Tuesday, November 29, 2005

God's Will

It is God’s will that Mama died. It is God’s will that my brother will return to Salzburg before long. It is God’s will that before he does, there will be a fond reunion with Herr Bach, who is journeying from London to France to wish him well. It is God’s will that I must perform with Papa for the Archbishop next Sunday. N.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Requiem Eternam ...

Will no one bring her back?
Not in a dark, cold box
Where the hairs on her arms are still.
Will no one listen to her soft voice?
Will no one bring her sweet smile
On the wind back to me?
Jack Pudding sends her jewels
In a dark, cold box.
No one will bring her back
As I remember her.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


Salzburg, 13th July, 1778

Oh Wolfie dear, we cannot bear this news. Mama was ill. Mama was dying. Mama is dead? The Abbe Bullinger has been and gone to tell Papa that almost certainly this is so. I have been vomiting on my bed. There was no black powder to ease her throat, no husband at her side, no Nannie’s arms to hold her tight. Oh Wolfie dear, we cannot bear this news. N.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Haydn's Brother

Our dear friend, Herr Haydn, was drunk again at the organ last Sunday. During the Litany and the Te Deum, Papa was convinced he was going the way of poor old Adlgasser and about to have a fatal stroke in front of the Archbishop! But it turns out it was only a passing tipsiness in which his head and his hands refused to agree. N.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Symphony in D

In double quick time, my brother has scored a symphony for Paris. The audience clapped in the middle of the first movement and again after a loud bang in the last. Altogether, the finale went at a lick. Wolfie was pleased with the clarinets and MOST of the strings, although a few carps have complained that the harmonies are DIFFICULT. He sucked an extra large ice after that particular concert.
Mama has confessed that she feels quite alone in their new lodgings. They are cheaper and closer to the theatres and the gentry, but she never sees Wolfie by day. Bad Wolfie. Poor Mama. I do hope she remembers Papa's advice to be bled and that she follows her own advice to me and buys herself a walking stick since they are the latest fashion. N.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

My Despair

This morning, I cried in church. No matter how hard I try to placate Papa, he is always seething about something. I began praying early and fervently at Holy Trinity to please him with my godliness but certain friends told him they were worried for my mind. Now it seems, Papa’s greatest fear is not so much for my mind - or the future of Wolfie and Mama in Paris, but for my situation when he is dead. This is hardly news!
He is like Miss Pimperl with the Spanish snuffbox – she will NOT STOP licking the powder from the lid. That is Papa on the last ruling of the Archbishop. He will NOT STOP huffing and puffing and snuffing and telling me that when a father dies in the employment of the Prince, the son looks after the mother and the daughter goes into service.
I do not think I would be a very good maid.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Paris in the Spring

Caesar, or nothing ...
Mama and Wolfie arrived at their Paris lodgings on the 24th March with their two trunks and their sore throats after nine and a half days of being stuck in a coach. It is too bad that I am not with them. Wolfie has been instructed by Papa to wear a black suit with a richly worked waistcoat for grand occasions but for the moment he and Mama are confined to bed in the house of Monsieur Mayer.
I am also as sick as a dog, taking black powders and elderberry tea to make me sweat. I would prefer to exercise my French and talk with Messieurs Gluck and Piccini on the dotted rhythms of an ouverture or else be received by Monsieur Grimm in his salon. I would DEFINITELY wish to be introduced to the Chevalier St George, whose fencing is meant to be as fine as his violin playing and who is much admired by the ladies for the darkness of his skin. I have heard his extemporising is admirable… I would of course like to meet the Queen of France and note the details of her dress. But it will never happen. I remain in Salzburg and each morning, I rise at six to go to mass at Holy Trinity. Papa says my regularity has provoked comment. Surely he means my piety? N.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Papa has been in such a foul mood - stomping around all day in the apartment, complaining to the empty cupboards and to me that my brother is a profligate nincompoop and an ungrateful numbskull - his crime to admire and no doubt lust after the soprano, Aloysia Weber.

