Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Day in the Country

A Day in the Country:

Murnau, Kingdom of Bavaria,
den 23. August

My Dears,
We are glad that the cleanup process from the angry waters has begun, and our thoughts are on all the victims.
This morning, Mama, Herr Meinke-Haibl, and I went to church and lit candles and prayed.
The weather this day in Murnau has been warm and mild.
Mama was feeling poorly, and she spent the day playing cards with Frau Posaunenblaser and sewing on her new dress.
Herr Posaunenblaser let Herr Meinke-Haibl and me exercise two of the horses, and we rode them around the whole of the Staffel Lake region around Murnau.
We fastened to our saddles some foodstuffs and painting supplies, and took the Auweg (meadow road) to the high alpine meadow, where we then spread out our picnic blanket and our Broetchen (rolls), goat cheese, and some red wine and apples. It felt so exhilarating to be partaking of a meal at the very foot of the majestic Zugspitze, Bavaria's highest peak. Everything looked so sparkling clean and untouched; the mantle of spring still hung over this blessed land.
Then we noticed a family come and set down some belongings to enjoy a similar picnic all together.
After dining, Herr Meinke-Haibl and I made the acquaintance of the family, and Herr Meinke-Haibl asked them if he might paint them.
They were amenable to his request, and the painting he fashioned above does illustrate the particular charm of the alps.
Well, my cheeks are still so rosy from the high altitude and the activity of our day.
I shall shortly blow out the candles and retire for the night.
I wish you all pleasant dreams and a bright new day.
Yours affectionately,
Sophie, nee Haibl

A "Little Lion"

Murnau, Kingdom of Bavaria,
den 27. August

My Dears,
Where pray tell is everyone hiding?
Well, Mama, Herr Meinke-Haibl, and I are still here in Murnau in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps.
As you know, the Posaunenblasers, our innkeepers, are animal lovers, and when there has been much traffic here at the inn, Frau Posaunenblaser has charged me with exercising her pet pooch, Loewchen ("Little Lion").
Is he not most precious and sweet? Loewchen is a very special dog, and reminds me so much of my own precious Tammy, one of our three dogs, back at home in Vienna.
In fact, Frau Posaunenblaser has even let me have Loewchen sleep on top of my bed at night, where he is not content to remain, but snuggles under the warm covers.
As ever,
Yours affectionately,
Sophie, nee Weber

Kaffee Anyone?

