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Münich/Idomeneo November 1780-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

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

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

I have this moment received your letter of the 4th December. You
must begin to accustom yourself a little to the kissing system.
You can meanwhile practise with Maresquelli, for each time that
you come to Dorothea Wendling's (where everything is rather in
the French style) you will have to embrace both mother and
daughter, but--N. B., on the chin, so that the paint may not be
rubbed off. More of this next time. Adieu!

P.S.--Don't forget about my black suit; I must have it, or I
shall be laughed at, which is never agreeable.


Munich, Dec. 13, 1780.

Your last letters seemed to me far too short, so I searched all
the pockets in my black suit to see if I could not find something
more. In Vienna and all the Imperial dominions, the gayeties are
to be resumed six weeks hence,--a very sensible measure, for
mourning too long is not productive of half as much good to the
deceased as of injury to the living. Is Herr Schikaneder to
remain in Salzburg? If so, he might still see and hear my opera.
Here people, very properly, cannot comprehend why the mourning
should last for three months, while that for our late Elector was
only six weeks. The theatre, however, goes on as usual. You do
not write to me how Herr Esser accompanied my sonatas--ill, or
well? The comedy, "Wie man sich die Sache deutet," is charming,
for I saw it--no, not saw it, but read it, for it has not yet
been performed; besides, I have been only once in the theatre,
having no leisure to go, the evening being the time I like best
to work. If her Grace, the most sensible gracious Frau von
Robinig, does not on this occasion change the period of her
gracious journey to Munich, her Grace will be unable to hear one
note of my opera. My opinion, however, is, that her Grace in her
supreme wisdom, in order to oblige your excellent son, will
graciously condescend to stay a little longer. I suppose your
portrait is now begun, and my sister's also, no doubt. How is it
likely to turn out? Have you any answer yet from our
plenipotentiary at Wetzlar? I forget his name--Fuchs, I think. I
mean, about the duets for two pianos. It is always satisfactory
to explain a thing distinctly, and the arias of Esopus are, I
suppose, still lying on the table? Send them to me by the
diligence, that I may give them myself to Herr von Dummhoff, who
will then remit them post-free. To whom? Why, to Heckmann--a
charming man, is he not? and a passionate lover of music. My
chief object comes to-day at the close of my letter, but this is
always the case with me. One day lately, after dining with Lisel
Wendling, I drove with Le Grand to Cannabich's (as it was snowing
heavily). Through the window they thought it was you, and that we
had come together. I could not understand why both Karl and the
children ran down the steps to meet us, and when they saw Le
Grand, did not say a word, but looked quite discomposed, till
they explained it when we went up-stairs. I shall write nothing
more, because you write so seldom to me--nothing, except that
Herr Eck, who has just crept into the room to fetch his sword
which he forgot the last time he was here, sends his best wishes
to Thresel, Pimperl, Jungfer Mitzerl, Gilofsky, Katherl, my
sister, and, last of all, to yourself. Kiss Thresel for me; a
thousand kisses to Pimperl.


Munich, Dec. 16, 1780.

HERR ESSER came to call on me yesterday for the first time. Did
he go about on foot in Salzburg, or always drive in a carriage,
as he does here? I believe his small portion of Salzburg money
will not remain long in his purse. On Sunday we are to dine
together at Cannabich's, and there he is to let us hear his
solos, clever and stupid. He says he will give no concert here,
nor does he care to appear at court; he does not intend to seek
it, but if the Elector wishes to hear him,--"Eh, bien! here am I;
it would be a favor, but I shall not announce myself." But, after
all, he may be a worthy fool--deuce take it! cavalier, I meant to
say. He asked me why I did not wear my Order of the Spur. I said
I had one in my head quite hard enough to carry. He was so
obliging as to dust my coat a little for me, saying, "One
cavalier may wait upon another." In spite of which, the same
afternoon--from forgetfulness, I suppose--he left his spur at
home, (I mean the outward and visible one,) or at all events
contrived to hide it so effectually that not a vestige of it was
to be seen. In case I forget it again, I must tell you that
Madame and Madlle. Cannabich both complain that their throats are
daily becoming larger owing to the air and water here, which
might at last become regular goitres. Heaven forbid! They are
indeed taking a certain powder--how do I know what? Not that this
is its name; at all events, it seems to do them no good. For
their sakes, therefore, I took the liberty to recommend what we
call goitre pills, pretending (in order to enhance their value)
that my sister had three goitres, each larger than the other, and
yet at last, by means of these admirable pills, had got entirely
rid of them! If they can be made up here, pray send me the
prescription; but if only to be had at Salzburg, I beg you will
pay ready money for them, and send a few cwt. of them by the next
diligence. You know my address.

