Friday, March 31, 2006

What to do?

My thoughts on Leopoldl's future are as clear as mud - I cannot speak for my husband’s opinions as he is still preoccupied with town affairs. When I sat down to extemporise on a figured bass, I realised that I had played for an hour without hearing a single note and it was only when I stopped that I could examine my heart.
The pain of separation from the child is, I believe, a small sacrifice to pay for what will be the greatest gift to Papa. I have been warned that under no circumstances am I to breathe a word of Leopoldl’s whereabouts to Wolfie or he, my father, will be asked to do the same for my brother’s expanding brood! This is Papa’s choice to care for Leopoldl and he does NOT wish to explain HIS decision to either his son or to that woman and THAT is the END of the matter.
So, it is agreed. Leopoldl is to become a second Wolfie. Oh, the bliss of no longer feeling like a stuffed codshead trapped in a quagmire. I polished off a perfect rendition of my figured bass and imagined how Papa would be pleased. N.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Blood was drawn again today and the colour was frank. Since our trip to the spa, my spirits have equally improved. Consumed a bowl of thin soup with the smallest, most delicious dumplings made by Katharina. Found the strength to play through a new sonata by Wolfie prima vista without mistakes. A storm of chords and unexpected rests - I could never write so well! I say it because it is true.
Leopoldl is growing fat and content as he sucks from his nurse’s breast, alas not mine. He behaves altogether as if his head is stuck between TWO quaking puddings and he cannot decide which one he prefers. Papa has asked if he may keep him in Salzburg when it is time for me to return to the twinkling village. Should I weigh my feelings against Papa’s? N.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

After the Birth

I have been taken ill of mind and body, though for how many weeks or days I know not. Every hour that passed was thought to be my last and my blood, which was drawn yesterday, filled several platefuls and seemed tinged at the sides by a strange green colour. I bless God and Papa that despite my distemper I can now make another entry. I am daily steadying. The tumultuousness of feelings is passing off and the craving to walk in the hills at night is not so bad. Sometimes I just stare at the walls around my bed and slowly begin to understand the nature of my gift – this wriggling, living thing that I call my son. He and I will remain in Salzburg for the present and Katharina Gilowska, my very own Schatzl, has arranged to take the waters with me. Papa and the new wet nurse will attend to my sweet boy while we are away. N.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Infant Joy

With a great, shuddering pain and a cry of rage, my son was born on the 27th July, 1785 and we have called him Leopold Alois Pantaleon Berchtold zu Sonnenburg. I listen to the strange new voice beside me with its tremolo like a protesting nanny-goat. O Nanny indeed. This Nanny is not of right mind for I can only perceive the faults and somehow I do rather wish it had all happened to someone else. I look down at his small wrinkled face and ask myself is this what is past reason wanted, no sooner had, past reason NOT wanted?
Papa scolds me for my unnatural indifference. My husband, Johannes, is absorbed by town affairs and thinks all well. What is natural, I plead with Papa, burying my head under the pillow.
‘My grandson,’ he replies, ‘is a miniature rendition of his uncle. It is natural. My dear child, if we can order the way we think, we can order ourselves and our lives.’
The greatest melancholy inside me gives way to such wild laughter that my father frowns and pokes my invisible head and keeps asking if I am myself. I try to explain that I can see me from above but do not recognise who I am. Leopoldl has fallen asleep and I have now picked up my quill. Papa is watching me from his chair in a corner of the room. N.

Monday, March 27, 2006

A Bond with My Brother

Today I shut the door behind me to sit down on the stroke of two and practise my very own piano concerto as composed by Wolfie. So vividly did I hear the orchestra, I quite forgot that it was not there or that I was in Saint Gilgen with my solitary pianoforte. ‘More!’ I cried aloud on the final cadence. ‘Again!’
“This is for my own dear sister to play,” Jack Pudding wrote to all who cared to know. ‘For none other than my darling Nan can play it better.’ And so, you understand, I ran it through twice more, at a lick.
‘Bravissima!’ I heard his voice echoing through a mysterious reflection in the mirror next to me. ‘Bravissima sorissima, bravissima.’
The image and the sound vanished when I bowed to the empty chair and the portraits of deadness hanging on the wall. I left the room because I knew I had performed three times well and now my firstborn child is due. N.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


It is surely the unreasoning desire for an idea, an object or a person. In its romantic sense, passion is all pursuit. Its excitement lies with the hunting, not the result - and yet, in a piece of music, where the player and the listener are passionately involved in a flight of notes, does this lust of the ear end with the silence? I desire the child that grows within so much that when it is delivered as a small, pink, kicking thing, I will not wish it back inside my womb or believe the yearning I have for it will be spent on its arrival. That would be perverse, would it not? I long to write a perfect aria, full of passion and form that will celebrate the birth of my child. N.

