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Italy/Vienna/Münich 1770-1776

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg on the 17th January,
1756. His father, Leopold Mozart, belonged to a respectable
tradesman's family in the free city of Augsburg. Conscious of
being gifted with no small portion of intellectual endowments, he
followed the impulse that led him to aim at a higher position in
life, and went to the then celebrated University of Salzburg in
order to study jurisprudence. As he did not, however, at once
succeed in procuring employment in this profession, he was
forced, from his straitened means, to enter the service of Canon
Count Thun as valet. Subsequently, however, his talents, and that
thorough knowledge of music by which he had already (according to
the custom of many students) gained some part of his livelihood,
obtained for him a better position. In the year 1743 he was
received into the band (Kapelle) of the Salzburg cathedral by
Archbishop Sigismund; and as his capabilities and fame as a
violinist increased, the same Prince shortly afterwards promoted
him to the situation of Hof-Componist (Court Composer) and leader
of the orchestra, and in 1762 he was appointed Hof-Kapellmeister
(conductor of the Court music).

In 1747 Leopold Mozart married Anna Maria Pertlin, a foster-child
of the Convent of St. Gilgen. The fruits of this marriage were
seven children, two of whom alone survived,--Maria Anna, (the
fourth), called Nannerl, born in 1751; and the youngest, Wolfgang
Amadeus Johannes Chrysostomus. The daughter at a very early age
displayed a most remarkable talent for music, and when her father
began to give her instructions in it, an inborn and passionate
love of this art was soon evident in her little brother of three
years old, who at once gave tokens of a degree of genius far
surpassing all experience, and really bordering on the
marvellous. In his fourth year he could play all sorts of little
pieces on the piano. He only required half an hour to learn a
minuet, and one hour for a longer movement; and in his fifth year
he actually composed some pretty short pieces, several of which
are still extant.

[Footnote: The Grand Duchess Helene Paulowna, a few weeks ago,
made a present to the Mozarteum of the music-book from which
Mozart learned music, and in which he wrote down his first

The wonderful acquirements of both these children, to which
Wolfgang soon added skilful playing on the violin and organ,
induced their father to travel with them. In January, 1702, when
the boy was just six years old, they went first to Munich, and in
the autumn to Vienna, the children everywhere on their journey
exciting the greatest sensation, and being handsomely
remunerated. Leopold Mozart, therefore, soon afterwards resolved
to undertake a longer journey, accompanied by his whole family.
This lasted more than three years, extending from the smaller
towns in West Germany to Paris and London, while they visited, on
their way back, Holland, France, and Switzerland. The careful
musical instruction which the father perseveringly bestowed on
his son, went hand in hand with the most admirable education, and
the boy was soon as universally beloved for his amiable
disposition and natural simplicity and candor, as admired for his
rare gifts and acquirements.

After nearly a year passed at home in unremitting musical
instruction, and practice of various instruments as well as
composition, the father once more set off with all his family to
Vienna,--on this occasion with a view to Wolfgang paving the way
to Italy by the composition of an opera, (Italy, at that time,
being the Eldorado of music.) He succeeded in procuring the
scrittura of an opera buffa, "La Finta semplice;" but, when
finished, although the Emperor himself had intrusted the
composition to the boy, the cabals of envious singers effectually
prevented its being performed. But a German operetta which the
lad of twelve also wrote at that time, "Bastien und Bastienne,"
was given in private, at the summer residence of the Mesmer
family, in the suburb called Landstrasse. The father, too, had
some compensation by the Emperor commissioning his son to compose
a solemn mass for the consecration of the new Waisenhaus church,
which Wolfgang himself directed with the conductor's baton, in
presence of the Imperial Family, on the 7th December, 1768.

Immediately on their return home, the young virtuoso was
appointed archiepiscopal Concertmeister. He passed almost the
whole of the year 1769 in Salzburg, chiefly engaged in the
composition of masses. We also see him at that time eagerly
occupied in improving his knowledge of Latin, although two years
previously he had composed a comedy in that language,--"Apollo et
Hyacinthus." From this study proceeds the first letter which is
still extant from his hand:--


Salzburg, 1769.


