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Archbishop Schrattenbach, who died on 16 December 1771, the day after Wolfgang's return from the second Italian tour, was succeeded in March 1772 by Hieronymus Colloredo. An unpopular choice whose election was bitterly contested, Colloredo sought to modernize the archdiocese on the Viennese model, but his reform, while generally favouring cultural life in the city by attracting numerous prominent writers and scientists, met with local resistance. The court music in particular suffered, and many traditional opportunities for music-making were eliminated: the university theatre, where school dramas (the nearest Salzburg equivalent to opera) had been performed regularly since the 17th century, was closed in 1778; the Mass was generally shortened; restrictions were placed on the performance of purely instrumental music as well as some instrumentally accompanied sacred vocal music at the cathedral and other churches; and numerous local traditions, including the firing of cannons and the carrying of pictures and statues during church processions as well as the famous pilgrimage to Pinzgau, were abolished. Concerts at court were curtailed; in a letter of 17 September 1778 Leopold Mozart complained:
Yesterday I was for the first time [this season] the director of the great concert at court. At present the music ends at around 8.15. Yesterday it began around 7.00 and, as I left, 8.15 struck – thus an hour and a quarter. Generally only four pieces are done: a symphony, an aria, a symphony or concerto, then an aria, and with this, Addio!
Certainly these changes profoundly influenced traditional composition and performance in Salzburg. Yet they also encouraged other kinds of musical activity. In 1775 Colloredo ordered that the Ballhaus in the Hannibalgarten be rebuilt, at the city's expense, as a theatre for both spoken drama and opera. The first troupe to play there, directed by Carl Wahr, included in its repertory the comedy Der Zerstreute (after J.F. Regnard), with incidental music by Joseph Haydn (Symphony no.60, ‘Il distratto’), while Gebler's tragedy Thamos, König in Ägypten may have been performed with incidental music by Mozart. Schikaneder's troupe visited in 1780; Mozart composed the aria kAnh.11a (of which only a fragment survives) for his production of Die zwei schlaftlosen Nächte (Edge, K1996). Private orchestras were also established, the first of them by Colloredo's nephew, Count Johann Rudolf Czernin. Nevertheless, Colloredo's reforms served ultimately to impoverish Salzburg's musical life, and his policy of promoting Italians at the expense of local German talent – Domenico Fischietti was appointed Kapellmeister in 1772, and Giacomo Rust in 1777 – was a frequent cause for complaint. This may have been a sticking-point for Leopold Mozart in particular, who as deputy Kapellmeister since 1763 had reasonable expectations for promotion; as early as 1763 he had lamented the power and influence of Italian musicians in Germany, attributing his failure to secure an audience with Duke Carl Eugen of Württemberg to the intrigues of his Ober-Kapellmeister, Jommelli. In Paris in 1764 he wrote to Hagenauer: ‘If I had one single wish that I could see fulfilled in the course of time, it would be to see Salzburg become a court which made a tremendous sensation in Germany with its own local people’.
Mozart composed prolifically during the early years of Colloredo's rule: between 1772 and 1774 he wrote the masses k167, 192 and 194, the litanies k125 and 195, the Regina coeli k127, more than a dozen symphonies (from k124 to k202), the Keyboard Concerto k175 (possibly for organ) and the Concertone for two solo violins k190, the serenade k203, the divertimentos k131, 166 and 205 and the Quintet k174 (presumably modelled on similar works by Michael Haydn; see Seiffert, in Eisen and Seiffert, N1994). Financially the family prospered: in late 1773 they moved from their apartment in the Getreidegasse, where they had lodged with the Hagenauers, to a larger one, the so-called Tanzmeisterhaus, in the Hannibalplatz (now the Makartplatz). No doubt this move reflected Leopold's consciousness of their status in Salzburg society: the family was socially active, taking part in shooting parties and in constant music-making and often receiving visitors. Nevertheless, encouraged by rumours of a possible opening at the imperial court, Leopold took Wolfgang to Vienna in July 1773. Nothing came of this, but the sojourn, which lasted four months, was a productive one for Mozart: he composed a serenade (k185, possibly intended as a Salzburg Finalmusik) and six string quartets (k168–73). The more intense style of the quartets (two of which, k168 and 173, include fugal finales) has traditionally been attributed to Mozart's presumed contact with Joseph Haydn's latest quartets, in particular opp.9, 17 and 20, although it is more likely that they reflect common elements of the Viennese quartet at the time (Brown, H1992).
