Tuesday, October 28, 2008

About Myself

About Myself:

My Dears,
We are this afternoon confined to our room at the inn. There is unceasing rain outside, so I am at my desk, and musing about my childhood.
I have not met some of you before, so I should like to tell you a little about myself.
My name is Sophie Weber.
I was born in Mannheim, Germany, in 1763, and am the youngest of Mama and Papa's (Caelilia and Fridolin Weber's) five children.
I guess that I am thus somewhat spoiled, being the youngest and the baby of the family.
My siblings sometimes call me "das Nesthaeckchen". I do not quite know how to translate it into English, but you can say that it is like a little bird, still in the nest, and generally means "the youngest".
My dear sister Constanze Mozart, nee Weber, was the second youngest and the closest to me.
We are separated in age by a little over one year.
Constanze was my childhood playmate, the one I most shared my childhood with.
Even today, we have remained very close.
I admit that I am trusting in nature, have led a rather sheltered life, and am perhaps somewhat naive.
Most especially, please, please do not breathe a word of this to my dear sister, Constanze, but I was Papa's favorite. Papa told me this.
I believe that my brother Johann, who alas is no longer with us, was Mama's favorite. He was the only boy among us four sisters, and Mama seemed more solicitous and, in general, kinder with him than with us...though I cannot complain that Mama was not kind and loving with us. She has always taken the utmost pains with us Weber girls, as she often reminds us still: "I have sacrificed all my married life so much for you!"
I must say, my dears, to maintain my composure and equanimity, I often have to tune out Mama's words from my head if she is in an ill humor.
Papa Fridolin was my best friend!
Dear Wolfgang, you are so right when you say that Papa and I were very much alike.
I loved to sit on Papa's lap while he read me stories or talked with me. We always sought out one another to talk, and I often to seek council from him.
Some of our friends remarked that I was "Daddy's little girl".
When poor Papa passed away, I was so distraught.
I had lost my best friend. Even today, I sometimes have most pleasant dreams with Papa there in life among us.
The rain is clearing.........
Yours affectionately,
Sophie, nee Weber

My Dears,
I neglected to mention that I moved with my family from Mannheim to Vienna when I was a young girl.
My elder sister, Aloysia, had commenced a singing career in Vienna, and Mama and Papa wanted to remain in close proximity to her during this time, so our entire family moved to the glorious capital, the city of musicians.
Shortly after our move to Vienna, my beloved Papa died.
Now we are on route to visit the home of my girlhood, and are come to Salzburg where, in a few days' time, Mama and I shall call on Mademoiselle Maria Anna, and Frau and Herr Leopold Mozart in the Hannibalplatz.
Ever yours most affectionately,
Sophie, nee Weber

To Wolfgang:

Dearest Wolfl,
I am very grateful that you are sharing your memories of my beloved Papa with me, and I know how fond you were of him and esteemed him, and he you!
I am grateful for your words, dear Wolfgang, concerning my Mama. I shall keep them in mind.
I am full grown, but I believe that at times, Mama still regards me as a baby; she tells me things that I have known for an eternity, such as "Do take your parasol with you; it looks as it might rain.....You have forgot your cloak; you shall catch your death of cold" This, Wolfgang, when the weather is so sultry and hot.
Dear Wolfgang, I shall convey your kind wishes and greetings to Mama.
Ever yours most affectionately,
Sophie, nee Weber

My Childhood:

Salzburg, den 11. Juli

My Dears,
It is rather quiet at present, and my writing about my childhood has started me musing about it.
I look outside the bedroom of our inn down at the uncustomary prospect below, right next to the Domplatz in the heart of Salzburg.
The pitter-patter of the soft rain falling has turned me inward and reflective.
Mama and I are here in our lodgings; we cannot go out at present, and I will tell just a little more about myself.
I feel that in the next several days, we shall be out and about with scarce a moment's repose.
I did not mention that although Constanze and I are practically of the same age and were childhood playmates, our characters are vastly different.
Constanze has inherited her practical nature from Mama.
I, on the other hand, tend to be dreamy and impractical--something I oftimes strive to correct--haha.
When we were little, Constanze and I often played "house", and my sister always took the role of the mother, and I was the child or the baby.
She took complete charge of my welfare in these games, and claimed that she being the elder--"knew it all", and her experience and advanced age entitled her to "superiority" over her little sister.
In our later childhoods, we were equal one to another, usually like giggly girlfriends, bosom buddies, and great confidants.
I do miss Papa; Wolfgang, you know that.......
As a very small child, some elder children bullied me a bit, I being smaller, and I thus developed with strangers a shy demeanor--however, not with my family or friends, with whom I was never shy.
I lost this shyness with strangers as I grew older.
There is still some daylight, and I am taking my music into the back room with the pianoforte to practice for Nannerl and Leopold.
Ever your true sister and friend,
Sophie, nee Weber

