Thank you to those who donated to Piano Society in 2017.

Opinions concerning others

81. "Holzbauer's music is very beautiful; the poetry is not
worthy of it. What amazes me most is that so old a man as
Holzbauer should have so much spirit,--it is incredible, the
amount of fire in his music."

(Mannheim, November 14, 1777, to his father. Ignaz Holzbauer was
born in Vienna, in 1711, and died as chapelmaster in Mannheim, on
April 7, 1793. During the last years of his life he was totally
deaf. The music referred to was the setting of the first great
German Singspiel, "Gunther von Schwarzburg.")

82. "There is much that is pretty in many of Martini's things,
but in ten years nobody will notice them."

(Reported by Nissen. Martini lived in Bologna from 1706 to 1784;
there Mozart learned to know and admire him. In 1776 he wrote a
letter to him in which he said that of all people in the world he
"loved, honored and valued" him most.)

83. "For those who seek only light entertainment in music nobody
better can be recommended than Paisiello."

(Reported by Nissen. Paisiello was born in Taranto in 1741,
composed over a hundred operas which, like his church music, won
much applause. He died in Naples in 1816. Mozart considered his
music "transparent.")

84. "Jomelli has his genre in which he shines, and we must
abandon the thought of supplanting him in that field in the
judgment of the knowing. But he ought not to have abandoned his
field to compose church music in the old style, for instance."

(Reported by Nissen. Jomelli was born in 1714 near Naples, where
he died in 1774. He was greatly admired as a composer of operas
and church music. He was Court Chapelmaster in Stuttgart from
1753 to 1769.)

85. "Wait till you know how many of his works we have in Vienna!
When I get back home I shall diligently study his church music,
and I hope to learn a great deal from it."

(A remark made in Leipsic when somebody spoke slightingly of the
music of Gassmann, an Imperial Court Chapelmaster in Vienna, and
much respected by Maria Theresa and Joseph.)

86. "The fact that Gatti, the ass, begged the Archbishop for
permission to compose a serenade shows his worthiness to wear the
title, which I make no doubt he deserves also for his musical

(Vienna, October 12, 1782, to his father. Gatti was Cathedral
Chapelmaster in Salzburg.)

87. "What we should like to have, dear father, is some of your
best church pieces; for we love to entertain ourselves with all
manner of masters, ancient and modern. Therefore I beg of you
send us something of yours as soon as possible."

(Vienna, March 29, 1783, to his father, Leopold Mozart in
Salzburg, himself a capable composer.)

88. "In a sense Vogler is nothing but a wizard. As soon as he
attempts to play something majestic he becomes dry, and you are
glad that he, too, feels bored and makes a quick ending. But what
follows?--unintelligible slip-slop. I listened to him from a
distance. Afterward he began a fugue with six notes on the same
tone, and Presto! Then I went up to him. As a matter of fact I
would rather watch him than hear him."

(Mannheim, December 18, 1777, to his father. Abbe Vogler was
trying the new organ in the Lutheran church at Mannheim. Vogler
lived from 1749 to 1814, and was the teacher of Karl Maria von
Weber (who esteemed him highly) and Meyerbeer. Mozart's criticism
seems unduly severe.)

89. "I was at mass, a brand new composition by Vogler. I had
already been at the rehearsal day before yesterday afternoon, but
went away after the Kyrie. In all my life I have heard nothing like
this. Frequently everything is out of tune. He goes from key to key
as if he wanted to drag one along by the hair of the head, not in
an interesting manner which might be worth while, but bluntly and
rudely. As to the manner in which he develops his ideas I shall say
nothing; but this I will say that it is impossible for a mass by
Vogler to please any composer worthy of the name. Briefly, I hear a
theme which is not bad; does it long remain not bad think you? will
it not soon become beautiful? Heaven forefend! It grows worse and
worse in a two-fold or three-fold manner; for instance scarcely is
it begun before something else enters and spoils it; or he makes so
unnatural a close that it can not remain good; or it is misplaced;
or, finally, it is ruined by the orchestration. That's Vogler's

(Mannheim, November 20, 1777, to his father.)

