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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The Script.    Episode 1.

Part 1: Family and Early Years.    1756 - 1762

Eine Kleine
Nachtmusik K 525

MOZART:       Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor
                        imagination nor both together go to the making of genius.
                        Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.

NARRATOR: The Life and Music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart by Shaun MacLoughlin and Bob Pierson.

Mozart also said:
MOZART: Melody is the very essence of music.


Laudate Dominum
Emma Fontenot
K 339
Mozart as a boy
Mozart as a boy,
possibly by Pietro Lorenzoni
His Serenade in G minor, better known as a Little Night Music has long been one of his most popular pieces and was perhaps written out of love for his father, Leopold, who died in 1787 shortly before its composition.


Leopold had been deputy Kapellmeister to the court orchestra of the Archbishop of Salzburg, and Wolfgang's mother was Anna Maria Pertl Mozart.  Salzburg is now in Austria, but was then part of the Holy Roman Empire.  Wolfgang was born on 27th January 1756 and baptized the day after his birth at St. Rupert's Cathedral.  He had five older siblings, who had died in infancy, and one older sister who survived.

Leopold Mozart
Leopold Mozart
The name Wolfgang means walk like a wolf.  It predicts hardiness, alertness and rapidity, qualities which he possessed in abundance. Amadeus means loved by God.

Given the precariousness of life in those days, Mozart continuously proclaimed his devotion and piety.


This is attested by many such beautiful works as Laudate Dominum, his setting of psalm 66.

Anna Maria Pertl Mozart
Anna Maria
Pertl Mozart

However there was another side to Wolfgang.   He lived only thirty five years, but he lived them at a wolf's pace.  His success came from this quality, as well as from playfulness, passion, ease and pleasure.

His father tells a story of the budding musical prodigy, when he was only two:

LEOPOLD MOZART He heard a pig squeal.  "G-sharp!" he exclaimed.  I promptly ran to a piano; G-sharp it was.
NARRATOR: He was still just 4 years old when he learnt to play his first piece of music. A family friend, Johann Andreas Schachtner, the violinist and court trumpeter, describes a visit to the Mozart household.
SCHACHTNER: I found little Wolfgang, then only four, very busy with his pen.  His father asked:
LEOPOLD: What are you doing?
MOZART AS A BOY: I am writing a concerto for the clavier.  It will soon be done.
LEOPOLD: Let me see it.
MOZART AS A BOY: It's not finished yet.
LEOPOLD:  Never mind.  Let me see it.  It must be very fine.
SCHACHTNER: He took it and showed it to me.  Tears of wonder and delight fell from his eyes.
LEOPOLD: Look, Herr Schachtner!  How correct and how orderly it is.  Only it could never be of any use, for it is so extraordinarily difficult that no-one could play it
MOZART AS A BOY: That's why it's a concerto.  It must be practised till it's perfect.
SCHACHTNER: He had at that time a firm conviction that playing concertos and working miracles were one and the same!
NARRATOR: Later Leopold wrote:
LEOPOLD: He mastered the minuet and trio the day before his fifth birthday, in just thirty minutes, at 9.30 p.m., January 26th, 1761.
Piano Concerto 23
K 488
This was an unusual time for a child to be playing; especially in an age without electric light.

Later in life, he created such 'miracles' as his Piano Concerto number 23.


In his book The Mozart Effect  Don Campbell describes the work of Dr. Alfred Tomatis, who has established the curative power of music, especially of Mozart.  As Don Campbell says:
CAMPBELL: Clearly the rhythms, melodies and high frequencies of Mozart's music stimulate and charge the creative regions of the brain.  He is at once mysterious and accessible.  His wit, charm and simplicity allow us to locate a deeper wisdom in ourselves.

NARRATOR: The music also has a practical curative effect.  According to the British Epilepsy Organization Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 is remarkably effective in lessening the effects of epilepsy.


To return to his life story, Wolfgang's only sibling to survive past birth was Maria Anna, called "Nannerl".  When Nannerl was seven, she began keyboard lessons with her father; and her three-year-old brother would look on, evidently fascinated.  Years later, after his death, she reminisced:
Mozart as a boy at the klavier
Young Mozart at the klavier
He spent much time at the clavier, and his pleasure showed that it sounded good.

