Paris, Sept. 11, 1778.
I HAVE received your three letters. I shall only reply to the last, being the most important. When I read it, (Heina was with me and sends you his regards,) I trembled with joy, for I fancied myself already in your arms. True it is (and this you will yourself confess) that no great stroke of good fortune awaits me; still, when I think of once more embracing you and my dear sister, I care for no other advantage. This is indeed the only excuse I can make to the people here, who are vociferous that I should remain in Paris; but my reply invariably is, "What would you have? I am content, and that is everything; I have now a place I can call my home, and where I can live in peace and quiet with my excellent father and beloved sister. I can do what I choose when not on duty. I shall be my own master, and have a certain competency; I may leave when I like, and travel every second year. What can I wish for more?" The only thing that disgusts me with Salzburg, and I tell you of it just as I feel it, is the impossibility of having any satisfactory intercourse with the people, and that musicians are not in good repute there, and—that the Archbishop places no faith in the experience of intelligent persons who have seen the world. For I assure you that people who do not travel (especially artists and scientific men) are but poor creatures. And I at once say that if the Archbishop is not prepared to allow me to travel every second year, I cannot possibly accept the engagement. A man of moderate talent will never rise above mediocrity, whether he travels or not, but a man of superior talents (which, without being unthankful to Providence, I cannot deny that I possess) deteriorates if he always remains in the same place. If the Archbishop would only place confidence in me, I could soon make his music celebrated; of this there can be no doubt. I also maintain that my journey has not been unprofitable to me—I mean, with regard to composition, for as to the piano, I play it as well as I ever shall. One thing more I must settle about Salzburg, that I am not to take up the violin as I formerly did. I will no longer conduct with the violin; I intend to conduct, and also accompany airs, with the piano. It would have been a good thing to have got a written agreement about the situation of Capellmeister, for otherwise I may have the honor to discharge a double duty, and be paid only for one, and at last be superseded by some stranger. My dear father, I must decidedly say that I really could not make up my mind to take this step were it not for the pleasure of seeing you both again; I wish also to get away from Paris, which I detest, though my affairs here begin to improve, and I don't doubt that if I could bring myself to endure this place for a few years, I could not fail to succeed. I am now pretty well known—that is, the people all know ME, even if I don't know them. I acquired considerable fame by my two symphonies; and (having heard that I was about to leave) they now really want me to write an opera, so I said to Noverre, "If you will be responsible for its BEING PERFORMED as soon as it is finished, and will name the exact sum that I am to receive for it, I will remain here for the next three months on purpose," for I could not at once decline, or they would have thought that I distrusted myself. This was not, however, done; and I knew beforehand that they could not do it, for such is not the custom here. You probably know that in Paris it is thus:—When the opera is finished it is rehearsed, and if these stupid Frenchmen do not think it good it is not given, and the composer has had all his trouble for nothing; if they approve, it is then put on the stage; as its popularity increases, so does the rate of payment. There is no certainty. I reserve the discussion of these matters till we meet, but I must candidly say that my own affairs begin to prosper. It is no use trying to hurry matters—chi va piano, va sano. My complaisance has gained me both friends and patrons; were I to write you all, my fingers would ache. I will relate it to you personally and place it clearly before you. M. Grimm may be able to help CHILDREN, but not grown-up people; and—but no, I had better not write on the subject. Yet I must! Do not imagine that he is the same that he was; were it not for Madame d'Epinay, I should be no longer in this house. And he has no great cause to be so proud of his good deeds towards me, for there were four houses where I could have had both board and lodging. The worthy man does not know that, if I had remained in Paris, I intended to have left him next month to go to a house that, unlike his, is neither stupid nor tiresome, and where a man has not constantly thrown in his face that a kindness has been done him. Such conduct is enough to cause me to forget a benefit, but I will be more generous than he is. I regret not remaining here only because I should have liked to show him that I do not require him, and that I can do as much as his Piccini, although I am only a German! The greatest service he has done me consists in fifteen louis-d'or which he lent me bit by bit during my mother's life and at her death. Is he afraid of losing them? If he has a doubt on the subject, then he deserves to be kicked, for in that case he must mistrust my honesty (which is the only thing that can rouse me to rage) and also my talents; but the latter, indeed, I know he does, for he once said to me that he did not believe I was capable of writing a French opera. I mean to repay him his fifteen louis-d'or, with thanks, when I go to take leave of him, accompanied by some polite expressions. My poor mother often said to me, "I don't know why, but he seems to me somehow changed." But I always took his part, though I secretly felt convinced of the very same thing. He seldom spoke of me to any one, and when he did, it was always in a stupid, injudicious, or disparaging way. He was constantly urging me to go to see Piccini, and also Caribaldi,—for there is a miserable opera buffa here,—but I always said, "No, I will not go a single step," &c. In short, he is of the Italian faction; he is insincere himself, and strives to crush me. This seems incredible, does it not? But still such is the fact, and I give you the proof of it. I opened my whole heart to him as a true friend, and a pretty use he made of this! He always gave me bad advice, knowing that I would follow it; but he only succeeded in two or three instances, and latterly I never asked his opinion at all, and if he did advise me to do anything, I never did it, but always appeared to acquiesce, that I might not subject myself to further insolence on his part.
But enough of this; we can talk it over when we meet. At all events, Madame d'Epinay has a better heart. The room I inhabit belongs to her, not to him. It is the invalid's room—that is, if any one is ill in the house, he is put there; it has nothing to recommend it except the view,—only four bare walls, no chest of drawers—in fact, nothing. Now you may judge whether I could stand it any longer. I would have written this to you long ago, but feared you would not believe me. I can, however, no longer be silent, whether you believe me or not; but you do believe me, I feel sure. I have still sufficient credit with you to persuade you that I speak the truth. I board too with Madame d'Epinay, and you must not suppose that he pays anything towards it, but indeed I cost her next to nothing. They have the same dinner whether I am there or not, for they never know when I am to be at home, so they can make no difference for me; and at night I eat fruit and drink one glass of wine. All the time I have been in their house, now more than two months, I have not dined with them more than fourteen times at most, and with the exception of the fifteen louis-d'or, which I mean to repay with thanks, he has no outlay whatever on my account but candles, and I should really be ashamed of myself more than of him, were I to offer to supply these; in fact I could not bring myself to say such a thing. This is my nature. Recently, when he spoke to me in such a hard, senseless, and stupid way, I had not nerve to say that he need not be alarmed about his fifteen louis-d'or, because I was afraid of offending him; I only heard him calmly to the end, when I asked whether he had said all he wished—and then I was off! He presumes to say that I must leave this a week hence—IN SUCH HASTE IS HE. I told him it was impossible, and my reasons for saying so. "Oh! that does not matter; it is your father's wish." "Excuse me, in his last letter he wrote that he would let me know in his next when I was to set off." "At all events hold yourself in readiness for your journey." But I must tell you plainly that it will be impossible for me to leave this before the beginning of next month, or at the soonest the end of the present one, for I have still six arias to write, which will be well paid. I must also first get my money from Le Gros and the Duc de Guines; and as the court goes to Munich the end of this month, I should like to be there at the same time to present my sonatas myself to the Electress, which perhaps might bring me a present. I mean to sell my three concertos to the man who has printed them, provided he gives me ready money for them; one is dedicated to Jenomy, another to Litzau; the third is in B. I shall do the same with my six difficult sonatas, if I can; even if not much, it is better than nothing. Money is much wanted on a journey. As for the symphonies, most of them are not according to the taste of the people here; if I have time, I mean to arrange some violin concertos from them, and curtail them; in Germany we rather like length, but after all it is better to be short and good. In your next letter I shall no doubt find instructions as to my journey; I only wish you had written to me alone, for I would rather have nothing more to do with Grimm. I hope so, and in fact it would be better, for no doubt our friends Geschwender and Heina can arrange things better than this upstart Baron. Indeed, I am under greater obligations to Heina than to him, look at it as you will by the light of a farthing-candle. I expect a speedy reply to this, and shall not leave Paris till it comes. I have no reason to hurry away, nor am I here either in vain or fruitlessly, because I shut myself up and work, in order to make as much money as possible. I have still a request, which I hope you will not refuse. If it should so happen, though I hope and believe it is not so, that the Webers are not in Munich, but still at Mannheim, I wish to have the pleasure of going there to visit them. It takes me, I own, rather out of my way, but not much—at all events it does not appear much to me. I don't believe, after all, that it will be necessary, for I think I shall meet them in Munich; but I shall ascertain this to-morrow by a letter. If it is not the case, I feel beforehand that you will not deny me this happiness. My dear father, if the Archbishop wishes to have a new singer, I can, by heavens! find none better than her. He will never get a Teyberin or a De' Amicis, and the others are assuredly worse. I only lament that when people from Salzburg flock to the next Carnival, and "Rosamunde" is given, Madlle. Weber will not please, or at all events they will not be able to judge of her merits as they deserve, for she has a miserable part, almost that of a dumb personage, having only to sing some stanzas between the choruses. She has one aria where something might be expected from the ritournelle; the voice part is, however, alla Schweitzer, as if dogs were yelping. There is only one air, a kind of rondo in the second act, where she has an opportunity of sustaining her voice, and thus showing what she can do. Unhappy indeed is the singer who falls into Schweitzer's hands; for never while he lives will he learn how to write for the voice. When I go to Salzburg I shall certainly not fail to plead zealously for my dear friend; in the mean time you will not neglect doing all you can in her favor, for you cannot cause your son greater joy. I think of nothing now but the pleasure of soon embracing you. Pray see that everything the Archbishop promised you is made quite secure, and also what I stipulated, that my place should be at the piano. My kind regards to all my friends, and to Herr Bullinger in particular. How merry shall we be together! I have all this already in my thoughts, already before my eyes. Adieu!