Murnau, Kingdom of Bavaria,
den 28. August

My Dears,
I was this night partaking of cards with our usual party: Mama, my dear Herr Meinke-Haibl, and Herr and Frau Posaunenblaser, our innkeepers.
The maidservant, Kristl, also served us at table some piping hot Bavarian coffee, which we customarily sip only at breakfast.
I then made discourse about an institution unique to Vienna--the coffeehouse--which Herr Meinke-Haibl has also experienced in the Habsburg capital--and the Posaunenblasers were most astonished to hear of such a place.
"Well, coffee is always to be had in our tavern, among an assortment of other beverages," Herr Posaunenblaser said thoughtfully, "but such a place where coffee is the main attraction...well, I'll be....Tell me Fraeulein, Weber, how did the coffeehouse come about in Vienna, and how long have they had such establishments?"
"Well Herr Posaunenblaser," I started to explain. "The best one to ask would undoubtedly be my esteemed brother-in-law, Herr Mozart, but since he is not at this moment here among us, I shall answer as best I can...."
My mind quickly flashed back to the heady days when my family was just arrived in Vienna and settled there.
We resided--indeed, still do--on the Petersplatz (Peter's Square), just behind Peter's Church, very near the Graben, and Papa and I soon discovered the Cafe l'Europe around the corner from us on the Graben.
We found such an array of newspapers from the whole empire therein, such as the Wiener Kurier, the Wiener Tageszeitung, and even the Linzer Daily Gazette, and sometimes even the Sueddeutsche Zeitung from as far away as Munich!
The main attraction was--coffee--and different flavors too.
The Viennese did order a cup or two of Expresso or Mocha Java, and liked as not stayed half the day reading newspapers, sipping coffee or nothing at all--and conversing with their friends or sitting alone, perhaps even engrossed in a book.
Gateaux or creme puffs or other pastry sorts--especially topped with whipped cream--were also to be had.
The proprietors did not care at all how long or how many hours one tarried there, or how little or much one consumed therein.
It seemed almost like a home away from home.
Later, Mama often accompanied Constanze and me to Cafe l'Europe, or to the Sacher or Deml coffeehouses, which are also in our same neighborhood, near the Opera House.
At present in Vienna, Mama and I together frequent the coffeehouses occasionally.
I continued my explanation, "Well, you know, when the Turks were at our gates in Anno 1688 at the time of my great-grandparents and almost conquered us--oh my, I am talking quite like a Viennese Fraeulein--Mannheimer though I may be.
I regard myself as an "adopted Viennese", I grinned and continued. "In their haste to retreat, the Turks accidently left behind a strange unknown, brown, aromatic bean. Well, many such beans, actually.
I do not know all the details, Herr Posaunenblaser, but I believe that it was an ancestor of either Herr Deml or Herr Sacher--Viennese gentlemen--who discovered how tasty and satisfying these pungeant beans are, brewed them, and put them to good use--introducing this bean to Central Europe and shortly thereafter, he opened the first Viennese coffeehouse.
Thereupon, the coffee craze spread in Vienna like wildfire--well, not quite--and more coffeehouses quickly opened their doors."
Herr Meinke-Haibl added, smiling a dimpled grin: "And I believe that later, when I am settled in Vienna, I shall make good use of these coffeehouse establishments as a most congenial place to compose. Well, I would normally compose at home, but if I am out and have some music paper with me, what better place...."
Mama won at cards tonight.
It was getting late, and she and I both excused ourselves, and up the stairs to bed we went, the tiny dog "Loewchen" tagging along behind us.
I scooped Loewchen up in my arms and planted him squarely on top of my eiderdown comforter lying on the comfy wooden bed.
Tomorrow, Herr Meinke Haibl and I must be up at the crack of dawn.
It is the day when Herr Posaunenblaser helps care for the baby panda Hua Mei in the small zoological gardens of Murnau, and he has promised that we may observe him at his work with his furry and adorable charge.
Wush--I am blowing out the candles, and so to bed.
Ever yours,
Sophie, nee Weber

A Special Time of Year:

Murnau, Kingdom of Bavaria,
den 26. August

My Dears,
I hope that you are all well.
Wolfgang, my dear brother, the week past you disappeared again into your abode in the Schulerstrasse, attracted by the strong, aromatic scent of your favorite Viennese coffee, and have as yet not come out from your study.
Either the coffee was so extraordinary that you are still enjoying its pleasures, or else you are very hard at work composing for the upcoming season.
I cannot believe that you are ill; your dear wife, Constanze, would have sent word of that.
We do hope to hear word from you ere long.
As for us, Mama and I, together with Herr Meinke-Haibl, are still lodged at the inn "Zur Goldenen Rose" in Murnau, Bavaria, very near to the village of Seehausen. There can we be reached.
Is it not amusing that I have at last a devoted swain, I who am the youngest of all the Weber sisters, do have an ernest and faithful admirer!
Oh Wolfgang and all my dear friends, I do so wish that our future would be clear for us to marry, and I know that Mama would also wish it so to be--but only if dear Mama could lodge with us or we with her, as she, now a widow, would not want to be deprived of the company of her kin.
But, alas, my beloved Herr Jakob Meinke-Haibl has--on parchment only--a wife, who resides apart from him in Cologne.
My darling did formally propose marriage to me, getting down on his knees to do so, but it was with the stipulation that marriage is at present but a dream.
As it is, you will be happy to learn that I am as ever a virtuous maiden, and have not compromised my beliefs.
You see, I do not wish to damage the reputation of Mama, my family, and myself by giving birth out of wedlock.
Now to pleasanter matters to be sure:
This morning, Mama, Herr Meinke-Haibl and I were invited by our innkeeper, Herr Reinhold Posaunenblaser and his spouse, Frau Bertha Posaunenblaser, to join them at table and breakfast together with them, Herr Meinke-Haibl being an old and dear friend and like a second son to the Posaunenblasers.
From the kitchen, the so pleasant aroma of freshly-baked hot crossed buns wafted over to our table, and with them, the maidservant, Kristl, also served sweet butter, current jelly, and piping hot, strong Bavarian coffee.
Herr Posaunenblaser mentioned to our party that the annual Oktoberfest is shortly to start in Munich, and that we shall most likely be so fortunate as to stay in Munich at the right and proper time to enjoy it.
He then arose from table to fetch a portrait which he painted a year ago when he was able to go down to Munich and attend the festival, and showed it to us.
The roads have been muddy again of late, and our thoughts are also on the unfortunate people hit by the calamity of the flooding. The postman said that repair work is now underway.
We are still lodged here in Murnau until the roads are in better condition.
I think of the beer festival about to start, and shudder when I think of Mama with us under a vast Munich beer tent....with so much opportunity and temptation....so many mugs of beer.
Well, at the festival, we shall all have to make an agreement and strict rule, which Mama shall have to abide by, of stopping at perhaps two steins of beer.....
I do myself recollect the beer festival.
When my dear Papa was still alive, our family resided in Munich for more than one year, before our move to the Habsburg capital of Vienna.
Now the midday has come, and Mama is going to accompany Herr Meinke-Haibl and myself on a stroll through the village of Murnau and its environs.
I love to walk Murnau's charming and quaint streets.
Until later, and as ever,
Yours very affectionately,
Sophie, nee Weber