I beg you will pardon the liberty I take in plaguing you with
these few lines, but as you said yesterday that there was nothing
you could not understand in Latin, and I might write what I chose
in that language, I could not resist the bold impulse to write
you a few Latin lines. When you have deciphered these, be so good
as to send me the answer by one of Hagenauer's servants, for my
messenger cannot wait; remember, you must answer this by a

[Footnote: By a messenger of the Hagenauer family, in whose
house, opposite the inn of "Den drei Allurten," Mozart was born,
and with whom his family were on the most intimate terms.]

"Cuperem scire, de qua causa, a quam plurimis adolescentibus
ottium usque adeo oestimetur, ut ipsi se nec verbis, nec
verberibus ad hoc sinant abduci."

[Footnote: "I should like to know the reason why indolence is so
highly prized by very many young men, that neither by words nor
blows will they suffer themselves to be roused from it."]


The father's plan to go to Italy, there to lay the foundation of
a European reputation for his son, was realized in the beginning
of December, 1769, and during the journey, the boy, who was at
that time just entering his fifteenth year, subjoined to his
father's reports scraps of his own writing, in which, in true
boyish fashion, he had recourse to all kinds of languages and
witticisms, but always exhibiting in his opinions on music the
closest observation, the gravest thought, and the most acute


Verona, Jan. 1770.


I have at last got a letter a span long after hoping so much for
an answer that I lost patience; and I had good cause to do so
before receiving yours at last. The German blockhead having said
his say, now the Italian one begins. Lei e piu franca nella
lingua italiana di quel che mi ho immaginato. Lei mi dica la
cagione perche lei non fu nella commedia che hanno giocata i
Cavalieri. Adesso sentiamo sempre una opera titolata Il Ruggiero.
Oronte, il padre di Bradamante, e un principe (il
Signor Afferi) bravo cantante, un baritono, [Footnote:
"You are more versed in the Italian language than I
believed. Tell me why you were not one of the actors in the
comedy performed by the Cavaliers. We are now hearing an opera
called 'Il Ruggiero.' Oronte, the father of Bradamante, is a
Prince (acted by Afferi, a good singer, a baritone)."]
but very affected when he speaks out a falsetto, but not quite so
much so as Tibaldi in Vienna. Bradamante innamorata di Ruggiero
(ma [Footnote: "Bradamante is enamored of Ruggiero, but"]--she is
to marry Leone, but will not) fa una povera Baronessa, che ha
avuto una gran disgrazia, ma non so la quale; recita [Footnote:
"Pretends to be a poor Baroness who has met with some great
misfortune, but what it is I don't know, she performs"] under an
assumed name, but the name I forget; ha una voce passabile, e la
statura non sarebbe male, ma distuona come il diavolo. Ruggiero,
un ricco principe innamorato di Bradamante, e un musico; canta un
poco Manzuolisch [Footnote: Manzuoli was a celebrated soprano,
from whom Mozart had lessons in singing when in London.] ed ha
una bellissima voce forte ed e gia vecchio; ha 55 anni, ed ha una
[Footnote: "She has a tolerable voice, and her appearance is in
her favor, but she sings out of tune like a devil Ruggiero, a
rich Prince enamored of Bradamante, is a musico, and sings rather
in Manzuoli's style, and has a fine powerful voice, though quite
old; he is fifty-five, and has a"] flexible voice. Leone is to
marry Bradamante--richississimo e, [Footnote: "Immensely rich."]
but whether he is rich off the stage I can't say. La moglie di
Afferi, che ha una bellissima voce, ma e tanto susurro nel teatro
che non si sente niente. Irene fa una sorella di Lolli, del gran
violinista che habbiamo sentito a Vienna, a una [Footnote:
"Afferi's wife has a most beautiful voice, but sings so softly on
the stage that you really hear nothing at all. A sister of Lolli,
the great violinist whom we heard at Vienna, acts Irene; she has
a"] very harsh voce, e canta sempre [Footnote: "Voice, and always
sings"] a quaver too tardi o troppo a buon' ora. Granno fa un
signore, che non so come si chiame; e la prima volta che lui
recita. [Footnote: "Slow or too fast. Ganno is acted by a
gentleman whose name I never heard. It is his first appearance on
the stage."] There is a ballet between each act. We have a good
dancer here called Roessler. He is a German, and dances right
well. The very last time we were at the opera (but not, I hope,
the very last time we ever shall be there) we got M. Roessler to
come up to our palco, (for M. Carlotti gives us his box, of which
we have the key,) and conversed with him. Apropos, every one is
now in maschera, and one great convenience is, that if you fasten
your mask on your hat you have the privilege of not taking off
your hat when any one speaks to you; and you never address them
by name, but always as "Servitore umilissimo, Signora Maschera."
Cospetto di Bacco! that is fun! The most strange of all is that
we go to bed at half-past seven! Se lei indovinasse questo, io
diro certamente che lei sia la madre di tutti gli indovini.
[Footnote: "If you guess this, I shall say that you are the
mother of all guessers."] Kiss mamma's hand for me, and to
yourself I send a thousand kisses, and assure you that I shall
always be your affectionate brother.

