The Letters Of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1769-1791
By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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A full and authentic edition of Mozart's Letters ought to require no special apology; for, though their essential substance has already been made known by quotations from biographies by Nissen, Jahn, and myself, taken from the originals, still in these three works the letters are necessarily not only very imperfectly given, but in some parts so fragmentary, that the peculiar charm of this correspondence—namely, the familiar and confidential mood in which it was written at the time—is entirely destroyed. It was only possible to restore, and to enable others to enjoy this charm—a charm so novel, even to those already conversant with Mozart's life, that the most familiar incidents acquire fresh zest from it—by an ungarbled edition of these letters. This is what I now offer, feeling convinced that it will be welcome not only to the mass of Mozart's admirers, but also to professional musicians; for in them alone...


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


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On the 22d of December, 1777, Mozart's father wrote as follows to Padre Martini in Bologna:—"My son has been now five years in the service of our Prince, at a mere nominal salary, hoping that by degrees his earnest endeavors and any talents he may possess, combined with the utmost industry and most unremitting study, would be rewarded; but in this hope we find ourselves deceived. I forbear all allusion to our Prince's mode of thinking and acting; but he was not ashamed to declare that my son knew nothing, and that he ought to go to the musical training school in Naples to learn music. And why did he say all this? In order to intimate that a young man should not be so absurd as to believe that he deserved a rather higher salary after such a decisive verdict had issued from the lips of a prince. This...


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100. Paris, March 24, 1778. YESTERDAY (Monday, the 23d), at four o'clock in the afternoon, we arrived here, thank God! safely, having been nine days and a half on our journey. We thought we really could not have gone through with it; in my life I never was so wearied. You may easily imagine what it was to leave Mannheim and so many dear kind friends, and then to travel for ten days, not only without these friends, but without any human being—without a single soul whom we could associate with or even speak to. Now, thank Heaven! we are at our destination, and I trust that, with the help of God, all will go well. To-day we are to take a fiacre and go in quest of Grimm and Wendling. Early to-morrow I intend to call on the Minister of the Palatinate, Herr von Sickingen, (a great connoisseur and...


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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...