"Reminiscent of Zola and Balzac...A brilliant dramatization of the implacability of fate by an exceptionally good novelist."-Kirkus Reviews (starred)
Mozartby Robert W. Gutman
This major work, the result of years of careful study and analysis, places Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's life and music in the context of the intellectual, political and artistic currents of eighteenth-century Europe. The result is a fresh interpretation of Mozart's genius, as Robert Gutman shows the great composer in a new light. With an informed and sensitive… See more details below
This major work, the result of years of careful study and analysis, places Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's life and music in the context of the intellectual, political and artistic currents of eighteenth-century Europe. The result is a fresh interpretation of Mozart's genius, as Robert Gutman shows the great composer in a new light. With an informed and sensitive handling, Mozart emerges as an affectionate and generous man with family and friends, self-deprecating, witty, and winsome but also an austere moralist, incisive and purposeful. The major genres in which Mozart worked-chamber music, liturgical, theater and keyboard compositions, concertos, operas, symphonies, and oratorios-are unfolded to reveal a man of luminous intellect. Mozart is an extraordinary portrait of a man and his times and a brilliant distillation of musical thought.
"Reminiscent of Zola and Balzac...A brilliant dramatization of the implacability of fate by an exceptionally good novelist."-Kirkus Reviews (starred)
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Salzburg and Empire;
Prince and Burgher;
MOZART WAS BORN on 27 January 1756 in Salzburg. Battlemented and domed, the Salt Town (more strictly, salt castle) straddles a bend in the river Salzach at a point where the last limestone foothills of the Austrian Alps meet the Bavarian tableland. Having shot through a gorge, the Salzach moves quickly through the protected spot where Rupert, Apostle of the Bavarians, settled (c. 700) in the ruins of ancient Juvavum. The Romans had founded this outpost at the foot of a high plateau (today the Mönchsberg) sheltered by a neighboring and commanding hill of hard stone. Plateau, hill, and another residual butte, the lofty Kapuzinerberg across the river, form an amphitheater of calcareous cliffs securing the low-lying city. Within a century, Rupert's colony had become an archbishopric of expanding lands and riches, an agent for the dispersal of Christianity across southern Bavaria and into the Tyrol, and a center of the flourishing salt trade with northern Italy. In time the archbishops crowned the new metropolis with the citadel of Hohensalzburg, symbol and safeguard of a growing prosperity.
Throughout Mozart's century there remained a sharp division between the city and its surrounding countryside, a contrast accentuated by the compact mass of the monumental structures crowded between the river and the rocky faces of the guardian hills. A superb, tightly enclosed complex of ingeniously dovetailed architectural units, Salzburg was enveloped by an idyllic landscape of distant peaks touchedwith snow, of sloping meadowlands fringed with forests, and of gardens sprinkled with villas and agricultural buildings. Wealthy burghers who owned farms beyond the ramparts enjoyed places of relaxation that also filled the needs of their tables. Though Mozart frequently visited such country houses, he remained incurably urban, a child of the capital of marble, stone, and stucco. As a boy he knew little of its bucolic dependent terrains, which included not only the present-day province of Salzburg but also areas now belonging to Bavaria and Tyrol.
The German principalities survived within a bizarre, resilient, and almost mystic structure: Das Heilige Römische Reich Deutscher Nation (sacrum imperium Romanum Nationis Teutonicae, the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation), presided over by an elected Holy Roman Emperor, often simply called German Emperor. In theory, the Empire was not exclusively German, but, rather, international. However, history reduced it to its German-speaking components; even though from time to time kings of France. England, Denmark, and Sweden strove for the Imperial crown, the electors (see p. VI, n. I) invariably chose a German prince, and, since the accession of Albert II (1438), almost invariably from the Austrian House of Habsburg (exceptions: Charles VII and Francis I, see pp. 78 and 80). To the Habsburgs' eyes, their election to Charlemagne's chair came to seem a matter of regal divinity, no less holy than the Pope's to St. Peter'sand simpler, since God appeared always to choose the same family.
Exercising a formal predominance, the emperor had influence sufficient to protect the security of member states from interior and exterior threats but power insufficient to exceed the traditional limits of his authority by seizing full sovereignty over German states other than his own. This mechanism, sustained by the tensions of ever-changing alliances within the confederation, held its delicate balance with extraordinary and improbable success. Though Napoleon's machinations contributed to casting it down, the Congress of Vienna set it up again in different form: in spirit the Empire lasted until Prussia routed Austria at Königgrätz (1866) and expelled her from Germany, the triumphant Hohenzollern subsequently assuming the crown of a new or Second Reich that excluded the heartland of the first.
