Monday, May 29, 2006

I Am a Little Jealous, August 1770

I am bored with my own company and this morning I found myself saying 'pop goes the weasel' to the walls of our apartment in Getreidegasse 9 - I wish I were in Italy. It is raining all over Salzburg and Mama says the living is becoming more expensive every day. Soon enough, we will have to manage on what Papa earns each month - there are NO more jewelled toothpicks, NO more gold snuffboxes that we can sell.
Papa and Wolfie have escaped the heat of Rome – or Milan - to stay at a country house in Bologna, which is owned by a Count BOLONYETTI. They eat ripe peaches, figs and melons, which look like small, Chinese lanterns…. and Wolfie is becoming fat. The bed linen is finer than a nobleman's shirt – and I wonder why my dear Papa doesn't make one for Wolfie by cutting up his sheet.
My brother has had to remove the silk thread from around his diamond ring because his fingers have grown so plump and his singing voice has gone. Poof! Papa says it is neither high nor low, nor good for even five small notes! Mine is clear as a bell. I sing my own songs and have sent the latest one to Wolfie - the others remain in my bottom drawer, waiting for someone to discover that I CAN COMPOSE! I might as well ride on a donkey... N.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Postscript by Franz Xaver Mozart

Salzburg, 29th October, 1829
My beloved Aunt Nannerl died some time after midnight. It seemed she would never let go but wept in her bed and swallowed cups of water to replace the tears she had shed. Unable to see the walls of her room, she mumbled about the clouds on the tops of Nonnberg, Capuzinerberg and the Devil’s Horn. She described that point in the river Salzach where it curves beyond the bridge and where the water runs so fast. I kept waiting for the moment in the process of dying when the suffering is so great that the fear of death dissolves and both the mind and the body stop clinging to life. It happened in the earliest hours of the morning, which is when, the doctor told me, that most people slip away.
‘Wolfie,’ she began.
‘Yes, Auntie.’
‘You’re still there.’
‘I’m still here.’
She fell deeply asleep and never awoke. According to her wishes, she will be buried in a colonnaded vault in Saint Peter’s here in Salzburg. As soon as it can be arranged, I shall conduct my father's Requiem to celebrate her life.
Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart - henceforth known as W.A.M.
P.P.S. Am burning all her compositions in the stove, again according to her wishes, but have decided to keep her diaries from this willful pyre - will read them tomorrow from the beginning. Rest in peace, dear Auntie...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Blind and Stroke-Ridden

31st July, 1829
Writing too difficult – Franzl in Salzburg with visitors - met English publisher, Vincent Novello and wife. They bring money from admirers in England. Good to be sister of genius. N.

Friday, May 26, 2006

As Dictated to Josef Metzger:

30th July 1829
My last Will and Testament while I can still think, speak and see a little:
I give Mama’s two jeweled rings to my nephews, Karl Thomas and Franz Xaver Mozart. What rights that I retain to my brother’s Requiem shall also be transferred to them and I instruct Franz Xaver Mozart to destroy all existing compositions by me. The snuffbox with the royal crest I give to my stepdaughter Maria-Anna zu Sonnenburg and my second best ivory snuffbox to the surviving niece of Katharina Gilowska. All other monies and worldly goods I bequeath in their entirety to my son, Leopold Berchtold zu Sonnenburg.

It is true that except in the matter of this diary, I have been an exile from what has gone before. I am sometimes gripped by a pattern of lights, a glittering aura that I cannot blink away. Just as it persists, without any intention on my part, it will suddenly cease to be and what I perceive in its aftermath appears fainter, until I can only see the shadows in front of me. That I know, though I cannot see.

It lasts - this aura- no more than six or seven seconds or the experience would be more than spirits could bear. Perhaps it is a moment of dying, a pleasurable signal and not a thing of fear that I am returning to the place from where I came, an instant of reckoning where I feel compelled to recapture what is past without a quill. I am quite tired.
Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia Mozart zu Sonnenburg

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Too Late To Turn Back

Too late to turn back…
like the winter fly… N.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Franz Xaver Mozart

Franz Xaver - Wolfie's child and my nephew, has paid a visit. He is a professor of music in Lemburg and a composer but I have not heard any of his compositions. Reminds me of Jack Pudding – the way he talks -very fast - the shape of HIS forehead - wide - HIS gestures - restless - and HIS scent - the faint, sweet musk that remains when he has gone. We talk in waves. He insists he has learnt more about his father from his old auntie than from anyone he has known before, including his mother whose apartment I can just see from a corner of my window. I ask him to visit Leopold in Innsbruck before he returns home - telling him many times they are more like brothers than cousins. Feel very close and share a sense of melancholy. N.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Is This The Worst To Come?