Mozart returned from Vienna in late September, and with the exception of three months spent in Munich between December 1774 and March 175 for the composition and première of La finta giardiniera, the libretto of which is generally thought to have been prepared by Coltellini after Goldoni, he remained in his native city until September 1777. In the absence of any sustained family correspondence, his activities can only be surmised; no doubt they included performing at court and in the cathedral, frequent musical gatherings at home, considerable social activity and composition. Among the few documented events of these years are the composition of Il re pastore for the visit to Salzburg of Archduke Maximilian Franz on 23 April 1774 and Mozart's participation in celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the pilgrimage church at Maria Plain in 1774.
It was about this time that Mozart began to withdraw from the Salzburg court music although the root cause of his dissatisfaction remains unclear. The family letters document Leopold's frustrating inability to find suitable positions for both of them; they frequently complain of longstanding troubles with Colloredo, who is described as rude and insensitive. There was also the irritation of being outdone in the court music by Italians, who were better paid than local musicians. Yet there is no compelling evidence of Colloredo's mistreatment of the Mozarts early in his rule. Wolfgang's serenata Il sogno di Scipione, originally composed for the 50th anniversary of Schrattenbach's ordination, was reworked early in 1772 and performed as part of the festivities surrounding Colloredo's enthronement; on 21 August 1772 he was formally taken into the paid employment of the court, as Konzertmeister (a post he had held in an honorary capacity for nearly three years) with an annual salary of 150 gulden, while Leopold continued to run the court music on a periodic basis and was entrusted with securing musicians, music and instruments; and the Mozarts travelled to Italy, Vienna and Munich. Their discontent with Salzburg – and Colloredo's eventual rejection of them – must therefore have had grounds beyond the conditions of their employment, Colloredo's difficult personality, his attempts to reform music-making in Salzburg or his general belt-tightening.
No doubt Colloredo was displeased by Leopold's excessive pride and his superior manner (in November 1766 Leopold had written, ‘after great honours, insolence is absolutely not to be stomached’) and in particular by his continuing attempts to leave the court. Both in Italy (1770–71) and in Vienna (1773) Leopold had attempted to find jobs that would permit the family to leave Salzburg, and not for the first time. As early as 30 October 1762, when he was in Vienna, he wrote a thinly veiled threat to Hagenauer: ‘If only I knew what the future will finally bring. For one thing is certain: I am now in circumstances which allow me to earn my living in Vienna’; and in London he was offered a post that, after much consideration, he rejected. Leopold frequently wrote of his plans in his letters home, often in cypher, to prevent them from being read and understood by the Salzburg censors. But it is likely that they were well known to Colloredo, who had good connections both in Vienna and in Italy. Maria Theresa's description of the family as like ‘beggars’ may have represented a common view among some of the European nobility.
Mozart's rejection of court musical life was transparent. He continued to compose church music, the primary duty of all Salzburg composers, but with little enthusiasm: his output between 1775 and 1777, including the masses k220, 257–9, 262 and 275, the litany k243 and the offertory k277, was meagre compared with Michael Haydn's. Instead, Mozart established himself as the chief composer in Salzburg of instrumental and secular vocal music. Four violin concertos (k211, 216, 218 and 219; k207 was composed earlier, in 1773) and four keyboard concertos (k238, k242 for three keyboards, k246 for two and k271, presumably for the otherwise unknown French pianist Mlle Jeunehomme), the serenades k204 and 250, the ‘Serenata notturna’ k239 and numerous divertimentos (including k188, 240, 247 and 252) all date from this time; he also composed several arias, including Si mostra la sorte k209, Con ossequio, con rispetto k210, Voi avete un cor fedele k217 and Ombra felice … Io ti lascio k255. It is likely that Mozart's cultivation of instrumental music, which in many cases he wrote for private patrons rather than the court, was encouraged by Leopold, who during his heyday had been the most prominent and successful local composer of symphonies and serenades. Yet this may also have been a miscalculation. Leopold apparently failed to recognize that the conditions of musical life in the archdiocese, to say nothing of musical taste, had changed since the 1750s.