A buffer state between Bavaria and Austria, the Salzburg of Mozart's time was a sovereign ecclesiastical domain of two hundred thousand inhabitants. Since 1278, when Rudolph of Habsburg made its archbishops princes of the Holy Roman Empire, they had been overlords answerable only to Imperial and Papal authority and rarely on friendly terms with those they governed. In 1511 Archbishop Leonhard yon Keutschach cruelly put down an attempt by citizens to loose themselves from his power and make Salzburg a free Imperial city like Augsburg. One of the final gestures of defiance on the part of a generally terrorized populace found expression in making common cause with the German peasant revolt of 1525, a movement nourished by the Reformation and seeking economic and social change.
To their political autocracy and misrule the archbishops added the rigors of religious persecution. Enforcement of the lamentable prescription cuius regio, eius religio came to prevail. But that crowning imposture of worldliness unashamedly parading as piety, that ill-tempered, outrageous, and obtuse baroque absolutism of the Salzburg court (against whose obduracy Wolfgang Mozart's career crashed) became the creation of Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau. He ascended the archiepiscopal throne in 1587 when not yet thirty. Educated in Rome, he modeled himself upon Sixtus V, the energetic Pope whose chief architect, Domenico Fontana, had begun to transform the Holy City. Young von Raitenau quickly tamed whatever independent spirit remained in the archbishopric, reducing it to a tribute-paying vassalage on the pattern of the Papal States. He gave Protestants the choice of either conversion or forfeiture of their property and exile, and many prominent citizens left to find new homes in Wels, Augsburg, and Nürnberg.
Squeezing money from his subjects with harsh new taxes, he started to reshape medieval Salzburg in the image of baroque Rome. Wolf Dietrich fell upon the city as if to remodel or build anew everything at once. A town palace for himself (the expanded Residenz) and imposing court stables started to rise, as did Lustschloss Altenau, a pleasure-palace later renamed Mirabell, to house his mistress, Salome Alt, and their offspring. The Vincentine architect Vincenzo Scamozzi visited von Raitenau's court during the winter of 1603-1604 and inspired the arrangement of Salzburg's harmonious squares; they call to mind those of the ideal city engraved in his Idea dell'architettura universale (1615). Unable to mask his delight when Salzburg's Romanesque cathedral burned down, Wolf Dietrich found himself suspected of having kindled the flames so as to reconstruct it à la Scamozzi; indeed, much of what remained of its sculptures he ordered smashed. Fate, however, denied him the pleasure of transforming the ruin. He foolishly attempted to wage an economic salt war with his powerful neighbor Maximilian I of Bavaria, who deposed him. The task of rebuilding fell to his successors: his elegant nephew Markus Sitticus (Marx Sittich), and Paris Lodron.
Santino Solari modified Scamozzi's original mammoth plans for a new cathedral, and Sitticus laid its foundation stone in 1614, the nave of the great church being inaugurated fourteen years later during the episcopate of Lodron. The entire structure did not stand complete until late in the century, and, most likely to celebrate this achievement, a local composerperhaps Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biberwrote (1682) a polychoral mass in the Venetian tradition of the Gabrieli family and as monumental as the spacious, magnificently modeled Italianate structure itself. (Wolf Dietrich had already established a court chapel imitating transalpine models and, in fact, headed by an Italian kapellmeister.) The score, almost a yard high and two feet wide, required more than fifty staves to accommodate its choruses and instrumental ensembles. A colossal affair, in whose performance about four hundred singers and instrumentalists participated, this Missa salisburgensis gave token of the ambitious musical program of the cathedral in which Mozart was to serve.
For capricious Archbishop Markus Sitticus, who had summoned him to Salzburg, Solari also designed the gardens and hunting lodge of Hellbrunn. A villa suburbana in the manner of the Papal pleasure-palaces, it lies a few kilometers south of Salzburg at the foot of an isolated Alpine mound, the Waldemsberg, which punctuates the valley floor. Archbishop Sitticus, perhaps best known for the pleasure he took in drenching unsuspecting guests with jets of water from secreted fountains, also occupied himself with music. During his first year on the throne (1612), he received a visit from Francesco Rasi, a Tuscan poet, composer, and tenor associated with the Florentine camerata, indeed, a pupil of its most famous member, Giulio Caccini. At the turn of the century, this group of literati and musicians had preached against counterpoint and helped develop an oratorical speech-song of realistic pathos. This so-called monody or vocal solo accompanied by nonpolyphonic harmony had become the basis of opera, lately born in Florence. Rasi dedicated a collection of this "new music" to Archbishop Sitticus, who by 1616 had in his service the Veronese monodist Camillo Orlandi.