I try to forget the 1st September, 1805. Can a mother really forget the bleakness of such a day? I write as a blind woman, forming each letter with infinite care and seeing nothing on the page. Much grieving on the way – you understand, Salzburg was not a haven for my beloved Jeanette Babette – for my darling child, who fretting, faded, quickly ailed, and was taken by God after only sixteen years on this earth – it was the first day of spring. She is now buried with Papa. Am I to survive my little flower? Take me too, for I am almost emptied of purpose. But then I remember Leopoldl and I pray to God to give me fortitude. N.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Extract of a Letter for My Diary:

'We have battered our way for days through freezing gales. The water broke across the decks and the rigging has gone to ice - colder than the day I came to visit you in Hannibal Platz when you performed one of your compositions. I remember frost on the windowpanes and how I was thinking more about you than the music and how you ran out into the courtyard without a coat, you were so cross with me…
I realise now that in all this dreadful cold at sea, the ravages of scurvy play havoc with men’s lives. The captain can barely muster a crew for the ordinary duties of the Watch and I have taken the precaution of eating more limes…I practise my violin to while away the hours but keep bumping my bowing arm against the wall of the cabin when the ship is in a violent roll. Nannerl, my dear…’
Your loving friend, Jakob

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A Partial Revelation

My pupils come to the apartment for their piano lessons and I am so tired when they have gone that I find myself drowsing in a chair, half-dreaming of a walk in Saint Gilgen. Where are you now, Jakob? On the shore of Adventure's Bay? I can hear the trees in the wind, see the catkins blow and shiver as they spill their pollen on the lae. When I stir, I look through the apartment window at the cobbles in the square and I am remembering the first day you came for your violin lesson with Papa. N.

Friday, May 19, 2006

A Sea Voyage

‘The Atlantic Ocean, 7th January, 179-
My Dear Nannerl,
I am on a journey to the other side of the world, having boarded a ship called the Oracle at Portsmouth. I do not know when I shall return… You may never read this letter, but I like to think you will. I shall write to you anyway because first of all I made a promise that I would and secondly, (this has the same intensity as the first), because you matter more to me than anyone I have known.
If you find it difficult to accept my parting gift - Josef Metzger will describe it in more precise detail that you may understand my reasoning. I ask you to think of all the graves in the world and say to yourself, Mozart’s body could not be left to moulder amongst foreign worms. One day, you will rest near him, but not yet…’
This and other letters had been brought to me in a rusty box by Herr Metzger, who is both a fellow lodger in this building and a kind friend. The words belong to Jakob Hofmann and are meant to console me both for the loss of my brother and the absence of a friend. Therein lies another tale, but I am not yet certain if it is one for my diary. I will think on it. N.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Some years after Wolfie was buried – the particular whereabouts I am unwilling to reveal just now– my dear Johannes was laid to rest in Saint Gilgen’s cemetery. As there was no home tithed for the widow by the lake, we packed our lives away in tin trunks and returned to Salzburg – the children and I.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

5th December, 1791

A Terrible Prayer
Is this true? Did I pray ‘let our children live to see their parents die?’ I take it back. I did not mean this day, this month, this year - I did not mean my brother, dead?
Too soon, Wolfie – please not yet – come back. There is music to finish. What would Papa say?
Swollen like a drowned man - to the drumbeats of a requiem - your poor, puffed-up, stiffened body dressed in its nightgown for a funeral, which I cannot attend because I am HERE! Damn the pain of living while those you love are dead - at least you will share the same worms with Mama and Papa. Bones into ash, ash into life. Wait for me, Jack Pudding, wait for me. N.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

26th July, 1791

As luck would have it, the birth of my brother’s child, Franz Xaver Wolfgang - pray God, NOT out of the womb and into the tomb. Pray God a companion to HIS brother, Karl Thomas, and country cousins, Leopold and Jeanette-Babette. Pray God, they may all live to see their parents die. N.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

29th April, 1791

So very little time on earth for our third born child, Maria Barbara - such a delicate doll my dears, who was not meant to be. Can someone say why NOT? Poor little doll, you see my dears. Feel a very dull ache and cannot rub the pain away. There are no waters or prayers that will fix this pain. I have two fine children, five stepchildren, one husband, one imaginary lover, one friend, two hours of daily galanteries, some compositions in the bottom drawer and my dear brother, Wolfie, in Vienna. It is riches to some. Why should I complain? N.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

22nd November, 1790

Birth of Maria Barbara Berchtold zu Sonnenburg. Mother and child are well. Praise the Lord. N.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Pause While I Wait

In the months of confinement, I have rescued old songs from the bottom drawer and am sending them to Jakob Hofmann, not all at once but several at a time.
He likes them, he likes them not - he likes them?
I have tried not to break the limitations of compositional rules but to transcend them. I have tried to find the melody through the words. I am a convert to the romantic notion of inspiration. If there are faults in what I have written in the past, they stem from my doubts and the cure lies in my dreams. N.