Friday, March 24, 2006

A Domestic Scene

Last night I was so tired from my combined role of stepmother, expectant mother, wife and afternoon keyboard player that I almost fell asleep while standing at the foot of my own bed. N.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Queen of Hypocrites

I have sent the briefest letter to Herr Hofmann, despite my resolve not to write a single word.
Dear Jakob,
Thank you for your kind thoughts on my condition. The country here is not very cheerful and there have been a few deaths over winter, what with the damp air and the loneliness and the isolation from everything that is lively and familiar. The population is of course small, though no doubt I am trying to increase it. I wish you great happiness in your travels and remain your friend,
Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia Mozart Von Sonnenburg.
His reply, which I received this morning:
My Dear Maria Anna,
There can be no reservations in my devotion to you and if it is a great risk to say such a thing in a letter, then I take that risk willingly. When I am no longer wandering between upper and lower Silesia and have wiped the dust off my violin, I will come to Saint Gilgen for a soiree of Madame Sonnenburg and to admire her entire family.
I am meanwhile, your most obliged friend,

Bah! Too late, N.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Interim

I waited and waited and longed for the hour and the arrival of your letter. I pressed my lips to its address without knowing what lay within. I thought of you imagining me in the depths of despair as a result of my marriage and my expectation. I prayed that you might be inconsolable at the news and yet when I DO read it, I discover that your mind is pacified? Does my condition leave you calm and at rest? You sleep well on the receipt of my news? You wish, in between some benign remarks about my latest composition, that my nights be happy? What does this mean? That I lie beside my husband as a spoon, though the lying is done well enough? I despair of ever recovering a peace of mind now I know yours is in such a state that you sleep like a babe! I try hard not to admit how much passion I still feel for you, (and which once you felt for me). I must suppose they are in unequal parts. You advise me to rest on the sofa when I am not watching the children climbing trees, but I cannot tell you that I dare not, or that the moment I am left to my own thoughts they are entirely of you. Dear Jakob, I will not write to you by post and you will never know that I confide my baser thoughts each day to my silent, literary confidante. N.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Visit From My Father

‘Please do not say what you think but remember, I am his wife.’
‘My child, how can I forget?’
Papa’s eyes were drawn directly to my belly as he worked himself into a tin-pot fury. It was time for him to leave.
‘I met the baron,’ he persisted, ‘just after the death of your dear mother and I thought, what a pleasant, reverent person. How sympathetic and not at all a pompous, quasi-ecclesiastical prick. As he was already wed, I could hardly regard him as a future son-in-law. How could I predict that his second wife would have the misfortune to die or that he would set his sights on my only beloved daughter?’
‘Really, Papa, it is your expectation which has changed, not my husband.’ I shut the lid of the fortepiano with a bang.
‘Your husband, my dear, is a penny-pinching pipsqueak with one foot in the grave, the other in this twinkling village and I do NOT feel welcome in his home.’
There was more of this until the wheels of the coach returned him to Salzburg and his lonely bed. As I waved goodbye, I realised for the first time that Papa’s discomfort does not have to be a part of mine. By a miracle, I may have glimpsed another world. N.

Monday, March 20, 2006


The Abbe Eiberle always has a good sermon on Sundays –so full of fire and castigation that yesterday, my slippers shook most wildly against the stone floor while I fancied my own inferno. I listened, despite the clatter of my trembling feet or the squawking of a flock of blackbirds in the graveyard outside.
After prayers, with his pinkish eye fixed in my direction, he mentioned my mother’s connection to Saint Gilgen and announced there would be a performance of my brother’s mass in C to celebrate the new organ. As I left my pew, I felt the child inside me turn and was glad of heart. N.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Papa has written to say that 1) I must be careful not to climb trees with the children now that I am enceinte, 2) that I must eat dried figs every day for breakfast and 3) that there has been a plague of nits in the wiggery at the palace.
Many a good fellow in His Grace’s orchestra has been playing molto agitato as a result and at one point, a trombonist lost his wig in the fray. Her Strauss, the nitpicker, so it is rumoured, has become exceedingly rich.
I am quite pleased that I am removed to the damp air of Saint Gilgen where the hungry monster is deprived of a crowd. Today I walked along the water’s edge and the only beast I encountered was a wild boar in the distance on the other side of the lake. N.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Great Expectation

