Autograph Letter - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

MOZART, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-1791). Autograph letter Signed ('W: A: Mozart') to his father [Leopold: 'Mon trés chere Pére'], Vienna, 3 March 1784. 

In German. One page (229 x 182), address docket, (seal damage visible in three locations, affecting a few letters at top left corner, tape reinforcement to three of verso edges). Provenance: Edwin Franko Goldman collection. 

Now fully established in Vienna, Mozart writes to his father describing his busy career, a whirl of composing, teaching and performing: a delightful and rare letter from his mature period. Mozart has received Leopold’s letter sent through the post – a faster option than passing through [Joseph] Peisser, he notes – though he is yet to receive the concertos from Artaria. Apologising for a lack of correspondence, he lists the multitude of activities that occupy his time: ‘You must forgive me if I don’t write very much, but it is impossible to find time to do so, as I am giving three subscription concerts in Trattner’s room on the last three Wednesdays of Lent, beginning on March 17th. I have a hundred subscribers already and shall easily get another thirty …I shall probably give two concerts in the theatre this year. Well, as you may imagine, I must play some new works – and therefore I must compose. The whole morning is taken up with pupils and almost every evening I have to play’. Describing how he comes to be giving the aforementioned subscription concerts, Mozart explains: ‘Richter, the clavier virtuoso, is giving six Saturday concerts in the said room. The nobility subscribed, but remarked that they really did not care much about going unless I played. So Richter asked me to do so. I promised to play three times and then arranged three concerts for myself, to which they all subscribed’. A list follows of the 22 concerts at which Mozart will play – or has played – from the 26 February to 3 April, at ‘Galitzin’s’, ‘Johann Esterházy’s’, and ‘Richter’s’, along with his three ‘private’ concerts and the two ‘in the theatre’. ‘Well, haven’t I enough to do? I don’t think that in this way I can possibly get out of practice’, he concludes lightheartedly, sending his affections [and those of his wife, Constanze] to Leopold and Nannerl Mozart. 


After the tumult of the early Viennese years – following the acrimonious departure from the service of Archbishop Colloredo in June 1781, and the break in relations with Leopold occasioned by his marriage the following year to Constanze Weber – for Mozart the autumn of 1783 marked the beginning of what would be the busiest and most successful years of his life. The success of Die Entführung, which premiered on 16 July 1782, had propelled him to prominence, and by March 1783 he was playing at concerts sponsored by the city’s most important musical patrons, two of whom appear in our letter: between them, the Russian diplomat Prince Dmitry Galitzin (1721-1793) and Count Johann Esterházy (1774-1829) had Mozart play at 13 concerts in March 1784 alone, as the present letter testifies. Yet private concerts represented just one element of Mozart’s performance schedule: he records here that he would give three subscription concerts in the private hall of the Trattnerhof in March, as well as two in the grand musical academy at the Burgtheater in March and April. Completing the roster were the three concerts he had promised to Georg Friedrich Richter, a popular Claviermeister from Holland. 

As Mozart puts plainly, so many concerts required fresh compositions, a task which he approached with gusto: the programme for his 1 April performance at the Burgtheatre comprised innovative and exciting offerings for his subscribers, including the Vienna premiere for the Linz Symphony (K.425), a rare appearance of a chamber work at a Viennese theatre in the Quintet for piano and wind (K. 452), a new concerto (K.450 or 451), and an improvisation. He was also publishing prolifically: the concertos referred to in the present letter are K.413-415, a group for piano, which would be published by Artaria the following year, but in 1784 three further publishers were offering at least twelve works between them. At the same time, Mozart was teaching: he had relied on a handful of pupils to sustain a living when he first moved to Vienna in 1781, and continued to teach throughout the 1780s as a supplement to the income from his performances and publications. Emily Anderson, The Letters of Mozart and his Family, 1966, vol. II, no 505.


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