There is to be another rehearsal this afternoon of the first and
second acts in the Count's apartments; then we shall only have a
chamber rehearsal of the third, and afterwards go straight to the
theatre. The rehearsal has been put off owing to the copyist,
which enraged Count Seinsheim to the uttermost. As for what is
called the popular taste, do not be uneasy, for in my opera there
is music for every class, except for the long-eared. A propos,
how goes on the Archbishop? Next Monday I shall have been six
weeks away from Salzburg. You know, dear father, that I only stay
there to oblige you, for, by heavens! if I followed my own
inclinations, before coming here I would have torn up my last
diploma; for I give you my honor that not Salzburg itself, but
the Prince and his proud nobility, become every day more
intolerable to me. I should rejoice were I to be told that my
services were no longer required, for with the great patronage
that I have here, both my present and future circumstances would
be secure, death excepted, which no one can guard against, though
no great misfortune to a single man. But anything in the world to
please you. It would be less trying to me if I could only
occasionally escape from time to time, just to draw my breath.
You know how difficult it was to get away on this occasion; and
without some very urgent cause, there would not be the faintest
hope of such a thing. It is enough to make one weep to think of
it, so I say no more. Adieu! Come soon to see me at Munich and to
hear my opera, and then tell me whether I have not a right to
feel sad when I think of Salzburg. Adieu!


Munich, Dec. 19, 1780.

THIS last rehearsal has been as successful as the first, and
satisfactorily proved to the orchestra and all those who heard
it, their mistake in thinking that the second act could not
possibly excel the first in expression and novelty. Next Saturday
both acts are again to be rehearsed, but in a spacious apartment
in the palace, which I have long wished, as the room at Count
Seeau's is far too small. The Elector is to be in an adjoining
room (incognito) to hear the music. "It must be a life-and-death
rehearsal," said Cannabich to me. At the last one he was bathed
in perspiration.

Cannabich, whose name-day this is, has just left me, reproaching
me for discontinuing this letter in his presence. As to Madame
Duschek, the thing is impossible at present, but I will do what I
can with pleasure after my opera is given. I beg you will write
to her and say, with my compliments, that next time she comes to
Salzburg we can square accounts. It would delight me if I could
get a couple of cavaliers like old Czernin,--this would be a
little yearly help; but certainly not for less than 100 florins a
year, in which case it might be any style of music they pleased.
I trust that you are now quite recovered; indeed, after the
friction performed by a Barisani Theres, you cannot be otherwise.
You have no doubt seen by my letters that I am well and happy.
Who would not feel happy to have completed such a great and
laborious work--and completed it, too, with honor and renown?
Three arias alone are wanting--the last chorus in the third act,
and the overture and ballet; and then--Adieu partie!

One more indispensable remark, and I have done. The scene between
father and son in the first act, and the first scene in the
second act between Idomenco and Arbace, are both too long, and
sure to weary the audience, particularly as in the first the
actors are both bad, and in the second one of them is also very
inferior; besides, the whole details are only a narrative of what
the spectators have already seen with their own eyes. The scenes
will be printed just as they are. I only wish the Abbate would
point out to me how not only to curtail them, but very
considerably to curtail them; otherwise I must do it myself, for
the scenes cannot remain as they are--I mean, so far as the music
is concerned. I have just got your letter, which, being begun by
my sister, is without a date. A thousand compliments to Thresel--
my future upper and under nursery-maid to be. I can easily
believe that Katherl would gladly come to Munich, if (independent
of the journey) you would allow her to take my place at meals.
Eh! bien. I can contrive it, for she can occupy the same room
with my sister.