Nancy, Oct. 3, 1778.
PRAY excuse my not having told you of my journey previous to leaving Paris. But I really cannot describe to you the way in which the whole affair was hurried forward, contrary to my expectations, wish, or will. At the very last moment I wanted to send my luggage to Count Sickingen's, instead of to the bureau of the diligence, and to remain some days longer in Paris. This, I give you my honor, I should at once have done had I not thought of you, for I did not wish to displease you. We can talk of these matters better at Salzburg. But one thing more—only fancy how Herr Grimm deceived me, saying that I was going by the diligence, and should arrive at Strassburg in five days; and I did not find out till the last day that it was quite another carriage, which goes at a snail's pace, never changes horses, and is ten days on the journey. You may easily conceive my rage; but I only gave way to it when with my intimate friends, for in his presence I affected to be quite merry and pleased. When I got into the carriage, I received the agreeable information that we should be travelling for twelve days. So this is an instance of Grimm's good sense! It was entirely to save money that he sent me by this slow conveyance, not adverting to the fact that the expense would amount to the same thing from the constant living at inns. Well, it is now past. What vexed me most in the whole affair was his not being straightforward with me. He spared his own money, but not mine, as he paid for my journey, but not for my board. If I had stayed eight or ten days longer in Paris, I could have paid my own journey, and made it comfortably.
I submitted to this conveyance for eight days, but longer I could not stand it—not on account of the fatigue, for the carriage was well hung, but from want of sleep. We were off every morning at four o'clock, and thus obliged to rise at three. Twice I had the satisfaction of being forced to get up at one o'clock in the morning, as we were to set off at two. You know that I cannot sleep in a carriage, so I really could not continue this without the risk of being ill. I would have taken the post, but it was not necessary, for I had the good fortune to meet with a person who quite suited me—a German merchant who resides in Paris, and deals in English wares. Before getting into the carriage we exchanged a few words, and from that moment we remained together. We did not take our meals with the other passengers, but in our own room, where we also slept. I was glad to meet this man, for, being a great traveller, he understands it well. He also was very much disgusted with our carriage; so we proceed to-morrow by a good conveyance, which does not cost us much, to Strassburg. You must excuse my not writing more, but when I am in a town where I know no one, I am never in a good humor; though I believe that if I had friends here I should like to remain, for the town is indeed charming—handsome houses, spacious streets, and superb squares.
I have one request to make, which is to give me a large chest in my room that I may have all my things within my reach. I should like also to have the little piano that Fischietti and Rust had, beside my writing-table, as it suits me better than the small one of Stein. I don't bring many new things of my own with me, for I have not composed much. I have not yet got the three quartets and the flute concerto I wrote for M. de Jean; for when he went to Paris he packed them in the wrong trunk, so they are left at Mannheim. I can therefore bring nothing finished with me except my sonatas [with violin]; M. Le Gros purchased the two overtures from me and the sinfonie concertante, which he thinks exclusively his own; but this is not the case, for I have it still fresh in my head, and mean to write it out again as soon as I am at home.
The Munich company of comedians are, I conclude, now acting? [in Salzburg.] Do they give satisfaction? Do people go to see them? I suppose that, as for the operettas, the "Fischermadchen" ("La Pescatrice" of Piccini), or "Das Bauernmadchen bei Hof" ("La Contadina in Corte," by Sacchini), will be given first? The prima donna is, no doubt, Madlle. Keiserin, whom I wrote to you about from Munich. I have heard her, but do not know her. At that time it was only her third appearance on any stage, and she had only learned music three weeks [see No. 62]. Now farewell! I shall not have a moment's peace till I once more see those I love.
Strassburg, Oct. 15, 1778.
I GOT your three letters safely, but could not possibly answer them sooner. What you write about M. Grimm, I, of course, know better than you can do. That he was all courtesy and civility I do not deny; indeed, had this not been the case, I would not have stood on such ceremony with him. All that I owe M. Grimm is fifteen louis-d'or, and he has only himself to blame for their not being repaid, and this I told him. But what avails any discussion? We can talk it over at Salzburg. I am very much obliged to you for having put my case so strongly before Father Martini, and also for having written about me to M. Raaff. I never doubted your doing so, for I am well aware that it rejoices you to see your son happy and pleased, and you know that I could never be more so than in Munich; being so near Salzburg, I could constantly visit you. That Madlle. Weber, or rather MY DEAR WEBERIN, should now receive a salary, and justice be at last done to her merits, rejoices me to a degree natural in one who feels such deep interest in all that concerns her. I still warmly recommend her to you; though I must now, alas! give up all hope of what I so much wished,—her getting an engagement in Salzburg,—for the Archbishop would never give her the salary she now has. All we can now hope for is that she may sometimes come to Salzburg to sing in an opera. I had a hurried letter from her father the day before they went to Munich, in which he also mentions this news. These poor people were in the greatest distress about me, fearing that I must be dead, a whole month having elapsed without any letter from me, (owing to the last one being lost;) an idea that was confirmed by a report in Mannheim that my poor dear mother had died of a contagious disease. So they have been all praying for my soul. The poor girl went every day for this purpose into the Capuchin church. Perhaps you may laugh at this? I did not; on the contrary, I could not help being much touched by it.
To proceed. I think I shall certainly go by Stuttgart to Augsburg, because I see by your letter that nothing, or at least not much, is to be made in Donaueschingen; but I will apprise you of all this before leaving Strassburg. Dearest father, I do assure you that, were it not for the pleasure of soon embracing you, I would never come to Salzburg; for, with the exception of this commendable and delightful impulse, I am really committing the greatest folly in the world. Rest assured that these are my own thoughts, and not borrowed from others. When my resolution to leave Paris was known, certain facts were placed before me, and the sole weapons I had to contend against or to conquer these, were my true and tender love for my kind father, which could not be otherwise than laudable in their eyes, but with the remark that if my father had known my present circumstances and fair prospects, (and had not got different and false impressions by means of a kind friend,) he certainly would not have written to me in such a strain as to render me wholly incapable of offering the least resistance to his wish; and in my own mind I thought, that had I not been exposed to so much annoyance in the house where I lived, and the journey come on me like a sudden thunder- clap, leaving me no time to reflect coolly on the subject, I should have earnestly besought you to have patience for a time, and to let me remain a little longer in Paris. I do assure you that I should have succeeded in gaining fame, honor, and wealth, and been thus enabled to defray your debts. But now it is settled, and do not for a moment suppose that I regret it; but you alone, dearest father, you alone can sweeten the bitterness of Salzburg for me; and that you will do so, I feel convinced. I must also candidly say that I should arrive in Salzburg with a lighter heart were it not for my official capacity there, for this thought is to me the most intolerable of all. Reflect on it yourself, place yourself in my position. At Salzburg I never know how I stand; at one time I am everything, at another absolutely nothing. I neither desire SO MUCH nor SO LITTLE, but still I wish to be SOMETHING—if indeed I am something! In every other place I know what my duties are. Elsewhere those who undertake the violin stick to it,—the same with the piano, &c., &c. I trust this will be regulated hereafter, so that all may turn out well and for my happiness and satisfaction. I rely wholly on you.
Things here are in a poor state; but the day after to-morrow, Saturday the 17th, I MYSELF ALONE, (to save expense,) to please some kind friends, amateurs, and connoisseurs, intend to give a subscription concert. If I engaged an orchestra, it would with the lighting cost me more than three louis-d'or, and who knows whether we shall get as much? My sonatas are not yet published, though promised for the end of September. Such is the effect of not looking after things yourself, for which that obstinate Grimm is also to blame. They will probably be full of mistakes, not being able to revise them myself, for I was obliged to devolve the task on another, and I shall be without my sonatas in Munich. Such an occurrence, though apparently a trifle, may often bring success, honor, and wealth, or, on the other hand, misfortune.
Strassburg, Oct. 20, 1778.