‘So. Now my son is twenty-two years of age, in desperate need of a commission for an opera and professing LOVE like a demented pipsqueak for the eldest daughter of Herr Weber and his vulgar wife. Aieeeh!’ he cried as he wept some more. ‘And all for a ball of fluff with breasts like half-baked apples…to live then die as an EX-prodigy on a bed of straw with six or seven starving babies …’

‘Papa,’ I cried in an attempt to halt the flow. ‘You are expecting Baron Von Sonnenburg.’

But my dear father simply stared at the ceiling and shouted louder than before.

‘Where is your mother in all of this? Hmm? Does your brother FAIL to understand that when I die, HE has to provide for you and your poor Mama?’

I bowed my head and wondered if it were better to marry, but Papa rode over my thoughts.

‘Have you, Nannerl, not sacrificed your own savings so your brother may go to Paris and make OUR fortune?’ And I saw he addressed the portrait of Wolfie on the wall as if his image had become real.

‘Think on it my son, and never say that your sister is stingy!’
'True, true,' I cried aloud.

‘And what is more,’ he continued, still addressing the portrait, ‘I do not care that Mlle Weber has an excellent cantabile line. She may croak to the devil for all I care. She may be the prettiest or the ugliest of ALL her sisters. Snow-White she is NOT! I neither wish to know, nor know OF her. In short, aut Caesar, aut nihil. Pack your bags and get thee to Paris - with your poor mother.’

As I watched, dumbfounded by such ferocious passion, my father beat the wall in front of him for the climax of his rant:

‘Do NOT linger in Mannheim, my son. Do not return to Munich, Vienna or to Augsburg. Please remember how when you left Salzburg last that I was very ill but how I packed your bags until two o’clock in the morning - and then got up from my bed at six to say goodbye to you, weeping…’

At this point of paroxysm, I left the room to greet Baron Johannus von Sonnenburg and to ask after the health of his wife. N.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Lesson to Chew On

I have discovered what is smallpox in French: la petite verole - such a pretty name for an ugly disease.

I also have learnt that a French audience will take their dog to a concert and if there is a loud bang on the drums, Monsieur Frog claps with so much enthusiasm, it is difficult to hear what follows. This may or may not be a problem but what if the dog decides to bark?
‘Surprise them all, Wolfie,’ I say in a letter post haste, ‘and when you are settled in your lodgings and musing on your next symphony, write in a bang or two. I would like to go to Paris and wear a lace cap with my Bolognese gown when your opera is performed for the King and Queen of France. Expect me soon I hope. Tell Mama I will take Miss Pimperl with me for the ride.’
‘In your dreams,’ said Papa, when I told him of my plan on our way to Holy Trinity. ‘In your dreams, my dear,’ he repeated, to make sure I had heard. ‘For what should I do here in Salzburg without you?’
‘Not a lot,’ I replied. N.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

My Humdrummical List

1) Write a chatty letter to my Great Aunt in Augsburg.
2) Clean out the canary’s cage.
3) Practise Wolfie’s two new sonatas and play both to the archbishop.
4) Arrange Herr Hofmann’s next violin lesson with Papa.
5) Compose another song.
6) Inform Herr Hofmann that I am his devoted slave.
7). Take confession after mass.
8) Do not shout at the new maid because I feel like it.
9) Eat fresh trout for supper but not so much that there are disastrous consequences.
10) Tell Papa I am writing to Mama to let her know the new maid is very pretty in HIS opinion.
11) Tell Papa that I was only pretending about this in order to give him a decent fright.
12) Go to bed with my bonnet on to keep my head warm.
13) Learn ten French words before I fall sleep. (What is smallpox in French?)
14) Dream. N.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Portrait of a Friend

Katherl Gilowska is not handsome but we all have a pockmark or two. Her eyebrows fly across her face like small, black crows’ wings and the mouth curves upwards with goodness and humour. Sometimes, one eye has a habit of wandering while the other watches you very carefully. They are beautiful, round eyes, like burnt walnuts. To me, she smells of fresh linen.

