The necessity of travel If a devotee of music somewhere between 1765 and 1780, happened to be doing his best to catch a glimpse of ‘wunderkind’ Mozart at work in his hometown of Salzburg, then he it is likely that he would have knocked in vain at the door of the Archepiscopal Palace. The young composer was probably on the road again. He had been employed (but without pay!) since the age of nine as violinist in the Archbishop’s court orchestra where father Mozart also played; but Mozart spent half of his time travelling, usually accompanied by his father. Leopold Mozart was a man with a mission. He was convinced that the birth of his exceptional son was a miracle that had descended on him, and he saw it as his holy duty to introduce Wolfgang to the world. He pursued this aim with diligence. Right up to the painful moment in 1781 when Mozart moved to Vienna and set up as an independent creative artist, father Leopold remained his impresario, concert manager, and the driving force behind Mozart’s career. For years on end, Mozart travelled constantly throughout Europe, from Pressburg (Bratislava) to Paris, from Naples to London. And Leopold arranged performances for the imperial family in Vienna, the Kings of France and England, and in the palaces of the religious and secular nobility of Europe. Mozart visited France on three occasions. During the great European tour as a little boy of seven and eight, when he visited Paris with his family, he was idolized. Every nobleman’s palace right up to the King of France, opened its doors to him. But when he returned in 1778 with his mother, it was a very different story. Mozart went to France with dreams of settling in Paris as an opera composer. His old friend Gluck and the Italian composer Piccinni ruled the roost, but they stood at the heads of two warring musical factions. And friendly Baron Grimm, “to whom”, according to Leopold in 1764, “we owe everything”, was by no means as forthcoming as he had been fourteen years ago. A 22-year-old Mozart was now only one among the many talented newcomers streaming into Paris. He was no longer the amazing six-year old curiosity, full of musical tricks and spectacular surprises, who had enthralled an audience eager for something new. No; this time Mozart did not really feel welcome in Paris. To make things even worse, Wolfgang’s mother died in Paris on 3 July 1778. In a most moving letter, Mozart informed his father of her death: “Mon très cher Père…”. The family member to whom he felt closest was gone. She had been a sweet-natured woman, with an inherent joie de vivre and a sense of humour that kept everything on an even keel: fortunately she passed both characteristics on to her son…….Download booklet
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