You will perceive that I am still here, by the advice of Herr Frank and other Strassburg magnates, but I leave this to-morrow. In my last letter I mentioned that on the 17th I was to give a kind of sample of a concert, as concerts here fare worse than even at Salzburg. It is, of course, over. I played quite alone, having engaged no musicians, so that I might at least lose nothing; briefly, I took three louis-d'or. The chief receipts consisted in the shouts of Bravo! and Bravissimo! which echoed on every side. Prince Max of Zweibrucken also honored the concert by his presence. I need not tell you that every one was pleased. I intended then to pursue my journey, but was advised to stay till the following Saturday, in order to give a grand concert in the theatre. I did so, and, to the surprise, indignation, and disgrace of all the Strassburgers, my receipts were exactly the same. The Director, M. de Villeneuve, abused the inhabitants of this most detestable town in the most unmeasured terms. I took a little more money, certainly, but the cost of the band (which is very bad, but its pay very good), the lighting, printing, the guard at the door, and the check-takers at the entrances, &c., made up a considerable sum. Still I must tell you that the applause and clapping of hands almost deafened me, and made my ears ache; it was as if the whole theatre had gone crazy. Those who were present, loudly and publicly denounced their fellow- citizens, and I told them all that if I could have reasonably supposed so few people would have come, I would gladly have given the concert gratis, merely for the pleasure of seeing the theatre well filled. And in truth I should have preferred it, for, upon my word, I don't know a more desolate sight than a long table laid for fifty, and only three at dinner. Besides, it was so cold; but I soon warmed myself, for, to show the Strassburg gentlemen how little I cared, I played a very long time for my own amusement, giving a concerto more than I had promised, and, at the close, extemporizing. It is now over, but at all events I gained honor and fame.
I have drawn on Herr Scherz for eight louis-d'or, as a precaution, for no one can tell what may happen on a journey; and I HAVE is better than I MIGHT HAVE HAD. I have read the fatherly well-meaning letter which you wrote to M. Frank when in such anxiety about me. [Footnote: "Your sister and I confessed, and took the Holy Communion," writes the father, "and prayed to God fervently for your recovery. Our excellent Bullinger prays daily for you also."] When I wrote to you from Nancy, not knowing myself, you of course could not know, that I should have to wait so long for a good opportunity. Your mind may be quite at ease about the merchant with whom I am travelling; he is the most upright man in the world, takes more care of me than of himself, and, entirely to oblige me, is to go with me to Augsburg and Munich, and possibly even to Salzburg. We actually shed tears when we think that we must separate. He is not a learned man, but a man of experience, and we live together like children. When he thinks of his wife and family whom he has left in Paris, I try to comfort him, and when I think of my own people he speaks comfort to me.
On the 31st of October, my name-day, I amused myself (and, better still, others) for a couple of hours. At the repeated entreaties of Herr Frank, de Berger, &c., &c., I gave another concert, by which, after paying the expenses, (not heavy this time,) I actually cleared a louis-d'or! Now you see what Strassburg is! I wrote at the beginning of this letter that I was to leave this on the 27th or 28th, but it proved impossible, owing to a sudden inundation here, when the floods caused great damage. You will probably see this in the papers. Of course travelling was out of the question, which was the only thing that induced me to consent to give another concert, being obliged to remain at all events.
To-morrow I go by the diligence to Mannheim. Do not be startled at this. In foreign countries it is expedient to follow the advice of those who know from experience what ought to be done. Most of the strangers who go to Stuttgart (N.B., by the diligence) do not object to this detour of eight hours, because the road is better and also the conveyance. I must now, dearest father, cordially wish you joy of your approaching name-day. My kind father, I wish you from my heart all that a son can wish for a good father, whom he so highly esteems and dearly loves. I thank the Almighty that He has permitted you again to pass this day in the enjoyment of perfect health, and implore from Him the boon, that during the whole of my life (and I hope to live for a good many years to come) I may be able to congratulate you every year. However strange, and perhaps ridiculous, this wish may seem to you, I do assure you it is both sincere and well-intended.
I hope you received my last letter from Strassburg. I wish to write nothing further of M. Grimm, but it is entirely owing to his stupidity in pressing forward my departure so much, that my sonatas are not yet engraved, or at all events that I have not got them, and when I do I shall probably find them full of mistakes. If I had only stayed three days longer in Paris, I could have revised them myself and brought them with me. The engraver was desperate when I told him that I could not correct them, but must commission someone else to do so. Why? Because, being resolved not to be three days longer in the same house with Grimm, I told him that on account of the sonatas I was going to stay with Count Sickingen, when he replied, his eyes sparkling with rage, "If you leave my house before you leave Paris, I will never in my life see you again. In that case do not presume ever to come near me, and look on me as your bitterest enemy." Self- control was indeed very necessary. Had it not been for your sake, who knew nothing about the matter, I certainly should have replied, "Be my enemy; by all means be so. You are so already, or you would not have prevented me putting my affairs in order here, which would have enabled me to keep my word, to preserve my honor and reputation, and also to make money, and probably a lucky hit; for if I present my sonatas to the Electress when I go to Munich, I shall thus keep my promise, probably receive a present, and make my fortune besides." But as it was, I only bowed, and left the room without saying a syllable. Before quitting Paris, however, I said all this to him, but he answered me like a man totally devoid of sense, or rather like a malicious man who affects to have none. I have written twice to Herr Heina, but have got no answer. The sonatas ought to have appeared by the end of September, and M. Grimm was to have forwarded the promised copies immediately to me, so I expected to have found them in Strassburg; but M. Grimm writes to me that he neither hears nor sees anything of them, but as soon as he does they are to be forwarded, and I hope to have them ere long.
Strassburg can scarcely do without me. You cannot think how much I am esteemed and beloved here. People say that I am disinterested as well as steady and polite, and praise my manners. Every one knows me. As soon as they heard my name, the two Herrn Silbermann and Herr Hepp (organist) came to call on me, and also Capellmeister Richter. He has now restricted himself very much; instead of forty bottles of wine a day, he only drinks twenty! I played publicly on the two best organs that Silbermann has here, in the Lutheran and New Churches, and in the Thomas Church. If the Cardinal had died, (and he was very ill when I arrived,) I might have got a good situation, for Herr Richter is seventy-eight years of age. Now farewell! Be cheerful and in good spirits, and remember that your son is, thank God! well, and rejoicing that his happiness daily draws nearer. Last Sunday I heard a new mass of Herr Richter's, which is charmingly written.
Mannheim, November 12, 1778.
I arrived here safely on the 6th, agreeably surprising all my kind friends. God be praised that I am once more in my beloved Mannheim! I assure you, if you were here you would say the same. I am living at Madame Cannabich's, who, as well as her family and all my good friends here, was quite beside herself with joy at seeing me again. We have not yet done talking, for she tells me of all the events and changes that have taken place during my absence. I have not been able to dine once at home since I came, for people are fighting to have me; in a word, just as I love Mannheim, so Mannheim loves me; and, though of course I don't know it positively, still I do think it possible that I may get an appointment here. But HERE, not in Munich, for my own belief is that the Elector will soon once more take up his residence in Mannheim, for he surely cannot long submit to the coarseness of the Bavarian gentlemen. You know that the Mannheim company is in Munich. There they hissed the two best actresses, Madame Toscani and Madame Urban. There was such an uproar that the Elector himself leant over his box and called out, "Hush!" To this, however, no one paid any attention; so he sent down Count Seeau, who told some of the officers not to make such a noise, as the Elector did not like it; but the only answer he got was, that they had paid their money, and no man had a right to give them any orders. But what a simpleton I am! You no doubt have heard this long ago through our....