We are both twenty-six years old and not yet wed. We thrive on gossip, although sometimes she may misunderstand what is not obvious. That is not to say she has no mind. It is because it is an open and an honest one that subtlety is not a part of it. She and I sometimes play cards with both our families but when I am not busy practising my scales or writing in this diary, we often pass the time with archery and fancy dress. We attend the theatre and municipal balls together, we read sentimental poems aloud or visit the spa in Gastein to take the waters. I tell her stories when she is ill and she will fix me with her laughter when I am lying mulish in my bed. We quarrel at least twice a year. In short, we are good friends. N.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

An Exchange of Letters, 17th November, 1777

A ma tres chere soeur,
I want to discuss targets if it’s not too late or too distressing. What I have in mind is a short, fair-haired man, doubled over and revealing his bottom. There’s a balloon coming out of his mouth that will say 'bon appetit' to a dark haired man wearing boots, a crimson cloak and a fashionable wig. He should be of ordinary height and placed in such a position that he could lick the other man’s backside. A second balloon is coming out of his mouth with the words: 'Poof, there’s nothing sweeter than this!'
Mama sends kisses to you and Papa and she has a message for the new maid, Liserl - make sure to beat the quilts in the hall cupboard in case of moths. Meanwhile, I embrace you from the depths of my heart and remain your obedient brother, Wolfgango Amadeo.
To which I replied from Salzburg:
Mon tres, tres cher frere,
The bull’s eye for this target will be somewhere inside the mouth of the blond man, perhaps on the tip of his tongue. If you and Mama are agreed, I’ll save this particular target for your return as you seem to fancy it so much.
Please do not forget that the Salzburg post goes on Mondays and Thursdays and it would greatly soothe Papa if you would remember to begin your letters by saying, ‘I received your letter of the such-and-such.’ It upsets him to think that what we write may never arrive.
Last week we had some shooting in our house. Papa painted the target. I shot on Mama’s behalf and lost nine kreuzer. Katherl Gilowska shot for you and won the most, so you are rich at last!
A farewell bark from Miss Pimperl. I kiss Mama’s hands a thousand times and embrace my dear and only brother - there are no moths,
Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia Addlepated Mozart.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Piano e Forte

Since living closely together for the past few months, Jack Pudding and Mama have begun talking very loudly or very softly like a Mannheim sonata. No crescendos or diminuendos, but sudden blasts of sound followed by the faint squeals of intoxicated mice. I am told this in letters that have cost Mama twelve kreuzers apiece. We receive one every week.

Wolfie speaks, (fortissimo): “Will you pass the coffee?”
Mama replies, (pianissimo): “I have drunk it all.”

A sudden knocking of the door before it is opened, very gently, by the maid. The landlord, Privy Court Councillor Serrarius, has brought his own barber to cut Wolfie’s beard. There is the loud, scraping sound of blades being sharpened and Wolfie's howls. My brother is twenty-one years of age and clearly a genius.

“Our scissors are blunt,” explains Mama in her quiet way to the Councillor, "and his beard needs trimming." All the while, she is discreetly knitting a shawl for the winter in Mannheim and their journey to Paris, clickety-clack, clickety-clack.

More music for my bottom drawer.

Maria-Anna Stay-At-Home Mozart.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A Poem Left At Midnight By My Bed

To My Old Nan:
‘I will post from my good host
A toupee cushion, some pomade
A lace cap in the latest fashion,
One feather for Miss Pimperl,
All this before you wrinkle!
O Nanny dearest
Sister mine - O blister true,
A thousand blessings do not rue
As in thy heart
Thou art mistress of the silly fart
And your new fortepiano.
So from this queerest fish
Your dainty dish,
Your brother
Sends his kisses on the stroke of twelve.
Adieu sweet maid,
As long as I can piddle
I remain,
Off to Mannheim on the morrow.’ W.A.M.