Matters came to a head in the summer of 1777. In August Mozart wrote a petition asking the archbishop for his release from employment, and Colloredo responded by dismissing both father and son. Leopold, however, felt he could not afford to leave Salzburg, and so Mozart set out with his mother on 23 September. The purpose of the journey was clear: Mozart was to secure well-paid employment (preferably at Mannheim, which Leopold had described in a letter of 13 November 1777 as ‘that famous court, whose rays, like those of the sun, illuminate the whole of Germany’) so that the family could move. Mozart first called at Munich, where he offered his services to the elector but met with a polite refusal. In Augsburg he gave a concert including several of his recent works and became acquainted with the keyboard instrument maker J.A. Stein; in a letter of 17 October he described Stein's pianos as damping
ever so much better than [Späth's] instruments. When I strike hard, I can keep my finger on the note or raise it, but the sound ceases the moment I have produced it. In whatever way I touch the keys, the tone is always even. It never jars, it is never stronger or weaker or entirely absent; in a word, it is always even.
He also embarked on a relationship with his cousin, Maria Anna Thekla (the ‘Bäsle’), with whom he later engaged in a scatological correspondence. Although obscene humour was typical of Salzburg (Mozart's parents sometimes wrote to each other in a similar vein), Solomon (F1995) has argued that the relationship between Wolfgang and the Bäsle may have been sexual; Schroder (F1999) offers a more contextualized reading of the letters.
From Augsburg Mozart and his mother went on to Mannheim, where they remained until the middle of March. Wolfgang became friendly with the Konzertmeister, Christian Cannabich, the Kapellmeister, Ignaz Holzbauer, and the flautist J.B. Wendling; he recommended himself to the elector but with no success. His Mannheim compositions included the keyboard sonatas k309 and 311, the Flute Quartet k285, five accompanied sonatas (k296, k301–3, k305, possibly inspired by the sonatas of Joseph Schuster) and two arias, Alcandro lo confesso … Non sò d'onde viene k294 and Se al labbro mio non credi … Il cor dolente k295; he was also asked by Ferdinand Dejean, an employee of the Dutch East India Company who had worked in eastern Asia for many years as a physician, to compose three flute concertos and two flute quartets, but in the event failed to fulfil the commission and may have written only a single quartet. The aria k294 was composed for Aloysia Lange, the daughter of the Mannheim copyist Fridolin Weber. Mozart, who was in love with Aloysia, put to Leopold the idea of taking her to Italy to become a prima donna, but this proposal infuriated his father, who accused him of dilatoriness, irresponsibility over money and family disloyalty.
In a letter of 11–12 February 1778, Leopold ordered his son to Paris; at this time it was also decided that his mother should continue to accompany him, rather than return to Salzburg, a decision that was to have far-reaching consequences for both father and son. Wolfgang arrived in Paris on 23 March and immediately re-established his acquaintance with Grimm. He composed additional music, mainly choruses (kA1), for a performance of a Miserere by Holzbauer and, according to his letters home – which are less than entirely truthful – a sinfonia concertante kAnh.9/297B, for flute, oboe, bassoon and horn. Like the Miserere choruses, the sinfonia concertante, allegedly suppressed by Joseph Legros, is lost (the convoluted history of this work, and the possibility that part of it survives in kAnh.9/C14.01, is described in Levin, M1988). A symphony (k297) was performed at the Concert Spirituel on 18 June and repeated several times (as described in his letters, Mozart composed two slow movements, of which the one in 6/8 is probably the original), while a group of ballet pieces, Les petits riens, composed for Noverre, was given with Piccinni's opera Le finte gemelle.
Mozart was unhappy in Paris: he claimed to have been offered, but to have declined, the post of organist at Versailles, and his letters make it clear that he despised French music and suspected malicious intrigue. He was not paid for a flute and harp concerto (k299) that he had composed in April for the Court of Guines, and his mother fell ill about mid-June. Although Grimm's doctor was called in to treat her, nothing could be done and she died on 3 July. Mozart wrote to his father to say that she was critically ill, and by the same post to Abbé Bullinger, a close friend in Salzburg, telling him what had happened; Leopold was thus prepared when Bullinger broke the news to him.