I have now something to say. I may PERHAPS make forty louis-d'or here. To be sure, I should have to stay six weeks, or at most two months, in Mannheim. Seiler's company is here, whom you no doubt already know by reputation. Herr von Dalberg is the director. He will not hear of my leaving this till I have written a duodrama for him, and indeed I did not long hesitate, for I have often wished to write this style of drama. I forget if I wrote to you about it the first time that I was here. Twice at that time I saw a similar piece performed, which afforded me the greatest pleasure; in fact, nothing ever surprised me so much, for I had always imagined that a thing of this kind would make no effect. Of course you know that there is no singing in it, but merely recitation, to which the music is a sort of obligato recitativo. At intervals there is speaking while the music goes on, which produces the most striking effect. What I saw was Benda's "Medea." He also wrote another, "Ariadne auf Naxos," and both are truly admirable. You are aware that of all the Lutheran Capellmeisters Benda was always my favorite, and I like those two works of his so much that I constantly carry them about with me. Conceive my joy at now composing the very thing I so much wished! Do you know what my idea is?—that most operatic recitatives should be treated in this way, and the recitative only occasionally sung WHEN THE WORDS CAN BE THOROUGHLY EXPRESSED BY THE MUSIC. An Academie des Amateurs is about to be established here, like the one in Paris, where Herr Franzl is violin leader, and I am at this moment writing a concerto for violin and piano. I found my dear friend Raaff still here, but he leaves this on the 8th. He has sounded my praises here, and shown sincere interest in me, and I hope he will do the same in Munich. Do you know what that confounded fellow Seeau said here?—that my opera buffa had been hissed at Munich! Fortunately he said so in a place where I am well known; still, his audacity provokes me; but the people, when they go to Munich, will hear the exact reverse. A whole flock of Bavarians are here, among others Fraulein de Pauli (for I don't know her present name). I have been to see her because she sent for me immediately. Oh! what a difference there is between the people of the Palatinate and those of Bavaria! What a language it is! so coarse! and their whole mode of address! It quite annoys me to hear once more their hoben and olles (haben and alles), and their WORSHIPFUL SIR. Now good-bye! and pray write to me soon. Put only my name, for they know where I am at the post-office. I am so well known here that it is impossible a letter for me can be lost. My cousin wrote to me, and by mistake put Franconian Hotel instead of Palatine Hotel. The landlord immediately sent the letter to M. Serrarius's, where I lodged when I was last here. What rejoices me most of all in the whole Mannheim and Munich story is that Weber has managed his affairs so well. They have now 1600 florins; for the daughter has 1000 florins and her father 400, and 200 more as prompter. Cannabich did the most for them. It is quite a history about Count Seeau; if you don't know it, I will write you the details next time.
I beg, dearest father, that you will make use of this affair at Salzburg, and speak so strongly and so decidedly, that the Archbishop may think it possible I may not come after all, and thus be induced to give me a better salary, for I declare I cannot think of it with composure. The Archbishop cannot pay me sufficiently for the slavery of Salzburg. As I said before, I feel the greatest pleasure at the thought of paying you a visit, but only annoyance and misery in seeing myself once more at that beggarly court. The Archbishop must no longer attempt to play the great man with me as he used to do, or I may possibly play him a trick,—this is by no means unlikely,—and I am sure that you would participate in my satisfaction.
Mannheim, Nov. 24, 1778.
MY DEAR BARON VON DALBERG,—
I called on you twice, but had not the good fortune to find you at home; yesterday you were in the house, but engaged, so I could not see you. I hope you will therefore excuse my troubling you with these few lines, as it is very important to me to explain myself fully. Herr Baron, you are well aware that I am not an interested man, particularly when I know that it is in my power to do a service to so great a connoisseur and lover of music as yourself. On the other hand, I also know that you certainly would not wish that I should be a loser on this occasion; I therefore take the liberty to make my final stipulations on the subject, as it is impossible for me to remain here longer in uncertainty. I agree to write a monodrama for the sum of twenty-five louis-d'or, and to stay here for two months longer to complete everything, and to attend all the rehearsals, &c., but on this condition, that, happen what may, I am to be paid by the end of January. Of course I shall also expect free admission to the theatre. Now, my dear Baron, this is all that I can do, and if you consider, you will admit that I certainly am acting with great discretion. With regard to your opera, I do assure you I should rejoice to compose music for it, but you must yourself perceive that I could not undertake such a work for twenty-five louis-d'or, as it would be twice the labor of a monodrama (taken at the lowest rate). The chief obstacle would be your having told me that Gluck and Schweitzer are partially engaged to write this work. But were you even to give me fifty louis-d'or, I would still as an honest man dissuade you from it. An opera without any singers! what is to be done in such a case? Still, if on this occasion there is a prospect of its being performed, I will not hesitate to undertake the work to oblige you; but it is no trifling one—of that I pledge you my word. I have now set forth my ideas clearly and candidly, and request your decision.
Mannheim, Dec. 3, 1778.
I MUST ask your forgiveness for two things,—first, that I have not written to you for so long; and secondly, that this time also I must be brief. My not having answered you sooner is the fault of no one but yourself, and your first letter to me at Mannheim. I really never could have believed—but silence! I will say no more on the subject. Lot us have done with it. Next Wednesday, the 9th, I leave this; I cannot do so sooner, because, thinking that I was to be here for a couple of months, I accepted some pupils, and of course wish to make out the twelve lessons. I assure you that you have no idea what kind and true friends I have here, which time will prove. Why must I be so brief? Because my hands are more than full. To please Herr Gemmingen and myself, I am writing the first act of the melodramatic opera (that I was commissioned to write), but now do so gratis; I shall bring it with me and finish it at home. You see how strong my inclination must be for this kind of composition. Of course Herr von Gemmingen is the poet. The duodrama is called "Semiramis."
Next Wednesday I set off, and do you know how I travel? With the worthy prelate, the Bishop of Kaisersheim. When a kind friend of mine mentioned me to him, he at once knew my name, expressing the pleasure it would be to him to have me as a travelling companion. He is (though a priest and prelate) a most amiable man. I am therefore going by Kaisersheim and not by Stuttgart; but it is just the same to me, for I am very lucky in being able to spare my purse a little (as it is slender enough) on the journey. Be so good as to answer me the following questions. How do the comedians please at Salzburg? Is not the young lady who sings, Madlle. Keiserin? Does Herr Feiner play the English horn? Ah! if we had only clarionets too! You cannot imagine the splendid effect of a symphony with flutes, hautboys, and clarionets. At my first audience of the Archbishop I shall tell him much that is new, and also make some suggestions. Oh, how much finer and better our orchestra might be if the Archbishop only chose! The chief cause why it is not so, is that there are far too many performances. I make no objection to the chamber-music, only to the concerts on a larger scale.
A propos, you say nothing of it, but I conclude you have received the trunk; if not, Herr von Grimm is responsible for it. You will find in it the aria I wrote for Madlle. Weber. You can have no idea of the effect of that aria with instruments; you may not think so when you see it, but it ought to be sung by a Madlle. Weber! Pray, give it to no one, for that would be most unfair, as it was written solely for her, and fits her like a well-fitting glove.
Kaisersheim, Dec. 18, 1778.
I ARRIVED here safely on Sunday the 13th, God be praised! I travelled in the most agreeable way, and had likewise the inexpressible pleasure to find a letter from you here. The reason that I did not forthwith answer it was, because I wished to give you sure and precise information as to my departure, for which I had not fixed any time; but I have at length resolved, as the prelate goes to Munich on the 26th or 27th, to be again his companion. I must tell you, however, that he does not go by Augsburg. I lose nothing by this; but if you have anything to arrange or transact where my presence is wanted, I can at any time, if you wish it, (being so near,) make a little expedition from Munich. My journey from Mannheim to this place would have been most agreeable to a man, leaving a city with a light heart. The prelate and his Chancellor, an honest, upright, and amiable man, drove together in one carriage, and Herr Kellermeister, Father Daniel, Brother Anton, the Secretary, and I, preceded them always half an hour, or an hour. But for me, to whom nothing could be more painful than leaving Mannheim, this journey was only partly agreeable, and would not have been at all so, but rather very tiresome, if I had not from my early youth been so much accustomed to leave people, countries, and cities, and with no very sanguine hope of soon or ever again seeing the kind friends I left. I cannot deny, but at once admit, that not only I myself, but all my intimate friends, particularly the Cannabichs, were in the most pitiable distress during the last few days after my departure was finally settled. We felt as if it were not possible for us to part. I set off at half-past eight o'clock in the morning, and Madame Cannabich did not leave her room; she neither would nor could take leave of me. I did not wish to distress her, so left the house without seeing her. My very dear father, I can safely say that she is one of my best and truest friends, for I only call those friends who are so in every situation, who, day and night, think how they can best serve the interests of their friend, applying to all influential persons, and toiling to secure his happiness. Now I do assure you such is the faithful portrait of Madame Cannabich. There may indeed be an alloy of self-interest in this, for where does anything take place—indeed, how can anything be done in this world—without some alloy of selfishness? What I like best in Madame Cannabich is, that she never attempts to deny this. I will tell you when we meet in what way she told me so, for when we are alone, which, I regret to say, is very seldom, we become quite confidential. Of all the intimate friends who frequent her house, I alone possess her entire confidence; for I alone know all her domestic and family troubles, concerns, secrets, and circumstances. We were not nearly so well acquainted the first time I was here, (we have agreed on this point,) nor did we mutually under stand each other so well; but living in the same house affords greater facilities to know a person. When in Paris I first began fully to appreciate the sincere friendship of the Cannabichs, having heard from a trustworthy source the interest both she and her husband took in me. I reserve many topics to explain and to discuss personally, for since my return from Paris the scene has undergone some remarkable changes, but not in all things. Now as to my cloister life. The monastery itself made no great impression on me, after having seen the celebrated Abbey of Kremsmunster. I speak of the exterior and what they call here the court square, for the most renowned part I have yet to see. What appears to me truly ridiculous is the formidable military. I should like to know of what use they are. At night I hear perpetual shouts of "Who goes there?" and I invariably reply, "Guess!" You know what a good and kind man the prelate is, but you do not know that I may class myself among his favorites, which, I believe, does me neither good nor harm, but it is always pleasant to have one more friend in the world. With regard to the monodrama, or duodrama, a voice part is by no means necessary, as not a single note is sung, but entirely spoken; in short, it is a recitative with instruments, only the actor speaks the words instead of singing them. If you were to hear it even with the piano, it could not fail to please you, but properly performed, you would be quite transported. I can answer for this; but it requires a good actor or actress.