Several of the earliest performances of opera north of the Alps took place at Hellbrunn, one of whose garden sculptures clearly drew inspiration from contemporary theatrical presentations: the group in the Orpheus and Eurydice grotto (the hero playing a viol to attentive animals as Eurydice sleeps) obviously perpetuates in marble some version of the myth staged with music. In 1618 the Archbishop's courtiers heard a work about Orpheus in the open-air, arenalike stone theater on the Waldemsberg; two years earlier, during Carnival, they had attended an Orfeo given on a stage built in the Carabinieri Hall of the Salzburg Residenz. This presentation may well have been Monteverdi's Orfeo; if so, the increasingly Italianate archiepiscopal retinue heard it within a decade of its premiere at Mantua, a performance in which Rasi almost certainly had sung the title role. (Thus operas such as the adolescent Mozart's Il sogno di Scipione, written for the Residenz, simply continued a tradition whose local practice, to all appearance, went back almost to the very birth of the genre.) Sitticus, like his uncle von Raitenau before and Archbishop Colloredo after him, attended the Collegium Germanicum in Rome; all gave themselves up to Italian art, and, throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, not only Italian musicians but Italian architects, painters, and sculptors contributed weightily to the cultural life of Salzburg. It became a city not of German gables, pinnacles, and tracery, but, rather, of Mediterranean roofs, symmetrical towers, and domes. The wall decorations that the Tuscan Arsenio Mascagni painted for Markus Sitticus at Hellbrunn evidenced his new idealFlorentine and Venetian mannerism.
Less alien than the court opera were the ludi scenici. Performed at the end of the semester or during festal time on the well-equipped stage set up next to the aula (great hall) of the Benedictine university founded by Lodron, they mixed native German and imported Italian elements. An ollapodrida with a strong folk flavor, an academic presentation of this kind might combine mythology, biblical tales, and farce, and call into play pantomime, declamation, dance, song, and elaborate scenery in the baroque operatic tradition. Salzburg's academic theater had a lively spirit, and, as in Italy, intermezzilight and diverting theatricalssometimes obtruded between the acts of serious works, a Latin intermezzo, Apollo et Hyacinthus, with music by the eleven-year-old Mozart being a late example of the type. Even after Archbishop Colloredo closed Salzburg's palace and academic stages in the seventeen-seventies, the city's provincial but vigorous theatrical life continued in his Hoftheater (court theater), now open to all, made from a ballroom Lodron had constructed near the gardens of the Mirabell palace. The entrance to the new auditorium (now the site of the present Landestheater) opened diagonally across from the Tanzmeisterhaus, Mozart's Salzburg home from his seventeenth to his twenty-fifth year. Enthusiastically, he attended plays, ballets, and operas.
IN MOZART'S DAY, life in Salzburg continued to revolve about the Archbishop, the Primate of Germany. Even though in matters of policy outside the Reich (the German equivalent of the Latin Regnum and a word enmeshed in the idea of German sovereignty), he waited upon his liege, the Holy Roman Emperor, and the Imperial Diet sitting at Regensburg (in which, however, he had an authoritative voice), within the archbishopric he reigned as absolute master, a monarch elected for his lifetime and from among their number by a consistory of the cathedral's canons. They alone determined the qualifications for entry into their company. Since for the most part they belonged to collateral branches of heraldic families with roots in Bavarian lands or in Habsburg hereditary domains, power in Salzburg remained in these foreign hands. Munich and Vienna vied to capture the archbishopric for their Royal Houses: historically, Bavaria had always held itself guardian of Salzburg because of its proximity and its founding by Rupertindeed, a Bavarian duke had given him the ruins of Juvavum and its surrounding landsbut after the Thirty Years' War Austria's influence mounted. Even so, and despite political pressure, the canons wisely respected Wolf Dietrich's exhortation that both Bavarian princes and Austrian archdukes be barred from St. Rupert's throne.
Many an archbishop used his years of authority simply to exploit his subjects and to fill his and his family's pockets. "Every canon yearns for this tasty morsel," Maximilian of Bavaria observed. The canons, many of them related to ruling or departed archbishops, made up an oligarchy of clerical princes drawing splendid prebends and living in splendid state, the regal apparatus of Salzburg's ecclesiastical nobility being of a luxury out of proportion to the resources of a small principality. (Since 1612 the canons of Salzburg arrayed themselves in the great robes with trains worn by the canons of St. Peter's in Rome.)