Papa and I are left behind to stew in our own piss-pots and play for the Archbishop at Christmas. Heigh-ho. Here we stay and there they go. Mama, come back at once! I am missing you before the coach has even disappeared from view. N.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Over coffee and cake, Papa remarked that the only thing to enslave man is ignorance.
'That is why,' answered my brother with his mouthful of crumbs and a wink at me,'the world is full of slaves.' N.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

When I Am Alone

When I am alone in our apartment in Hannibal Platz and not practicing the art of fugue or any studies dreamed up for me to play by my dear Papa, I sometimes attend to my toilet.
If I feel an itch, I nitpick with the fine bone comb left behind by the nitpicker when last he called. I crumble lavender on my hair and wig like a bride on her wedding day. I make sure there is nothing scurrying away under the petals on my head before replacing my comb with a sponge dipped in lemon curd. I squeeze the juices onto my hands so that my skin feels softened and I can smell the tang of lemon mixed with lavender and lick the taste from around my lips with the point of my tongue.
I wash the other parts of my body, being careful not to wet my petticoats with my sponge and afterwards when I am dry, I pick the black out of my fingernails with Jack Pudding’s ivory toothpick. I rinse my mouth with rose water before plucking three hairs from a mole underneath my chin. It is tricky to do between the first finger and the thumb but no more so than a trill on the new fortepiano. That is the extent of my toilet. N.

The End of the Story of Little Schatzl

Katharina Gilowska was sitting up when I arrived and practically pushed me into the chair next to her bed as I reached out to take her cold hands in mine.
‘Get on with it, Nan,’ she urged without so much as a cough.
'But when it came to pass that Schatzl was almost thirty three years old, her father closed the lid of the harpsichord in a pause before an extremely difficult cadenza and said to his daughter: 'Now, all your sisters are comfortably off, middle-aged and content with their children and step-children, it is time for you to marry, Schatzl, or else you will be quite alone when I am dead.'
‘So be it,’ replied his dear, youngest child, although her voice was wavering. ‘I shall be an old and solitary maid. That is a long way from now, Papa, so do not fret about me for a minute or a week.’ In her mind, which she felt was the safest place for her more controversial thoughts, there was the comfort of a certain person who came to town on market days and who played the violin with great sensitivity. He would sell her silks and velvet from behind his stall and in her dreams, they were as one. His name was Jakob Hofmann and she did not want him to be real.
Soon after the baron's talk with Schatzie, he asked his six other daughters to try and persuade her to think again, but they too failed. There was no point to their entreaties.’
‘Really Nan, this is turning out to be a very long, sad story. When is the happiness coming?’
‘It won’t, I’m afraid, unless your idea of happiness depends upon tragedy,’ I replied.
‘O cruel, horrible Nan. You cannot keep me in a state of suspense like that. I have been ill for days and at this rate, unless you end the story soon, I will be forced to remain bedridden and depressed forever.’
‘Exactly,’ I laughed, ‘which is why there is no more to tell. The story is finished. From now on you will get better and we can resume target practice on Thursdays and I can go home to supper and a game of ecarte with Papa or Wolferl - or Mama or Miss Pimperl, the dog.’ N.


‘Only little Schatzl who was approaching her twenty-fourth birthday remained with her father in their Munich house. She never ceased to offer him her kisses before she went to bed, as she understood how they brought him comfort. She also read him stories when he was ill and she used some considerable amount of her dowry with her father’s permission to restore the broken strings of his harpsichord.
‘I’m so pleased about that,’ said the voice from the sickbed the next morning. ‘I was wondering what had happened to the keyboard.’
‘Although the baron no longer played, his fingers having forgot the art, his little Schatzie would practise for hours and entertain him with the latest gavottes, minuets, sarabandes and other galanteries in the French or Italian style. Her eldest sister when she came to visit seemed to have grown more juvenile, while Schatzl acquired maturity and musicianship.
She told her father and all six of her older sisters that as there had been quite enough marriages in their family, she looked forward to being an old maid at twenty-five.
‘Very soon,’ she confided in her father,’ people will forget that I am NOT the oldest.’ And so with great happiness in her heart, she kissed her father goodnight after a spirited rondo and thanked God in her prayers that in twenty years time she would be wrinkled and old and nearly forty-five years a spinster who had escaped death in childbirth.'
‘I am suddenly feeling tired, Nan. Would you make sure you tell me the END of this story when you come again?’