Monday, May 08, 2006


It seems that since my night of unexpected rapture I am obliged to put aside my monthly cloth in great expectation. N.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A Visitor

An elderly burgher from a neighbouring village paid us a morning visit in his one-horse chaise. He moved with great difficulty and remained stooped throughout his stay with his head parallel to the ground. He informed me that he was looking forward to attending my next soiree and I promised him an invitation in the following post. Since then, a month has passed and he has not come again. I feared the worst and enquired through a mutual friend if he was ill. ‘Oh no,’ said she, ‘not ill, but too old for a single-horse chaise. Our friend is a half bent sausage with the pain of his chair and yet out of a desire NOT to look old, he refuses to wear his spectacles and cannot see the ruts on the road, feeling every solitary bump on the shortest trip.’
Her words set me thinking I am blessed to know those who are willing to make the six-hour journey from Salzburg. N.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Different Provocation

When the last coach has climbed the hills out of Saint Gilgen and when the china and furniture are restored to their rightful place at the end of a concert, there is peace in the house and I look forward to playing écarté with Johannes. The other night I won every game with a succession of voles. I cannot believe it! Not that I won, but that my husband eyed me with a look, which of late he has reserved for the wet nurse. It is true I had taken trouble with my appearance, having laid aside my wig to curl my hair, worn the diamond ear-bobs that belonged to Mama and dressed in my red velvet Bolognese gown to receive the archbishop. Wolfie was unable to attend this particular soiree but may have been escaping from His Grace. Those who came said the evening was well worth the six-hours of travel from Salzburg and Frau Von Tin-Ears insisted that the violist had such an excellent tone that for the first time in her life, she was able to hear the outer parts from within!
On retirement after our game of cards, Johannes followed me to bed and wrapped me warmly in his arms and offered me his most passionate gift, which I accepted willingly as I gave him mine in return. At the exchange of our gifts, he kissed away my tears of pleasure and I fell asleep against his warm body with perfect contentment. N.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Odd Philistine

Not all our small audience is well disposed to listen in silence to an entire concert. Frau Von Tin-Ears was tapping her large plump foot in the front row while I was playing a difficult cadenza. As if that were not bad enough, during the slow movement when it was meant to be molto espressivo, I could hear her snoring like a barrel organ on a still summer night and so I paused and waited for the shuddering to stop, at which point someone at the back cried ‘Brava,’ and our small audience began to clap so that Tin Ears awoke and eventually I was able to finish off the cadenza and play the final rondo without further incident. N.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Yet more concerts in Saint Gilgen! I have arranged a variety of programmes to exalt Wolfie’s talents and will invite the Archbishop to attend the next soiree. Some fine and elegant string players will perform three of the quartets my brother dedicated to Joseph Haydn.
I do not expect Jack Pudding will keep his promise and journey from Vienna to see how his fame has spread but I have arranged for the most delicious coffee and cakes. The consolations of religion will be discussed after the music has been played. N.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Salzburg, 24th November, 1777

Mama and Papa are in heaven but where are you Jack Pudding? Vienna might as well be the other side of the world... The following letter was copied out twice into my diary because the tears kept spilling onto the ink - as if they were trying to dissolve a memory.
Dear Wolfgango Amadeo,
My reply to yours of the 15th will be short for I have written at length to Mama and you may read THAT for gossip. Papa says about the German opera you mentioned to him a month ago, who composed it, who sang it, what did you think of it? And last week’s concert? Who whistled it? Who blew it? Not a peep in the post, my fine friend but old Pimperl wags her tail. Heigh-ho. The Andante is very fine and I look forward to the rondo with the downward scales prestissimo because I can PLAY them as you know-ho!
Kissie-kissies from Katherina Gilowska, Barbara Eberlin, (not all of Salzburg), and from your naturally vile sister, Nanny-kin!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Between Brother and Sister

Some treasured, dog-eared letters have slipped out from the bottom drawer - their ink so faint, I am copying each one into my diary.
Mannheim, 15th November, 1777
Ma Plus Chère Soeur,
We have received every single e-pissle from Salzburg so please do NOT fret about old post.I’ve been to the closet this morning and am less full of rubbish. There is ice on the windows in Mannheim and I intend to accompany Mama by knitting in bed. Our same dear, saintly Mama has produced skeins of wool that she bought from Herr Hofmann and when we are fed up with the clickety-clacketing of our needles, she and I will play cards or tell our fortunes so we will all become rich. I am now off to the closet once again but would like first to ask if Pimperl has been snarling since I left? Do not answer that, because if she hasn’t, I will feel she does not miss us and if she has, I will be sad that she is. What a clever, subtle brother you have. I send you my latest Andante for my own dear sister to play. W.A.M.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Best Medicine

There is a weakness of mind to which I readily confess: a fondness for the merry dance. We have been spinning and twirling for an hour, the older children and I - upsetting the cat’s milk as we pass, knocking the mirrors on the walls askew. Marianna provides us with a jig on her violin. It is ALWAYS the same dah-deh-dah… dah-deh-dah daah - da capo, as our little M. knows no other tune. We pray for the smallest embellishment to add variety and cannot hide our laughter when she starts it up AGAIN! The dancing only stops when Johannes is returned. N.