I shall really feel quite ashamed if I arrive in Munich without my sonatas. I cannot understand the delay; it was a stupid trick of Grimm's, and I have written to him to that effect. He will now see that he was in rather too great a hurry. Nothing ever provoked me so much. Just reflect on it. I know that my sonatas were published in the beginning of November, and I, the author, have not yet got them, therefore cannot present them to the Electress, to whom they are dedicated. I have, however, taken measures in the mean time which will insure my getting them. I hope that my cousin in Augsburg has received them, or that they are lying at Josef Killiau's for her; so I have written to beg her to send them to me at once.
Until I come myself, I commend to your good offices an organist, and also a good pianist, Herr Demmler, from Augsburg. I had entirely forgotten him, and was very glad when I heard of him here. He has considerable genius; a situation in Salzburg might be very useful in promoting his further success, for all he requires is a good leader in music; and I could not find him a better conductor than you, dear father, and it would really be a pity if he were to leave the right path. [See No. 68.] That melancholy "Alceste" of Schweitzer's is to be performed in Munich. The best part (besides some of the openings, middle passages, and the finales of some arias) is the beginning of the recitative "O Jugendzeit," and this was made what it is by Raaff's assistance; he punctuated it for Hartig (who plays Admet), and by so doing introduced the true expression into the aria. The worst of all, however, (as well as the greater part of the opera,) is certainly the overture.
As for the trifles that are not to be found in the trunk, it is quite natural that under such circumstances something should be lost, or even stolen. The little amethyst ring I felt I ought to give to the nurse who attended my dear mother, whose wedding-ring was left on her finger. [A large blot.] The ink-bottle is so full, and I am too hasty in dipping in my pen, as you will perceive. As for the watch, you have guessed rightly. I sold it, but only got five louis-d'or for it, and that in consideration of the works, which were good; for the shape, as you know, was old- fashioned and quite out of date. Speaking of watches, I must tell you that I am bringing one with me—a genuine Parisian. You know what sort of thing my jewelled watch was—how inferior all the so-called precious stones were, how clumsy and awkward its shape; but I would not have cared so much about that, had I not been obliged to spend so much money in repairing and regulating it, and after all the watch would one day gain a couple of hours, and next day lose in the same proportion. The one the Elector gave me did just the same, and, moreover, the works were even worse and more fragile. I exchanged these two watches and their chains for a Parisian one which is worth twenty louis-d'or. So now at last I know what o'clock it is; with my five watches I never got so far as that before! At present, out of four, I have, at all events, one on which I can depend.
Kaisersheim, Dec. 23, 1778.
MA TRES-CHERE COUSINE,—
I write to you in the greatest haste, and in the deepest sorrow and remorse, and with the determined purpose to tell you that it is my intention to set off to-morrow to Munich. I would, I assure you, gladly have gone to Augsburg, but the prelate was resolved to claim me, for which you cannot blame me. It is my loss, so don't be cross. I may perhaps make an escapade from Munich to Augsburg, but this is by no means certain. If you will be as glad to see me, as I shall be to see you, do come to the good town of Munich. Be sure you come by the new year, that I may see your face so dear, and escort you far and near. One thing I very much regret, which is that I cannot give you house-room, because I am not at an hotel, but am living with—whom do you think? I should like to know this myself [with the Webers]. But now Spassus apart. For that very reason, and for my sake, it would be advisable you should come; perhaps you may have a great part to play, but at all events come. I can then pay you in my own mighty person all proper compliments. Now adieu, angel of piety! I await you with anxiety. Your sincere cousin,
W. A. MOZART.
P.S.—Write to me forthwith to Munich, Poste Restante, a little note of twenty-four pages, but do not mention where you are to lodge, that I may not find you out nor you me.
Munich, Dec. 29, 1778.
I WRITE from the house of M. Becke [flute-player; see No. 60]. I arrived here safely, God be praised! on the 25th, but have been unable to write to you till now. I reserve everything till our glad, joyous meeting, when I can once more have the happiness of conversing with you, for to-day I can only weep. I have far too sensitive a heart. In the mean time, I must tell you that the day before I left Kaisersheim I received the sonatas; so I shall be able to present them myself to the Electress. I only delay leaving this till the opera [Footnote: Schweitzer's "Alceste." (See No. 120.)] is given, when I intend immediately to leave Munich, unless I were to find that it would be very beneficial and useful to me to remain here for some time longer. In which case I feel convinced, quite convinced, that you would not only be satisfied I should do so, but would yourself advise it. I naturally write very badly, for I never learned to write; still, in my whole life I never wrote worse than this very day, for I really am unfit for anything—my heart is too full of tears. I hope you will soon write to me and comfort me. Address to me, Poste Restante, and then I can fetch the letter myself. I am staying with the Webers. I think, after all, it would be better, far better, to enclose your letter to me to our friend Becke.
I intend (I mention it to you in the strictest secrecy) to write a mass here; all my best friends advise my doing so. I cannot tell you what friends Cannabich and Raaff have been to me. Now farewell, my kindest and most beloved father! Write to me soon.
A happy new-year! More I cannot bring myself to write to-day. This letter is scrawled hurriedly, quite unlike the others, and betrays the most violent agitation of mind. During the whole journey there was nothing to which Mozart looked forward with such joy as once more seeing his beloved Madlle. Weber in Munich. He had even destined "a great part" for the Basle (his cousin) in the affair; but he was now to learn that Aloysia had been faithless to him. Nissen relates: "Mozart, being in mourning for his mother, appeared dressed, according to the French custom, in a red coat with black buttons; but soon discovered that Aloysia's feelings towards him had undergone a change. She seemed scarcely to recognize one for whose sake she had once shed so many tears. On which Mozart quickly seated himself at the piano and sang, "Ich lass das Madel gern das mich nicht will," ["I gladly give up the girl who slights me."] His father, moreover, was displeased in the highest degree by Wolfgang's protracted absence, fearing that the Archbishop might recall his appointment; so Wolfgang became very uneasy lest he should not meet with a kind reception from his father on his return home."
Munich, Dec. 31, 1778.
I HAVE this instant received your latter from my friend Becke. I wrote to you from his house two days ago, but a letter such as I never wrote before; for this kind friend said so much to me about your tender paternal love, your indulgence towards me, your complaisance and discretion in the promotion of my future happiness, that my feelings were softened even to tears. But, from your letter of the 28th, I see only too clearly that Herr Becke, in his conversation with me, rather exaggerated. Now, distinctly, and once for all, as soon as the opera ("Alceste") is given, I intend to leave this, whether the diligence goes the day after or the same night. If you had spoken to Madame Robinig, I might have travelled home with her. But be that as it may, the opera is to be given on the 11th, and on the 12th (if the diligence goes) I set off. It would be more for my interest to stay here a little longer, but I am willing to sacrifice this to you, in the hope that I shall have a twofold reward for it in Salzburg. I don't think your idea about the sonatas at all good; even if I do not get them, I ought to leave Munich forthwith. Then you advise my not being seen at court; to a man so well known as I am here such a thing is impossible. But do not be uneasy. I received my sonatas at Kaisersheim; and, as soon as they are bound, I mean to present them to the Electress. A. propos, what do you mean by DREAMS OF PLEASURE? I do not wish to give up dreaming, for what mortal on the whole compass of the earth does not often dream? above all DREAMS OF PLEASURE— peaceful dreams, sweet, cheering dreams if you will—dreams which, if realized, would have rendered my life (now far rather sad than pleasurable) more endurable.
The 1st.—I have this moment received, through a Salzburg vetturino, a letter from you, which really at first quite startled me. For Heaven's sake tell me, do you really think that I can at once fix a day for my journey; or is it your belief that I don't mean to come at all? When I am so very near, I do think you might be at ease on that point. When the fellow had explained his route to me, I felt a strong inclination to go with him, but at present I really cannot; to-morrow or next day I intend to present the sonatas to the Electress, and then (no matter how strongly I may be urged) I must wait a few days for a present. Of one thing I give you my word, that to please you I have resolved not to wait to see the opera, but intend to leave this the day after I receive the present I expect. At the same time I confess I feel this to be very hard on me; but if a few days more or less appear of such importance to you, so let it be. Write to me at once on this point. The 2d.—I rejoice at the thoughts of conversing with you, for then you will first comprehend how my matters stand here. You need have neither mistrust nor misgivings as to Raaff, for he is the most upright man in the world, though no lover of letter-writing. The chief cause of his silence, however, is no doubt that he is unwilling to make premature promises, and yet is glad to hold out some hope too; besides, like Cannabich, he has worked for me with might and main.