Munich, Dec 27, 1780.

I HAVE received the entire opera, Schachtner's letter, your note,
and the pills. As for the two scenes to be curtailed, it was not
my own suggestion, but one to which I consented--my reason being
that Raaff and Del Prato spoil the recitative by singing it quite
devoid of all spirit and fire, and so monotonously. They are the
most miserable actors that ever trod the stage. I had a desperate
battle royal with Seeau as to the inexpediency, unfitness, and
almost impossibility of the omissions in question. However, all
is to be printed as it is, which at first he positively refused
to agree to, but at last, on rating him soundly, he gave way. The
last rehearsal was splendid. It took place in a spacious
apartment in the palace. The Elector was also within hearing. On
this occasion it was rehearsed with the whole orchestra, (of
course I mean those who belong to the opera.) After the first act
the Elector called out Bravo! rather too audibly, and when I went
into the next room to kiss his hand he said, "Your opera is quite
charming, and cannot fail to do you honor." As he was not sure
whether he could remain for the whole performance, we played the
concerted aria and the thunderstorm at the beginning of the
second act, by his desire, when he again testified his
approbation in the kindest manner, and said, laughing, "Who could
believe that such great things could be hidden in so small a
head?" Next day, too, at his reception, he extolled my opera
much. The ensuing rehearsal will probably take place in the
theatre. A propos, Becke told me, a day or two ago, that he had
written to you about the last rehearsal but one, and among other
things had said that Raaff's aria in the second act is not
composed in accordance with the sense of the words, adding, "So I
am told, for I understand Italian too little to be able to
judge." I replied, "If you had only asked me first and written
afterwards! I must tell you that whoever said such a thing can
understand very little Italian. The aria is quite adapted to the
words. You hear the mare, and the mare funesto; and the passages
dwell on the minacciar, and entirely express minacciar
(threatening). Moreover, it is the most superb aria in the opera,
and has met with universal approbation."

Is it true that the Emperor is ill? Is it true that the
Archbishop intends to come to Munich? Raaff is the best and most
upright man alive, but--so addicted to old-fashioned routine that
flesh and blood cannot stand it; so that it is very difficult to
write for him, but very easy if you choose to compose commonplace
arias, as for instance the first one, "Vedromi intorno." When you
hear it, you will say that it is good and pretty, but had I
written it for Zonca it would have suited the words better. Raaff
likes everything according to rule, and does not regard
expression. I have had a piece of work with him about the
quartet. The more I think of the quartet as it will be on the
stage, the more effective I consider it, and it has pleased all
those who have heard it on the piano. Raaff alone maintains that
it will not be successful. He said to me confidentially, "There
is no opportunity to expand the voice; it is too confined." As if
in a quartet the words should not far rather be spoken, as it
were, than sung! He does not at all understand such things. I
only replied, "My dear friend, if I were aware of one single note
in this quartet which ought to be altered, I would change it at
once; but there is no single thing in my opera with which I am so
pleased as with this quartet, and when you have once heard it
sung in concert you will speak very differently. I took every
possible pains to conform to your taste in your two arias, and
intend to do the same with the third, so I hope to be successful;
but with regard to trios and quartets, they should be left to the
composer's own discretion." On which he said that he was quite
satisfied. The other day he was much annoyed by some words in his
last aria--rinvigorir and ringiovenir, and especially vienmi a
rinvigorir--five i's! It is true, this is very disagreeable at
the close of an air.


Munich, Dec. 30. 1780.