In the fourth year of his age his father, for a game as it were, began to teach him a few minuets and pieces at the clavier.

He could play it faultlessly and with the greatest delicacy, and keeping exactly in time.
Salzburg: an engraving by Anton Amon, after Franz von Naumann, 1791
Salzburg: an engraving
by Anton Amon, after Franz von Naumann, 1791
While Leopold was a devoted teacher to his children, Wolfgang was keen to make progress beyond what he was being taught.

His precocious efforts with the violin were on his own initiative and came as a great surprise to Leopold, who was Wolfgang's only teacher in his earliest years and who taught his children languages and academic subjects as well as music.

Part 2: Years of Travel.    1762 – 1773

The Mozart family on tour. Watercolor by Carmontelle, ca. 1763
The Mozart family on tour,
by Carmontelle, ca. 1763
Leopold realised that Nannerl and particularly Wolfgang were infant prodigies.  He saw Wolfgang not only as musician and composer, but also as a ticket to fame, fortune and a comfortable pension.  He planned what was called "the Great West Tour" to take them to European cities to perform for royalty, aristocracy and the rising middle class.

The unpaved roads were so full of potholes and mud that a day's journey of 30 miles at two and half miles an hour would take 12 hours.  City gates closed at sunset; there were highway robbers and the inns were primitive.  Their first trip was a short one to Munich, where they were warmly received by Maximillian III of Bavaria and where Wolfgang played the new pianoforte for the first time.

Their next trip was to Vienna.  On the way young Wolfgang charmed customs officials.
LEOPOLD: We managed to bypass customs altogether, thanks entirely to little Wolfgang, who instantly befriended the officer on duty, showing off his clavier, playing a minuet on the fiddle, and then inviting the officer to call on us.  The customs officer accepted this kind offer.  And that's all there was to it.  We were through!
NARRATOR: They reached Ybbs on the River Danube
LEOPOLD Where two friars, whom we had met on the boat said Masses - in the course of which our Wolfgang went to the organ and played so brilliantly that the resident Franciscans, who were lunching with guests, abandoned their meal at once and rushed to the choir loft.  There they almost expired with astonishment.
NARRATOR: The family's reputation preceded them to Vienna, from where Leopold wrote of their meeting with Maria Theresa and Francis I:
Schonbrunn Palace by Canaletto 1758
Schonbrunn Palace by Canaletto 1758
Everyone says that the boy's genius is incomprehensible.  At Schönbrunn Palace their Majesties received us with such extraordinary graciousness that, when I shall tell of it, people will declare that I have made it up.  Suffice it to say that Wolferl jumped up on the Empress' lap, put his arms round her neck and kissed her heartily.


Marie Antoinette aged 7
Marie Antoinette aged 7
Maria Theresa gave Wolfgang a lilac coloured suit with gold braid, while Nannerl received a pink silk ball dress that had been part of the wardrobe of her seven year old daughter, Marie Antoinette.

One story told is that on being presented to the future Queen, Mozart, who was a year younger than her, promptly announced.

One day, I will marry you.

Instead she married the French King Louis XV and was guillotined by Parisian revolutionaries.

While still in Vienna Leopold promised the French ambassador that he would take the children to Paris.
Map of Mozart's journey 1763


Horn Concerto 4
K 495
A long concert tour spanning three and a half years followed, taking the family to the courts of Munich, Mannheim, Brussels, Paris, London, The Hague, and back home via Paris, Geneva, Zürich and Munich.  The first journey from Salzburg to Paris took five months.


His Horn Concerto Number 4, which he wrote much later, provides good travelling music.  It was written for his friend from childhood, Joseph Leutgeb, who was a skilled horn player.

Leopold, aware that time was not on their side lowered the boy's age. Miraculously Wolfgang remained seven for two years.