Munich, Jan. 8, 1779.
[Footnote: The second grand aria that Mozart wrote for Aloysia, bears the same date.]
I HOPE you received my last letter, which I meant to have given to the vetturino, but having missed him I sent it by post. I have, in the mean time, got all your letters safely through Herr Becke. I gave him my letter to read, and he also showed me his. I assure you, my very dear father, that I am now full of joy at returning to you, (but not to Salzburg,) as your last letter shows that you know me better than formerly. There never was any other cause for my long delay in going home but this doubt, which gave rise to a feeling of sadness that I could no longer conceal; so I at last opened my heart to my friend Becke. What other cause could I possibly have? I have done nothing to cause me to dread reproach from you; I am guilty of no fault; (by a fault I mean that which does not become a Christian, and a man of honor;) in short, I now rejoice, and already look forward to the most agreeable and happy days, but only in the society of yourself and my dear sister. I give you my solemn word of honor that I cannot endure Salzburg or its inhabitants, (I speak of the natives of Salzburg.) Their language, their manners, are to me quite intolerable. You cannot think what I suffered during Madame Robinig's visit here, for it is long indeed since I met with such a fool; and, for my still further annoyance, that silly, deadly dull Mosmayer was also there.
But to proceed. I went yesterday, with my dear friend Cannabich, to the Electress to present my sonatas. Her apartments are exactly what I should like mine one day to be, very pretty and neat, just like those of a private individual, all except the view, which is miserable. We were there fully an hour and a half, and she was very gracious. I have managed to let her know that I must leave this in a few days, which will, I hope, expedite matters. You have no cause to be uneasy about Count Seeau; I don't believe the thing will come through his hands, and even if it does, he will not venture to say a word. Now, once for all, believe that I have the most eager longing to embrace you and my beloved sister. If it were only not in Salzburg! But as I have not hitherto been able to see you without going to Salzburg, I do so gladly. I must make haste, for the post is just going.
My cousin is here. Why? To please me, her cousin; this is, indeed, the ostensible cause. But—we can talk about it in Salzburg; and, on this account, I wished very much that she would come with me there. You will find a few lines, written by her own hand, attached to the fourth page of this letter. She is quite willing to go; so if it would really give you pleasure to see her, be so kind as to write immediately to her brother, that the thing may be arranged. When you see her and know her, she is certain to please you, for she is a favorite with every one.
Wolfgang's pleasantries, in the following; letter to his cousin, show that his good humor was fully restored. He was received at home with very great rejoicings, and his cousin soon followed him.
Salzburg, May 10, 1779.
DEAREST, sweetest, most beauteous, fascinating, and charming of all cousins, most basely maltreated by an unworthy kinsman! Allow me to strive to soften and appease your just wrath, which only heightens your charms and winning beauty, as high as the heel of your slipper! I hope to soften you, Nature having bestowed on me a large amount of softness, and to appease you, being fond of sweet pease. As to the Leipzig affair, I can't tell whether it may be worth stooping to pick up; were it a bag of ringing coin, it would be a very different thing, and nothing less do I mean to accept, so there is an end of it.
Sweetest cousin, such is life! One man has got a purse, but another has got the money, and he who has neither has nothing; and nothing is even less than little; while, on the other hand, much is a great deal more than nothing, and nothing can come of nothing. Thus has it been from the beginning, is now, and ever shall be; and as I can make it neither worse nor better, I may as well conclude my letter. The gods know I am sincere. How does Probst get on with his wife? and do they live in bliss or in strife? most silly questions, upon my life! Adieu, angel! My father sends you his uncle's blessing, and a thousand cousinly kisses from my sister. Angel, adieu!
A TENDER ODE. [Footnote: A parody of Klopstock's "Dein susses Bild, Edone"]
TO MY COUSIN.
THY sweet image, cousin mine, Hovers aye before me; Would the form indeed were thine! How I would adore thee! I see it at the day's decline; I see it through the pale moonshine, And linger o'er that form divine
By all the flowers of sweet perfume I'll gather for my cousin,—By all the wreaths of myrtle-bloom I'll wreathe her by the dozen,—I call upon that image there To pity my immense despair, And be indeed my cousin fair
[Footnote: These words are written round the slightly sketched caricature of a face.]
FORTH PART. MUNICH.—IDOMENEO. NOVEMBER 1780 TO JANUARY 1781.
MOZART now remained stationary at Salzburg till the autumn of 1780, highly dissatisfied at being forced to waste his youthful days in inactivity, and in such an obscure place, but still as busy as ever. A succession of grand instrumental compositions were the fruits of this period: two masses, some vespers, the splendid music for "Konig Thamos," and the operetta "Zaide" for Schikaneder. At length, however, to his very great joy, a proposal was made to him from Munich to write a grand opera for the Carnival of 1781. It was "Idomeneo, Konig von Greta." At the beginning of November he once more set off to Munich in order to "prepare an exact fit," on the spot, of the different songs in the opera for the singers, and to rehearse and practise everything with them. The Abbate Varesco in Salzburg was the author of the libretto, in which many an alteration had yet to be made, and these were all to be effected through the intervention of the father.
Munich, Nov. 8, 1780.
FORTUNATE and pleasant was my arrival here,—fortunate, because no mishap occurred during the journey; and pleasant, because we had scarcely patience to wait for the moment that was to end this short but disagreeable journey. I do assure you it was impossible for us to sleep for a moment the whole night. The carriage jolted our very souls out, and the seats were as hard as stone! From Wasserburg I thought I never could arrive in Munich with whole bones, and during two stages I held on by the straps, suspended in the air and not venturing to sit down. But no matter; it is past now, though it will serve me as a warning in future rather to go on foot than drive in a diligence.
Now as to Munich. We arrived here at one o'clock in the forenoon, and the same evening I called on Count Seeau [the Theatre Intendant], but as he was not at home I left a note for him. Next morning I went there with Becke. Seeau has been moulded like wax by the Mannheim people. I have a request to make of the Abbate [Gianbattista Varesco]. The aria of Ilia in the second act and second scene must be a little altered for what I require,—"Se il padre perdei, in te lo ritrovo" This verse could not be better; but now comes what always appeared unnatural to me,—N.B. in an aria,—I mean, to speak aside. In a dialogue these things are natural enough, for a few words can be hurriedly said aside, but in an aria, where the words must be repeated, it has a bad effect; and even were this not the case, I should prefer an uninterrupted aria. The beginning may remain if he chooses, for it is charming and quite a natural flowing strain, where, not being fettered by the words, I can write on quite easily; for we agreed to bring in an aria andantino here in concert with four wind instruments, viz. flute, hautboy, horn, and bassoon; and I beg that you will let me have the air as soon as possible.
Now for a grievance. I have not, indeed, the honor of being acquainted with the hero Del Prato [the musico who was to sing Idamante], but from description I should say that Cecarelli is rather the better of the two, for often in the middle of an air our musico's breath entirely fails; nota bene, he never was on any stage, and Raaff is like a statue. Now only for a moment imagine the scene in the first act! But there is one good thing, which is, that Madame Dorothea Wendling is arci-contentissima with her scena, and insisted on hearing it played three times in succession. The Grand Master of the Teutonic Order arrived yesterday. "Essex" was given at the Court Theatre, and a magnificent ballet. The theatre was all illuminated. The beginning was an overture by Cannabich, which, as it is one of his last, I did not know. I am sure, if you had heard it you would have been as much pleased and excited as I was, and if you had not previously known the fact, you certainly could not have believed that it was by Cannabich. Do come soon to hear it, and to admire the orchestra. I have no more to say. There is to be a grand concert this evening, where Mara is to sing three airs. Tell me whether it snows as heavily in Salzburg as here. My kind regards to Herr Schikaneder [impresario in Salzburg], and beg him to excuse my not yet sending him the aria, for I have not been able to finish it entirely.
Munich, Nov. 13, 1780.
I WRITE in the greatest haste, for I am not yet dressed, and must go off to Count Seeau's. Cannabich, Quaglio, and Le Grand, the ballet-master, also dine there to consult about what is necessary for the opera. Cannabich and I dined yesterday with Countess Baumgarten, [Footnote: He wrote an air for her, the original of which is now in the State Library at Munich.] nee Lerchenteld. My friend is all in all in that family, and now I am the same. It is the best and most serviceable house here to me, for owing to their kindness all has gone well with me, and, please God, will continue to do so. I am just going to dress, but must not omit the chief thing of all, and the principal object of my letter,— to wish you, my very dearest and kindest father, every possible good on this your name-day. I also entreat the continuance of your fatherly love, and assure you of my entire obedience to your wishes. Countess la Rose sends her compliments to you and my sister, so do all the Cannabichs and both Wendling families, Ramm, Eck father and son, Becke, and Herr del Prato, who happens to be with me. Yesterday Count Seeau presented me to the Elector, who was very gracious. If you were to speak to Count Seeau now, you would scarcely recognize him, so completely have the Mannheimers transformed him.