I left the invalid with her eyes staring at the ceiling, contemplating her own ideas of the future - and I found myself feeling as pleased as Schatzl when I crept out the door. N.

The Development

‘A procession of young men came and went. When none of the younger sisters wanted anything to do with a particular suitor, they would say to the eldest, Rosa Anna, that she should have him as a matter of precedent.’
At which point, I detected an improvement in Katherl’s breathing this afternoon and decided that I should hasten the plot a little.
‘It so happened that not one of the more attractive suitors had asked the father for his daughters’ hands in marriage during their first years in Munich. With the passing of time, both the suitors and the baron’s daughters aged accordingly. A bald, not so very rich gentleman was accepted by the second youngest, Lily-. After a short while, when their arguments over looks, wealth or accomplishments had been put aside, the eldest daughter, Rosa Anna, found a widower of her own with five step-children. She was thirty-three years of age while he was almost as old as her father. It seemed unexceptional that they would marry on the condition he was not obliged to pay five thousand gulden for her hymen as is the custom.’
The very moment that I said this, Katherl’s feverish cheeks became quite pale. I picked up my bonnet and she asked me three times to repeat the exact hour I would return tomorrow. N.


‘Nan, you must tell me now. This story - does it have an ending?’
‘Do not all stories end somewhere? I replied.
Katherl stared at me from her pillows with flushed cheeks and glittery eyes.
‘Because if your story does have an ending, then it is either something that has happened in the past or something that has been already told.’
‘Wait until I finish before you make up your mind.’ I was impatient to pick up my threads while I still had wit for it. ‘This will be the slow movement before the finale,’ I explained and I saw how the sickly one swallowed a cough with difficulty.
‘After their arrival in Munich, every suitor of the baron’s daughters was the subject of argument. Rosa Anna, the eldest of the sisters was squabbling with Forget-Me-Not Theresa over a gentleman they had both danced with at a municipal ball.
‘You may have him,’ said Rosa Anna. ‘He is one of those who are shorter than their mothers.’
‘Thank you my dear, but do not give away what you haven’t got,’ replied Forget-me-Not Theresa.
‘I am partial to a certain Count Anton Friedrich. Like many of his position, he enjoys sleigh rides through the woods on his estate,’ remarked the second youngest, called Lily something.
‘But his hair is the colour of a cooked carrot,’ protested Maria-Laurel Magdalena, her own hair being auburn. ‘I prefer men to be invisible at night.’
They would argue about a type and not an individual. And none of their excited chatter compensated Schatzl for the loss of her garden in Augsburg or for the walks she used to take with her friends. The poor baron was unable to find any cronies as good as the old and he forgot how to play cards as well as the harpsichord. He became morose and silent and his six older daughters kept him in the background as they entertained their new friends in their new, grand house in Munich.’ N.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


‘Only the baron and Schatzl felt the least smidgeon of sadness at leaving Augsburg behind.’ I was again seated next to my friend’s sickbed and continuing the story.

‘Only a smidgeon? I thought you said yesterday that Schatzie was betrothed.’

‘That was a vague parental agreement at her birth. She was twelve years old and not keen on the idea of husbands but she was concerned by the loss of her friends. She missed her walks with them in Augsburg and the knowledge that the streets would turn left or right at the next corner and lead to others that would wind them back to the beginning. She missed the liveliness of those friends and streets and the scent of the flowers on the tree outside her old bedroom window, which reminded her of her poor dead mother.’