In Paris the German ambassador, Baron Friedrich von Grimm described Leopold.
GRIMM: The father is a respectable, sensible man of considerable intelligence - and never have I seen a musician, who combined his natural talent with such an amazing knack for raking in the money.
NARRATOR: It seems that Leopold was trying to strike a delicate balance between true art and the tawdry values of a freak circus show.  One so-called concert announcement, no doubt penned by Leopold, proclaimed:
LEOPOLD: The boy will play a concerto on the violin, accompany symphonies on the clavier, completely cover the keyboard, and play on the cloth as well, as though he had the keyboard under his eyes.
NARRATOR: Another announcement boasted:
LEOPOLD: Miss Mozart of eleven and Master Mozart of Seven Years of Age, Prodigies of Nature; taking the opportunity of representing to the public, the greatest Prodigy that Europe or that Human Nature has to boast of.

Everybody will be astonished to hear a Child of such tender Age, playing the harpsichord in such a perfection.


Mozart Presentation to Madame de Pompadour in 1763, at Versailles, by Vicente Garcia de Paredes
Mozart Presentation to
Madame de Pompadour
in 1763, at Versailles, by
Vicente Garcia de Paredes
On Christmas Eve the Mozarts moved to Versailles for two weeks, long enough to give them a taste of life in that most famous of all European courts.  Leopold remarked:

Madame de Pompadour is still a handsome woman.  She is extremely haughty and rules over everything.

The Marquise may have been distant and aloof, but that was not the case with Queen Maria and Louis XV.

The royal couple invited the Mozarts to dinner on New Year's Day.
LEOPOLD: My Wolfgang was graciously privileged to stand beside the Queen the whole time, to talk constantly to her, entertain her and kiss her hands repeatedly, besides partaking of the dishes which she handed him from the table.  I stood beside him, and on the other side of the King stood my wife and daughter.
NARRATOR: Journey to England In Paris Mozart's first composition was published, a violin sonata in five movements.  An eight year old Mozart had moved from performer to composer.

Once more on their journey, young Mozart let his imagination wander far beyond the cramped confines of the carriage.  He invented an imaginary land and named it the Kingdom of Back.  It is interesting that for Wolfgang, who apart from his sister, met only adults, all the inhabitants were children.  Later his sister wrote:
NANNERL: Why by this name, I can no longer recall.  This kingdom and its inhabitants were endowed with everything that could make good and happy children out of them.  Little Wolferl himself was the king of Back, and became so immersed in its administration that he persuaded Sebastian Winter, our family servant, to make a map of it and dictated to him the names of all the cities, villages and market towns.
NARRATOR: London was then Europe's most populous city and also a lively and lucrative musical market.  The lure was too tempting to resist.  In April 1764 Leopold hired a boat in Calais to carry them across the channel.
LEOPOLD: I christen it "The Maxglanerbach".
NARRATOR: He joked.  This was in reference to a tiny stream near Salzburg.  But the crossing was no fun at all. They were miserably seasick.  However within days of arrival in London they were received by the affable young King George III and Queen Charlotte.
King George III
King George III
The King presented him with music by Wagenseil, Bach, Abel and Handel, and he played them all at first sight.  He played the King's own organ so well that people said his organ playing was better than his piano playing. Next, he accompanied the Queen in a song, and a flute player in a flute and piano piece.  In short, his knowledge, when he left home is but a shadow of his knowledge now.   It's beyond belief.

At every court, it's true, we've been received astonishingly graciously, but what we've experienced in England outshines the rest.
NARRATOR: At this time there was a burgeoning middle-class in London.  Never one to miss a business opportunity, Leopold discovered a new venue, as evidenced in the Public Advertiser
LEOPOLD: Mr. Mozart, who has been obliged by the Desire of several Ladies and Gentlemen to postpone his departure from England, takes this opportunity to inform the public, that he has taken the great Room in the Swan and Harp Tavern in Cornhill, where he will give an opportunity to all the Curious to hear these two young Prodigies perform every day from Twelve to Three.  Admittance two shillings and sixpence each person.
NARRATOR: During this trip Mozart met a great number of musicians and acquainted himself with the works of other composers.  A particularly important influence was Johann Christian Bach, the youngest son of Johann Sebastian Bach, who had lived in Italy, the home of opera, and was now based in London.  His father wrote:
LEOPOLD: His mind is now occupied with an opera, which he is hoping to put on back in Salzburg, with only young people.
Map of Mozart's journey 1763


Horn Concerto 2
K 417
They left London and travelled back through Calais, Lille and the Hague, where Mozart performed for William of Orange.  Thence to Amsterdam, back to Paris, Germany, Switzerland and finally home to Salzburg after three years travel.