Portez-vous bien, et aimez-moi toujours.


Milan, Jan. 26, 1770.

I REJOICE in my heart that you were so well amused at the
sledging party you write to me about, and I wish you a thousand
opportunities of pleasure, so that you may pass your life
merrily. But one thing vexes me, which is, that you allowed Herr
von Molk [an admirer of this pretty young girl of eighteen] to
sigh and sentimentalize, and that you did not go with him in his
sledge, that he might have upset you. What a lot of pocket-
handkerchiefs he must have used that day to dry the tears he shed
for you! He no doubt, too, swallowed at least three ounces of
cream of tartar to drive away the horrid evil humors in his body.
I know nothing new except that Herr Gellert, the Leipzig poet,
[Footnote: Old Mozart prized Gellert's poems so highly, that on
one occasion he wrote to him expressing his admiration.] is dead,
and has written no more poetry since his death. Just before
beginning this letter I composed an air from the "Demetrio" of
Metastasio, which begins thus, "Misero tu non sei."

The opera at Mantua was very good. They gave "Demetrio." The
prima donna sings well, but is inanimate, and if you did not see
her acting, but only singing, you might suppose she was not
singing at all, for she can't open her mouth, and whines out
everything; but this is nothing new to us. The seconda donna
looks like a grenadier, and has a very powerful voice; she really
does not sing badly, considering that this is her first
appearance. Il primo uomo, il musico, sings beautifully, but his
voice is uneven; his name is Caselli. Il secondo uomo is quite
old, and does not at all please me. The tenor's name is Ottini;
he does not sing unpleasingly, but with effort, like all Italian
tenors. We know him very well. The name of the second I don't
know; he is still young, but nothing at all remarkable. Primo
ballerino good; prima ballerina good, and people say pretty, but
I have not seen her near. There is a grotesco who jumps cleverly,
but cannot write as I do--just as pigs grunt. The orchestra is
tolerable. In Cremona, the orchestra is good, and Spagnoletta is
the name of the first violinist there. Prima donna very passable
--rather ancient, I fancy, and as ugly as sin. She does not sing
as well as she acts, and is the wife of a violin-player at the
opera. Her name is Masci. The opera was the "Clemenza di Tito."
Seconda donna not ugly on the stage, young, but nothing superior.
Primo uomo, un musico, Cicognani, a fine voice, and a beautiful
cantabile. The other two musici young and passable. The tenor's
name is non lo so [I don't know what]. He has a pleasing
exterior, and resembles Le Roi at Vienna. Ballerino primo good,
but an ugly dog. There was a ballerina who danced far from badly,
and, what is a capo d'opera, she is anything but plain, either on
the stage or off it. The rest were the usual average. I cannot
write much about the Milan opera, for we did not go there, but we
heard that it was not successful. Primo uomo, Aprile, who sings
well, and has a fine even voice; we heard him at a grand church
festival. Madame Piccinelli, from Paris, who sang at one of our
concerts, acts at the opera. Herr Pick, who danced at Vienna, is
now dancing here. The opera is "Didone abbandonata," but it is
not to be given much longer. Signor Piccini, who is writing the
next opera, is here. I am told that the title is to be "Cesare in


Noble of Hohenthal and attached to the Exchequer.


Milan, Feb. 10, 1770.

SPEAK of the wolf, and you see his ears! I am quite well, and
impatiently expecting an answer from you. I kiss mamma's hand,
and send you a little note and a little kiss; and remain, as
before, your----What? Your aforesaid merry-andrew brother,
Wolfgang in Germany, Amadeo in Italy.

Jan 6, 2016
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