." A long pause; at length, "A propos, are you disposed to write a grand symphony for me for Corpus Christi day?" "Why not?" "May I then rely on this?" "Oh, yes! if I may, with equal confidence, rely on its being performed, and that it will not fare like the sinfonie concertante." This opened the flood-gates; he excused himself in the best way he could, but did not find much to say. In short, the symphony [Kochel, No. 297] was highly approved of; and Le Gros is so satisfied with it that he says it is his very best symphony. The andante, however, has not the good fortune to please him; he declares that it has too many modulations, and is too long. He derives this opinion from the audience forgetting to clap their hands as loudly, and to be as vociferous, as at the end of the first and last movements. But this andante is a great favorite WITH MYSELF, as well as with all connoisseurs, amateurs, and the greater part of those who heard it. It is the exact reverse of what Le Gros says, for it is both simple and short. But in order to satisfy him (and no doubt some others) I have written a fresh one. Each good in its own way— each having a different character. The last pleases me the best. The first good opportunity I have, I will send you this sinfonie concertante, and also the "School for the Violin," some pieces for the piano, and Vogler's book ("Ton Wissenschaft und Kunst"), and then I hope to have your opinion of them. On August 15th, Ascension Day, my sinfonie, with the new andante, is to be performed for the second time. The sinfonie is in Re, the andante in Sol, for here one must not say in D or in G. Le Gros is now all for me.
Take comfort and pray without ceasing; this is the only resource we have. I hope you will cause a holy mass to be said in Maria Plain and in Loretto. I have done so here. As for the letter to Herr Bahr, I don't think it is necessary to send it to me; I am not as yet acquainted with him; I only know that he plays the clarionet well, but is in other respects no desirable companion, and I do not willingly associate with such people; no credit is derived from them, and I really should feel positively ashamed to give him a letter recommending me to him—even if he could be of service to me; but it so happens that he is by no means in good repute here. Many do not know him at all. Of the two Staunitz, the junior only is here [Mannheim composer]. The elder of the two (the veritable Hafeneder composer) is in London. They are wretched scribblers, gamblers, and drunkards, and not the kind of people for me. The one now here has scarcely a coat to his back. By the by, if Brunetti should ever be dismissed, I would be glad to recommend a friend of mine to the Archbishop as first violin; he is a most worthy man, and very steady. I think he is about forty years of age, and a widower; his name is Rothfischer. He is Concertmeister at Kirchheim-Boland, with the Princess of Nassau- Weilberg [see No. 91]. Entre nous, he is dissatisfied, for he is no favorite with his Prince—that is, his music is not. He urged me to forward his interests, and it would cause me real pleasure to be of use to him, for never was there such a kind man.
Paris, July 18, 1778.
I HOPE you got my last two letters. Let us allude no more to their chief purport. All is over; and were we to write whole pages on the subject, we could not alter the fact.
The principal object of this letter is to congratulate my dear sister on her name-day. I think I wrote to you that M. Raaff had left this, but that he is my very true and most particular friend, and I can entirely depend on his regard. I could not possibly write to you, because I did not myself know that he had so much affection for me. Now, to write a story properly, one ought to begin from the beginning. I ought to tell you, first, that Raaff lodged with M. Le Gros. It just occurs to me that you already know this; but what am I to do? It is written, and I can't begin the letter again, so I proceed. When he arrived, we happened to be at dinner. This, too, has nothing to do with the matter; it is only to let you know that people do dine in Paris, as elsewhere. When I went home I found a letter for me from Herr Weber, and the bearer of it was Raaff. If I wished to deserve the name of a historian, I ought here to insert the contents of this letter; and I can with truth say that I am very reluctant to decline giving them. But I must not be too prolix; to be concise is a fine thing, which you can see by my letter. The third day I found him at home and thanked him; it is always advisable to be polite. I no longer remember what we talked about. An historian must be unusually dull who cannot forthwith supply some falsehood—I mean some romance. Well! we spoke of the fine weather; and when we had said our say, we were silent, and I went away. Some days after—though what day it was I really forget, but one day in the week assuredly—I had just seated myself, at the piano of course; and Ritter, the worthy Holzbeisser, was sitting beside me. Now, what is to be deduced from that? A great deal. Raaff had never heard me at Mannheim except at a concert, where the noise and uproar was so great that nothing could be heard; and HE had such a miserable piano