‘What about the baron?’
‘He missed his old cronies for a game of cards on a Sunday or a Wednesday after he had been to church and the feeling that his money was safely put away under the floorboards for a future that was in the distance. Now, everything to him seemed to exist in the present and even his harpsichord gave him little comfort as most of its strings had snapped in the move to Munich. He was also reluctant to spend any more money to have it repaired.

‘But he was comforted in his unhappiness by Schatzl whose real name, Violet Stephanie, he had forgotten. The remaining daughters were also called after flowers and saints, which was very suitable as each one was handsome and a regular churchgoer in the prime of her life. Little Schatzl, who had soft dreamy eyes and skin like dead ivory that is just coming to life, would always be known simply as his darling. N.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A Story for the Sickbed

Katharina Gilowska – my dear Katherl - stopped her dreadful wheezes – though not her coughing - the moment I agreed to tell her a story.
‘Please Nan, ugh-her, ugh-her, make it a long one for I need distraction from my chest.' She had closed her eyes on the pillow, at the same time waving me to sit down with her lace handkerchief as I paced around the room, wondering how much longer I would have to stay.
‘There was once in Augsburg,’ I began, ‘a widower with seven daughters and not another man in the pack. Since his wife's death, he had invested wisely in a guild that made coaches with doors that were higher than the custom.'
‘Why was that?' demanded my Queen of Invalids.
‘The widower had observed from his own daughters that the wigs for the ladies had become taller.' I paused to arrange my plot as Katherl worked on a coughing fit.
‘Ugh-her-ugh-her-err-her…Go on,' she gasped, and I found myself thinking of the reasons why I keep this diary - how I enjoy telling stories almost as much as writing music.
‘Go on, go on,’ urged Katharina.
‘The widower, Baron Von Breuner by name, managed to save seven thousand gulden for each daughter for her wedding day and said to himself with satisfaction that they were the prettiest, most accomplished young ladies a gentleman could wish to know.
‘One night, he was sitting at his harpsichord and happily playing an Italian overture with all the trills when six of his daughters came to him and argued with much kissing and persuasion that they would like to leave Augsburg and live in Munich to cut a dash.
‘But my dears, that would mean spending some of your endowment and I don't see why we should waste the money.' He was remembering the poverty of his earlier days when his dear wife was alive.
‘Why waste?' cried the eldest daughter.
'It would be an investment,' said another and all six pretty lips were pursed.
‘In Augsburg,' the father continued as he closed the lid of his harpsichord, 'one treads on pavements of gold. In Munich it costs gold to walk on them.'
‘Are we never to find husbands then? For surely, we will die old maids if we remain here.'

‘Cowed by such clamour and femininity and the very real problem that there were not enough men in Augsburg at that time, the baron agreed and they moved soon afterwards at some expense to a grander life in Munich.'

'And the seventh daughter? Did she go too?" Ugh-her-ugh-her-ergh-her.’ Katherl began a spasm of coughing in a show of great distress. 'You haven't mentioned what she thought about leaving home, Nan.'

'You would like to know what happened to Schatzl? She was the widower's favourite youngest child. She had rosy cheeks and underneath her wig, her hair was the colour of French jet.' I knew this would please Katharina as she was fond of fairy tales.

'Her waist was so tiny, she never had to wear one of those new fandangled corsets and her voice was sweeter than a canary's.'

‘I suppose she already had a lover in Augsburg.'

‘Exactly,' and I buttoned up my coat because I remembered I had promised Papa I would not be gone long. 'I will tell you more tomorrow.'

‘Then I had better remain as sick as a parrot,' sighed Katherl, her illness a performance for my benefit as she turned her face to the wall. When I left, I heard her coughing with a great deal of energy from the other side of the courtyard. Ugh-her-ergh-her-ugh-her.’ N