A member of the chapter had excellent opportunities of becoming a bishop. Suffragan bishoprics subject to the metropolitan see of SalzburgRegensburg, Freising, Brixin, Gurk, Seckau, Lavant, Chiemsee, and, until 1727, Passaurequired its canons as their overlords. Thus the Salzburg chapter included bishops and, at times, cardinals, but, until a canon rose to a higher position, he had no need to take priestly vows. By Mozart's time, the regulation that a Salzburg canon lead a monastic life had long vanished: to become one of the canonsthirty-seven in number during Mozart's childhoodhe had only to prove his noble German lineage and enter the subdiaconate, a minor order demanding bachelorhood. If a bishopric did not come his way, a young cavalier-canon might resign and seek his fortune through marriage. Most canons had relatives eager to spring at any opening in the ranks of the chapter. It permitted a single family a maximum of three canons of whom only two could be brothers, a prohibition that helped keep all but a pair of families from capturing the throne more than once: the Kuenburgs three times, the Thuns twice. (No stipulations existed as to age; children rarely gained admittance, though adolescents did: Archbishop Colloredo became a Salzburg canon at fifteen, Wolf Dietrich at sixteen.) An elaborate system assured each member a chance of nominating the successor to a deceased colleague: if a canon died during a month with an odd number of days, the Pope, through the Archbishop, filled the empty seat; the canons divided the even months among themselves, every few years each member having an assigned month during which the privilege of offering a name became his. Old and ailing canons were carefully, watched during the final hours of every month, for the precise moment of death determined the future occupants of their places. However, a canon could resign in favorem and thus gain the authority to nominate his own successor. Over the niceties of this system floated the Emperor's right of preces primariae by which, during any month, he might suggest candidates to the Archbishop. Members could increase their wealth by becoming canons of more than one cathedral: Count Leopold Anton von Postatskywho helped save Mozart's life at Olmütz in 1767functioned as a canon there and at Salzburg; Colloredo at Salzburg and Passau; the Mozarts' friend and patron the Bishop of Chiemsee (Ferdinand Christoph, Count Waldburg-Zeil) at Augsburg as well as Salzburg. Especially at the highest level, the appetite for benefices became insatiable: for example, Cardinal Guidobald Thun, who held sway simultaneously as Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg and Bishop of Regensburg, strove to be Bishop of Trient, too. That Mozart grew up an acute observer of this ecclesiastical culture trading in offices and concerning itself not with God's things but Caesar's helps explain a growing estrangement from the clergy.
Though concern for the prosperity of the bourgeois or the peasant proved rare, Salzburg's unwholesome political structure possessed one merit: an elective monarchy at least precluded a succession of congenital defectives such as defiled so many of Europe's inherited thrones.
The archbishop, the canons, and a throng of predictably venal kinsmen made up Salzburg's higher aristocracy. Beneath them labored the homebred "aristocrats"the Briefadel with titles of paper. (Leopold Mozart irreverently called them "Wildenadl.") Underpaid struggling government officials, pen pushers whose cringing submissiveness had earned their advancement in the subordinate ranks of the Archbishop's highly centralized civil service, these parasitic class-conscious placemen completely identified themselves with their masters and, by untiringly extolling a system that gave their existence its only reality, glorified their own stagnation. Compared with an almost feudal Salzburg, the Paris of Louis XV appeared free and progressive. Citizens of petty German principalities lived uncomfortably close to the sources of authority and supervision and thus led more harried, regimented existences than their counterparts in France. The English traveler Mrs. Piozzi observed in Germany "a spirit of subordination beyond what I have yet been witness to ... and ... carried ... as high as I think it can be carried." The Wetzlar Goethe revealed in Werther comes to mind, in particular the mortifications the superiors of such a society could inflict. Too often an oppressed functionary reacted by harassing those beneath him. Both Mozart and his father suffered from this singularly vulgar kind of bullying.
Access to the stiff, parochial courts became the ultimate reward of these embittered bourgeois bureaucrats, who bickered endlessly about questions of precedence and status and attempted to preserve solemnities and forms of etiquette long abandoned in Paris and even in Vienna. Ironically, the doors of provincial German palaces rarely opened to the craftsmen and businessmen to whom the nation owed whatever survived of its prosperity, although nobility occasionally came to merchants like Mozart's patrons the Haffners of Salzburg, whose wealth had grown to a point that could no longer be ignored and, that, in fact, permitted purchase of the appropriate letters patent.
