As regards his manner of life and morals Mozart long stood in a
bad light before the world. The slanderous stories all came from
his enemies in Vienna, and a long time passed before their true
character was recognized. A great contribution to this end was
made by the publication of his letters, which disclose an
extraordinarily strong moral sense. The tale of an alleged
liaison with a certain Frau Hofdamel, as a result of which the
deceived husband was said to have committed suicide, has been
proved to be wholly untrue and without warrant.
It may be said, indeed, that Mozart was an exception among the
men of his period. The immorality of the Viennese was proverbial.
Karoline Pichler, a contemporary, writes as follows in her book
of recollections of the eighth decade of the eighteenth century:
"In Vienna at the time there reigned a spirit of appreciation for
merriment and a susceptibility for every form of beauty and
sensuous pleasure. There was the greatest freedom of thought and
opinion; anything could be written and printed which was not, in
the strictest sense of the words, contrary to religion and the
state. Little thought was bestowed on good morals. There was
considerable license in the current plays and novels. Kotzebue
created a tremendous sensation. His plays...and a multitude of
romances and tales (Meissner's sketches among other things) were
all based on meretricious relations. All the world and every
young girl read them without suspicion or offence. More than once
had I read and seen these things; 'Oberon' was well known to me;
so was Meissner's 'Alcibiades.' No mother hesitated to acquaint
her daughter with such works and before our eyes there were so
many living exemplars whose irregular conduct was notorious, that
no mother could have kept her daughter in ignorance had she
Mozart was a passionate jester and his jokes were coarse enough;
of that there is no doubt. But these things were innocent at the
time. The letters of the lad to his little cousin in Augsburg
contain many passages that would be called of questionable
propriety now; but the little cousin does not seem to have even
blushed. The best witness to the morality of Mozart's life is his
wife, who, after his death, wrote to the publishing firm of
Breitkopf and Hartel: "His letters are beyond doubt the best
criterion for his mode of thought, his peculiarities and his
education. Admirably characteristic is his extraordinary love for
me, which breathes through all his letters. Those of his last
year on earth are just as tender as those which he must have
written in the first year of our married life;--is it not so? I
beg as a particular favor that special attention be called to
this fact for the sake of his honor."
He was a Freemason with all his heart, and gave expression to his
humanitarian feeling in his opera "The Magic Flute." Without
suspicion himself, he thought everybody else good, which led to
painful experiences with some of his friends.
230. "Parents strive to place their children in a position which
shall enable them to earn their own living; and this they owe to
their children and the state. The greater the talents with which
the children have been endowed by God, the more are they bound to
make use of those talents to improve the conditions of themselves
and their parents, to aid their parents and to care for their own
present and future welfare. We are taught thus to trade with our
talents in the Gospels. I owe it, therefore, to God and my
conscience to pay the highest gratitude to my father, who
tirelessly devoted all his hours to my education, and to lighten
(From his request for dismissal from service in August, 1777. He
wished to undertake an artistic tour with his father. He received
his dismissal from the Archbishop of Salzburg, who granted it
right unwillingly, however.)
231. "Only one thing vexed me a trifle,--the question whether I
had forgotten confession. I have no complaint to make, but I do
ask one favor, and that is that you do not think so ill of me!
I am fond of merriment, but, believe me, I can also be serious.
Since I left Salzburg (and while still in Salzburg) I have met
persons whose conduct was such that I would have been ashamed to
talk and act as they did though they were ten, twenty or thirty
years older than I! Again I humbly beg of you to have a better
opinion of me."
(Mannheim, December 30, 1777, to his father, in answer to a
letter of reproaches.)
232. "With all my heart I do wish Herr von Schiedenhofen joy. It
is another marriage for money and nothing else. I should not like
to marry thus; I want to make my wife happy,--not have her make
my fortune. For that reason I shall not marry but enjoy my golden
freedom until I am so situated that I can support wife and
children. It was necessary that Herr Sch. should marry a rich
woman; that's the consequence of being a nobleman. The nobility
must never marry from inclination or love, but only from
considerations of interest, and all manner of side
considerations. Nor would it be becoming in such persons if they
were still to love their wives after the latter had done their
duty and brought forth a plump heir."
(Mannheim, February 7, 1778, to his father.)
233. "In my opinion there is nothing more shameful than to
deceive an honest girl."
(Paris, July 18, 1778, to his father.)
234. "I am unconscious of any guilt for which I might fear your
reproaches. I have committed no error (meaning by error any act
unbecoming to a Christian and an honest man). I am anticipating
the pleasantest and happiest days, but only in company with you
and my dearest sister. I swear to you on my honor that I can not
endure Salzburg and its citizens (I speak of the natives). Their
speech and mode of life are utterly intolerable."
(Munich, January 8, 1779, to his father, who was urging his
return from Paris to take the post of chapelmaster in Salzburg.