The point of a diary is surely that you can say what you like on the page - if you believe that what you write is for your eyes only, or for others who may think this is what you believe.
I am certain you cannot have a good thing without the bad or a state of gloom without an understanding of happiness. If I am not forthright about my new life under the bed linen, it is because I have no desire to recall any of its details. In fact, I have no desire whatsoever in any sense you would expect.
I am either a cold fish or a disappointed creature thwarted in passion, unable to dream of scarlet coats, silver buckles and white silk stockings without dishonour. Nevertheless, another Sonnenburg is on the way... N.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

An Enlightenment

Of wedding nights may neither man nor woman speak, but marriage brings indeed a flawed bliss and I think that I am now accustomed to the state of it. N.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Well Met!

Five well scrubbed children looked at me solemnly as I entered their home. They clapped with their fingers cupped together and bowed politely when Johannes introduced me as their future stepmother.
Marianne, the eldest, is about twelve years of age and very sweet in her expression. The boys – Wolfgang, Joseph, Andra, Karl - I could not tell their ages exactly, were longing to run outside into the garden at the point where it meets the lake. It was still as a duck’s pond.
We watched the two older ones climb trees while the two youngest played hide and seek with Marianne. I think all went tolerably well, but I had no appetite for the feast that had been prepared in my honour. I remember thinking, ‘Heigh-ho. This was my mother’s house when she was a little girl, ’ as I was shown each room and told the history of it. I imagined her as a child of the magistrate, much like Marianne, and when it was time for me to leave, I said truthfully that I looked forward to my next visit. The children smiled back at me and clapped their hands again, making a small fluttering sound like a flock of birds. N.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Past, Present and Future

Before Vienna, if Papa, Wolfie and I were alone, we used to argue over principles of composition. The arguments were always noisier than the conclusion. We would take it in turns to rattle out an idea on the harpsichord and when I performed a particularly elegant phrase, I felt the Lord was punishing me for a display of petticoat excellence. Who outside this room, I thought, would PLAY me?
The desolation of my spirit at these times, if I had acknowledged it aloud would have been unbearable. There was no great expectation for my career in a worldly sense, but I did not want to be without private hopes for myself, which is why I continue to write music for the bottom drawer.
When I imagine my future life as a wife and step-mother who must compose as catch can, I feel like Jonah, crying out of the belly of HELL, or the maid trying to cut her way out of the giant’s stomach in a fairytale. I could burn all that I have written, so that no one will ever know what was lost to the world. I could remain the enigmatic sister of a genius...
After Breakfast:
I was in a tiresome spell when I began this entry. Have consumed a quaking pudding with great gusto and feel much better. After this morning’s galanteries, I will take a coach to meet my future family. N.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Too Late

Papa kissed me good night and said with a voice full of emotion:

‘If I could make you, my dear child, just reflect for a moment when you are in full heat, it would make you the happiest woman on earth. But nothing comes in advance, except in the matter of your talents. You understand theoretical ideas with ease. And yet you cannot fathom the people who surround you? You open your heart to flatterers who want to use you for your own ends – and when suitors are involved in this vulgar offence, IF you do not resist their wiliness, you will regret it to your dying day.’

I took his hand in mine and told him I was no longer a child and that he was not to worry. For a moment, I thought HE THOUGHT that I was Wolfie...N.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Second Thoughts

This morning I awoke to the sound of St Peter’s bells. I am late for mass! The reason? I overslept.
Truly, I am beginning to think I am a humbug and a dunderhead. Why is that? I quite look forward to my marriage after all. The reason? A letter and a poem I have just received from Wolfie.

Ma Plus Chere Soeur!
Pop goes the weasel! I’d better hurry up and write this letter if it’s to arrive while you are still a vestal virgin! A day or so from now, you’ll lose it! My wife, Constanze and I, your loving brother, congratulate you on what will soon be your TRANSFORMED state!

Marriage brings a flawed bliss
And in the mysteries of this,
The arts of Eve
That gave her Cain
Will bring such joy
As mewling girl or puking boy.
Yet nothing is pure harmony –
The counterpoint we surely know
Is there to stop the sickly flow.
Rejoice when ere your husband says
He’s out of sorts!
Just think sister, this is man’s sports,
And say, why then, YOUR WILL by day
And MINE by night I SORELY pray.
Your devoted, Wolfgangus Amadeo