Salzburg had declined steadily since the Middle Ages. Centers of world commerce had shifted with changes in the great highways of trade, and though, thanks to Archbishop Lodron's diplomatic talent, the archbishopric had escaped physical destruction during the Thirty Years' War, its disasters had completed the ruin of German mercantilism. As Salzburg's economic foundations increasingly sagged, the Archbishops had ever more energetically propped and embellished its lovely façade, employing the two greatest designers of the German Baroque: Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and Johann Lukas von Hildebrant, whose styles, derived from the Italian Baroque, speak its language fluently and powerfully, but with a Teutonic intonation. Richly decorated elevations, geometric gardens, and altars choked with gilded saints and stucco angels gave an impression of municipal vigor; but the state had fallen mortally ill, its death rattle audible by the time of Mozart's adolescence. For their salaries most of the sixteen thousand inhabitants of the capital either directly or indirectly depended upon a court treasury nearing exhaustion, about a fifth of the archbishopric's population upon pensions and allowances from the same ebbing source. Most alarming had been reports of more than two hundred thousand gulden discovered scattered in drawers, cupboards, and chests in the private apartments of Colloredo's deceased predecessor, a case, if not of brigandage, then irresponsibilitymost rulers looked upon state revenue as their pocket moneyand fiscal chaos. Total collapse of the machinery of government seemed at hand.
Yet, despite its grasping princes and commercial decay, the archbishopric did retain some measure of prosperity, particularly as a hub for the forwarding of merchandise to and from Italy, above all Venice, where Salzburgers enjoyed high respect at the Fondaco dei Tedeschi (the German merchants' warehouse); firms of packers and dispatchers dealing in groceries, silks, and metal wares prospered in Salzburg, as did a number of manufacturers. In his native city, not the courtier, but, rather, the bourgeois involved in trade and the professions gave Mozart consistent support: Johann Lorenz Hagenauer, wholesale grocer and owner of the house in which the composer had been born; Ignaz Anton Weiser (a half-brother of Frau Hagenauer), originally a textile marketer and later Mayor of Salzburg; Georg Josef Robinig, a dealer in hardware whose family owned real estate, a scythe factory, and an arsenic works; the court physician, Dr. Silvester Barisani; and the family of Siegmund Haffner, the wealthy merchant and Mayor of Salzburg for the ennoblement of whose son (to Edler von Imbachhausen) Mozart wrote the Haffner Symphony, having already composed a serenade for the wedding of young Haffner's sister. The Haffners had become rich enough to imitate the ways of the Residenz, the pride and aspirations of such a family symbolizing the passing of cultural leadership from one layer of society to another. The bourgeois financiers had begun to develop into the spenders and benefactors of the new era: the younger Haffner was to leave a princely sum for charitable works.
Mozart came to manhood as erosion wore away the boundaries between the roles the middle class and the nobility played in patronage. (Pondering, in 1777, the composition of a board of sponsors who might provide his son a monthly subvention, Leopold unreservedly indicated a bias toward merchants rather than aristocrats, whom he judged unpredictable.) The often close relationship between musician and private patron, whatever his social standing, would, in fact, soon give way to the impersonal mechanism of the bourgeois subscription concert (in which many a noble enrolled). Mozart suffered the worst of both new and old, not only living through the awkward displacement in Europe's courtly civilization but also, in his earlier years, experiencing that particularly unpleasant eighteenth-century phenomenonthe all-powerful and often irascible master, in this case His Grace the Archbishop of Salzburg. Its government too often functioned with few thoughts for the well-being of those on less than commanding levels of service.
MOZART'S MOTHER OWED her childhood poverty to the shabbiness of the archiepiscopal civil service. Her father, Wolfgang Nikolaus Pertl, came from a modest background: his father had been a clothmaker, his grandfather a coachman at the Residenz. Young Pertl forced his way up the social ladder through law studies at the university of Salzburg. This schooling, along with experience in Graz as secretary to Seyfried, Duke of Krumau and Prince of Eggenberg, enabled him to enter the Archbishop's employ on a decent level, and he eventually rose through the tax office to be Secretary of the Exchequer. Four years after his marriage in November 1712 to the widow Puxbaumer (born Eva Rosina Barbara Altmann), he became deputy prefect (Pflegekommissar) of the prefecture of HüttensteinSt. Gilgen. On Christmas Day of 1720, Mozart's mother, Anna Maria Pertl, received baptism at St. Gilgen on its idyllic lake, the Abersee (today the Wolfgangsee).
Although the highest administrative and judicial authority of the prefecture (Pfleg), Pertl had miserable pay, which had to be produced by the fees, fines, and duties he collected. They proved inadequate, and he found himself borrowing from the Exchequer against his mythical wages in order to keep up the appearances his office demanded. When he died in 1724 (at the age of fifty-seven) owing more than four years' salary, the wretched system that had ruined him seized his estate. The four-year-old Anna Maria had to leave the comfortable house her father had built in St. Gilgen to be raised in Salzburg on the miserly pension awarded her mother. Anna Maria's letters, their orthography individual even for eighteenth-century Germany, reveal her scant education. But they are warm, loving, and acute in perception. Penury and what appears to have been an extended illness during adolescence did not impair her cheerful disposition. Fate fashioned a shrewd housekeeper and a sagacious, amiable mate for Mozart's father.