A HAPPY New-Year! Excuse my writing much, for I am over head and
ears in my work. I have not quite finished the third act; and as
there is no extra ballet, but only an appropriate divertissement
in the opera, I have the honor to write that music also, but I am
glad of it, for now the music will be all by the same master. The
third act will prove at least as good as the two others,--in
fact, I believe, infinitely better, and that it might fairly be
said, finis coronat opus. The Elector was so pleased at the
rehearsal that, as I already wrote to you, he praised it
immensely next morning at his reception, and also in the evening
at court. I likewise know from good authority that, on the same
evening after the final rehearsal, he spoke of my music to every
one he conversed with, saying, "I was quite surprised; no music
ever had such an effect on me; it is magnificent music." The day
before yesterday we had a recitative rehearsal at Wendling's, and
tried over the quartet all together. We repeated it six times,
and now it goes well. The stumbling-block was Del Prato; the
wretch can literally do nothing. His voice is not so bad, if he
did not sing from the back of the throat; besides, he has no
intonation, no method, no feeling. He is only one of the best of
the youths who sing in the hope of getting a place in the choir
of the chapel. Raaff was glad to find himself mistaken about the
quartet, and no longer doubts its effect. Now I am in a
difficulty with regard to Raaff's last air, and you must help me
out of it. He cannot digest the rinvigorir and ringiovenir, and
these two words make the whole air hateful to him. It is true
that mostrami and vienmi are also not good, but the worst of all
are the two final words; to avoid the shake on the i in the first
word rinvigorir, I was forced to transfer it to the o. Raaff has
now found, in the "Natal di Giove," which is in truth very little
known, an aria quite appropriate to this situation. I think it is
the ad libitum aria, "Bell' alme al ciel diletto" and he wishes
me to write music for these words. He says, "No one knows it, and
we need say nothing." He is quite aware that he cannot expect the
Abbate to alter this aria a third time, and he will not sing it
as it is written. I beg you will send me an immediate reply. I
shall conclude, for I must now write with all speed; the
composing is finished, but not the writing out.

My compliments to dear Thresel: the maid who waits on me here is
also named Thresel, but, heavens! how inferior to the Linz
Thresel in beauty, virtue, charms--and a thousand other merits!
You probably know that the worthy musico Marquesi, the
Marquessius di Milano, has been poisoned in Naples, but how? He
was enamored of a Duchess, whose rightful lover became jealous,
and sent three or four fellows to give him his choice between
drinking poison out of a cup and being assassinated. He chose the
former, but being an Italian poltroon he died ALONE, and allowed
his murderers to live on in peace and quiet. I would at least (in
my own room) have taken a couple with me into the next world, if
absolutely obliged to die myself. Such an admirable singer is a
great loss. Adieu!


Munich, Jan. 3, 1780.

MY head and my hands are so fully occupied with my third act,
that it would not be wonderful if I turned into a third act
myself, for it alone has cost me more trouble than the entire
opera; there is scarcely a scene in it which is not interesting
to the greatest degree. The accompaniment of the underground
music consists merely of five instruments, namely, three
trombones and two French horns, which are placed on the spot
whence the voice proceeds. The whole orchestra is silent at this

The grand rehearsal positively takes place on the 20th, and the
first performance on the 22d. All you will both require is to
bring one black dress, and another for every-day wear, when you
are only visiting intimate friends where there is no ceremony,
and thus save your black dress a little; and if my sister likes,
one pretty dress also, that she may go to the ball and the
Academie Masquee.

Herr von Robinig is already here, and sends his regards to you. I
hear that the two Barisanis are also coming to Munich; is this
true? Heaven be praised that the cut on the finger of the
Archbishop was of no consequence! Good heavens! how dreadfully I
was alarmed at first! Cannabich thanks you for your charming
letter, and all his family beg their remembrances. He told me you
had written very humorously. You must have been in a happy mood.

No doubt we shall have a good many corrections to make in the
third act when on the stage; as for instance scene sixth, after
Arbace's aria, the personages are marked, "Idomeneo, Arbace, &c.,
&c." How can the latter so instantly reappear on the spot?
Fortunately he might stay away altogether. In order to make the
matter practicable, I have written a somewhat longer introduction
to the High Priest's recitative. After the mourning chorus the
King and his people all go away, and in the following scene the
directions are, "Idomeneo kneels down in the Temple." This is
impossible; he must come accompanied by his whole suite. A march
must necessarily be introduced here, so I have composed a very
simple one for two violins, tenor, bass, and two hautboys, to be
played a mezza voce, and during this time the King appears, and
the Priests prepare the offerings for the sacrifice. The King
then kneels down and begins the prayer.

In Elettra's recitative, after the underground voice has spoken,
there ought to be marked exeunt. I forgot to look at the copy
written for the press to see whether it is there, and whereabouts
it comes. It seems to me very silly that they should hurry away
so quickly merely to allow Madlle. Elettra to be alone.