90. "Clementi plays well so far as execution with the right hand
is concerned; his forte is passages in thirds. Aside from this he
hasn't a pennyworth of feeling or taste; in a word he is a mere

(Vienna, January 12, 1782, to his father. Four days later Mozart
expressed the same opinion of Muzio Clementi, who is still in
good repute, after having met him in competition before the
emperor. "Clementi preluded and played a sonata; then the Emperor
said to me, 'Allons, go ahead.' I preluded and played some

91. "Now I must say a few words to my sister about the Clementi
sonatas. Every one who plays or hears them will feel for himself
that as compositions they do not signify. There are in them no
remarkable or striking passages, with the exception of those in
sixths and octaves, and I beg my sister not to devote too much
time to these lest she spoil her quiet and steady hand and make
it lose its natural lightness, suppleness and fluent rapidity.
What, after all, is the use? She is expected to play the sixths
and octaves with the greatest velocity (which no man will
accomplish, not even Clementi), and if she tries she will produce
a frightful zig-zag, and nothing more. Clementi is a Ciarlatano
like all Italians. He writes upon a sonata Presto, or even
Prestissimo and alla breve, and plays it Allegro in 4-4 time. I
know it because I have heard him! What he does well is his
passages in thirds; but he perspired over these day and night in
London. Aside from this he has nothing,--absolutely nothing; not
excellence in reading, nor taste, nor sentiment."

(Vienna, June 7, 1783, to his father and sister.)

92. "Handel knows better than any of us what will make an effect;
when he chooses he strikes like a thunderbolt; even if he is
often prosy, after the manner of his time, there is always
something in his music."

(Mozart valued Handel most highly. He knew his masterpieces by
heart--not only the choruses but also many arias. [Reported by
Rochlitz. H.E.K.])

93. "Apropos, I intended, while asking you to send back the
rondo, to send me also the six fugues by Handel and the toccatas
and fugues by Eberlin. I go every Sunday to Baron von Swieten's,
and there nothing is played except Handel and Bach. I am making a
collection of the fugues,--those of Sebastian as well as of
Emanuel and Friedemann Bach; also of Handel's, and here the six
are lacking. Besides I want to let the baron hear those of
Eberlin. In all likelihood you know that the English Bach is
dead; a pity for the world of music."

(Vienna, April 10, 1782, to his father. Johann Ernst Eberlin
(Eberle), born in 1702, died in 1762 as archiepiscopal
chapelmaster in Salzburg. Many of his unpublished works are
preserved in Berlin. The "English" Bach was Johann Christian, son
of the great Johann Sebastian. As a child Mozart made his
acquaintance in London.)

94. "I shall be glad if papa has not yet had the works of Eberlin
copied, for I have gotten them meanwhile, and discovered,--for I
could not remember,--that they are too trivial and surely do not
deserve a place among those of Bach and Handel. All respect to
his four-part writing, but his clavier fugues are nothing but
long-drawn-out versetti."

(Vienna, April 29, 1782, to his sister Nannerl.)

95. "Johann Christian Bach has been here (Paris) for a fortnight.
He is to write a French opera, and is come only to hear the
singers, whereupon he will go to London, write the opera, and
come back to put it on the stage. You can easily imagine his
delight and mine when we met again. Perhaps his delight was not
altogether sincere, but one must admit that he is an honorable
man and does justice to all. I love him, as you know, with all my
heart, and respect him; as for him, one thing is certain, that to
my face and to others, he really praised me, not extravagantly,
like some, but seriously and in earnest."

(St. Germain, August 27, 1778, to his father. Johann Christian
Bach was the second son of Johann Sebastian, and born in 1735.
He lived in London where little Wolfgang learned to know him in
1764. Bach took the precocious boy on his knee and the two played
on the harpsichord. [Bach was Music Master to the Queen. "He
liked to play with the boy," says Jahn; "took him upon his knee
and went through a sonata with him, each in turn playing a
measure with such precision that no one would have suspected
two performers. He began a fugue, which Wolfgang took up and
completed when Bach broke off." H.E.K.])

96. "Bach is the father, we are the youngsters. Those of us who
can do a decent thing learned how from him; and whoever will not
admit it is a..."

(A remark made at a gathering in Leipsic. The Bach referred to is
Phillip Emanuel Bach, who died in 1788.)

97. "Here, at last, is something from which one can learn!"

(Mozart's ejaculation when he heard Bach's motet for double
chorus, "Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied," at Leipsic in 1789.
Rochlitz relates: "Scarcely had the choir sung a couple of
measures when Mozart started. After a few more measures he cried
out: 'What is that?' and now his whole soul seemed to be in his

98. "Melt us two together, and we will fall far short of making a

(Said to the pianist Leopold Kozeluch who had triumphantly
pointed out a few slips due to carelessness in Haydn's

99. "It was a duty that I owed to Haydn to dedicate my quartets
to him; for it was from him that I learned how to write

(Reported by Nissen. Joseph Haydn once said, when the worth of
"Don Giovanni" was under discussion: "This I do know, that Mozart
is the greatest composer in the world today.")

100. "Nobody can do everything,--jest and terrify, cause laughter
or move profoundly,--like Joseph Haydn."

(Reported by Nissen [the biographer who married Mozart's widow.

101. "Keep your eyes on him; he'll make the world talk of himself
some day!"