These events triggered another round of incriminating letters: Leopold accused Mozart of indolence, lying and improper attention to his mother; for his part Mozart defended himself as best he could. Although this correspondence is frequently taken to represent the first – and most compelling – evidence of an irreparable fissure in the relationship between Wolfgang and his father, it reflects more on their attempts to come to grips with an overwhelming family tragedy. Leopold's implicit suggestion that Mozart was partly responsible for his mother's death cannot be taken seriously. Stuck in Salzburg, grieving for his wife and worrying about his son, Leopold must have felt himself a helpless bystander; his only recourse was by letter, after the event. Not surprisingly, he sometimes wrote insensitively and hurtfully. His uncompromising devotion to Mozart, however, was never in question. It is significant – given his belief in the fragility of existence (see especially Halliwell, F1998) – that in his first letter to Wolfgang after learning of Maria Anna's death, he does not lay blame but is concerned chiefly with his son's well-being.
Mozart stayed with Grimm for the remainder of the summer. He had another symphony given at the Concert Spirituel, on 8 September (his claim in a letter of 11 September that it was a new work appears to be untrue), and renewed his acquaintance with J.C. Bach, who had come over from London to hear the Paris singers before composing the opera Amadis de Gaule. Mozart also wrote a scena, now lost, for the castrato Tenducci. But his friendship with Grimm, to whom he owned money, deteriorated, and on 31 August Leopold wrote to inform him that, following the death of Adlgasser, a post was open to him in Salzburg, as court organist with accompanying duties rather than as violinist; the archbishop had offered an increase in salary and generous leave. Mozart set out for home on 26 September. Grimm put him on the slow coach through Nancy, and Strasbourg to Mannheim, where he heard Benda's melodrama Medea and resolved to write one himself (the work, Semiramis, if started, was never performed and is now lost; Mozart later wrote a melodrama for the incomplete Singspiel Zaide). Leopold, however, was infuriated that Mozart had gone to Mannheim, where, since the removal of Carl Theodor's court to Munich, there were no opportunities for advancement. Mozart reached Munich on 25 December and remained there until 11 January; he was coolly received by Aloysia Weber, now singing in the court opera. Finally, in the third week of January 1779, he arrived back in Salzburg.
Immediately on his return Mozart formally petitioned the archbishop for his new appointment as court organist. His duties included playing in the cathedral, at court and in the chapel, and instructing the choirboys. Reinstated under favourable conditions, he seems at first to have carried out his duties with determination: in 1779–80 he composed the ‘Coronation’ Mass k317, the Missa solemnis k337, the vespers settings k321 and 339 and the Regina coeli k276. Nevertheless, Colloredo was not satisfied: in an ambiguously worded document appointing Michael Haydn court and cathedral organist in 1782 he wrote: ‘we accordingly appoint [J.M. Haydn] as our court and cathedral organist, in the same fashion as young Mozart was obligated, with the additional stipulation that he show more diligence … and compose more often for our cathedral and chamber music’. The cause of Colloredo's dissatisfaction may have lain in Mozart's other works of the time: the Concerto for two pianos k365, the Sonata for piano and violin k378, the symphonies k318, 319 and 338, the ‘Posthorn’ Serenade k320 (fig.5), the Divertimento, k334 the Sinfonia concertante for violin and viola k364, incidental music for Thamos, König in Ägypten and Zaide. Few of these works would have been heard at court, where instrumental music was little favoured; the production of theatrical music was the domain of the civil authorities.
Mozart's contract with Colloredo did not specify his compositional obligations as a composer: it stated only that ‘he shall as far as possible serve the court and the church with new compositions made by him’. As Colloredo's criticism makes clear, however, he expected Mozart to take a more active role in the court music. During his final years in Salzburg, then, Mozart reverted to the pattern of 1774–7: he put in appearances at court as both performer and composer, but half-heartedly; his music-making was intended instead chiefly for a small circle of friends and the local nobility.
Mozart: (3) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
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