The Letters of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Volume 01

Language: English
Published: 1 month ago
Downloads: 0


Download options:

  • 277.28 KB
  • 762.66 KB



A full and authentic edition of Mozart's Letters ought to require no special apology; for, though their essential substance has already been made known by quotations from biographies by Nissen, Jahn, and myself, taken from the originals, still in these three works the letters are necessarily not only very imperfectly given, but in some parts so fragmentary, that the peculiar charm of this correspondence—namely, the familiar and confidential mood in which it was written at the time—is entirely destroyed. It was only possible to restore, and to enable others to enjoy this charm—a charm so novel, even to those already conversant with Mozart's life, that the most familiar incidents acquire fresh zest from it—by an ungarbled edition of these letters. This is what I now offer, feeling convinced that it will be welcome not only to the mass of Mozart's admirers, but also to professional musicians; for in them alone is strikingly set forth how Mozart lived and labored, enjoyed and suffered, and this with a degree of vivid and graphic reality which no biography, however complete, could ever succeed in giving. Who does not know the varied riches of Mozart's life? All that agitated the minds of men in that day—nay, all that now moves, and ever will move, the heart of man—vibrated with fresh pulsation, and under the most manifold forms, in his sensitive soul, and mirrored itself in a series of letters, which indeed rather resemble a journal than a correspondence.

This artist, Nature had gifted in all respects with the most clear and vigorous intellect that ever man possessed. Even in a language which he had not so fully mastered as to acquire the facility of giving expression to his ideas, he contrived to relate to others all that he saw and heard, and felt and thought, with surprising clearness and the most charming sprightliness, combined with talent and good feeling. Above all, in his letters to his father when travelling, we meet with the most minute delineations of countries and people, of the progress of the fine arts, especially in the theatres and in music; we also see the impulses of his own heart and a hundred other things which, in fascination, and universal as well as artistic interest, have scarcely a parallel in our literature. The style may fail to a certain degree in polish, that is, in definite purpose in expressing what he wished to say in an attractive or congenial form,—an art, however, which Mozart so thoroughly understood in his music. His mode of writing, especially in the later letters from Vienna, is often very slovenly, evidencing how averse the Maestro was to the task. Still these letters are manifestly the unconstrained, natural, and simple outpourings of his heart, delightfully recalling to our minds all the sweetness and pathos, the spirit and grace, which have a thousand times enchanted us in the music of Mozart. The accounts of his visit to Paris may, indeed, lay claim to a certain aesthetic value, for they are written throughout with visible zest in his own descriptions, and also with wit, and charm, and characteristic energy. As these combined merits can only become apparent by an ungarbled series of the letters, I have resolved, after many long years of zealous research in collecting them, to undertake the work,—that is, to publish the letters entire that have come to my knowledge.

It now only remains for me to give some words of explanation as to the method I have pursued in editing them.

In the first place, this edition, (being transcribed closely from the originals,) if compared with the letters already published, will prove that the latter are open to many corrections, both in trivial and more important respects. I have forborne, however, attracting attention to the deviations from the original text, either in Nissen or Jahn. I have no wish to be punctilious about trifles, where, as in the case of Jahn, the principal points are correct. Further, by this faithful production of the letters, (nothing being omitted but the constant repetition of forms of greeting and subscription,) we find many an additional feature in the Maestro's life, and chiefly various facts with regard to the creation and publication of his works, which may serve to complete and to amend various statements in Dr. Ludwig Ritter von Kochel's "Chronological Thematic Catalogue of the Musical Compositions of W. A. Mozart," (Leipzig, Breitkopf and Hartel). This will be effected not only by the hitherto unpublished letters, though comparatively few in number, but also by passages being given in full, which have been hitherto suppressed as of no consequence....