Unlike his wife, whose entire family had its roots in the soil of Salzburg, he came from Swabia. Johann Georg Leopold Mozart was born on 14 November 1719 in Augsburg, on the river Lech. The university drew him to Salzburg, where he married and settled. Nonetheless, he took care to petition and pay the required fee to the municipal council of his native city for permission to wed and live abroad while at the same time retaining his civic rights: Leopold clung to the security of Augsburg citizenship. As a native of a free Imperial city, he must have become alarmed by the implacable absolutism of the Salzburg Residenz. (He would develop a code for letter-writing, a naive, futile device meant to outmaneuver the Archbishop's censors.) Moreover, he wished to protect his inheritance rights. The university of Salzburg registered him as a Suevus (Swabian), and he legally remained one until 1755. In time he came to consider himself not a Swabian, not a Salzburger, certainly not an Austrian or a Bavarian, but, rather, a child of the Holy Roman Empire, a member of the deutsche Nationa German. His son took this attitude for granted and looked upon Vienna (in Leopold's words) as "the capital of his German fatherland."
Leopold descended from lower-middle-class artisans. His father, Johann Georg Mozartspelled in many ways, among them: Mozarth, Mozhard, and Mozerhad been a bookbinder of Augsburg, a publishing center; his mother, Maria Anna Sulzer, also from Augsburg, was a weaver's daughter whom Johann Georg had married a month and a half after the death of his first wife. Leopold, born in the Frauentorstrasse in Augsburg's St. George's parish, grew up on the Jesuitengasse midst the cluster of educational buildings at the heart of the Jesuit quarter, and attended its Jesuit institutions: the Principia or preparatory school of the Gymnasium of St. Salvator (1724-1729), the Gymnasium itself (1729-1735), and the Lyceum of St. Salvator, a theological-philosophical seminary (1735-1736). With its schools and colonies of printers, engravers, and painters, Augsburg boasted an academy of art; however, the city had no university, and Leopold broke off his studies at the Lyceum and quit home to seek elsewhere the privileges of higher learning and the degree of doctor. After a propitious opening year (1737) at the university of Salzburg, where he enrolled under the faculty of logic, he became a truant. Choosing not to explain his excessive absences when summoned by the dean, he found himself declared "unworthy of the name of student" and expelled in 1739. He had discovered a career outside the university's doors: by 1740 Johann Baptist, Count Thurn-Valsassina und Taxis, a canon of Salzburg cathedral and president of its consistory, had taken him into service as a musician. That year Leopold dedicated to this young prelate six trio sonatas for two violins and continuo etched on copper by the composer himself---his first printed work.
What had occasioned his apparently impetuous decision to become a musician, and how had he prepared himself for so specialized a calling?
LEOPOLD HAD FIRST turned toward music during his school days at Augsburg, learning to play the violin and organ and singing soprano for the Benedictines at the monastery of SS. Ulrich and Afra and also for the Augustines at the church of the Holy Cross. He remained essentially an autodidact in music; his instructors here were dilettantes: at the Gymnasium, Pater Balthasar Siberer, a Tirolese from Schwaz im Unterinntal, whose real disciplines embraced grammar and philosophy; at the Lyceum, Pater Georg Francklin of Hüfingen, a grammarian and natural scientist. His first violin teacher may have been Heinrich Sebastian Awerth, from Öttingen im Ries, a theologian and Prefect of St. Joseph's seminary (the Mozart family moved to quarters in one of its wings during Leopold's third year). From the fathers, Leopold learned less about music than about German speech and literary style (his exhortative letters to his son should be ranked with Chesterfield's); from them he also acquired workable Latin; a bit of Greek, French, and Italian; some science; and, most important, ordered argument and proper work habits. Augsburg's Jesuit schools formed the basis of his considerable culture. In turn, he passed on the best of their scholastic traditions to Wolfgang, who, other than in music, had no preceptor but his father.
Until his voice broke, Leopold regularly acted and sang in those Latin plays and ambitious spectacles traditional at the end of the school term. (At the age of five, his son would make his first appearance on a stage in just such a work, Sigismundus Hungariae Rex, little Wolfgang figuring among the dancers [salii].) In Salzburg, Leopold would gain a reputation for dramatic creations: cantatas for Easter Week and music for a student play, Antiquitas personata (1742), performed in the small aula of the university.