To the English soprano, Nancy Storace:


My dear Mademoiselle Storace,
I am so very sorry to hear of your unhappy experience in Salzburg. It must have been very distressing for all concerned when the letter from my brother-in-law, Herr Mozart, became lost.
But you must cherish the memory of having sung for Herr Mozart's father and sister.
I am hopefully going to be in that position in a few days' time, and I will not let myself think upon it, lest I get stage fright. I am not an experienced singer as you are. At our inn, there is a back room with a pianoforte, and I have availed myself of this unexpected gift and have already played and sung my arias one time.
I hope to be able to go there again tomorrow, before we call on Herr and Frau Leopold Mozart and Mademoiselle Maria Anna Mozart.
Oh Miss Storace, I have heard that Herr Leopold Mozart does have an eye for the ladies! I am not surprised! I am starting to giggle. Can you imagine that in mid-song, I shall burst out laughing! I will think other thoughts--haha.
I do hope that you shall travel again to Salzburg some day!
Yours most affectionately,
Sophie, nee Weber

Touring Salzburg with my Would-Be Suitor:

Salzburg, den 13. Juli

My Dears,
Herr Meinke from Prussia is still among our party as we make excursions through the environs and town of Salzburg.
Herr Meinke is traveling part-way to Bayreuth with Mama and me in the coach, as he is journeying in the same general direction.
He is a tutor at the estate of Count von Schwab in Frankfurt an der Oder, in Pomerania, and is at present on a leave of absence from the von Schwab family.
Herr Meinke told me that he used to be a player on the stage!
My dears, Herr Meinke is four-and-thirty years of age; I thought him younger.
He has a most pleasant countenance, with large sunken, steel-blue eyes, a nose not unlike that of Wolfgang's mother's family, and dimples when he smiles.
I know that he is taken with me, and I with him.
His Prussian accent intrigues me; we Mannheimers speak differently.
Above all, I am most attracted by his dry and jovial good humor. He is often making jokes and humorous observations.
Today, we toured the grounds of the beautiful Mirabell Palace in Salzburg.
The gardens are stately, orderly and very French, as opposed to wild English gardens. The statuary is most impressive.
The rose gardens and other foliage are all in full bloom, and the fortress Hohensalzburg, which we all visited yesterday, towered above us.
Mama went first with Herr and Frau Zeller, and I lagged behind the gravel path with Herr Meinke.
As Herr Meinke and I were promenading the garden path, he suddenly took my hand in his and gently squeezed it several times.
I blushed, but was most pleasantly surprised and pleased.
I would not be so bold as to address Herr Meinke by his Christian name, which he mentioned in passing to be "Erhard" and, as Mama made known to me, he already has a wife in Pomerania, though no children as yet.
This afternoon, as I practiced and sung my music pieces, which I hope to sing and play later for Herr Mozart and Nannerl, Herr Meinke turned the pages of my music book, and also made company by sharing in the singing.
He also played a tune for me on the pianoforte.
My dears, I also got closer to Herr Meinke, but not in quite the way you are thinking. Not quite.
I will never permit Herr Meinke to do everything he would wish.
Still, the feeling was new to me and indescribable.
Oh......I am blushing again.
No, no; I would not be a mother without a husband.
I am still young, and my mind can hold sway over my heart........
My dears, I bid you a jolly good night and tomorrow, a good Sabbath, and remain
Yours most affectionately,
Sophie, nee Weber

A Sunday Visit to the Salzburger Dom (Cathedral)