Here is his Horn Concerto Number 2, some more 'outdoorsy', travelling music that he composed later in 1783.


As a boy he had been terrified of the horn, but now he was able, jokingly, to dedicate it to his childhood friend, Joseph Leitgeb:
MOZART: W. A. Mozart took pity on Leitgeb, ass, ox and fool in Vienna on 27 May 1783.
NARRATOR:  Also later referring to his musical composing, he wrote:
MOZART: When I am travelling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep; it is on such occasions that ideas flow best and most abundantly.
NARRATOR: Don Campbell in The Mozart Effect writes:
CAMPBELL: He could imagine one piece as he wrote down another.  He seemed to see a whole composition before he committed himself to paper.  He once wrote to his father.
MOZART: Everything has been composed, but not yet written down.

Opera Buffa
Meanwhile he disciplined himself to learn counterpoint and three foreign languages: English, French and Italian.  As a cosmopolitan artist he would need to communicate with the world and a good command of Italian was imperative, if he wanted to compose arias and operas.

He was eleven, but he worked like an adult, and he composed his first opera Apollo and Hyacinthus and a Mass.

After a few months they visited Vienna, where Wolfgang and Nannerl contracted small pox. Leopold had six masses said for Wolfgang's recovery but only one for Nannerl's.  In the 18th Century many died of the disease.  The children recovered, though both were left permanently scarred with pockmarks.

Franz Anton Messmer hypnotising a patient
Franz Anton Messmer
hypnotising a patient
A year later he composed another opera, Bastien and Bastienne.  This had its premiere at the home of Dr. Anton Messmer, who gave his name to the English word mesmerise.  Messmer had studied the influence of the Moon and the planets on the human body and on disease, and later developed cures through hypnosis.  He was also a patron of the arts and, it is believed, organised a production of Bastien and Bastienne in his garden.

Many people thought it was impossible for a twelve year old to compose an opera and that it must be faked.  But audiences were astonished when they saw Wolfgang perform.
LEOPOLD: These days people make fun of miracles.  So you have to put them right.  It was very satisfying - a personal victory to hear someone say, "Today, for the first timer in my life, I have witnessed a miracle."
NARRATOR: Due as Leopold saw it to the machinations of his enemies, only one of the two operas was performed, but the Mass, performed in the chapel of a Viennese orphanage, received much praise.
LEOPOLD: Wolfgang's Mass with the Imperial family in attendance and Wolfgang himself conducting, has repaired the damage our enemies sought to do by blocking the opera, and convinced the court and the public - who turned up in droves - of the malevolence of our rivals!
NARRATOR: The composer himself was later to write:
MOZART: I pay no attention whatever to anybody's praise or blame.  I follow my own feelings.
NARRATOR: One of Wolfgang's admirers was Johann Hasse, the official composer of the court.
HASSE: The boy is handsome, vivacious, graceful and full of good manners.  It is difficult to avoid loving him.  I am sure that, if his development keeps pace with his years, he will be a prodigy.
Prince Archbishop Sigismund Christoph von Schrattenbach
Prince Archbishop Sigismund
Christoph von Schrattenbach
Back in Salzburg Prince Archbishop Schrattenbach recognised the boy's talents by naming him as court concertmaster.  This post carried no stipend, but the Prince graciously awarded Wolfgang 250 ducats.

Leopold knew exactly what to do with his son's money.

Within two weeks on 13 December 1769, leaving the women at home, father and son set out across the Alps, for Italy, the land of opera.


Episode 2: Mozart's Travels.


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