Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Widow Von Durst

She has no more than twenty-six years and her late husband was a salt merchant. It is true that she discourages all visitors to her apartment and that she dresses her dark brown hair by herself. She does not care for the society of philanderers, nor society as such I would say, but prefers the presence of her lap-dog, Finette. Papa arranged for me to have a harpsichord in Frau Von Durst's room, which looks out onto the market place. I think she is quite taken with Papa for she asks me to read aloud a passage from his treatise on violin playing before she retires to bed each night. I was not aware that she understood the finer points of string instruments but I noticed that her cheeks were uncommonly pink when I said the art of vibrato is to enrich the sound. It is my belief that her greatest art is not to conceal what she knows. N.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Lap-Dog in Munich

Papa, Wolfie and I are in Munich, though I am lodging separately with the Widow Von Durst. Wolfie is pacing up and down my room like a small dog with fleas. It is because the performance of his opera buffa, La finta giardiniera has been postponed and the carnival is already in full swing. There are gambling tables set up in the Salle de Redoute and people are wearing masks and making a perpetual noise and I am quite thankful that today I am in bed with toothache. Frau Von Durst's lap-dog, Finette, who has not got fleas, is keeping me company together with Wolfie. Papa said the postponement of La finta is a good thing as nothing sensible is performed here at this time because no one pays any attention. He also said he wants me to acquire the habit of dressing my own hair very neatly, putting on a neglige cap and making up my face without any help, but Wolfie says I am much better with my arpeggios.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

My Future

The loss of my great aunt has reminded me that I must earn a living if Papa were to die. He asked me why I was practising my gallanteries with such zeal and such determination.
'Your death,' I replied.
'Not yet,' he said.
'Not yet,' I agreed. "But when it happens, I will become a music teacher in Salzburg to pay for a pie.'
He laughed and said, 'Over my dead body.'
Exactly. N.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Death in the Family

Papa and Wolfi have returned from Italy and we have moved across the river to an apartment in Hannibal Platz. The windows look out onto the square and I can see our visitors arrive, which is useful when I want to run away.

Between the making and the rising of a pie to celebrate our new home, a very old aunt of my father was gasping for breath like a canary in a cage. She whistled with her head against the pillows as we gathered round, mother and I, wishing it were otherwise. The abbe came with enough rosaries for a choir. I could not help but feel it was for the best when she breathed no more and was out of pain.

The pie had burnt into a small pile of cinders but remembering my great aunt, I made another with more careful attention. We cut a fillet of venison into three or four slices, seasoned it with savoury spice, a little minced up sage and some sweet herbs, laid it all in the pie with six fine slices of pig at the bottom. Betwixt each piece, I greased it and closed the pie. N.