Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/405

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improvised by general request; but the audience was a scanty one. For Engel, the Court-organist, he composed a charming little Gigue for pianoforte (574). Returning to Berlin on May 19, he rushed to the theatre, where his 'Entführung' was being performed, and taking a seat near the orchestra, made observations in a half-audible tone; the 2nd violins, however, playing D sharp instead of D, he called out, 'Confound it, do take D!' and was recognised immediately. He was much pleased to meet his pupil Hummel, who only became aware while playing of his master's presence at his concert. This time Mozart played before the Queen, but gave no public performance. The King sent him 100 Friedrichs d'or, and asked him to compose some quartets for him. As to the pecuniary results of the tour, Mozart wrote laconically to his wife, 'On my return you must be glad to have me, and not think about money.' He started on his homeward journey on May 28, and passing through Dresden and Prague, reached Vienna on June 4, 1789. He set to work immediately on the first quartet (575) for the King of Prussia, and received a kind letter of thanks, with a gold snuffbox and a second 100 Friedrichs d'or. The two others (589, 590) followed in May and June, 1790. His position still continued a most melancholy one, his wife's constant illnesses adding to his expenses. Again he applies to his friend and brother freemason 'for immediate assistance. I am still most unfortunate! Always hovering between hope and anxiety!' In this state of things he yielded to the pressure put upon him by his friends, and informing the Emperor of the offer of the King of Prussia, tendered his resignation. Surprised and disconcerted, the Emperor exclaimed, 'What, Mozart, are you going to leave me?' and he answered with emotion, 'Your Majesty, I throw myself upon your kindness—I remain!' This circumstance, and the success of 'Figaro,'[1] revived after a long pause, probably induced the Emperor to order a new opera, for which Da Ponte again furnished the libretto (said to have been founded on recent occurrences in Vienna). This was the opera buffa 'Così fan tutte' (588), produced Jan. 26, 1790, but soon interrupted by the Emperor's serious illness, terminating in death on Feb. 20. Musicians had little to expect from his successor, Leopold II, and there was no break in the clouds which overshadowed poor Mozart. The rough draft is still preserved of an application for the post of second Capellmeister, but he did not obtain it. The magistrate did indeed grant (May 9, 1791) his request to be appointed assistant, 'without pay for the present,' to the cathedral Capellmeister, which gave him the right to succeed to this lucrative post on the death of Hoffmann the Capellmeister, but Hoffmann outlived him.

The coronation of the Emperor Leopold at Frankfurt on Oct. 9, was the occasion of his last artistic tour. Having pawned his plate to procure funds, he started on Sept. 26, and after a journey of six days arrived in the ancient Reichstadt. He gave a concert on Oct. 14 in the Stadttheater, the programme consisting entirely of his own compositions. During a short stay made in Mayence, Tischbein took a life-size half-length portrait. On the return journey he visited Mannheim and Munich, where, at the Elector's request, he played at a court concert given in honour of the King of Naples. He had not been invited to play before the latter in Vienna, and he wrote to his wife with some bitterness, 'It sounds well for the court of Vienna, that members of their own family should hear me for the first time at a foreign court!' Soon after his arrival in Vienna, Mozart had to take leave of his best friend, for Salomon, the impresario, had come in person to carry[2] Haydn off to London. With a heavy heart he said good-bye to the only artist who understood him thoroughly and honestly wished to see him prosper. They were never to meet again.

His affairs were now worse than ever; the Berlin journey had produced nothing, and a speculation on which he had set his hopes failed. And yet he went on working his hardest. A series of his best and most varied compositions, including the beautiful motet 'Ave Verum' (618)—written at Baden, near Vienna, afterwards Beethoven's favourite resort—were but the forerunners of the 'Requiem' and the 'Zauberflöte. His last appearance as a virtuoso (he had not played the piano in public since 1788) was in all probability at a concert given by Bähr, the clarinetplayer, on March 4, 1791. Perhaps he played his last Concerto in B♭ (595) composed in January. In this very month of March, Schikaneder, the Salzburg acquaintance of 1780, and now manager of the little theatre, scarcely more than a booth, in the grounds of Prince Starhemberg's house in the suburb of Wieden, began to urge Mozart to compose a magic opera to a libretto he had in hand, which he hoped would extricate him from his embarrassments. Ever ready to help anybody, Mozart agreed, and set to work on the score, the greater part of which was written in a little pavilion[3] near the theatre, and in a summer-house in the little village of Josefsdorf, on the Kahlenberg, close to Vienna. To keep him in good humour, Schikaneder provided him with wine, and amusing society,—his enjoyment of which good things, grossly exaggerated, has tended more than anything to throw discredit upon his character.

In July, while hard at work, he received a visit from a stranger, who, enjoining secrecy, commissioned him to write a Requiem for an unknown individual.[4] The price (50, or according to some, 100 ducats) was fixed, and Mozart set to work with the more ardour for having composed no church-music since the mass of 1783. Again he was interrupted by an urgent invitation from the Estates of Bohemia to compose an opera for

  1. Mozart composed a new air (577) for Mlle. Ferrarese del Bene.
  2. He made preliminary offers of a similar kind to Mozart.
  3. Now on the Capudnerberg, in Salzburg, a gift from the present Prince Starhemberg.
  4. Proved after his death to have been Count Walsegg, an amateur anxious to be thought a great composer, and who really had the Requiem performed under his own name. The messenger was his steward Leutgob.