His adolescent enthusiasm for music at first remained subordinate to an ambition to enter the Church. Johann Georg Grabherr, a canon in the chapter of Augsburg's St. Peter's am Perlach and a witness at the marriage of Leopold's parents, had godfathered him. But his early resolve to be ordainedno doubt born when Canon Grabherr showed interest in his educationbegan to weaken and then shattered with father Mozart's death in 1736. Franziskus Erasmus Freisinger, a fellow student of Leopold's at St. Salvator's, later recalled the growth of his musical ability and the guile with which he kept from the Jesuits his uncertainties about becoming a priest. He had to hoodwink them as long as possible: his father dead, Leopold depended upon them for support. They became his parents and, in respect to not only education but also character, molded the boy; their mark remained upon the man: with his inveterate tendency to teach, preach, and indulge in exegetics, he retained the manner of a classic Jesuit throughout his lifeintellectual, ambitious, suave, and frequently cunning, his personality dominated by a brooding melancholy relieved by sallies of sardonic humor.
He determined to cut a grand figure. Whatever his doubts about a future calling, clearly study at a university would offer the increasingly cultured youth an opportunity to rise above the artisan family he was coming to despise. Despite sharp social distinctions, the sons of patricians, merchants, and civil servants mixed freely with poor boys on scholarship at German universities, which, fostering careers in administration and law, opened the only reliable route by which a young man of insecure social caste might break loose from the condition of his birth. Leopold saw the university as his only means of deliverance, especially as his widowed mother, preoccupied with her younger children, neglected his needs.
Forced to survive on Jesuit stipends, Leopold felt abandoned and learned to loathe her. (He always maintained that she had cheated him of his inheritance, and, shortly before Wolfgang's birth, made a final and ineffectual attempt to get his share.) She may have felt justified in leaving him to the obliging Jesuits and devoting the funds from her husband's bookbindery to the youngsters who might eventually follow their father's profession. Leopold's two brothers did in fact become bookbinders: Joseph Ignaz Mozart (1725-1796) and Franz Aloys Mozart (1727-1791), the first establishing his own business, the second maintaining his father's shop in the Jesuitengasse. (In addition, the year of his son's birth, Leopold still had two sisters. It would appear that the entire family opposed his receiving any legatary settlement.)
Neither affection nor understanding linked the quarrelsome, pugnacious Maria Anna and her eldest son. She distrusted him and "little by little," so he charged, allowed "the other children to gain control of her substance." As she approached her sixtieth birthday, signs of senility appeared; in 1755 Leopold wrote his publisher, Johann Jakob Lotter of Augsburg: "That she is both pitiful and not entirely rational is, alas, all too true, were she 1,000 times my mother." Inflating Hamlet's "ten times," he identified Maria Anna with Queen Gertrude, an accessory to making her son, the heir apparent, into an outsider. Yet Leopold seemed content to leave his mother to heaven. She died on 11 December 1766, having lived into the era of her prodigy grandson's success. Intractable, she had held aloof from his performances in Augsburg, her declining faculties no doubt reinforcing her hostility; the rift between her and Leopold had been unbridgeable since his young manhood.
WHEN THE JESUIT fathers learned of his intent to shun the priesthood, they ceased to bother themselves about his future. With their patronage he might have gone on to a Jesuit university in Swabia or Bavariato Dillingen or Ingolstadt. The Mozart family had associations with the lovely town of Dillingen, where Leopold's great-grandfather, the master mason David Mozart (1620-1685), had worked on the parish church of SS. Peter and Paul. But the resourceful Leopold, who had learned to survive by his wits, revived ties with the Benedictines of St. Ulrich's. One of them, Rupert Sembler, was about to join the faculty of the university of Salzburg. He prepared the way for Leopold's matriculation and had the pleasure of conferring the baccalaureate upon him in the summer of 1738. Leopold furnished the information for his biographical sketch published by Marpurg in 1757; it tells of university studies in philosophy (Weltweisheit) and law.
How Leopold supported himself as a student in Salzburg remains obscure. In all likelihood he turned his musical talent into money, at the same time taking further musical training. He must have found arduous the scramble for a living, studies in music, and pursuit of the doctoral curriculum. Moreover, the period of "youthful dalliance" (jugendlichen Narrenspossen), to which he vaguely and ruefully alluded in maturer years"the devil prompted evil thoughts in me"no doubt ran its course at this time. He gave up work on the doctorate.
Upon his arrival in Salzburg he had called upon Johann Ernst Eberlin, an organist at the cathedral. Of Swabian descent, he presumably became the adviser of this young compatriot whose situation must have awakened his sympathy: indigence likewise had impelled him to quit his studies at the university of Salzburg; like Leopold, he had been a student at Augsburg's Gymnasium of St. Salvator and participated in its dramatic productions. In time Leopold came to honor Eberlin's musical mastery and held up his compositions to Wolfgang as models.