I am ex commissione to write a formal answer in his name to the Abbate Varesco, but I have no time, and was not born to be a secretary. In the first act (eighth scene) Herr Quaglio made the same objection that we did originally,—namely, that it is not fitting the king should be quite alone in the ship. If the Abbe thinks that he can be reasonably represented in the terrible storm forsaken by every one, WITHOUT A SHIP, exposed to the greatest peril, all may remain as it is; but, N. B., no ship—for he cannot be alone in one; so, if the other mode be adopted, some generals or confidants (mates) must land from the ship with him. Then the king might address a few words to his trusty companions, and desire them to leave him alone, which in his melancholy situation would be quite natural.
The second duet is to be omitted altogether, and indeed with more profit than loss to the opera; for if you will read the scene it evidently becomes cold and insipid by the addition of an air or a duet, and very irksome to the other actors, who must stand, by all the time unoccupied; besides, the noble contest between Ilia and Idamante would become too long, and thus lose its whole interest.
Mara has not the good fortune to please me. She does too little to be compared to a Bastardella [see No. 8], (yet this is her peculiar style,) and too much to touch the heart like a Weber [Aloysia], or any judicious singer.
P.S.—A propos, as they translate so badly here, Count Seeau would like to have the opera translated in Salzburg, and the arias alone to be in verse. I am to make a contract that the payment of the poet and the translator should be made in one sum. Give me an answer soon about this. Adieu! What of the family portraits? Are they good likenesses? Is my sister's begun yet? The opera is to be given for the first time on the 26th of January. Be so kind as to send me the two scores of the masses that I have with me, and also the mass in B. Count Seeau is to mention them soon to the Elector; I should like to be known here in this style also. I have just heard a mass of Gruan's; it would be easy to compose half a dozen such in a day. Had I known that this singer, Del Prato, was so bad, I should certainly have recommended Cecarelli.
Munich, Nov. 15, 1780.
The aria is now admirable, but there is still an alteration to be made recommended by Raaff; he is, however, right, and even were he not, some courtesy ought to be shown to his gray hairs. He was with me yesterday, and I played over his first aria to him, with which he was very much pleased. The man is old, and can no longer show off in an aria like that in the second art,—"Fuor del mar ho un mare in seno," &c. As, moreover, in the third act he has no aria, (the one in the first act not being so cantabile as he would like, owing to the expression of the words,) he wishes after his last speech, "O Creta fortuiiata, O me felice," to have a pretty aria to sing instead of the quartet; in this way a superfluous air would be got rid of, and the third act produce a far better effect. In the last scene also of the second act, Idomeneo has an aria, or rather a kind of cavatina, to sing between the choruses. For this it would be better to substitute a mere recitative, well supported by the instruments. For in this scene, (owing to the action and grouping which have been recently settled with Le Grand,) the finest of the whole opera, there cannot fail to be such a noise and confusion in the theatre, that an aria, would make a very bad figure in this place, and moreover there is a thunderstorm which is not likely to subside during Raaff's aria! The effect, therefore, of a recitative between the choruses must be infinitely better. Lisel Wendling has also sung through her two arias half a dozen times, and is much pleased with them. I heard from a third person that the two Wendlings highly praised their arias, and as for Raaff he is my best and dearest friend. I must teach the whole opera myself to Del Prato. He is incapable of singing even the introduction to any air of importance, and his voice is so uneven! He is only engaged for a year, and at the end of that time (next September) Count Seeau will get another. Cecarelli might try his chance then serieusement.
I nearly forgot the best of all. After mass last Sunday, Count Seeau presented me, en passant, to H.S.H. the Elector, who was very gracious. He said, "I am happy to see you here again;" and on my replying that I would strive to deserve the good opinion of His Serene Highness, he clapped me on the shoulder, saying, "Oh! I have no doubt whatever that all will go well—a piano piano si va lontano."
Deuce take it! I cannot write everything I wish. Raaff has just left me; he sends you his compliments, and so do the Cannabichs, and Wendlings, and Ramm. My sister must not be idle, but practise steadily, for every one is looking forward with pleasure to her coming here. My lodging is in the Burggasse at M. Fiat's [where the marble slab to his memory is now erected].
Munich, Nov. 22, 1780.
I SEND herewith, at last, the long-promised aria for Herr Schikaneder. During the first week that I was here I could not entirely complete it, owing to the business that caused me to come here. Besides, Le Grand, the ballet-master, a terrible talker and bore, has just been with me, and by his endless chattering caused me to miss the diligence. I hope my sister is quite well. I have at this moment a bad cold, which in such weather is quite the fashion here. I hope and trust, however, that it will soon take its departure,—indeed, both phlegm and cough are gradually disappearing. In your last letter you write repeatedly, "Oh! my poor eyes! I du not wish to write myself blind—half-past eight at night, and no spectacles!" But why do you write at night, and without spectacles? I cannot understand it. I have not yet had an opportunity of speaking to Count Seeau, but hope to do so to-day, and shall give you any information I can gather by the next post. At present all will, no doubt, remain as it is. Herr Raaff paid me a visit yesterday morning, and I gave him your regards, which seemed to please him much. He is, indeed, a worthy and thoroughly respectable man. The day before yesterday Del Frato sang in the most disgraceful way at the concert. I would almost lay a wager that the man never manages to get through the rehearsals, far less the opera; he has some internal disease.
Come in!—Herr Panzacchi! [who was to sing Arbace]. He has already paid me three visits, and has just asked me to dine with him on Sunday. I hope the same thing won't happen to me that happened to us with the coffee. He meekly asks if, instead of se la sa, he may sing se co la, or even ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la.
I am so glad when you often write to me, only not at night, and far less without spectacles. You must, however, forgive me if I do not say much in return, for every minute is precious; besides, I am obliged chiefly to write at night, for the mornings are so very dark; then I have to dress, and the servant at the Weiser sometimes admits a troublesome visitor. When Del Prato comes I must sing to him, for I have to teach him his whole part like a child; his method is not worth a farthing. I will write more fully next time. What of the family portraits? My sister, if she has nothing better to do, might mark down the names of the best comedies that have been performed during my absence. Has Schikaneder still good receipts? My compliments to all my friends, and to Gilofsky's Katherl. Give a pinch of Spanish snuff from me to Pimperl [the dog], a good wine-sop, and three kisses. Do you not miss me at all? A thousand compliments to all—all! Adieu! I embrace you both from my heart, and hope my sister will soon recover. [Nannerl, partly owing to her grief in consequence of an unfortunate love-affair, was suffering from pains in the chest, which threatened to turn to consumption.]
Munich, Nov. 24, 1780.
