Tuesday, October 28, 2008



DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

"A BIRTHDAY TO REMEMBER IN OLD VIENNA" is the exclusive property of Marti Burger, and is not to be reprinted without
her written permission.

© 2004-2008 Marti Burger

To Madame Maria Anna Thekla Mozart
Im Windhof 4a, Augsburg

Wien, den 25. September, 1804

My dearest Marianne,
Gruess Dich Gott, meine liebe Freundin! (Greetings, my dear friend!)
My warm greetings also to your mother, your daughter, Josepha, and your son-in-law, Herr Streitel!
And my congratulations and very best wishes to you this day of your birth, Marianne, for eternal good health and happiness!
My sister Constanze, Widow Mozart, and I are enjoying good health, as is our family, praise the Lord.

Marianne, you know of our boarder, Herr Georg Nikolaus Nissen; he continues to lodge with Constanze and myself, and, above all, offers his steady companionship, comfort, and faithful and true friendship to my widowed sister.
My dear nephew - Constanze’s son and your cousin, Franz Xaver Mozart - also resides with us; he is returned from his stay in Prague.
Wowi, as we call him, is now thirteen years of age and shows great talent and promise as a pianist; we have high hopes for his future, though the burden of his father’s fame and Wowi’s being inevitably compared to the great Mozart are vexations Wowi shall have to deal with, should he indeed follow in his father’s footsteps, as we believe he shall.

And Wowi is an acutely sensitive lad.
Marianne, these last years, Wowi has been a pupil of your late cousin Mozart’s dear friend and colleague, Maestro Josef Haydn, who instructs Wowi in pianoforte technique, music theory, and composition.
Herr Haydn takes an uncommon, grandfatherly interest in Wowi and concern for him.
Our dear friend Haydn was as shaken by Wolfgang Mozart’s early, untimely passing as all of us family members.
Wowi is making excellent progress under Maestro Haydn’s strict but kind and affectionate tutelage.
Herr Haydn has said to Constanze and me that Wowi does indeed possess a strong talent for music.
He hopes Wowi shall further his father’s great legacy and light the wick—so to speak—so we can again experience that bright incandescent light and flame which was extinguished far too soon.
And Marianne, I feel certain nonetheless that your cousin Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s own flame shall continue burning brightly.

We continue to reside in Constanze’s apartment on the Michaeler-Platz opposite the Imperial Theater, and greatly enjoy the convenience of living squarely in the Inner City, in the heart of Vienna.
It is much to my liking to observe the often-bustling passing scene in front of our dwelling, and the special elegance of this square pleases me.
And my goodness, Marianne – the Michaeler-Platz is but a stone’s throw from the Hofburg (Imperial Palace).
Can you imagine: I, a Mannheim spinster, am transplanted to the hub and core of Vienna – for me, the center of the world.
At times, I feel I am dreaming.
Nevertheless, I shall get off my high horse immediately, Marianne – ha ha!
Pay me no heed!
Vienna holds no candle to the elegance of your Augsburg squares, vistas, and promenades.

Marianne, my longtime, beloved friend, Herr Jakob Haibl, is now hard at work on a new opera, a singspiel called “Die Hoffnung” (“Hope”) for the Freihaus-Theater.
He is very near to completing it, composing the last aria of the third act this very day.
Then in a fortnight, rehearsals begin.
Herr Haibl insisted on adding a small role for me, Marianne, and one for his Papa, Herr Alois Haibl.

Oh my, I do feel all excitement and anticipation to be singing before an audience again – little though my role may be – and in taking part in an opera.
Herr Alois Haibl shall sing the role of the hero’s father and I, the heroine's best friend and confidant.
The principal singers have already been engaged for “Die Hoffnung” – the well-known Viennese tenor, Herr Anton Otto Ortlieb and his wife, Frau Hella Maria Ortlieb, originally from Prussia.
I have appeared on stage before with each Ortlieb, though not with both together.
Colleagues say that the two are no longer on speaking terms – at least, not at present – yet on stage, not only must they discourse with one another, but sing and portray a couple passionately in love.
Herr Haibl says we plan to open in mid-December.

By the by, Herr Haibl has discarded and is no longer using his full name of Herr Jakob Meinke-Haibl, but has decided this anno to simplify it solely to Jakob Haibl.

And, dear Marianne, my own birthday follows closely on the heels of your own.
This Friday next, the first of October, I shall celebrate my one-and-forty years.
And as always, with cooperation from our fickle Viennese weather, we - my family and the Haibls - shall enjoy a picnic in the Prater.

Oh, dear Marianne, I have great news to tell you!
My dear sister, Constanze, has arranged a concert for Saturday next (the day following my birthday) at the Theater-an-der-Wien, largely featuring and celebrating your cousin’s – my late brother-in-law’s – sublime music.
One of Wolfgang Mozart’s symphonies and a pianoforte concerto of his shall be performed.
Constanze has successfully secured the services of an esteemed pianoforte soloist - the famous sensation of Vienna – the young and dynamic Bonn composer, Herr Ludwig van Beethoven.
Herr van Beethoven shall also play a new, original composition, penned by himself.
How intense and turbulent Herr van Beethoven’s music is!

And our conductor?
Why, tis our dear friend, Herr Maestro Josef Haydn, who shall also honor us with one of his own symphonies!

Marianne, next Saturday evening, Herr Haydn shall fetch us and his pupil, Wowi, in his own carriage and transport us to the concert.
Marianne, Constanze and I have driven all over Vienna in our carriage, putting up posters to advertise the concert.
We are at present selling the tickets here within our dwelling.
The tickets can also be procured at the Theater-an-der-Wien.
Frequently, the doorbell sounds, and Constanze and I are much occupied as ticket vendors.

I very much look forward with eager anticipation to next Saturday’s concert, Marianne.
What a memorable moment it shall be to again see our old and revered friend, Herr Josef Haydn, now aged two-and-seventy years, on the podium, and to savor your cousin’s – Mozart’s - heavenly music.

Well, that is all our news, Marianne.
To you and yours a healthy, very happy and blessed birthday, with many affectionate greetings from your faithful friend,
Sophie, nee Weber

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