Sonntag (Sunday), den 14. Juli

My Dears,
The day dawned clear and bright--the perfect weather for this Sabbath day.
I have brought along on our journey Herr Goethe's new novella "Das Leiden des jungen Werther" (The Sorrows of Young Werther), and after breakfast with Mama at our inn, Die Zwei Turteltauben" (The Two Turtledoves), I retired back to our room for a while, and I sat by the window, engrossed in my reading.
Upon which, Herr Meinke came to call on Mama and me at the inn.
We three then made our way through the courtyard of the magnificent Domplatz (Cathedral Square) to the beautiful, early Baroque Salzburger Dom (Cathedral).
Though himself a Lutheran, Herr Meinke accompanied Mama and me to Mass, and sat with us in the pew.
This was High Mass, and one of Herr Haydn's masses was sung and played by the musicians.
I was enthralled by the soaring music of Herr Haydn and the soaring Baroque ceiling of the Cathedral.
After Mass ended, Herr Meinke again escorted Mama and me back to the inn.
Mama has reminded me on this Sunday to read one chapter from the Bible, and then again to my music, to practice for Herr Mozart and Nannerl.
I did not mention as regards Herr Meinke: He is still a relatively young man at four and thirty years of age, yet his deep-set blue eyes and dimples lend his face, when he smiles and laughs, to premature lines all around his eyes.
I must admit that I find this pleasing in him, as it imparts an aura of wisdom and maturity to his countenance.
Ever yours most affectionately,
Sophie, nee Weber

"Only On Parchment"

Salzburg, den 15. Juli

My Dears,
Today, Monday, is market day. Mama and I awoke to unfamiliar voices just after dawn had broke.
I arose from my feather bed, looked out our window, and saw vendors already setting up their stands and wares.
After breakfasting at our inn, Herr Meinke called on us and invited Mama and me to an exploratory excursion on foot of Salzburg.
Mama acquiesced and soon, we were off.
The market by then was in full sway, and I loved walking amid the vendors of everything and sundry: fruits, vegetables, every sort of victual: sweetmeats, meats, even livestock and small barn animals. Mama and I each took one of Herr Meinke's arms, and he escorted us to the Residenzplatz--a very large square which also holds a splendid palace, a beautiful Roman fountain, and the Salzburg Cathedral.
From there, it was a short walk on foot to St. Peter's Cemetary. This place is most amazing. You truly feel that you are in a mountain town; the hills are close all around, and everything seems carved out of a grotto. This spot is one of my favorite places in Salzburg. Against the Moenchberg's (The monk mountain's) rock walls is a collection of small gardens.
We continued our promenade to the Universitaetsplatz (University Square) and another bustling, outdoor market there. As Mama was busy questioning one of the vendors, Herr Meinke took me aside to a quiet, shady corner where only the two of us stood.
"Oh Fraeulein Weber," Herr Meinke began: "I love you. Ich habe Dich so lieb."
"Oh Herr Meinke", I blushed: "I.....am very fond of you. But.....you are married."
Herr Meinke turned and looked away from me.
He replied softly:
"Only on parchment."
"Fraeulein Weber.....I have no wife. Katharina and I were so young when we were betrothed--then later became man and wife. I hardly knew Katharina at the time of the nuptials. Our parents are distant cousins, and planned our nuptials practically since we were in the cradle, but Katharina lived far from me, in Cologne......We no longer live together. That is why she has bore me no children. I do not get along with her. Katharina has such a temper."
Herr Meinke continued, "I live at the estate of Count and Lady von Schwab, where I give their children pianoforte lessons and tutor them in German, Latin, Italian, French, English.........and geography.
My wife lives with a cousin in the town."
All I could say was, "I'm so sorry, Herr Meinke. So very sorry. I hope your wife will return to be with you......but you are married."
He reached over and stroked my cheek, took my hand in his, and kissed it tenderly.
We then rejoined Mama at the vendor's stand.
Today, we experienced the daily life in Salzburg, a town so dear to my heart.
After supping at our inn, Herr Meinke bid us good night, and Mama and I retired to our room, where we went to bed earlier than is usual.
It had been a full day.
I am affectionately yours,
Sophie, nee Weber

A Visit with Herr Leopold Mozart, Frau Maria Anna, and Mademoiselle Maria Anna:

Salzburg, den 18. Juli

My Dears,
This day, Mama and I called upon Wolfgang's dear Papa, Mama, and beloved sister, Nannerl, and we spent a most pleasant day and evening in their company.
We hired a carriage to take us to the new abode in the Hannibalplatz (square) where the Mozarts now reside.
The residence is most large and roomy.
The greenery we saw outside when we alighted from our carriage was very inviting. I would fancy that an aristocratic family lived in such a spacious house.
Herr Mozart met us at the entrance-way, and Mama and I curtsied deeply. "My dear Frau Weber, my dear Fraeulein Weber, please let us not stand on formalities. Do come in," Herr Mozart said in his deep voice as he welcomed us.
He led us into the parlor where Mademoiselle Mozart was waiting to greet us. She is thin and very comely and greatly resembles Wolfgang, and she smiled and we women all curtsied. "Do please call me Nannerl," she said. "And please call me Sophie," I replied.
"Anna, our guests are come," Herr Mozart called into another area of the house. Our came Frau Mozart, dressed in a lovely red-pink damask frock and a white apron. We ladies all curtsied again.
We all went into the salon and engaged in pleasantries. Frau Mozart said that she cooked for us a meal, and that we should proceed to the dining room.
We all sat at table, and a serving girl who lives with the Mozarts brought in our meal.
There was wine at table and garlic soup: most delicious soup.
Then came a Wurstsalat, a salad made with sausages.
Then the serving girl served us a Forelle Blau ("blue trout") with vegetables, which Frau Mozart had cooked.
Frau Mozart had just baked an Apfelstrudel (apple strudel). It was pipping hot, and she served it with whipped cream on top.
Then the serving girl brought us all hot coffee.
Wolfgang, what a wonderful cook your Frau Mama is!
Your Frau Mama is such a lovely, charming, cheerful woman. She seemed always to have a smile on her face, and often, a twinkle in her eye.
You and Nannerl look very much like her.
Your Mama has such a beautiful, alabaster complexion, and the rosy cheeks.
She and Mama got on famously. Later, they sat in the parlor for hours chatting and then playing cards. Later in the evening, after our music recital, your Papa, Nannerl, and I joined them for several games of whist.
Your dear Papa and Mama get on so well, Wolfgang; they are so happy in each other's company.
After supper, we all proceeded into the Tanzmeistersaal, which was a former dance studio, and is now used by your family as a music room, as you well know.
Well, I played my pieces: first, Wolfgang, your sonata number one in C for the pianoforte.
It went well.
The runs and arpeggios in the first movement are a lot of fun for me to play.
Then I played your "Alle Turca".
Whereapon I then sang an aria, which I also played on the pianoforte from Herr Haydn's "The Creation".
Wolfgang, my favorite part of playing for your family was at the end, when I sang the aria "Voi que Sapete" from your "Figaro", and accompanied myself on the pianoforte. I sang from the heart.
It was wonderful expressing myself in this way with a marriage of music, feeling, and family.
They all seemed very pleased with my effort, and I was happy that it went well.
I had also had that extra time at the inn to practice--haha!
Then Nannerl played your Twelve Variations on "Ah vous dirai-je, Maman" and your sonata number 15 for the pianoforte.
It was such a pleasure hearing her play.
Wolfgang; it is almost like listening to you play.
She possesses such skill and artistry as I have never heard before, except from you, dear brother.
Then Leopold and Nannerl played a chamber piece of yours both together, Leopold on the violin and Nannerl on the pianoforte. It was so beautiful. At the end, we all burst out with applause.
Then we proceeded to the parlor, where we all played a game of whist, and then we made our adieux. Our carriage carried us back to the inn.
It was before the midnight hour, but I did feel like the heroine in the fairy tale "Aschenbroedel" (Cinderella). The day and evening had been like a dream.
Oh, by the by, Leopold said to me before we departed, "My dear Fraeulein Weber," would your Mama and yourself do us the honor of making an excursion later in the week with my wife and myself to the hometown of my wife's birth, Saint Gilgen, on the Wolfgang Sea. It makes for a pleasant excursion, and is not terribly far from these parts."
I replied that we would be most honored to do so.
And now the hour is late, and so to bed.
I think that I shall dream this night about our lovely time today.
Yours very affectionately,
Sophie, nee Weber

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