that I could not have done myself any justice on it. Here, however, the instrument was good, and I saw Raaff sitting opposite me with a speculative air; so, as you may imagine, I played some preludes in the Fischietti method, and also played a florid sonata in the style and with the fire, spirit, and precision of Haydn, and then a fugue with all the skill of Lipp, Silber, and Aman. [Footnote: Fischietti was Capellmeister in Salzburg; Michael Haydn and Lipp, organists.] My fugue-playing has everywhere gained me the greatest applause. When I had quite finished, (Raaff all the time calling out Bravo! while his countenance showed his true and sincere delight,) I entered into conversation with Ritter, and among other things said that I by no means liked being here; adding, "The chief cause of this is music; besides, I can find no resources here, no amusement, no agreeable or sociable intercourse with any one,— especially with ladies, many of whom are disreputable, and those who are not so are deficient in good breeding." Ritter could not deny that I was right. Raaff at last said, smiling, "I can quite believe it, for M. Mozart is not WHOLLY here to admire the Parisian beauties; one half of him is elsewhere—where I have just come from." This of course gave rise to much laughing and joking; but Raaff presently said, in a serious tone, "You are quite right, and I cannot blame you; she deserves it, for she is a sweet, pretty, good girl, well educated, and a superior person with considerable talent." This gave me an excellent opportunity strongly to recommend my beloved Madlle. Weber to him; but there was no occasion for me to say much, as he was already quite fascinated by her. He promised me, as soon as he returned to Mannheim, to give her lessons, and to interest himself in her favor. I ought, by rights, to insert something here, but I must first finish the history of our friendship; if there is still room, I may do so. He was in my eyes only an every-day acquaintance, and no more; but I often sat with him in his room, so by degrees I began to place more confidence in him, and at last told him all my Mannheim history,—how I had been bamboozled and made a fool of, adding that perhaps I might still get an appointment there. He neither said yes nor no; and on every occasion when I alluded to it he seemed each time more indifferent and less interested in the matter. At last, however, I thought I remarked more complacency in his manner, and he often, indeed, began to speak of the affair himself. I introduced him to Herr Grimm and to Madame d'Epinay. On one occasion he came to me and said that he and I were to dine with Count Sickingen some day soon; adding, "The Count and I were conversing together, and I said to him, 'A propos, has your Excellency heard our Mozart?' 'No; but I should like very much both to see and to hear him, for they write me most astonishing things about him from Mannheim.' 'When your Excellency does hear him, you will see that what has been written to you is rather too little than too much.' 'Is it possible?' 'Beyond all doubt, your Excellency.'" Now, this was the first time that I had any reason to think Raaff interested in me. Then it went on increasing, and one day I asked him to come home with me; and after that he often came of his own accord, and at length every day. The day after he left this, a good-looking man called on me in the forenoon with a picture, and said, "Monsieur, je viens de la part de ce Monsieur," showing me a portrait of Raaff, and an admirable likeness. Presently he began to speak German; and it turned out that he was a painter of the Elector's, whom Raaff had often mentioned to me, but always forgot to take me to see him. I believe you know him, for it must be the very person Madame Urspringer, of Mayence, alludes to in her letter, because he says he often met us at the Urspringers'. His name is Kymli. He is a most kind, amiable man, well- principled, honorable, and a good Christian; one proof of which is the friendship between him and Raaff. Now comes the best evidence of Raaff's regard for me, and the sincere interest he takes in my welfare: it is, that he imparts his intentions rather to those whom he can trust than to those more immediately concerned, being unwilling to promise without the certainty of a happy result. This is what Kymli told me. Raaff asked him to call on me and to show me his portrait, to see me often, and to assist me in every way, and to establish an intimate friendship with me. It seems he went to him every morning, and repeatedly said to Kymli, "I was at Herr Mozart's again yesterday evening; he is, indeed, a wonderful little fellow; he is an out-and-outer, and no mistake!" and was always praising me. He told Kymli everything, and the whole Mannheim story—in short, all. The fact is, that high-principled, religious, and well-conducted people always like each other. Kymli says I may rest assured that I am in good hands. "Raaff will certainly do all he can for you, and he is a prudent man who will set to work cleverly; he will not say that it is your wish, but rather your due. He is on the best footing with the Oberststallmeister. Rely on it, he will not be beat; only you must let him go his own way to