(A remark made by Mozart in reference to Beethoven in the spring
of 1787. It was the only meeting between the two composers. [The
prophetic observation was called out by Beethoven's improvisation
on a theme from "Le Nozze di Figaro." H.E.K.])

102. "Attwood is a young man for whom I have a sincere affection
and esteem; he conducts himself with great propriety, and I feel
much pleasure in telling you that he partakes more of my style
than any scholar I ever had, and I predict that he will prove a
sound musician."

(Remarked in 1786 to Michael Kelly, who was a friend of Attwood
and a pupil of Mozart at the time. [Thomas Attwood was an English
musician, born in 1765. He was chorister of the Chapel Royal at
the age of nine, and at sixteen attracted the attention of the
Prince of Wales, afterward George IV., who sent him to Italy to
study. He studied two years in Naples and one year in Vienna with
Mozart. Returned to London he first composed for the theatre and
afterward largely for the church. He and Mendelssohn were devoted
friends. H.E.K.])

103. "If the oboist Fischer did not play better when we heard him
in Holland (1766) than he plays now, he certainly does not
deserve the reputation which he has. Yet, between ourselves, I
was too young at the time to pronounce a judgment; I remember
that he pleased me exceedingly, and the whole world. It is
explained easily enough if one but realizes that tastes have
changed mightily since then. You would think that he plays
according to the old school; but no! he plays like a wretched
pupil....And then his concertos, his compositions! Every
ritornello lasts a quarter of an hour; then the hero appears,
lifts one leaden foot after the other and plumps them down
alternately. His tone is all nasal, and his tenuto sounds like an
organ tremulant."

(Vienna, April 4, 1787, to his father. Johann Christian
Fischer--1733-1800--was a famous oboist and composer for his
instrument. [Fischer was probably the original of the many artists
of whom the story is told that, having been invited by a nobleman
to dinner, he was asked if he had brought his instrument with him,
replied that he had not, for that his instrument never ate. Kelly
tells the story in his "Reminiscences" and makes Fischer the hero.

104. "I know nothing new except that Gellert has died in Leipsic
and since then has written no more poetry."

(Milan, January 26, 1770. Wolfgang was on a concert tour with his
father who admired Gellert's writings and had once exchanged
letters with him. The lad seems to have felt ironical.)

105. "Now I am also acquainted with Herr Wieland; but he doesn't
know me as well as I know him, for he has not heard anything of
mine. I never imagined him to be as he is. He seems to me to be a
little affected in speech, has a rather childish voice, a fixed
stare, a certain learned rudeness, yet, at times, a stupid
condescension. I am not surprised that he behaves as he does here
(and as he would not dare do in Weimar or elsewhere), for the
people look at him as if he had fallen direct from heaven. All
stand in awe, no one talks, everyone is silent, every word is
listened to when he speaks. It is a pity that he keeps people in
suspense so long, for he has a defect of speech which compels him
to speak very slowly and pause after every six words. Otherwise
his is, as we all know, an admirable brain. His face is very
ugly, pockmarked, and his nose rather long. He is a little taller
than papa."

(Mannheim, December 27, 1777, to his father. On November 22,
Mozart had reported: "In the coming carnival 'Rosamunde' will be
performed--new poetry by Herr Wieland, new music by Herr
Schweitzer." On January 10, 1778, he writes: "'Rosamunde' was
rehearsed in the theatre today; it is--good, but nothing more. If
it were bad you could not perform it at all; just as you can't
sleep without going to bed!")

106. "Now that Herr Wieland has seen me twice he is entirely
enchanted. The last time we met, after lauding me as highly as
possible, he said, 'It is truly a piece of good fortune for me to
have met you here,' and pressed my hand."

(Mannheim, January 10, 1778.)

107. "Now I give you a piece of news which perhaps you know
already; that godless fellow and arch-rascal, Voltaire, is

dead--died like a dog, like a beast. That is his reward!"

(Paris, July 3, 1778, to his father, who, like the son, was a man
of sincere piety and abhorred Voltaire's atheism.)

108. "When God gives a man an office he also gives him sense;
that's the case with the Archduke. Before he was a priest he was
much wittier and intelligent; spoke less but more sensibly. You
ought to see him now! Stupidity looks out of his eyes, he talks
and chatters eternally and always in falsetto. His neck is
swollen,--in short he has been completely transformed."

(Vienna, November 17, 1781, to his father. The person spoken of
was Archduke Maximilian, who afterward became Archbishop of
Cologne, and was the patron of Beethoven. [The ambiguity of the
opening statement is probably due to carelessness in writing, or
Mozart's habit of using double negatives. H.E.K.])

Jan 6, 2016
Page Views:

Share This Page