An Aromatic Brew:

Murnau, Kingdom of Bavaria,
den 23. August

My Dears,

Greetings this day from the township of Murnau!
By the by, Mama and I must now descend the staircase of our inn and breakfast.
Wolfgang, dear brother, are you present?
I am recollecting your apt description of the pungent and so agreeable smell of fresh, strong, hot coffee being brewed.
You made quite a wild goose chase, dear brother, agreeable though it was, having thereby also taken a constitutional through the picturesque streets of our beloved Vienna, and that particular part of Vienna in the inner city around the Graben--my very favorite square--which led you right back to your own study! Haha!
I quite understand the irresistible lure of this dark beverage upon accidently taking a wiff of it.
I am at present delightedly taking in this very same aroma, which is being carried by the wind to the second story into our very bedchamber.
Here in Murnau, we often start the day with thick, freshly baked brown bread--straight from the oven--sweet butter and orange marmalade--and surely not to forget the strong, pungent Bavarian coffee.
This aromatic brew, coupled with the crisp alpine air, does wake us up, in readiness to begin a new day.
Mama in particular--after all the wine she upon occasion drinks at table, especially the night before--comes to herself again upon drinking this delicious brew.
Yours affectionately,
Sophie, nee Weber

This and Sundry:

Murnau, Kingdom of Bavaria,
den 19. August
Above: a portrait of Herr Posaunenblaser with his new charge at the Murnauer Zoological Gardens

My Dears,
Our innkeeper, Herr Reinhold Posaunenblaser, helps care for the animals in his spare time at the local Zoological Gardens. It is actually more of a breeding center for endangered species than an amusement open to the public, though they may come and gaze at and observe the various species of exotic animals not ordinarily seen on this continent.
Here, Herr Posaunenblaser is caring for Hua Mei, the Baby Panda bred and born here.
This evening, Herr Meinke-Haibl and I played four-handed piano in the music room.
I am also putting the finishing touches on a green dress I have just finished sewing.
I am stitching a brown silk fringe with a folding design along the whole fringe to adorn my dress, and in the center of the dress, I shall sew a dark green bow. It shall look most handsome, I believe, to promenade in around the town during the early fall season.
I shall also somehow have to make or procure a brown or green hat to complete the accoutrement (smile).
I wish you all a very good commencement of this week!
Yours affectionately,
Sophie, nee Weber

Late August:

Guten Morgen, meine liebe Marianne,
I am so glad to hear that you are well, and are enjoying so much your garden during these blissful late summer days.
Here in Murnau, we have also enjoyed fine weather, and my eyes had before not been accustomed to the alpine sights and new flora and fauna in these parts. Indeed, I am now reveling in their sight and scent.
In particular, the bluebells and heather are my favorites.
Dear Marianne, I will not breathe a word to Wolfgang that you are corresponding with Herr Feigele; that news is for our ears and eyes alone.
It is splendid that you and Feigele have found each other again, and I wish you every happiness for the future.
"How are you, my friend, your Frau Mama and your dear Herr Meinke-Haibl? What have I
missed while I was absent? Were you not just about to leave for Munich?"
Dear Marianne, things have scarcely changed since last we wrote. They are much the same.
Yes, but we have delayed our departure for Munich for awhile.
We most likely shall stay in Munich at least a fortnight or longer.
I am really looking forward to a reunion with my Papa's old friends--all the musicians--who used to play at the court in Mannheim and have been transferred to Munich after the elector of Mannheim inherited the Bavarian Electorship.
We also do not want to miss the annual beer festival, which the citizens of Munich call the Oktoberfest, and which commences this Anno on about the 21st of September and lasts for approximately two weeks.
Mama is in very good spirits and takes a keen interest in all the beautiful scenery about her, and in all the folk we have met on our journey.
I believe that Frau Bertha Posaunenblaser, the innkeeper's wife, is her new best friend; they do love to play cards and have frequent discourse together.
My dear Herr Meinke-Haibl is a special and tender friend. I feel now that I can trust him fully, that I can depend on him, and that he would not for the world hurt me.
It seems to me--and hush--this is a secret--that we belong together, that we were meant for one another. It is so good to have him; he is a great comfort and support in this world.
I do not, of course, want to think that my dreams have come true--not yet--for something could spoil them and burst the bubble.
What if his wife, Katharina, were to suddenly appear and want to resume their marriage?
So I must remain in the back of my mind a realist, and not get too carried away by my dreams and my infatuation--which has turned to love, and I must not take everything for granted.
We shall see how our friendship will stand the test of time......
You already have a child, dear Marianne, and now I long to have one too--with my dear Herr Meinke-Haibl.
Sometimes, I lie in bed at night and dream that my beloved and chosen one is the father of my child, my baby, and I imagine the baby to have a repliqua of dear Herr Meinke-Haibl's countenance--a little Jakob Meinke-Haibl!
Well, I am a coward, however, Marianne.
I will not let myself become with child.
As we are not man and wife, I do not wish to shame Mama or burden Herr Meinke Haibl until such time as that we should be legally joined together.
But if I never should have children of my own, I am most fortunate as to have many nieces and nephews whom I love dearly.
Two of them hold a very special place in my heart--the two sons of my dear sister, Constanze--Karl Thomas and Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart--your own cousins as well!
They are very sweet and affectionate boys, and delight also in each other's company.
At times, the boys can be rowdy and very mischievous--especially the elder, Karl.
In fact, I suggested to Constanze that Karl take up the pianoforte and practice--to keep him out of trouble--haha!
Constanze did heed my advice.
She was going to wait until Karl was a bit older, but did start him with lessons very young.
Constanze did not have to travel very far to procure for Karl a teacher of music and of the pianoforte.
In fact, his own father was desirous for Karl to begin as well and--you guessed -it--his Papa, my brother-in-law, Mozart, was and is his teacher.
Later, Franz Xaver was also to start his musical studies. He is a very gifted lad, and I do believe that Franz Xaver shall make music his life's work. Constanze believes strongly in his talent and realizes too that there will always be that unfortunate comparison with the brilliant music of my brother-in-law.
Franz Xaver must be strong, must above all believe in himself and in his talent--never mind that his father is the legendary Mozart.
He must not take it to heart if he is unfavorably compared to his illustrious father.
Oh Marianne, your trip in the open carriage must have been such fun--what an adventure!
Oh, I so want now to take a ride in the innkeeper's carriage--haha!
Perhaps I can later persuade Herr Posaunenblaser to let Herr Meinke-Haibl and me exercise the horses.
Ah, from the window, I can now hear the sound of the church bells ringing.
I also so love the sound of them, Marianne.
Hearing their sweet peeling reminds me of how timeless and full of tradition our lives often are, and how we are often guided and comforted by that very tradition.
Yes, Marianne, it is that time of year when school is to begin again. We here in Murnau shall soon behold the children in their lederhosen and dirndl and with their books--off to the schoolhouse.
We have one schoolmaster in the village, a Herr Alois Mosedig, who frequents our tavern here, and he teaches all the children.
It is so nice to look out my bedroom window here at the inn at the quiet streets.
The street lantern glow in the dark, and all is peaceful and quiet.
Yes, I hope that tomorrow, we shall enjoy fair weather.
Now, I shall blow out the candles, and yes, Marianne--let's hope for sweet dreams.
Gute Nacht!
Liebe Gruesse,