work." One thing more. Father Martini's letter to Raaff, praising me, must have been lost. Raaff had, some time since, a letter from him, but not a word about me in it. Possibly it is still lying in Mannheim; but this is unlikely, as I know that, during his stay in Paris, all his letters have been regularly forwarded to him. As the Elector justly entertains a very high opinion of the Padre Maestro, I think it would be a good thing if you would be so kind as to apply to him to write again about me to Raaff; it might be of use, and good Father Martini would not hesitate to do a friendly thing twice over for me, knowing that he might thus make my fortune. He no doubt would express the letter in such a manner that it could be shown, if need be, to the Elector. Now enough as to this; my wish for a favorable issue is chiefly that I may soon have the happiness of embracing my dear father and sister. Oh! how joyously and happily we shall live together! I pray fervently to God to grant me this favor; a new leaf will at last be turned, please God! In the fond hope that the day will come, and the sooner the better, when we shall all be happy, I mean, in God's name, to persevere in my life here, though so totally opposed to my genius, inclinations, knowledge, and sympathies. Believe me, this is but too true,—I write you only the simple truth. If I were to attempt to give you all my reasons, I might write my fingers off and do no good. For here I am, and I must do all that is in my power. God grant that I may not thus impair my talents; but I hope it will not continue long enough for that. God grant it! By the by, the other day an ecclesiastic called on me. He is the leader of the choir at St. Peter's, in Salzburg, and knows you very well; his name is Zendorff; perhaps you may not remember him? He gives lessons here on the piano—in Paris. N. B., have not you a horror of the very name of Paris? I strongly recommend him as organist to the Archbishop; he says he would be satisfied with three hundred florins. Now farewell! Be careful of your health, and strive to be cheerful. Remember that possibly you may ere long have the satisfaction of tossing off a good glass of Rhenish wine with your son—your truly happy son. Adieu!
20th.—Pray forgive my being so late in sending you my congratulations, but I wished to present my sister with a little prelude. The mode of playing it I leave to her own feeling. This is not the kind of prelude to pass from one key to another, but merely a capriccio to try over a piano. My sonatas [Kochel, Nos. 301-306] are soon to be published. No one as yet would agree to give me what I asked for them, so I have been obliged at last to give in, and to let them go for 15 louis-d'or. It is the best way too to make my name known here. As soon as they appear I will send them to you by some good opportunity (and as economically as possible) along with your "School for the Violin," Vogler's book, Hullmandel's sonatas, Schroter's concertos, some of my pianoforte sonatas, the sinfonie concertante, two quartets for the flute, and a concerto for harp and flute [Kochel, No. 298, 299].
Pray, what do you hear about the war? For three days I was very depressed and sorrowful; it is, after all, nothing to me, but I am so sensitive that I feel quickly interested in any matter. I heard that the Emperor had been defeated. At first it was reported that the King of Prussia had surprised the Emperor, or rather the troops commanded by Archduke Maximilian; that two thousand had fallen on the Austrian side, but fortunately the Emperor had come to his assistance with forty thousand men, but was forced to retreat. Secondly, it was said that the King had attacked the Emperor himself, and entirely surrounded him, and that if General Laudon had not come to his relief with eighteen hundred cuirassiers, he would have been taken prisoner; that sixteen hundred cuirassiers had been killed, and Laudon himself shot dead. I have not, however, seen this in any newspaper, but to-day I was told that the Emperor had invaded Saxony with forty thousand troops. Whether the news be true I know not. This is a fine griffonage, to be sure! but I have not patience to write prettily; if you can only read it, it will do well enough. A propos, I saw in the papers that, in a skirmish between the Saxons and Croats, a Saxon captain of grenadiers named Hopfgarten had lost his life, and was much lamented. Can this be the kind, worthy Baron Hopfgarten whom we knew at Paris with Herr von Bose? I should grieve if it were, but I would rather he died this glorious death than have sacrificed his life, as too many young men do here, to dissipation and vice. You know this already, but it is now worse than ever.
N. B. I hope you will be able to decipher the end of the prelude; you need not be very particular about the time; it is the kind of thing that may be played as you feel inclined. I should like to inflict twenty-five stripes on the sorry Vatel's shoulders for not having married Katherl. Nothing is more shameful, in my opinion, than to make a fool of an honest girl, and to play her false eventually; but I hope this may not be the case. If I were her father, I would soon put a stop to the affair.
Paris, July 31, 1778.
I HOPE you have got my two letters of the 11th and 18th. Meantime I have received yours of the 13th and 20th. The first brought tears of sorrow to my eyes, as I was reminded by it of the sad death of my darling mother, and the whole scene recurred vividly to me. Never can I forget it while I live. You know that (though I often wished it) I had never seen any one die, and the first time I did so it was fated to be my own mother! My greatest misery was the thoughts of that hour, and I prayed earnestly to God for strength. I was heard, and strength was given to me. Melancholy as your letter made me, still I was inexpressibly happy to find that you both bear this sorrow as it ought to be borne, and that my mind may now be at ease about my beloved father and sister. As soon as I read your letter, my first impulse was to throw myself on my knees, and fervently to thank our gracious God for this blessing. I am now comparatively happy, because I have no longer anything to dread on account of the two persons who are dearest to me in this world; had it been otherwise, such a terrible misfortune would have utterly overwhelmed me. Be careful therefore of your precious health for my sake, I entreat, and grant to him who flatters himself that he is now what you love most in the world the joy and felicity soon to embrace you.
Your last letter also caused my tears to flow from joy, as it convinced me more than ever of your fatherly love and care. I shall strive with all my might still more to deserve your affection. I thank you for the powder, but am sure you will be glad to hear that I do not require to use it. During my dear mother's illness it would have been very useful, but now, thank God! I am perfectly well and healthy. At times I have fits of melancholy, but the best way to get rid of them is by writing or receiving letters, which always cheers me; but, believe me, these sad feelings never recur without too good cause. You wish to have an account of her illness and every detail connected with it; that you shall have; but I must ask you to let it be short, and I shall only allude to the principal facts, as the event is over, and cannot, alas! now be altered, and I require some space to write on business topics.
In the first place, I must tell you that NOTHING could have saved my mother. No doctor in the world could have restored her to health. It was the manifest will of God; her time was come, and God chose to take her to Himself. You think she put off being bled too long? it may be so, as she did delay it for a little, but I rather agree with the people here, who dissuaded her from being bled at all. The cause of my mother's illness was internal inflammation. After being bled she rallied for some days, but on the 19th she complained of headache, and for the first time stayed in bed the whole day. On the 20th she was seized first with shivering and then with fever, so I gave her an anti- spasmodic powder. I was at that time very anxious to send for another doctor, but she would not allow me to do so, and when I urged her very strongly, she told me that she had no confidence in any French medical man. I therefore looked about for a German one. I could not, of course, go out and leave her, but I anxiously waited for M. Heina, who came regularly every day to see us; but on this occasion two days passed without his appearing. At last he came, but as our doctor was prevented paying his usual visit next day, we could not consult with him; in fact, he did not come till the 24th. The previous day, when I had been expecting him so eagerly, I was in great trouble, for my mother suddenly lost her sense of hearing. The doctor, an old German about seventy, gave her rhubarb in wine. I could not understand this, as wine is usually thought heating; but when I said so, every one exclaimed, "How can you say so? Wine is not heating, but strengthening; water is heating." And all the time the poor invalid was longing for a drink of fresh water. How gladly would I have complied with her wish! My dear father, you cannot conceive what I went through, but nothing could be done, except to leave her in the hands of the physician. All that I could do with a good conscience, was to pray to God without ceasing, that He would order all things for her good. I went about as if I had altogether lost my head. I had ample leisure then to compose, but I was in such a state that I could not have written a single note. The 25th the doctor did not come; on the 26th he visited her again. Imagine my feelings when he all at once said to me, "I fear she will scarcely live through the night; she may die at any moment. You had better see that she receives the sacrament." So I hurried off to the end of the Chaussee d'Antin, and went on beyond the Barriere to find Heina, knowing that he was at a concert in the house of some count. He said that he would bring a German priest with him next morning. On my way back I looked in on Madame d'Epinay and M. Grimm for a moment as I passed. They were distressed that I had not spoken sooner, as they would at once have sent their doctor. I did not tell them my reason, which was, that my mother would not see a French doctor. I was hard put to it, as they said they would send their physician that very evening. When I came home, I told my mother that I had met Herr Heina with a German priest, who had heard a great deal about me and was anxious to hear me play, and that they were both to call on me next day. She seemed quite satisfied, and though I am no doctor, still seeing that she was better I said nothing more. I find it impossible not to write at full length—indeed, I am glad to give you every particular, for it will be more satisfactory to you; but as I have some things to write that are indispensable, I shall continue my account of the illness in my next letter. In the mean time you must have seen from my last letter, that all my darling mother's affairs and my own are in good order. When I come to this point, I will tell you how things were arranged. Heina and I regulated everything ourselves.
Now for business. Do not allow your thoughts to dwell on what I wrote, asking your permission not to reveal my ideas till the proper time arrived. Pray do not let it trouble you. I cannot yet tell you about it, and if I did, I should probably do more harm than good; but, to tranquillize you, I may at least say that it only concerns myself. Your circumstances will be made neither better nor worse, and until I see you in a better position I shall think no more about the matter. If the day ever arrives when we can live together in peace and happiness, (which is my grand object),—when that joyful time comes, and God grant it may come soon!—then the right moment will have arrived, and the rest will depend on yourself. Do not, therefore, discompose yourself on the subject, and be assured that in every case where I know that your happiness and peace are involved, I shall invariably place entire confidence in you, my kind father and true friend, and detail everything to you minutely. If in the interim I have not done so, the fault is not solely mine. [FOOTNOTE: He had evidently in his thoughts, what was indeed manifest in his previous letters, a speedy marriage with his beloved Aloysia.] M. Grimm recently said to me, "What am I to write to your father? What course do you intend to pursue? Do you remain here, or go to Mannheim?" I really could not help laughing: "What could I do at Mannheim now? would that I had never come to Paris! but so it is. Here I am, and I must use every effort to get forward." "Well," said he, "I scarcely think that you will do much good here." "Why? I see a number of wretched bunglers who make a livelihood, and why, with my talents, am I to fail? I assure you that I like being at Mannheim, and wish very much to get some appointment there, but it must be one that is honorable and of good repute. I must have entire certainty on the subject before I move a step." "I fear," said he, "that you are not sufficiently active here— you don't go about enough." "Well," said I, "that is the hardest of all for me to do." Besides, I could go nowhere during my mother's long illness, and now two of my pupils are in the country, and the third (the Duke de Guines's daughter) is betrothed, and means no longer to continue her lessons, which, so far as my credit is concerned, does not distress me much. It is no particular loss to me, for the Duke only pays me what every one else does. Only imagine! I went to his house every day for two hours, being engaged to give twenty-four lessons, (but it is the custom here to pay after each twelve lessons.) They went into the country, and when they came back ten days afterwards, I was not apprised of it; had I not by chance inquired out of mere curiosity, I should not have known that they were here. When I did go, the governess took out her purse and said to me, "Pray excuse my only paying you at present for twelve lessons, for I have not enough money." This is a noble proceeding! She then gave me three louis-d'or, adding, "I hope you are satisfied; if not, I beg you will say so." M. le Duc can have no sense of honor, or probably thinks that I am only a young man and a thick-headed German, (for this is the way in which the French always speak of us,) and that I shall be quite contented. The thick-headed German, however, was very far from being contented, so he declined receiving the sum offered. The Duke intended to pay me for one hour instead of two, and all from economy. As he has now had a concerto of mine for harp and flute, for the last four months, which he has not yet paid me for, I am only waiting till the wedding is over to go to the governess and ask for my money. What provokes me most of all is that these stupid Frenchmen think I am still only seven years old, as they saw me first when I was that age. This is perfectly true, for Madame d'Epinay herself told me so quite seriously. I am therefore treated here like a beginner, except by the musicians, who think very differently; but most votes carry the day!
After my conversation with Grimm, I went the very next day to call on Count Sickingen. He was quite of my opinion that I ought to have patience and wait till Raaff arrives at his destination, who will do all that lies in his power to serve me. If he should fail, Count Sickingen has offered to procure a situation for me at Mayence. In the mean time my plan is to do my utmost to gain a livelihood by teaching, and to earn as much money as possible. This I am now doing, in the fond hope that some change may soon occur; for I cannot deny, and indeed at once frankly confess, that I shall be delighted to be released from this place. Giving lessons is no joke here, and unless you wear yourself out by taking a number of pupils, not much money can be made. You must not think that this proceeds from laziness. No! it is only quite opposed to my genius and my habits. You know that I am, so to speak, plunged into music,—that I am occupied with it the whole day,—that I like to speculate, to study, and to reflect. Now my present mode of life effectually prevents this. I have, indeed, some hours at liberty, but those few hours are more necessary for rest than for work.
I told you already about the opera. One thing is certain—I must compose a great opera or none. If I write only smaller ones, I shall get very little, for here everything is done at a fixed price, and if it should be so unfortunate as not to please the obtuse French, it is all up with it. I should get no more to write, have very little profit, and find my reputation damaged. If, on the other hand, I write a great opera, the remuneration is better, I am working in my own peculiar sphere, in which I delight, and I have a greater chance of being appreciated, because in a great work there is more opportunity to gain approval. I assure you that if I receive a commission to write an opera, I have no fears on the subject. It is true that the devil himself invented their language, and I see the difficulties which all composers have found in it. But, in spite of this, I feel myself as able to surmount these difficulties as any one else. Indeed, when I sometimes think in my own mind that I may look on my opera as a certainty, I feel quite a fiery impulse within me, and tremble from head to foot, through the eager desire to teach the French more fully how to know, and value, and fear the Germans. Why is a great opera never intrusted to a Frenchman? Why is it always given to a foreigner? To me the most insupportable part of it will be the singers. Well, I am ready. I wish to avoid all strife, but if I am challenged I know how to defend myself. If it runs its course without a duel, I should prefer it, for I do not care to wrestle with dwarfs.
God grant that some change may soon come to pass! In the mean time I shall certainly not be deficient in industry, trouble, and labor. My hopes are centred on the winter, when every one returns from the country. My heart beats with joy at the thought of the happy day when I shall once more see and embrace you.
The day before yesterday my dear friend Weber, among other things, wrote to me that the day after the Elector's arrival it was publicly announced that he was to take up his residence in Munich, which came like a thunder-clap on Mannheim, wholly, so to say, extinguishing the universal illumination by which the inhabitants had testified their joy on the previous day. The fact was also communicated to all the court musicians, with the addition that each was at liberty to follow the court to Munich or to remain in Mannheim, (retaining the same salaries,) and in a fortnight each was to give a written and sealed decision to the Intendant. Weber, who is, as you know, in the most miserable circumstances, wrote as follows:—"I anxiously desire to follow my gracious master to Munich, but my decayed circumstances prevent my doing so." Before this occurred there was a grand court concert, where poor Madlle. Weber felt the fangs of her enemies; for on this occasion she did not sing! It is not known who was the cause of this. Afterwards there was a concert at Herr von Gemmingen's, where Count Seeau also was. She sang two arias of mine, and was so fortunate as to please, in spite of those Italian scoundrels [the singers of Munich], those infamous charlatans, who circulated a report that she had very much gone off in her singing. When her songs were finished, Cannabich said to her, "Mademoiselle, I hope you will always continue to fall off in this manner; tomorrow I will write to M. Mozart in your praise." One thing is certain; if war had not already broken out, the court would by this time have been transferred to Munich. Count Seeau, who is quite determined to engage Madlle. Weber, would have left nothing undone to insure her coming to Munich, so that there was some hope that the family might have been placed in better circumstances; but now that all is again quiet about the Munich journey, these poor people may have to wait a long time, while their debts daily accumulate. If I could only help them! Dearest father, I recommend them to you from my heart. If they could even for a few years be in possession of 1000 florins!
To HERR BULLINGER.
Paris, August 7, 1778.
MY VERY DEAR FRIEND,—
Allow me above all to thank you most warmly for the proof of friendship you gave me by your interest in my dear father—first in preparing, and then kindly consoling him for his loss [see No. 106]. You played your part admirably. These are my father's own words. My kind friend, how can I sufficiently thank you? You saved my father for me. I have you to thank that I still have him. Permit me to say no more on the subject, and not to attempt to express my gratitude, for I feel too weak and incompetent to do so. My best friend, I am forever your debtor; but patience! It is too true that I am not yet in a position to repay what I owe you, but rely on it God will one day grant me the opportunity of showing by deeds what I am unable to express by words. Such is my hope; till that happy time, however, arrives, allow me to beg you to continue your precious and valued friendship to me, and also to accept mine afresh, now and forever; to which I pledge myself in all sincerity of heart. It will not, indeed, be of much use to you, but not on that account less sincere and lasting. You know well that the best and truest of all friends are the poor. The rich know nothing of friendship, especially those who are born to riches, and even those whom fate enriches often become very different when fortunate in life. But when a man is placed in favorable circumstances, not by blind, but reasonable good fortune and merit, who during his early and less prosperous days never lost courage, remaining faithful to his religion and his God, striving to be an honest man and good Christian, knowing how to value his true friends,—in short, one who really deserves better fortune,—from such a man no ingratitude is to be feared.