I have this moment received your few lines of January 1st. When I
opened the letter I chanced to hold it in such a manner that
nothing but a blank sheet met my eyes. At last I found the
writing. I am heartily glad that I have got an aria for Raaff, as
he was quite resolved to introduce the air he had discovered, and
I could not possibly (N. B., with a Raaff) have arranged in any
other way than by having Varesco's air printed, but Raaff's sung.
I must stop, or I shall waste too much time. Thank my sister very
much for her New-Year's wishes, which I heartily return. I hope
we shall soon be right merry together. Adieu! Remembrances to
friends, not forgetting Ruscherle. Young Eck sends her a kiss, a
sugar one of course.


Munich, Jan. 10, 1780.

My greatest piece of news is that the opera is put off for a
week. The grand rehearsal is not to take place till the 27th--N.
B., my birthday--and the opera itself on the 29th. Why? Probably
to save Count Seeau two hundred gulden. I, indeed, am very glad,
because we can now rehearse frequently and more carefully. You
should have seen the faces of the Robinigs when I told them this
news. Louisa and Sigmund are delighted to stay; but Lise, that
SNEAKING MISERY, has such a spiteful Salzburg tongue that it
really drives me distracted. Perhaps they may still remain, and I
hope so on Louisa's account. In addition to many other little
altercations with Count Seeau, I have had a sharp contention with
him about the trombones. I call it so, because I was obliged to
be downright rude, or I never should have carried my point. Next
Saturday the three acts are to be rehearsed in private. I got
your letter of the 8th, and read it with great pleasure; the
burlesque, too, I like very much. Excuse my writing more at this
time; for, in the first place, as you see, my pen and ink are
bad, and, in the second, I have still a couple of airs to write
for the last ballet. I hope you will send no more such letters as
the last, of only three or four lines.


Munich, Jan. 18, 1780.

PRAY forgive a short letter, for I must go this very moment, ten
o'clock (in the forenoon of course), to the rehearsal. There is
to be a recitative rehearsal for the first time to-day in the
theatre. I could not write before, having been so incessantly
occupied with those confounded dances. Laus Deo, I have got rid
of them at last, but only of what was most pressing. The
rehearsal of the third act went off admirably. It was considered
very superior to the second act. The poetry is, however, thought
far too long, and of course the music likewise, (which I always
said it was.) On this account the aria of Idamante, "No la morte
io non pavento" is to be omitted, which was, indeed, always out
of place there; those who have heard it with the music deplore
this. Raaff's last air, too, is still more regretted, but we must
make a virtue of necessity. The prediction of the oracle is still
far too long, so I have shortened it; but Varesco need know
nothing of this, because it will all be printed just as he wrote
it. Madame von Robinig will bring with her the payment both for
him and Schachtner. Herr Geschwender declined taking any money
with him. In the meantime say to Varesco in my name, that he will
not get a farthing from Count Seeau beyond the contract, for all
the alterations were made FOR ME and not for the Count, and he
ought to be obliged to me into the bargain, as they were
indispensable for his own reputation. There is a good deal that
might still be altered; and I can tell him that he would not have
come off so well with any other composer as with me. I have
spared no trouble in defending him.

The stove is out of the question, for it costs too much. I will
have another bed put up in the room that adjoins the alcove, and
we must manage the best way we can. Do not forget to bring my
little watch with you. We shall probably make an excursion to
Augsburg, where we could have the little silly thing regulated. I
wish you also to bring Schachtner's operetta. There are people
who frequent Cannabich's house, who might as well hear a thing of
the kind. I must be off to the rehearsal. Adieu!

The father and sister arrived on the 25th of January, and the
first performance of the opera took place a few days afterwards;
then the family amused themselves for some little time with the
gayeties of the Carnival. The Archbishop had gone to Vienna; and,
desiring to appear in the Imperial city in the full splendor of a
spiritual prince, he had taken with him, in addition to fine
furniture and a large household, some of his most distinguished
musicians. On this account, therefore, Mozart, in the middle of
March, also received the command to go to Vienna. He set off


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