The musicians of Salzburg were notorious because of their loose
235. "From the way in which my last letter was received I observe
to my sorrow that (just as if I were an arch scoundrel or an ass,
or both at once) you trust the tittle-tattle and scribblings of
other people more than you do me. But I assure you that this does
not give me the least concern. The people may write the eyes out
of their heads, and you may applaud them as much as you please,
it will not cause me to change a hair's breadth; I shall remain
the same honest fellow that I have always been."
(Vienna, September 5, 1781, to his father, who was still
listening to the slander mongers. Mozart could not lightly forget
the fact that it was due to these gentlemen that he had been
forced to leave the house of the widow Weber with whose daughter
Constanze he was in love.)
236. "You have been deceived in your son if you could believe him
capable of doing a mean thing....You know that I could not have
acted otherwise without outraging my conscience and my honor....I
beg pardon for my too hasty trust in your paternal love. Through
this frank confession you have a new proof of my love of truth
and detestation of a lie."
(Vienna, August 7, 1782, to his father, whose consent to his
son's marriage did not arrive till the day after.)
237. "Dearest and best of fathers:--I beg of you, for the sake of
all that is good in the world, give your consent to my marriage
with my dear Constanze. Do not think that it is alone because of
my desire to get married; I could well wait. But I see that it is
absolutely essential to my honor, the honor of my sweetheart, to
my health and frame of mind. My heart is ill at ease, my mind
disturbed;--then how shall I do any sensible thinking or work?
Why is this? Most people think we are already married; this
enrages the mother and the poor girl and I are tormented almost
to death. All this can be easily relieved. Believe me it is
possible to live as cheaply in expensive Vienna as anywhere else;
it all depends on the housekeeping and the orderliness which is
never to be found in a young man especially if he be in love.
Whoever gets a wife such as I am going to have can count himself
fortunate. We shall live simply and quietly, and yet be happy.
Do not worry; for should I (which God forefend!) get ill today,
especially if I were married, I wager that the first of the
nobility would come to my help....I await your consent with
longing, best of fathers, I await it with confidence, my honor
and fame depend upon it."
(Vienna, July 27, 1782.)
238. "Meanwhile my striving is to secure a small certainty; then
with the help of the contingencies, it will be easy to live here;
and then to marry. I beg of you, dearest and best of fathers,
listen to me! I have preferred my request, now listen to my
reasons. The calls of nature are as strong in me, perhaps
stronger, than in many a hulking fellow. I can not possibly live
like the majority of our young men. In the first place I have too
much religion, in the second too much love for my fellow man and
too great a sense of honor ever to betray a girl...."
(Vienna, December 18, 1781. [The whole of this letter deserves to
be read by those who, misled by the reports, still deemed
trustworthy when Jahn published the first edition of his great
biography, believed that Mozart was a man of bad morals.
Unfortunately Mozart's candor in presenting his case to his
father can scarcely be adjusted to the requirements of a book
designed for general circulation. Let it suffice that in his
confession to his father Mozart puts himself on the ground of the
loftiest sexual purity, and stakes life and death on the
truthfulness of his statements. H.E.K.])
239. "You surely can not be angry because I want to get married?
I think and believe that you will recognize best my piety and
honorable intentions in the circumstance. O, I could easily write
a long answer to your last letter, and offer many objections; but
my maxim is that it is not worth while to discuss matters that
do not affect me. I can't help it,--it's my nature. I am really
ashamed to defend myself when I find myself falsely accused;
I always think, the truth will out some day."
(Vienna, January 9, 1782, to his father. In the same letter he
continues: "I can not be happy and contented without my dear
Constanze, and without your satisfied acquiescence, I could only
be half happy. Therefore, make me wholly happy.")
240. "As I have thought and said a thousand times I would gladly
leave everything in your hands with the greatest pleasure, but
since, so to speak, it is useless to you but to my advantage, I
deem it my duty to remember my wife and children."
(June 16, 1787, to his sister, concerning his inheritance from
his father who had died on May 28.)
241. "Isn't it true that you are daily becoming more convinced of
the truth of my corrective sermons? Is not the amusement of a
fickle and capricious love far as the heavens from the
blessedness which true, sensible love brings with it? Do you not
often thank me in your heart for my instruction? You will soon
make me vain! But joking aside, you do owe me a modicum of
gratitude if you have made yourself worthy of Fraulein N., for I
certainly did not play the smallest role at your conversion."
(Prague, November 4, 1787, to a wealthy young friend, name
242. "Pray believe anything you please about me but nothing ill.
There are persons who believe it is impossible to love a poor
girl without harboring wicked intentions; and the beautiful word
mistress is so lovely!--I am a Mozart, but a young and well
meaning Mozart. Among many faults I have this that I think that
the friends who know me, know me. Hence many words are not
necessary. If they do not know me where shall I find words
enough? It is bad enough that words and letters are necessary."
(Mannheim, February 22, 1778, to his father, who had rebuked him
for falling in love with Aloysia Weber, who afterward became his