I must now proceed to answer your letter. You can be under no further anxiety as to my health, for you must have ere this received three letters from me. The first, containing the sad news of my mother's death, was enclosed, my dear friend, to you. You must forgive my silence on the subject, but my thoughts recur to it constantly. You write that I should now think only of my father, tell him frankly all my thoughts, and place entire confidence in him. How unhappy should I be if I required this injunction! It was expedient that you should suggest it, but I am happy to say (and you will also be glad to hear it) that I do not need this advice. In my last letter to my dear father, I wrote to him all that I myself know up to this time, assuring him that I would always keep him minutely informed of everything, and candidly tell him my intentions, as I place entire faith in him, being confident of his fatherly care, love, and goodness. I feel assured that at a future day he will not deny me a request on which my whole happiness in life depends, and which (for he cannot expect anything else from me) will certainly be quite fair and reasonable. My dear friend, do not let my father read this. You know him; he would only fancy all kinds of things, and to no purpose.
Now for our Salzburg affair. You, my dear friend, are well aware how I do hate Salzburg, not only on account of the injustice shown to my father and myself there, which was in itself enough to make us wish to forget such a place, and to blot it out wholly from our memory. But do not let us refer to that, if we can contrive to live respectably there. To live respectably and to live happily, are two very different things; but the latter I never could do short of witchcraft,—it would indeed be supernatural if I did,—so this is impossible, for in these days there are no longer any witches. Well, happen what may, it will always be the greatest possible pleasure to me to embrace my dear father and sister, and the sooner the better. Still I cannot deny that my joy would be twofold were this to be elsewhere, for I have far more hope of living happily anywhere else. Perhaps you may misunderstand me, and think that Salzburg is on too small a scale for me. If so, you are quite mistaken. I have already written some of my reasons to my father. In the mean time, let this one suffice, that Salzburg is no place for my talent. In the first place, professional musicians are not held in much consideration; and, secondly, one hears nothing. There is no theatre, no opera there; and if they really wished to have one, who is there to sing? For the last five or six years the Salzburg orchestra has always been rich in what is useless and superfluous, but very poor in what is useful and indispensable; and such is the case at the present moment. Those cruel French are the cause of the band there being without a Capellmeister. [FOOTNOTE: The old Capellmeister, Lolli, had died a short time previously.] I therefore feel assured that quiet and order are now reigning in the orchestra. This is the result of not making provision in time. Half a dozen Capellmeisters should always be held in readiness, that, if one fails, another can instantly be substituted. But where, at present, is even ONE to be found? And yet the danger is urgent. It will not do to allow order, quiet, and good-fellowship to prevail in the orchestra, or the mischief would still further increase, and in the long run become irremediable. Is there no ass-eared old periwig, no dunderhead forthcoming, to restore the concern to its former disabled condition? I shall certainly do my best in the matter. To-morrow I intend to hire a carriage for the day, and visit all the hospitals and infirmaries, to see if I can't find a Capellmeister in one of them. Why were they so improvident as to allow Misliweczeck to give them the slip, and he so near too? [See No. 64.] He would have been a prize, and one not so easy to replace, —freshly emerged, too, from the Duke's Clementi Conservatorio. He was just the man to have awed the whole court orchestra by his presence. Well, we need not be uneasy: where there is money there are always plenty of people to be had. My opinion is that they should not wait too long, not from the foolish fear that they might not get one at all,—for I am well aware that all these gentlemen are expecting one as eagerly and anxiously as the Jews do their Messiah,—but simply because things cannot go on at all under such circumstances. It would therefore be more useful and profitable to look out for a Capellmeister, there being NONE at present, than to write in all directions (as I have been told) to secure a good female singer.
[FOOTNOTE: In order the better to conciliate Wolfgang, Bullinger had been desired to say that the Archbishop, no longer satisfied with Madlle. Haydn, intended to engage another singer; and it was hinted to Mozart, that he might be induced to make choice of Aloysia Weber; (Jahn, ii. 307.) Madlle. Haydn was a daughter of Lipp, the organist, and sent by the Archbishop to Italy to cultivate her voice. She did not enjoy a very good reputation.]
