Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/392
��indications his father began, almost in play, to teach him little minuets on the harpsichord ; but the boy showed such aptitude that the play soon became real work. Marianne's MS. music- book 1 was called into requisition, the father writing down in it pieces of progressive difficulty. The impulse to compose similar pieces for him- self was soon roused in the boy ; these, which already betray his feeling for beauty both of sound and form, he played to his father, who wrote them down in the book. Before long he was able to enter his own compositions. He even ventured on a concerto, but it was so difficult that no one could play it ; he stood his ground how- ever, maintaining to his father that ' that is just why it is called a concerto ; people must practise till they can play it perfectly.' Schachtner the court trumpeter, and a friend of the family, relates 5 many touching instances of his lively and essentially child-like disposition; of his eager- ness in learning anything, especially arithmetic ; of his warm love for his father ('next after God comes papa ' he used to say) ; of his docility, which was such that even in those days of severity he never was whipped ; of his ear, which was so delicate that he could detect and remember to the next day a difference of half a quarter of a tone, and so susceptible that he fainted awa.y at the sound of a trumpet ; of his disinclination to ordinary childish amusements, and his earnest- ness over his music-lessons. His father wrote to him in 1778, 'as a child and a boy you were too serious even to be childish : and when sitting at the harpsichord, or doing anything in the shape of music, you would not stand a joke from any one. Indeed, from the precocity of your talent, and the extremely thoughtful expression of your countenance, many people feared you would not live to grow up.' It has but lately been discovered 3 that when a little over 5^, Mozart took part in a comedy, ' Sigismundus Hungariae Rex,' set to music by Eberlin the court organist, and performed in the hall of the University of Salzburg, Sept. i and 3, 1761. There were about 1 50 performers, including young counts, students, and choristers of the chapel.
This was Mozart's first appearance in public.
The father, struck by the rapid progress of his children, determined to travel with them. Their first excursion was in Jan. 1 762, to Munich, where the Elector received them kindly, and expressed great admiration ; and encouraged by this success the family next went to "Vienna, giving a concert at Linz by the way.
The reputation of the little prodigies had preceded them to Vienna, but the reality far exceeded the expectations formed by the court and nobility. The Emperor was especially taken with the ' kleinen Hexenmeister' (little magician), and in joke made him play first with one finger only, and then with the keyboard covered.
i Now In the Mozartenm at Salzburg.
3 Letter to Mozart's sister, dated Salzburg 1792; given entire by Jahn i. 19. The references throughout are to Jahn's 2nd edition.
3 Neue BeitrSge fur Salzburgische Geschicht, etc. An extract from the MS. ' Chronik des Gesanges und der Musik im Salzburgischen,' by A. J. llammerle (Salzburg 1877).
Wolfgang asked expressly for Wagenseil, the court composer, that he might be sure of having a real connoisseur among his hearers. ' I am playing a concerto of yours,' he said, 'you must turn over for me.' He treated the Empress with all the frankness of an unspoilt child, jumping up into her lap, throwing his arms round her neck and kissing her. Of course the upper classes went wild about the children, and 'all the ladies lost their hearts to the little fellow.' But a change soon came, for Wolfgang took the scarlet-fever, and even after his recovery people held aloof from fear of infection. After a short excursion to Pressburg they returned to Salzburg in the beginning of 1763.
The father now considered himself justified in attempting a longer journey, his main aim being Paris. They left Salzburg on the gth of June, and travelled by Munich, Augsburg, Schwetzingen, Mayence, Frankfort, 4 Coblenz, Aix-la-Chapelle, and Brussels, giving public concerts, or playing at the various courts. Wolfgang played the vio- lin, and also the organ at the various churches.
They arrived in Paris on Nov. 18, and stayed five months. The children played before the court at Versailles, gave two concerts, and- excited the greatest enthusiasm. Grimm, the cultivated man of letters, took them up warmly, and was of great use in procuring them in- troductions, and rendering services of various kinds. To show Wolfgang's talent in composi- tion, the father had 4 sonatas for pianoforte and violin engraved, two (6, 7) 5 being dedicated to the Princess Victoire, the King's second daughter, and two (8, 9) to the witty Comtesse de Tesse. The whole family was painted by Carmontelle, and the picture is now in the possession of Mrs. Baring of London.
They left Paris April 10, 1/64, and went by Calais to London, where they took lodgings in Cecil Court, St. Martin's Lane. 6 Here also they met with a gracious reception at court, and the children, especially Wolfgang, made an extra- ordinary impression. The King put before the 'invincible' Wolfgang pieces by Bach, Abel, Wagenseil, and Handel, which he played at sight, and also made him play on his organ, to the still greater admiration of everybody. He then accompanied the Queen in a song, and a flute-player in his solo, and improvised a charm- ing melody to the bass-part of one of Handel's airs. He became very intimate with the Queen's music-master, J. Christian Bach, and with the singers Tenducci and Manzuoli, the latter of whom gave him singing lessons of his own accord. He also made the acquaintance of the Hon. Daines Barrington, a man of very versatile attain- ments, who after putting him to the severest tests, wrote a paper for the Royal Society, 7 in
< Here the father announced in the programme, Aug. 30, that ' he would play with the keyboard covered.' thus turning the Emperor's joke to account. Here also Goethe heard him' I was about 14, and I still distinctly remember the little man with his frizzled wig, and sword.' Eckennann's ' GesprSche mit Ooethe,' ii. ISO.
5 The numbers throughout refer to KOchel's Mozart-Catalogue.
6 For the details of Mozart's stay, and the condition of music at the time, see Tohl's ' Mozart in London ' (Vienna 18fi7).
7 Philosophical Transactions. ToL Ix, for the year 1770, p. 64.