I beg you will convey to Madlle. Katharine Gilofsky de Urazowa my respectful homage. Wish her in my name every possible happiness on her name-day; above all, I wish that this may be the last time I congratulate her as Mademoiselle. What you write to me about Count Seinsheim is done long ago; they are all links of one chain. I have already dined with, him once, and with Baumgarten twice, and once with Lerchenfeld, father of Madlle. Baumgarten. Not a single day passes without some of these people being at Cannabich's. Do not be uneasy, dearest father, about my opera; I do hope that all will go well. No doubt it will be assailed by a petty cabal, which will in all probability be defeated with ridicule; for the most respected and influential families among the nobility are in my favor, and the first-class musicians are one and all for me. I cannot tell you what a good friend Cannabich is—so busy and active! In a word, he is always on the watch to serve a friend. I will tell you the whole story about Mara. I did not write to you before on the subject, because I thought that, even if you knew nothing of it, you would be sure to hear the particulars here; but now it is high time to tell you the whole truth, for probably additions have been made to the story,—at least, in this town, it has been told in all sorts of different ways. No one can know about it better than I do, as I was present, so I heard and witnessed the whole affair. When the first symphony was over, it was Madame Mara's turn to sing. I then saw her husband come sneaking in behind her with his violoncello in his hand; I thought she was going to sing an aria obligato with violoncello accompaniment. Old Danzi, the first violoncello, also accompanies well. All at once Toeschi (who is a director, but has no authority when Cannabich is present) said to Danzi (N. B., his son-in-law), "Rise, and give Mara your place." When Cannabich saw and heard this, he called out, "Danzi, stay where you are; the Elector prefers his own people playing the accompaniments." Then the air began, Mara standing behind his wife, looking very sheepish, and still holding his violoncello. The instant they entered the concert-room, I took a dislike to both, for you could not well see two more insolent-looking people, and the sequel will convince you of this. The aria had a second part, but Madame Mara did not think proper to inform the orchestra of the fact previously, but after the last ritournelle came down into the room with her usual air of effrontery to pay her respects to the nobility. In the mean time her husband attacked Cannabich. I cannot write every detail, for it would be too long; but, in a word, he insulted both the orchestra and Cannabich's character, who, being naturally very much irritated, laid hold of his arm, saying, "This is not the place to answer you." Mara wished to reply, but Cannabich threatened that if he did not hold his tongue he would have him removed by force. All were indignant at Mara's impertinence. A concerto by Ramm was then given, when this amiable couple proceeded to lay their complaint before Count Seeau; but from him, also, as well as from every one else, they heard that they were in the wrong. At last Madame Mara was foolish enough to speak to the Elector himself on the subject, her husband in the mean time saying in an arrogant tone, "My wife is at this moment complaining to the Elector—an unlucky business for Cannabich; I am sorry for him." But people only burst out laughing in his face. The Elector, in reply to Madame Mara's complaint, said, "Madame, you sang like an angel, although your husband did not accompany you;" and when she wished to press her grievance, he said, "That is Count Seeau's affair, not mine." When they saw that nothing was to be done, they left the room, although she had still two airs to sing. This was nothing short of an insult to the Elector, and I know for certain that, had not the Archduke and other strangers been present, they would have been very differently treated; but on this account Count Seeau was annoyed, so he sent after them immediately, and they came back. She sang her two arias, but was not accompanied by her husband. In the last one (and I shall always believe that Herr Mara did it on purpose) two bars were wanting—N. B., only in the copy from which Cannabich was playing. When this occurred, Mara seized Cannabich's arm, who quickly got right, but struck his bow on the desk, exclaiming audibly, "This copy is all wrong." When the aria was at an end, he said, "Herr Mara, I give you one piece of advice, and I hope you will profit by it: never seize the arm of the director of an orchestra, or lay your account with getting at least half a dozen sound boxes on the ear." Mara's tone was now, however, entirely lowered; he begged to be forgiven, and excused himself as he best could. The most shameful part of the affair was that Mara (a miserable violoncellist, all here declare) would never have been heard at court at all but for Cannabich, who had taken considerable trouble about it. At the first concert before my arrival he played a concerto, and accompanied his wife, taking Danzi's place without saying a word either to Danzi or any one else, which was allowed to pass. The Elector was by no means satisfied with his mode of accompanying, and said he preferred his own people. Cannabich, knowing this, mentioned to Count Seeau, before the concert began, that he had no objection to Mara's playing, but that Danzi must also play. When Mara came he was told this, and yet he was guilty of this insolence. If you knew these people, you would at once see pride, arrogance, and unblushing effrontery written on their faces.
My sister is now, I hope, quite recovered. Pray do not write me any more melancholy letters, for I require at this time a cheerful spirit, a clear head, and inclination to work, and these no one can have who is sad at heart. I know, and, believe me, deeply feel, how much you deserve rest and peace, but am I the obstacle to this? I would not willingly be so, and yet, alas! I fear I am. But if I attain my object, so that I can live respectably here, you must instantly leave Salzburg. You will say, that may never come to pass; at all events, industry and exertion shall not be wanting on my part. Do try to come over soon to see me. We can all live together. I have a roomy alcove on my first room in which two beds stand. These would do capitally for you and me. As for my sister, all we can do is to put a stove into the next room, which will only be an affair of four or five florins; for in mine we might heat the stove till it is red-hot, and leave the stove-door open into the bargain, yet it would not make the room endurable—it is so frightfully cold in it. Ask the Abbate Varesco if we could not break off at the chorus in the second act, "Placido e il mare" after Elettra's first verse, when the chorus is repeated,—at all events after the second, for it is really far too long. I have been confined to the house two days from my cold, and, luckily for me, I have very little appetite, for in the long run it would be inconvenient to pay for my board. I have, however, written a note to the Count on the subject, and received a message from him that he would speak to me about it shortly. By heavens! he ought to be thoroughly ashamed of himself. I won't pay a single kreutzer.
Munich, Dec. 1, 1780.
THE rehearsal went off with extraordinary success; there were only six violins in all, but the requisite wind-instruments. No one was admitted but Count Seeau's sister and young Count Seinsheim. This day week we are to have another rehearsal, with twelve violins for the first act, and then the second act will be rehearsed (like the first on the previous occasion). I cannot tell you how delighted and surprised all were; but I never expected anything else, for I declare I went to this rehearsal with as quiet a heart as if I had been going to a banquet. Count Seinsheim said to me, "I do assure you that though I expected a great deal from you, I can truly say this I did not expect."
The Cannabichs and all who frequent their house are true friends of mine. After the rehearsal, (for we had a great deal to discuss with the Count,) when I went home with Cannabich, Madame Cannabich came to meet me, and hugged me from joy at the rehearsal having passed off so admirably; then came Ramm and Lang, quite out of their wits with delight. My true friend the excellent lady, who was alone in the house with her invalid daughter Rose, had been full of solicitude on my account. When you know him, you will find Ramm a true German, saying exactly what he thinks to your face. He said to me, "I must honestly confess that no music ever made such an impression on me, and I assure you I thought of your father fifty times at least, and of the joy he will feel when he hears this opera." But enough of this subject. My cold is rather worse owing to this rehearsal, for it is impossible not to feel excited when honor and fame are at stake, however cool you may be at first. I did everything you prescribed for my cold, but it goes on very slowly, which is particularly inconvenient to me at present; but all my writing about it will not put an end to my cough, and yet write I must. To-day I have begun to take violet syrup and a little almond oil, and already I feel relieved, and have again stayed two days in the house. Yesterday morning Herr Raaff came to me again to hear the aria in the second act. The man is as much enamored of his aria as a young passionate lover ever was of his fair one. He sings it the last thing before he goes to sleep, and the first thing in the morning when he awakes. I knew already, from a sure source, but now from himself, that he said to Herr von Viereck (Oberststallmeister) and to Herr von Kastel, "I am accustomed constantly to change my parts, to suit me better, in recitative as well as in arias, but this I have left just as it was, for every single note is in accordance with my voice." In short, he is as happy as a king. He wishes the interpolated aria to be a little altered, and so do I. The part commencing with the word era he does not like, for what we want here is a calm tranquil aria; and if consisting of only one part, so much the better, for a second subject would have to be brought in about the middle, which leads me out of my way. In "Achill in Sciro" there is an air of this kind, "or che mio figlio sei." I thank my sister very much for the list of comedies she sent me. It is singular enough about the comedy "Rache fur Rache"; it was frequently given here with much applause, and quite lately too, though I was not there myself. I beg you will present my devoted homage to Madlle. Therese von Barisani; if I had a brother, I would request him to kiss her hand in all humility, but having a sister only is still better, for I beg she will embrace her in the most affectionate manner in my name. A propos, do write a letter to Cannabich; he deserves it, and it will please him exceedingly. What does it matter if he does not answer you? You must not judge him from his manner; he is the same to every one, and means nothing. You must first know him well.
Munich, Dec. 5, 1780.
The death of the Empress [Maria Theresa] does not at all affect my opera, for the theatrical performances are not suspended, and the plays go on as usual. The entire mourning is not to last more than six weeks, and my opera will not be given before the 20th of January. I wish you to get my black suit thoroughly brushed to make it as wearable as possible, and forward it to me by the first diligence; for next week every one must be in mourning, and I, though constantly on the move, must cry with the others.
With regard to Raaff's last aria, I already mentioned that we both wish to have more touching and pleasing words. The word era is constrained; the beginning good, but gelida massa is again hard. In short, far-fetched or pedantic expressions are always inappropriate in a pleasing aria. I should also like the air to express only peace and contentment; and one part would be quite as good—in fact, better, in my opinion. I also wrote about Panzacchi; we must do what we can to oblige the good old man. He wishes to have his recitative in the third act lengthened a couple of lines, which, owing to the chiaro oscuro and his being a good actor, will have a capital effect. For example, after the strophe, "Sei la citta del pianto, e questa reggia quella del duol," comes a slight glimmering of hope, and then, "Madman that I am! whither does my grief lead me?" "Ah! Creta tutta io vedo." The Abbato Varesco is not obliged to rewrite the act on account of these things, for they can easily be interpolated. I have also written that both I and others think the oracle's subterranean speech too long to make a good effect. Reflect on this. I must now conclude, having such a mass of writing to do. I have not seen Baron Lehrbach, and don't know whether he is here or not; and I have no time to run about. I may easily not know whether he is here, but he cannot fail to know positively that I am. Had I been a girl, no doubt he would have come to see me long ago. Now adieu!