That financial want drove Leopold from the lecture hall and turned him into a professional musician he intimated in his preface (in Italian) to his trio sonatas. He did not simply turn to account the fawning characteristic of inscriptions to princely patrons when describing how the Swabian Count Thurn-Valsassina, in all probability prompted by Eberlin, had torn him "suddenly from the cruel darkness of need." Nonetheless, Leopold resented his situation as a valet de chambre (Kammerdiener), a household domestic serving the Count's needs on the same anonymous level as the menials tending his toilette. Nor was Leopold less a lackey when, in 1743, with the help of Eberlin and the Count, he secured a provisional place as fourth violinist in the Archbishop's orchestra, a position that became permanent only in 1747, with an annual salary of two hundred forty florins, along with an allowance for bread and wine of four florins and thirty kreuzer a month.
He yearned to climb above the low social status to which he found himself restricted. Always striving to become part of that amorphous middle class of university teachers, lawyers, and lower court officials, he would attempt to clothe himself in the dignity of a scholar, his treatise on the violin of 1756 being, in a sense, his academic apologia. He began to call himself "Dr." Mozart. (His socially pretentious family for a brief while even attempted to assume the titular "de Mozart"!) The condescending tone rings false in his letter of 18 October 1777 wherein he discusses the education of Jakob Wilhelm Benedikt Langenmantel, his contemporary at both St. Salvator's and the university of Salzburg. Langenmantel had gone on to earn his doctorate at Innsbruck and then advanced through the civil service of Augsburg, eventually becoming its Chief Prefect. (Although the doctorate did not command the prestige of such a title, it had some pretension to privilege; and Langenmantel held both degree and position.) At one time Leopold must have hoped for his kind of administrative career and rank.
When the musical precocity of his sonwhom he dragged across Europe and exhibited like a dancing bearopened the palaces of the great to them both, he relished those delicious moments when he could play the man of quality. Leopold's voice sounds through his son's later observation that "a courtier cannot make himself into a kapellmeister, but a kapellmeister can certainly be a courtier." In Rome, during April of 1770, Leopold thrust himself before the Pope in a bold maneuver "all the more amazing," he exulted, "in that we [he and Wolfgang] had to pass through two doors watched over by Swiss Guards in armor and push through many hundreds of people.... But fine clothes, the German language, and the practiced freedom with which I had my servant call out in German to the Swiss Guards to make way, helped us through everywhere. They took Wolfgang for a German cavalier; others even believed him a princean idea the servant did not discourageand I was presumed his tutor" (see p. 270).
He enjoyed such adventures. How he delighted in the fluid, even promiscuous social atmosphere of great citiesLondon, Paris, even staid Viennawhere bourgeois, artist, and aristocrat mixed in drawing room and theater, where pedigree saluted talent. But upon his return to Salzburg he again had to pull on the livery of a musical lackey. When the better-known Michael Haydn became part of the Archbishop's musical household, he received permission to dine at the officers' table, a privilege never accorded the Mozarts. Much that his peers accepted as custom, Leopold felt as indignity. He had the self-consciousness of a new age: although uncertain what his place in society should be, he rejected the one it forced him to occupy.
This tendency came to the surface with histrionic directness in his petition (December 1747) to dwell as a married man in Salzburg while retaining Augsburg citizenship. Here he not only drew a picture of his father as a still vital worthy to whom he owed thanks for sponsoring his well-spent university career in Salzburg, but also described his bride as the daughter of a prosperous family. The document may be viewed as a fantasy substituting a resurrected, generous father for an unsympathetic, stingy mother and transforming both a failed student into an accomplished scholar and a penniless country girl into an heiress; or the petition may appear, in plainer words, as a parade of shameless lies, all the more foolish in that the simplest inquiries could have unmasked them. The intriguing exercise has at its heart the germ of that delight in pretense and self-aggrandizement that would become a lifelong trait.
If Goethe could manage to pose successfully as a patrician and even to reject without compunction the fact that his grandfather had been a ladies' tailor, these airs on his and his father's part came off well because the clever tailor had become a successful innkeeper and wine merchant and left behind a fortune of ninety thousand florins. Leopold lacked such an advantage, and his final attempt to get a portion of his father's estate appears to have been born of desperation. Having failed, he placed the burden of his hopes upon his son's tiny shoulders.
Leopold's resentment continued deep, and, despite an authoritarian Jesuit background and devotion to the rituals of Catholicism, he became increasingly critical of the inequities in contemporary social, political, and religious institutions, of infamy and corruption conveniently symbolized for him by the despotic ecclesiastical government of Salzburg. His extended tours with Wolfgang opened his mind to the influence of the Enlightenment. But, to an extent, his days at the university had prepared him for the new ideas. Winds of change had long been blustering through the great capitals of Europe, and even in sleepy, provincial Salzburg occasional gusts had freshened the air.
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