I really can scarcely believe this. Another female singer, when we have already so many, and all admirable! A tenor, though we do not require one either, I could more easily understand—but a prima donna, when we have still Cecarelli! It is true that Madlle. Haydn is in bad health, for her austere mode of life has been carried too far. There are few of whom this can be said. I wonder that she has not long since lost her voice from her perpetual scourgings and flagellations, her hair-cloth, unnatural fasts, and night-prayers! But she will still long retain her powers, and instead of becoming worse, her voice will daily improve. When at last, however, she departs this life to be numbered among the saints, we still have five left, each of whom can dispute the palm with the other. So you see how superfluous a new one is. But, knowing how much changes and novelty and variety are liked with us, I see a wide field before me which may yet form an epoch. [FOOTNOTE: Archbishop Hieronymus, in the true spirit of Frederick the Great, liked to introduce innovations with an unsparing hand; many, however, being both necessary and beneficent.] Do your best that the orchestra may have a leg to stand on, for that is what is most wanted. A head they have [the Archbishop], but that is just the misfortune; and till a change is made in this respect, I will never come to Salzburg. When it does take place, I am willing to come and to turn over the leaf as often as I see V. S. [volti subito] written. Now as to the war [the Bavarian Succession]. So far as I hear, we shall soon have peace in Germany. The King of Prussia is certainly rather alarmed. I read in the papers that the Prussians had surprised an Imperial detachment, but that the Croats and two Cuirassier regiments were near, and, hearing the tumult, came at once to their rescue, and attacked the Prussians, placing them between two fires, and capturing five of their cannon. The route by which the Prussians entered Bohemia is now entirely cut up and destroyed. The Bohemian peasantry do all the mischief they can to the Prussians, who have besides constant desertions among their troops; but these are matters which you must know both sooner and better than we do. But I must write you some of our news here. The French have forced the English to retreat, but it was not a very hot affair. The most remarkable thing is that, friends and foes included, only 100 men were killed. In spite of this, there is a grand jubilation here, and nothing else is talked of. It is also reported that we shall soon have peace. It is a matter of indifference to me, so far as this place is concerned; but I should indeed be very glad if we were soon to have peace in Germany, for many reasons. Now farewell! Your true friend and obedient servant,
St. Germains, August 27, 1778.
I WRITE to you very hurriedly; you will see that I am not in Paris. Herr Bach, from London [Johann Christian], has been here for the last fortnight. He is going to write a French opera, and is only come for the purpose of hearing the singers, and afterwards goes to London to complete the opera, and returns here to put it on the stage. You may easily imagine his joy and mine when we met again; perhaps his delight may not be quite as sincere as mine, but it must be admitted that he is an honorable man and willing to do justice to others. I love him from my heart (as you know), and esteem him; and as for him, there is no doubt that he praises me warmly, not only to my face, but to others also, and not in the exaggerated manner in which some speak, but in earnest. Tenducci is also here, Bach's dearest friend, and he expressed the greatest delight at seeing me again. I must now tell you how I happen to be at St. Germains. The Marechal de Noailles lives here, as you no doubt know, (for I am told I was here fifteen years ago, though I don't remember it.) Tenducci is a great favorite of his, and as he is exceedingly partial to me, he was anxious to procure me this acquaintance. I shall gain nothing here, a trifling present perhaps, but at the same time I do not lose, for it costs me nothing; and even if I do not get anything, still I have made an acquaintance that may be very useful to me. I must make haste, for I am writing a scena for Tenducci, which is to be given on Sunday; it is for pianoforte, hautboy, horn, and bassoon, the performers being the Marechal's own people—Germans, who play very well. I should like to have written to you long since, but just as I had begun the letter (which is now lying in Paris) I was obliged to drive to St. Germains, intending to return the same day, and I have now been here a week. I shall return to Paris as soon as I can, though I shall not lose much there by my absence, for I have now only one pupil, the others being in the country. I could not write to you from here either, because we were obliged to wait for an opportunity to send a letter to Paris. I am quite well, thank God, and trust that both of you are the same. You must have patience—all goes on slowly; I must make friends. France is not unlike Germany in feeding people with encomiums, and yet there is a good hope that, by means of your friends, you may make your fortune. One lucky thing is, that food and lodging cost me nothing. When you write to the friend with whom I am staying [Herr Grimm], do not be too obsequious in your thanks. There are some reasons for this which I will write to you some other time. The rest of the sad history of the illness will follow in the next letter. You desire to have a faithful portrait of Rothfischer? He is an attentive, assiduous director, not a great genius, but I am very much pleased with him, and, best of all, he is the kindest creature, with whom you can do anything—if you know how to set about it, of course. He directs better than Brunetti, but is not so good in solo-playing. He has more execution, and plays well in his way, (a little in the old- fashioned Tartini mode,) but Brunetti's style is more agreeable. The concertos which he writes for himself are pretty and pleasant to listen to, and also to play occasionally. Who can tell whether he may not please? At all events, he plays a thousand million times better than Spitzeger, and, as I already said, he directs well, and is active in his calling. I recommend him to you heartily, for he is the most good-natured man! Adieu!