Herr Josef Haydn and Herr Ditters von Dittersdorf:
Murnau, Kingdom of Bavaria,
den 1. September

My Dears,
I hope that you are all well. I must make haste, as Mama and I are to go to Mass shortly in the beautiful Baroque Nicholas Church here in the village.
From my bedroom window, I can already hear the sweet sound of the churchbells peeling.
Well, I have great news!
Yesterday, Mama and I received here at the inn a most unexpected visitor.
I had been out by the lake with Mama yesterday morning early and we had been washing our clothes in the Staffel Lake which runs by the back side of our inn.
We thereupon hung the wet garments on a line in the back to dry, but also in the end had quite wet hair and partly wet clothing--haha.
A visitor was within waiting for us--none other than an old acquaintance from Vienna: Herr Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf, a composer and friend of my brother-in-law, Herr Mozart, and a friend of Herr Franz Josef Haydn.
Herr von Dittersdorf is here in Murnau staying at the estate of his old friend, the Duke of Villmar-Seelbach, who has commissioned some garden music from him.
How, you may ask, did Herr von Dittersdorf learn of our presence here in Murnau and at this very inn?
Well, it is from his colleague and friend, Herr Haydn, with whom I am closely acquainted and have been corresponding with since our departure.
Herr Haydn is recently come back from his long stay in London.
He often also corresponds with my dear sister, Constanze, in Copenhagen, where she now resides with her second husband, Baron von Nissen.
Herr Josef Haydn holds a special place in my heart of strong affection and tenderness.
No one shall ever replace my dear, departed Papa, but Herr Haydn comes closest to being a father figure and a dear and trusted friend.
Mama and I have occasionally been invited to dine with Herr Haydn at his home, and I have worked with Herr Haydn quite a few times by now in singing in his choruses and occasionally, singing solo, at the Redoutensaal in Vienna.
I believe that Herr Haydn seeks me out particularly because of my strong ties and link to my brother-in-law, Mozart, whom he so clearly misses.
Whenever I mention my brother-in-law, tears come into Herr Haydn's eyes, but he does not shy from speaking of Mozart.
Herr Haydn misses Wolfgang Mozart tremendously, loved and loves him very much, and thought of him as like the son he never had.
By the same token, I believes that Herr Haydn thinks of me as like a daughter, and is so solicitous and kind towards me--and I also think of him in kind.
The news which Herr von Dittersdorf brings us is that Herr Haydn shall very soon depart with the coach to Munich, and later, Herr von Dittersdorf shall join him there.
The latter also handed me a letter from Herr Haydn to be delivered to my person.
The Elector of Bavaria has commissioned the two composers to each write a symphony in honor of the Elector's Name Day.
Both composers have accepted the commissions--indeed, Herr Haydn is most happy to be able to see Munich once again--and these symphonies shall later in the month be performed for the Elector in Munich.
I am so happy that Mama, Herr Meinke Haibl, and I shall also be at that time in the Bavarian capital--and I have written to Herr Haydn telling him of my great pleasure at his news and requesting that we may procure billets for the concert from him.
Herr von Dittersdorf also has a message for Herr Meinke-Haibl from the Duke von und zu Villmar-Seelbach to compose a short piece for the Duke.
The Duke has asked that I sing, and that we have a musical soiree later at his estate.
Now, I also shall have to make extra good use of the music room here to ready myself for this night.
You know, just between you and me--Herr Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf comes from the same class that we all are from.
He is not of noble birth, but received his title from a noble patron in reward for his music and for other very noteworthy endeavors.
Ach, Mama is calling me--we must depart for Mass.
I wish you all a most blessed Sabbath and a good week to follow.
As ever,
Sophie, nee Weber

No comments: