THE DIARY OF SOPHIE WEBER HAIBL, MOZART’S FAVORITE SISTER-IN-LAW
by Marti Burger
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.
"THE DIARY OF SOPHIE WEBER HAIBL, MOZART’S FAVORITE SISTER-IN-LAW” is the exclusive property of Marti Burger, and is not to be reprinted without her written permission.
"THE DIARY OF SOPHIE WEBER HAIBL, MOZART’S FAVORITE SISTER-IN-LAW”
© 2003-2008 Marti Burger
Wien (Vienna), den 1. Oktober, 1780
This day is my special day, my birthday.
I am celebrating reaching the age of seventeen years, and am near all grown-up.
This day, my elder sister, Constanze, presented me with this precious gift: you, dear Diary. I am so very happy to receive you! I love your beautiful red leather cover, how very special you are to me. Constanze herself keeps a diary, and thought that now would be an opportune time for me to likewise do so.
My dearest sister, Constanze, and I are very near of an age, she being but one-and-twenty months my elder. Constanze is very nearly nineteen. She is my closest and dearest friend in the world—my bosom companion.
Stanzi and I are kindred spirits. We discourse about everything of importance to us, and readily confide in one another.
No secret goes beyond our company, no confidence travels beyond our lips.
I might add that this brand new and precious diary shall also become my cherished companion and confidant.
Its rich beautiful red leather cover and sparkling gold key shall be the keeper of secrets, and be witness to my life, and to my thoughts and dreams.
I am this moment all excitement in welcoming my dear diary to the bosom of my family and my heart.
Dear Diary, the hour grows late, and tomorrow, I shall describe my special day and my birthday celebration to you.
Wien, den 2. Oktober, 1780
Today, Monday, is once more but an ordinary day.
Yesterday--the anniversary of my birth seventeen years ago--on the other hand, still lingers dreamily in my memory.
I should love to relive my special day with you, dear Diary.
I cannot help but smile as I begin…….
This year, my birthday fell on a Sunday, so the normal workday was far removed from our home, hearth, and city of Vienna.
I reside with my dear mother, Frau Caecilia, Widow Weber, and my three sisters, Josefa (Josi), the eldest, Aloysia (Loysi), the second eldest, and Constanze (Stanzi), the third in age—I, Sophie, being the youngest.
It has now been fully one year since we moved with my dear Papa, Herr Fridolin Weber, to Vienna.
We live in a large building on the Petersplatz (Peter’s Square) called “Zum Auge Gottes” (“at God’s eye”), on the second floor.
Our apartment looks over the Petersplatz, and I dearly love to gaze down on the busy street scene below--the ever-changing parade of people and activity unfolding before my very eyes.
From our front windows, we can see the side of the towering Saint Peter’s Church situated opposite our building, and behold its round, muted green dome.
Dear Diary, what an immense, grand city the imperial capital of Vienna is—so much larger and more vast than Mannheim or Munich.
When I was first arrived in Vienna, I would walk around spellbound, taking in the wondrous sights of all the many huge, wide buildings and the impressive baroque architecture, the many burghers here fashionably attired, the bustle and noise of the multitude of horses and carriages and of these city dwellers--which seemed to stretch on and on.
I am a brunette of middling height with curly hair, large brown eyes, and a slim figure.
Our dear, beloved father, Fridolin Weber, was suddenly called to the Lord barely one month after our arrival in this Habsburg capital on the Danube, so Mama, with our help, has had to turn our apartment on the Petersplatz into a boarding house to make ends meet.
We are from Mannheim, located on the confluence of the Rhine and Neckar Rivers, and had resided in Munich for one and a half years before coming to live in Vienna on account of Aloysia’s appointment as soloist at the Court Theater.
You see, my two eldest sisters are professional opera singers.
Aloysia, as I mentioned, sings at the Court Theater (Burgtheater—Imperial Theater) next door to the Hofburg--Imperial Palace--and Josefa at the Volksoper (Light Opera Company) on the edge of town.
You can imagine that there is much singing and a cacophony of music making in our home—my sisters practicing, our two pianofortes humming along busily.
This special atmosphere and I might call it—beautiful noise—is not for every likely boarder.
It needs be tolerable to their ears and hearts.
Therefore, what boarders we have are from the same sphere—namely, Musikers or actors, though usually music students.
My dear Mama is not shy in advertising for boarders.
She has had a vast number of cards printed up, and they are readily at hand.
If her garments contain no pockets, she will keep one or two hidden in her bodice for safe keeping, in case she should encounter a likely prospective boarder.
The cards read:
Rooms to Let, Reasonable Rates
Frau Caecilia Widow Weber, Proprietor
Petersplatz 11, Zum Auge Gottes (“at the eye of God”)
Opposite Saint Peter’s Church
Clean Rooms, Breakfasts Included
Delicious Meals can be Arranged
I recall how we encountered our very first boarder, the superb actor of our Imperial Theater, Herr Josef Lange.
Aloysia had invited Mama, my sisters, and myself to attend a play called “Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark” by an old English master, Herr Wilhelm Shakespeare. The star of that play was Herr Josef Lange. I must say that Herr Lange has indeed a beautiful countenance, and he emoted most impressively. After the play, Aloysia presented us to Herr Lange, and quick as a whip went Mama’s deft hand into her bodice and out came the card and into Herr Lang’s ready hand.
So there you are, dear Diary.
Our first boarder—and soon thereafter, Aloysia’s own fiancé.
The nuptials shall take place in but a month’s time, on October 31st.
Constanze and I are the sisters most likely engaged in the day-to-day chores of our boarding house: helping with meal preparation, at which Josi, by the by, excels, mending, cleaning our boarders’ bedchambers, helping our two maidservants with the washing, helping to serve meals, and above all, running errands for dear Mama, which she often has us do.
Constanze and I would be far more skilled on the pianoforte than we indeed are—if only we were granted sufficient time to practice, to solidify, and perfect our art. Perhaps later, this gift of time to practice shall come to pass.
Oh, I can play fairly well—and Constanze too—and I take great pleasure in playing the pianoforte and also in singing—as does my dear sister, Constanze.
Dear Diary, I sometimes ponder my fate…..if my beloved Papa were still among us, he would surely have taken pains to further develop Constanze and my music and singing skills, as he so devotedly guided to fulfillment the musical education of my two elder sisters.
Our apartment is directly opposite the side of the grand Saint Peter’s Church.
The peeling of its bells is our call to rise in the morning, and its sweet soothing repetition accompanies our day.
Our section of the city is bustling with inhabitants and activity.
Adjacent to our street is the Graben (“ditch”) Vienna’s main street—the hub and the heart of the city, filled with carriages, coaches, townsfolk, shops, coffee houses, soft drink stands, booths selling sweets, ice cream, and Mandelmilch (almond milk) and several theater stalls.
The Graben is absolutely my favorite place to be in all Vienna.
I immediately fell in love with its charming square, and count myself fortunate to live not two streets away.
I especially love the tall blazing golden sculptured column in the center of this wide Graben Square—the central part of the long Graben street.
The streets which intersect our building on the Petersplatz are the Graben on one side and the Milchgasse (Milk Lane) on the other.
Speaking of Milk Lane, that is where our two servant girls, Hedwig, aged seventeen years, and Kristl, her sister, aged fifteen years, reside with their family.
The girls have only to cross the road to go to and fro morning and night.
The butcher, Herr Bernatzick, in the nearby Hoher Markt (High Marketplace), highly recommended the sisters to Mama.
They are kinfolk to him—his cousins.
Sunday is our servant girls’ day off.
I excitedly woke up yesterday morn—Sunday--knowing it is my special day!
Mama, my sisters and I, and Herr Lange attended early Mass at Saint Peter’s Church, then returned home and breakfasted.
Besides Herr Lange, we have two other boarders, Herr Guenzburg and Herr Schaefer—music students.
They departed the house early—Herr Guenzburg journeying outside the city to visit his parents and Herr Schaefer to call on his Aunt this Sabbath day.
Herr Lange had promised me a surprise which would be forthcoming.
As yesterday was my birthday, Mama excused me from the household chores, and I was happily free to practice the pianoforte to my heart’s content while Mama and my sisters attended to the preparations for my birthday celebration.
Mama made ready some punch and wine, Josefa baked a sumptuous Schokoladentorte (chocolate cake), and Alosya and Constanze fashioned chicken and ham sandwiches, and cooked some beets on the fire.
Then came the grand moment of the opening of my birthday presents in the parlor: from Constanze came you, dearest diary, from Mama--warm woolen mittens for the coming winter, from Josefa--a lovely, charming small figurine of a little girl and her dog, from Aloysia—a new green muslin bonnet adorned with beautiful, delicate lace.
Herr Lange then excused himself from our party, explaining that his surprise would be coming forthwith and thereafter, his birthday gift.
He came back shortly thereafter announcing with a bow and a flourish his surprise: Herr Lange had rented a horse and carriage for the afternoon, and we were all to proceed at once to the Prater for a glorious, lazy Sunday afternoon of picnicking and enjoying nature’s bounty—and watching, as it were, the world pass by.
The empty canvas under Herr Lange’s arm was going to be my birthday gift from him—a watercolor etching of the Prater which he would draw this day from nature.
Mama explained to me that my guardian, Herr Johann Thorwart, had not been invited to partake in our merriment, as his stern, august, and slightly frightening presence would most likely upset my sisters.
So picnic baskets laden with foodstuffs and blankets in hand, off we went in the rented carriage to the Prater.
For October, the afternoon was pleasantly and comfortably warm—an echo and breath of summertime in early fall.
Herr Lange fastened the dappled brown horse to a hitching post, and we sat on our blankets and made merry—relishing the comraderie and the delicious meal, and later singing all together German folksongs which are familiar and dear to us. How I love to sing.
A strolling violinist happened upon our party, and Herr Lange bid him tarry awhile with us and play while we partook of our delicious victuals.
Herr Lange remunerated the Musiker for his entertainment and all the while, we savored his dulcet tones and our delectable lunch.
The musician played popular tunes and ditties for us.
This is pure heaven, I dreamily thought--conversing with my family, enjoying their company, and happily looking up at the clear blue sky.
Then Herr Lange set to work on his etching.
Constanze and I took a promenade around the park, savoring the sights and sounds of nature and the abundant greenery all around us—a haven for us city dwellers.
Mama drank much of the wine she had brought along, and we others mostly imbibed the delicious apple punch. All the while, we were contentedly indulging in people-watching—not to mention observing all the horses and carriages--noting the passing parade of townsfolk, their manner of dress, their amusements.
I marveled at Herr Lange’s simple yet beautifully rendered watercolor etching. This thespian, born to tread the boards and my future brother-in-law, is likewise a painter of talent. He used primarily pastel colors: light blue, pink, and green, with a smattering of other, darker hues.
Herr Lange has etched the broad Prater walkway surrounded by grass and trees and a small pavilion, with people loitering about and conversing, some folk dressed in their Sunday best, and the horses and carriages passing through—in short: art imitating life.
What joy—I thanked Herr Lange profusely!
The painting shall have a place of honor, proudly adorning the wall of my bedchamber.
It shall forever be a reminder of a most magical day.
Wien, den 3. Oktober, 1780
There shall soon be a great change for us in our humble boarding house here in Vienna on the Petersplatz.
Loysi, my elder sister, will very soon leave the bosom of our family and hearth to set up her own household, together with Loysi’s intended, who will by then be her new husband, Herr Josef Lange.
The first daughter to marry and leave home—henceforth, we shall indeed be a “Dreimaedelhaus” (a house with three maidens)!
Another piece of news greeted us bright and early this morning at the breakfast table: Herr Lange exclaimed excitedly that he has decided to purchase his own horse and carriage. We already had learned of the apartment that he has rented for Loysi and himself on the Graben, quite near Saint Stefan’s Cathedral.
My sister and future brother-in-law’s new home is thankfully not far from ours, within comfortable walking distance in fact.
My sister and Josef (by which name I shall soon call him) will move to the Graben on their wedding day, but the new horse and carriage shall be quartered in our stables out back until then. (We Webers, of course, lack for a horse and carriage, though this luxury is not a necessity for us.)
And towards dusk this day, Herr Lange did bring his brand new horse and carriage hither!
It is an exhilarating moment to first glimpse and to welcome a new animal into our family, as it were.
Herr Lange’s new steed is an extremely handsome one year old. “We shall call him ‘Hamlet’," he informed us, grinning jovially and with a twinkle in his eye.
Hamlet is tan and white with a white mane, and warm, soulful brown eyes.
Herr Lange’s new carriage is yellow-colored, a light two-person private carriage called a desobligeant.
Dear Diary, a short while ago, before disrobing, slipping into my night chemise, and blowing out the candles for the night, I could not resist dismounting the stairs, taking a lantern and a carrot out back into the cool evening air and getting to know Hamlet—we two starring into each other’s eyes while I gently petted Hamlet, talked softly to him, and fed him the carrot.
Wien, den 4. Oktober
Might I digress but a little and tell you a little more about our life here in Vienna?
Constanze and I are again sharing a bedchamber—but at least I have my very own bed there. Hurrah for that!
When Constanze and I were little, we had to share a bed.
One year ago, when my whole family moved into our apartment on the Petersplatz, I was permitted for the first time a room of my very own—and how I delighted in it and relished my newfound privacy!
But after dear Papa’s passing and the realization that we would have to take in boarders, Mama requested that I move into Stanzi’s bedroom—with my bed in tow--so that Mama could rent out my old bedroom.
Josefa and Aloysia also had to double their sleeping quarters, although Mama still keeps her bedroom overlooking the Petersplatz, which she had shared with Papa.
Down the street is a furniture-maker, and he fashioned for Mama two brand-new beds for Josefa’s and my empty bedrooms.
The rooms are now rented, along with the other spare bedchamber.
My dear sister Stanzi and I are as ever very close.
Since we are again sharing a bedchamber, it seems Stanzi and I hardly ever fail before bedtime to indulge in sisterly confidences and gossip, and even now on occasion—pillow fights, joking, and gales and peals of laughter together.
Dear Diary, let me describe Vienna and our lodgings a little more completely.
Residing here in Vienna is much to my liking, but the city suffers in some respects compared to Munich and my hometown of Mannheim.
Vienna is far noisier. One needs get accustomed to the frequent hawking of goods on our square and all about, the habitual sound of workmen chopping wood out front, the clatter of the horses’ hooves, the carriages and coaches on the cobblestones, the often unpleasant city smells (relating to the horses) which need be frequently cleaned and washed down, and ach, um Gottes willen—the wretched dust—so much dust flying about from the horses, carriages, and coaches!
In fact, our streets are sprayed twice daily in order to settle the dust.
In "Zum Auge Gottes" (“At God’s Eye”), there are four stories in all, and I mentioned, dear Diary, that our lodgings are on the second floor.
Our building, like many other large buildings here, has a large vaulted ground floor composed of trade shops, where many of the tradesmen dwell in back of their shops.
The entrances to the stables are to be found there as well.
Other buildings nearby, such as the building next door, contain a coffee house.
Dear Diary, I have not yet introduced to you my cherished house pets—three little dogs who own us more than we own them: Tammi, Kitzl (little fawn), and Paddi.
Tammi and Kitzl are very small, white female dogs with large pink ears—Kitzl has one pink and one brown ear—and pink noses.
Those precious pink noses steal my heart.
Kitzl also has a large brown spot on her back.
They are beautiful, affectionate little dogs.
Paddi is a terrier originating from Scotland called a west highland white.
He has the mien of an aged Scottish gentleman, with his white whiskers and lovable face.
Tammi is quite the tiniest dog I have ever laid eyes on; she must have been the runt of the litter.
Tammi sleeps on my bed with me—or rather, in it.
You see, when I place Tammi on my bed, she has a fondness for slipping under the bedcovers.
Earlier, both Tammi and Kitzl shared my bed with me.
But of late, they had begun quarreling fiercely, long after the candles had been extinguished—fighting over territory—and it did not take me long to deduce that the hotly disputed territory was—me. The quarrel had to do with who shall have the privilege of sleeping right next to me in a favorite spot.
At night, when I am fast asleep, the fighting between the two erupted-startling me into awakening.
Tiny Tammi cannot jump onto or off the bed by herself.
My dear sister, Stanzi, was at first amenable to the notion of Kitzl then sleeping nightly on or in her bed—that is, until the great barking counterpoint and chorus commenced!
Kitzl jumped off Stanzi’s bed and started barking ceaselessly at Tammi, who barked back.
The dialogue and duet between the two continued unabated until I let Kitzl out my bedchamber door.
Kitzl then returned to the parlor or kitchen, her usual domain with Paddi.
Curiously, when it is not bedtime and I sometimes do place Kitzl on my bed beside Tammi, they get on well together.
Tammi has a predilection for generously licking Kitzl’s ears—and it was only at night when I was in bed asleep that the fighting between the two burst forth.
That is why Kitzl now curls up cosily at night with Paddi in the parlor, on a small rug meant for our canine companions.
Our good mother is very partial to Paddi.
She talks to him frequently and Paddi, in a strange but welcome sense—since I know Mama is lonely—has partly taken the place of my beloved Papa.
Ach—a soft pillow thrown by Stanzi has just hit me in the shoulder and caused me to drop my quill!
I heard Stanzi’s reproachful voice from the bed, “Sister, you are practically burning the midnight oil! Cease your writing for now, Sophie! You know full well that Mama wants us to run errands bright and early tomorrow morning, and we must be up at the crack of dawn!”
"Sister," she added grinning, “I am this moment almost sorry that I gave you that diary!”
I then added as an afterthought, “The burning of my candles need not disturb you, Stanzi. I shall put them out soon, by and by.”
“I am only teasing, sister dear," Stanzi smiled and sighed, turning over in bed.
“Sophie, this is something I shall have to get used to after all.”
Wien, den 5. Oktober
This day dawned sunny and cloudless, as perfect and mild an early autumn day as my birthday was.
After breakfasting, Mama sent Stanzi and I out this morning to run errands for her—to purchase beef at Herr Bernatzick’s butcher shop, flour at the miller’s establishment, and muslin at the cloth shop, along with corn and carrots at the greengrocer’s.
Before Stanzi and I departed our lodgings, she told me she would also take me to visit the new bookshop, located nearby on the Kohlmarkt (“Cabbage Marketplace”), where she had found and purchased my diary.
Dear Diary, the tiny bookdealer’s shoppe is nestled cosily between two larger establishments—the milliner’s shop and workshop and the cloth shop.
A hanging wooden sign overhead in the form of a book reads “Egil Ekko’s Bookshop.”
The proprietor, Herr Egil Ekko, was alone within, smoking a long clay pipe.
“Gruess Gott, Fraeulein Weber! Delighted to see you again! And who is the lovely Mademoiselle accompanying you?”
He spoke German with a noticeably Scandinavian accent.
His accent is quite charming, I might add.
“Herr Ekko, this is my younger sister, Mademoiselle Sophie Weber.
Sophie, Herr Ekko hails from Christiania (Oslo), Norway.”
We both curtsied, and Herr Ekko bowed politely and eagerly.
“Yes, my dear ladies. I am a visitor—a new resident--here in Vienna.
I almost feel like an adventurer in this fair city, but am in truth but a bystander. Do not let my pipe smoking bother you, dear ladies. Rest assured that I have been granted a license by Their Majesties to permit my customers and myself to smoke within these walls.”
He smiled disarmingly. “My dear Mesdemoiselles; I dearly relish this vice and habit of mine, but I am the last person on earth to recommend it. It is a dirty habit, and should never touch the lips nor besmirch the constitution of you, fair Mesdemoiselles. I myself smoke far too much, alas.”
“I have never seen a woman smoke!” I hastily retorted.
“Dear Fraeulein, I am no clairvoyant with powers to see into the future, but let us hope it remains so,” Herr Ekko laughed unassumingly.
I looked straight at Herr Ekko, and felt a strange, sweet, intoxicating power come over my heart. What was this? Was it infatuation…..love?
I hurridly looked away, and dared look up at him again.
Herr Ekko is not a tall man. I know that he is much more advanced in years than I, and he has a round, sweet face with lovely features, blue eyes, and the most heavenly smile that I have ever seen. What an angelic and adorable countenance.
He wears not a wig, nor does he power his straight dark blond hair, worn at his shoulders. Framing Herr Ekko’s lovely face is a pair of dark, prominent spectacles. The glasses and the pipe give Herr Ekko an air of maturity—which in his years he undoubtedly has—wisdom, and experience—good and bad—an air of having been through the fires of hell, a slight world-weariness, born of experience and nurtured by sadness and by life.
By God, dear Diary—the sight of Herr Ekko in contemplation and deep in though, sitting with his rumpled hair and smoking on his water pipe--sets my heart aflutter.
Constanze interrupted my thoughts, “Sister, I want to go have a look at the hats and bonnets next door. Would you mind staying here awhile? I shall be back shortly.”
“Yes, dear sister. Do go and enjoy yourself. I shall be fine.”
Herr Ekko and I were alone.
We commenced to talk, and had a lovely conversation.
He told me that he is seven-and-forty years of age.
My goodness—Herr Ekko would be of an age with my dear Papa!
Herr Ekko is also with wife, and has two daughters, slightly younger than myself.
Ach, zum Teufel! (the devil)—How my heart sank.
However, I managed to mask my disappointment well, did not let it show on my face nor in my demeanor.
Herr Ekko spoke softly and modestly, “I wanted to see what life is like outside of Norway, dear Fraeulein. So I found myself here with my family in this glorious Habsburg capital. I am a writer by trade, and still write for the Christiania (Oslo) Gazette. I send my newspaper back at home articles about events here in Vienna. But I need support my family; I was also obliged to find an additional means of earning my bread and so, I yust opened my bookshop.”
I love the way he pronounced “just”—“yust”!
I told Herr Ekko about myself and my family, about our slowly getting accustomed to life in Vienna—something we recent arrivals both have in common.
I immediately sensed a mutual and profound attraction between Herr Ekko and myself.
In Herr Ekko’s presence, my whole being was energized and felt truly alive.
What were these new longings and pangs in my body?
I went over to the bookshelf and looked through all the many book titles.
Suddenly, I looked up and caught Herr Ekko starring at me through his dark, thick spectacles.
Without missing a beat, I quickly looked down again and pretended to concentrate on my book browsing, my body in an unfamiliar but sweet uproar.
I settled upon a small, thin volume of verse by Herr Wolfgang Goethe.
I was thankful that I had saved some money from my allowance and was able to purchase the book.
I love to read, and also gave evidence of my good intentions to this mysterious, somehow irresistible and lovable man.
My God, Sophie, I thought to myself. I know Herr Egil Ekko is married.
I would never go so far as to commit adultery with him, to lose my innocence, to form a serious attachment with an espoused man.
But yet, but yet. Ach, how I would love in this case to listen to the voice of my heart and utterly to obey it.
Yet hush, be still, my heart!
To take the leap and go all the way now and with this man--that, I would not do, Sophie.
My conscience and good sense overrides my passions.
But what would it be like—to lose myself in exquisite longing, to give in to it, to truly love a man with all my senses, to know that he loves me--and share our love without bounds and inhibitions—what would it be like; what would it feel like?
Just then to my regret, my dear sister, Constanze, came to rescue me.
We both bid Herr Ekko adieu until the next time, and continued with our errands for Mama.
This night, before blowing out the candles, Constanze and I, sat on the bed as is our wont--laughing and jesting.
All of a sudden, I felt apprehensive and asked my sister, “Stanzi, do you have any special feelings for Herr Ekko?”
I wanted the answer to be a resounding “no!”.
I could not bear the thought of Stanzi and I both being in love with the same man!
“Herr Ekko? The bookdealer? Why no, Sophie. Not at all. Why do you ask?”
“Sister, I find him particularly appealing—but never fear. I know that he is married. Oh, Constanze; a weight has been lifted from my shoulders! I am so relieved nonetheless. I know that I can not permit myself to feel seriously about Herr Ekko,” I giggled.
“Ach, Constanze,” I probed. “Are you sweet on someone in particular?”
I saw Constanze’s cheeks slowly turn beet-red, and she shyly answered, “Dear sister, this is between us alone. But I have never forgotten Herr Wolfgang Mozart. Dear Herr Mozart…..” her voice trailed off.
I so vividly remember our close friendship with the slight and endearing young man whom Papa and our family took to our hearts so long ago in Mannheim. This onetime Wunderkind, this amazing composer and musician.
Actually, it seems a long time ago, but has scarce been three years since first we met…….
“Sophie, I keep thinking of him. I want so much to be with him, to hear from him….Dear sister, I…..harbor such tender thoughts of Wolfgang Mozart.” Constanze lowered her eyes, almost ashamed to reveal the extent of her feelings.
A brilliant idea suddenly occurred to me, and I brightened.
“Sister, dear sister—Do write him a letter! Let Herr Mozart hear from you!”
“Oh my!” Constanze’s rosy cheeks seemed to burn fiercely.
“Sophie—How can I? Herr Mozart is probably married by now, or has a fiancée. He may no longer be in Salzburg; he very well might have found an appointment at another court. I am sure he is much occupied……”
“Stanzi, you will never know unless you try.”
“Ach, mein lieber Gott.” It seemed that Constanze’s blushing extended up to her forehead and down through her toes.
She grabbed my shoulder: “I shall do it!” Hesitatingly and haltingly, Stanzi pondered aloud, “I know not his complete address, Sophie. Only ‘The Dancing Master’s House, Hannibal Square, Salzburg’. And Herr Mozart’s father was not kindly disposed towards us Webers--unfairly so, since he does not even know us personally.
If I write to Herr Mozart, and the letter reaches its destination, perhaps Herr Mozart’s father might rip it to shreds, and Herr Mozart would never know that I have written him.”
I gently laughed. “Do not listen to your fears, Stanzi. Listen to your heart.”
“Sister," Constanze smiled at me, relieved. “Go to bed! Close your eyes. Do not let my writing disturb you, dear sister! I am going to write to Herr Mozart now--and tomorrow, you and I shall make a trip to the post office and send my letter off.”
I lay my head upon my soft white pillow, and tiredly but excitedly closed my eyes.
I was still conscious of the flicker of light from the candles as Constanze sat at the desk writing, and I soon drifted off into a peaceful slumber.
Wien, den 14. Oktober, 1780
This evening, Mama, Stanzi, and I were seated at supper.
Josi, Loysi, Herr Lange, and our other two boarders were all out.
The doorbell clanged noisily, and I jumped up to answer it.
It was the delivery postman, who handed me a letter, “For Mademoiselle Constanze Weber!”
“Stanzi; it is for you.”
I handed my sister the letter.
“Oh!” Stanzi gasped, “A letter from Herr Wolfgang Mozart!”
Mama became extremely excited and agitated, and jumped up from her chair, clasping her pudgy hands to her ample bosom.
“From Herr Mozart!,” she exclaimed. “Oh, I knew it! I knew it all along!
I knew he never forgot us! Maria Constanze! Hurry up, girl! Open it up! Read it! Read it!”
“Mama!" Constanze protested. “I cannot, you see. It is private. Herr Mozart addressed the letter to me.”
“Nonsense!" Mama reacted impatiently.
“Mama," Stanzi calmly began again, “I shall read the letter to myself first, and then give you the gist of it.”
Mama and I waited anxiously as Constanze scanned the letter, during which her countenance lit up and she smiled.
“Well, all right," Stanzi stated matter-of-factly, endeavoring to seem casual.
“Herr Mozart and his father and sister are all well.
He calls me ‘Stanzi Marini'," she giggled. “He writes what great pleasure and happiness it gives him to hear from me out of the blue.
Mama, Herr Mozart wrote this next part backwards; he is teasing me…….Really, Mama; I need not recite it,” she blushed.
“Go on, girl!” Mama cajoled, red in the face.
“Oh, Mama. Tis intended for no ears save mine! He asks about my life in Vienna, what I have been engaged in, mentions a symphony and a quartet he has of late composed, inquires after your health and all my sisters’ health.
This next section concerns Papa.
Herr Mozart writes that he is so sad and desolate to hear of Papa’s passing, sends us his profoundest condolences, how he is with us in our sorrow, and shares our loss.”
Mama suddenly erupted into tears and great sobs.
“What a kind soul! What a precious lad! My girl, Herr Mozart is one in a million!” she exclaimed through the copious tears which streamed down her plump rosy cheeks.
Tears welled up in Constanze’s eyes now too, and she struggled to keep in control.
“There, there Mama. All right,” she hesitated. “Herr Mozart asks how often I think of him……He writes in that vein about…..about thinking of me.
Oh Mama; I cannot repeat all this; it pains me. Do not request it again……..
He bids me adieu and kisses my hand 1001 times—backwards and forwards, and signs his name ‘Monsieur Trazom’.”
Stanzi seemed so ill at ease, and rose to leave the table.
Mama begged her to stay and added, “You must write that dear man back straight away! You two have a special friendship. It needs be nourished and cared for!”
Constanze looked thoroughly embarrassed and replied, “Tis nothing, I assure you, Mama. I will wager that Herr Mozart is just being kind.”
Mama seized desperately on Stanzi’s words, gasping, “Yes! Kind—and ach, so kind-hearted! A real jewel! Dear Herr Mozart is unique, one of a kind; we shall not see his like again! And so gifted, such talent, such a promising future!”
I knew intuitively that Stanzi did not want to raise Mama’s hopes and expectations and desired at the same time to preserve her precious privacy.
Were Stanzi later to be hurt, rejected, and broken-hearted, she did not wish Mama to know of her shame and humiliation.
Later, before blowing out the candles and retiring for the night, Constanze confided in me, “Ach, Du lieber Gott, Sophie! What rotten luck! That postman just had to come by while we were supping with Mama! And I—fool that I was—just had to say that the letter was from Herr Mozart!”
Constanze suddenly smiled blissfully and serenely, lost dreamily in a private world.
“Oh Stanzi,” I glowed, “You see; you did not need Herr Mozart’s complete address. ‘The Dancing Master’s House, Hannibal Square, Salzburg’ sufficed. And now you do have his full address.
And Herr Mozart’s father did not tear up your letter before it reached his son,” I added.
My sister retorted happily, winking at me, “Well, sheer luck again, Sophie—this time for the good—that Herr Wolfgang Mozart saw the letter first!”
“Stanzi, you see; I told you! Are you glad that you followed my counsel and wrote Herr Mozart?” I grinned mischievously.
I added, “I am happy for you, Stanzi.”
My grin was contagious.
My sister’s face was aglow as she quietly replied, “We shall see, Sophie.”
She then smiled, “Dearest sister, some day there shall be a special gentleman for you.”
And so the dark enveloping night gently embraces our dreams as we are then free to dream them.
Wien, den 15. Oktober, 1780
This sunny Sabbath afternoon, Mama declined our invitation to accompany us next door to Kaffeehaus (coffee house) Neumayr, saying she had much to do at home. Josi, Loysi, Stanzi, and I were to spend some time at Neumayr’s drinking coffee, reading newspapers and gazettes, and engaging in discourse with one another.
I discovered after awhile that my “monthly visitor” had made an appearance a trifle early, and I was obliged to return home to procure some clean cloth, promising my sisters to return shortly.
Inside our apartment, I immediately heard two voices emanating from our parlor. Mama’s voice was louder and shriller than the other which, I recognized, belonged to Herr Lange.
I wondered what was transpiring, and I crept towards the parlor and stood in the doorway.
Mama and Herr Lange had their backs to me. Mama exclaimed at fever pitch, “Herr Lange, in marrying my daughter, you realize that you are depriving me of her future livelihood! How is a poor widow like me to fend for herself and survive in this cold, cruel world?”
“Widow Weber, I feel obliged to you. I support my own dear widowed mother and, rest assured……mother……I shall provide you with a lifelong pension.”
Mama’s tone suddenly changed. “My dear boy! My dearest son!”
Just then, Mama turned around and noticed me standing there in the entranceway. She gasped, “Maria Sophie! What on earth are you doing here? Why, you and your sisters are spending the afternoon at Neumayr’s!”
“Pardon me, Mama. I needed to come back to fetch something. I am returning to Neumayr’s immediately to rejoin my sisters.”
Mama turned to Herr Lange and exclaimed, “Herr Lange, would you please excuse me a moment,” took me by the hand, and led me into the kitchen where we two were alone.
“Mama, pray tell; what is this about a ‘pension’?” I asked.
“My child, these are grown-up concerns. They need not trouble you.
You know full well, Sopherl dear, that we are deprived of the company, of the earnings of your dear, late Papa.
Dear child, the world is not fair for widows. We womenfolk are obliged to see that we are provided for when ere we can.
Your poor, careworn Mama has unburdened herself to you, dear Sopherl. And you know as much as you need know.
Now, my child--you must never repeat to Josefa, Aloysia, Constanze--nor to anyone else--what I just told you. Promise?”
“I solemnly promise, dear Mama.”
“That is my good girl, my Sopherl!” Mama beamed and threw her chubby arms around me in a warm embrace.
Mama then bid me accompany her in rejoining Herr Lange in the parlor.
She smiled broadly, saying cheerfully, “Dear Herr Lange, we shall now drink a toast to celebrate this happy occasion—your nuptials and becoming a member of our own family!”
Mama fetched the wine and also poured me a glass.
“But Mama, I am drinking coffee at Neumayr’s.”
“Just a glass, dear girl. Why, afterwards, let Herr Lange and I both join you there.”
“Splendid idea, Frau Weber,” chimed in Herr Lange.
He clinked his wine glass to each of ours, proclaiming, “Here’s to good health, and the joining together of our two families! After the wine, we surely could use a good strong cup of our delicious Viennese coffee!”
And so, all three of us adjourned to Neumayr’s, where all our family then made a party and a Kaffeeklatsch (discourse over coffee) of it.
Wien, den 21. Oktober, 1780
This day, I feel autumn clearly in the air.
The leaves are falling in profusion, and there is a new briskness to our climate.
Josi, Loysi, Stanzi, and I were all busy in the kitchen this afternoon.
Josi was cooking an Eintopfgericht (stew), and we sisters were chatting together and helping Josi by peeling potatoes and preparing and cutting vegetables and beef.
Josi said, “Sisters, I have made us some hot coffee; we had none this morning. Come, fill your cups.”
We all did so, save Loysi.
Josi exclaimed, “Loysi, you love coffee!”
“Not at present, sister,” Loysi frowned disapprovingly. “The smell and taste of it renders me sick. But I have such cravings for a delectable sour pickle!”
“A pickle? Loysi, you have never fancied pickles before!” Josi pondered.
Loysi grinned guiltily, as though she were hiding a huge secret.
She said softly, sheepishly, “Sisters, I am with child. Near two months gone. I am sure of it. My confinement shall be next May. But,” Loysi animatedly raised her voice, “do not think that Josef and I are forced to marry! We are truly in love, and would have become man and wife regardless!”
We each gasped in astonishment, and all of us went to embrace Loysi.
We wished her God’s blessings and favor.
Josi eyed Loysi archly and then uttered, “My dear sister, I cannot for the life of me imagine you—a mother!”
Loysi grinned, “Nor can I, sister.”
Josi remarked, “Sunday last, when we were all together at Neumayr’s, I noticed, Loysi, that you scarce touched your Kaffee.”
Loysi nodded and affirmed, “Ach, I could not, Josi! Ugh! Though normally, I love hot coffee. And do you recall how I had to excuse myself twice and go out back? I felt sick. I am glad it was not noticed or questioned.”
Loysi frowned, “Sisters, I shall have to hire a wet nurse right away! I cannot bear the thought of being away from the stage!”
She winked and exclaimed jauntily, “Do you suppose our Mama still has some milk stored away?” She laughed, “Mama could be stimulated into producing it again and being my wet nurse!” We all chuckled.
Josi replied resolutely, shaking her head, “Sister, I am afraid those days for Mama are long past.”
Loysi pouted, “When my condition is obvious to behold, sisters, I shall be obliged to bid my beloved Burgtheater a temporary adieu! Verdammt!”
“Loysi,” my cheerful voice contrasted with her whining complaints, “What a blessing to be a mother! How lucky you are, Loysi!”
In the back of my mind, while uttering those words, I was also mindful of the risks of childbirth. However, I am ever confident that all shall be well.
Loysi is strong, and with God’s help, she shall be safely delivered of a healthy baby.
Imagine—Mama shall very soon become a grandmama, and my sisters and I—aunts!
Wien, den 20. November, 1780
Yesterday, as the long afternoon was drawing to its close, I finished rehearsing a scene from “Der Bettler” (“The Beggar”) with its star, the renown Viennese thespian, Herr Manfred Mosetig.
The director, Herr Oskar Josef Bschliessmayer, and the other players scurried out of the Burgtheater (Imperial Theater), since the day’s duties and chores were done, and out into the early darkening Viennese dusk they went, relieved that a day’s efforts were well-accomplished.
There remains still much in the play to iron out.
Herr Mosetig and I remained behind in the corridor, laughing together, as Herr Mosetig smilingly reminisced with me about his debut in the theater.
“Have no fear, my dear Fraeulein Weber; we were all of us green once.”
Just then, a thunderous, deafening explosion, which was followed by strong pellets of rain, shattered our mirth.
“A cloudburst," Herr Mosetig injected.
But the powerful, ceaseless rain and thunder continued unbroken, first, for one-half hour, then hour upon hour.
I had never before experienced such long, angry crying from the heavens.
Herr Mosetig shared with me some bread he had brought along, but yawning and a desire for sleep increased for both of us as the long night wore on.
Thank goodness that Herr Mosetig’s horse and carriage were safely quartered in the stables out back.
His horse is a beautiful white mare with tan spots named Frieda, and his carriage is a green two-seated Pirutsch, which suits Herr Mosetig admirably for the daily journeys to and from the suburb of Wieden.
“My dear Miss Weber, the rain shall cease by early morning at the latest.
Then I shall drive you home right away, before driving home to Wieden.
Sleep is overtaking me. I know of just the thing.”
He ushered me backstage, into a small antechamber, where a bed and blanket lay waiting.
“Fraeulein Weber, I saw to it that this cot was put here, in case the need ever arose again. You see, once a long time ago, it happened that I found myself caught alone in the theater at night, and a mighty thunderstorm struck. And I am the sole member of our company residing outside the city, in Wieden. Some nights after a performance, when the weather was so wretched, I was mightily thankful for this cot.”
“But Mama shall be beside herself with worry!” I exclaimed.
“Never you fear, my dear Fraeulein. Your Mama shall realize what has transpired and know that you are safe and are waiting out the storm.”
Dear Diary, I am entrusting the following confidences only to you and to my dearest sister, Constanze.
I trusted Herr Manfred Mosetig completely.
He is so guileless and kind.
You know, Herr Mosetig is seven-and-thirty years of age, exactly twenty years my senior, not much taller than I and wiry of figure, olive-complexioned, his hair the color of salt and pepper, mostly dark.
Herr Mosetig has a gentle, winsome, kindly smile.
Intuitively, and also for want of experience, I trusted this modest, gentle man.
In spite of the interminable storm, the air remained warm.
How it transpired, dear Diary, I cannot this moment say, but it seemed so natural and without shame that Herr Mosetig and I should shed our outer garments.
I looked deeply into Herr Mosetig’s hazel eyes; do they not say that the eyes are the mirror of the soul?
Herr Mosetig’s eyes radiate sincerity and honesty.
“How can a gentleman with such kindly eyes ever hurt me?” I reflected to myself.
Ach, I know I am but seventeen years of age.
I recognize my still childlike, trusting nature and naivety, and I desire to believe that my innocence and trust shall not be betrayed, though many life experiences, through God’s will, lie in the cloudy future.
Dear Diary, I trusted Herr Mosetig, and knew that nothing would happen.
For the very first time, I have seen a man entirely in the flesh, as God has created him.
While both of us lay relaxed and unclothed on the cot, Herr Mosetig spoke to me concerning infidelity.
“My dear Fraeulein Weber, you need have no fear of me. I am no dandy, no seducer of women. I make all that so complicated in my mind —the thought of being unfaithful to my wife and eventually hurting a Fraeulein. I cannot just do it and leave,” Herr Mosetig laughted softly. “So I do not do it,” he smiled.
“My younger brother, Kurt, on the other hand, dear Fraeulein, makes nothing of it, nothing complicated, no second thoughts. Sometimes I wish I could be like my brother, but I cannot,” he sighed and shook his head thoughtfully.
“Dear Herr Mosetig, please do not change and lose your conscience!” I earnestly implored him.
Dear Diary, this day dawned fair and unclouded.
The early morning sun was already shining as Herr Mosetig and I awoke beside one another as God has made us, and the air, cleansed from the storm, was crystal-clear.
Herr Mosetig and I hurriedly put on our clothing.
The streets and buildings appeared in extra sharp focus as under a microscope.
Many leaves and some tree branches lay scattered about on the streets, and the now almost barren trees of our city appear ever closer to the approach of winter.
Herr Mosetig accompanied me to our door and rang the bell.
Almost before the first ring had sounded, there was Mama at the doorway beside herself. “Ach, Josef Maria--my Maria Sophie! I was so worried and upset! Praise the Lord you are come back to your Mama safe and sound!
Pray tell, daughter, were you caught unawares at the theater by the heavy rains?”
“Yes, Mama. May I present to you our leading man and the star of our play, Herr Manfred Mosetig.”
Herr Mosetig bowed, took Mama’s plump hand, and kissed it gallantly, softly saying “Kuess die Hand, gnaed’ge Frau.” (“I kiss your hand, dear Madame.”)
After Herr Mosetig departed for home, Mama began to cry softly, “Maria Sophie, my dearest girl. What has that man done to you?”
“Mama! Herr Mosetig did not deflower me! Nothing happened!”
Mama’s intense, steady gaze bore into me. “Are you sure, my girl? I shall summon Herr Thorwart, your guardian, to have a talk with Herr Mosetig!
Maria Sophie, that actor shall be responsible if anything untold has transpired!”
“Oh Mama, do not summon Herr Thorwart, I beg you! I am a virgin, as I was yesterday. Herr Mosetig is not a rake. He would not be inclined to touch me, nor would I permit it.”
Mama replied, “Oh Maria Sophie, I am sorely tempted to go fetch a medical surgeon to examine you and ascertain that all is as it should be. But dear Maria Sophie, you know full well I am not a despot, but am ever a concerned Mama. No; I would not do that, my Sopherl dear, my dearest child. I trust you.”
Mama concluded her admonishment by pecking me on the cheek.
This night before bedtime, as the candles still brightly burned, I giggled with Stanzi as I recounted to her my adventure of the night before.
Stanzi smiled understandingly, “Do be careful, dear sister. Do not let it go so far again. Keep your stays fastened,” she laughed gently.
“But of course, dear Stanzi. And I am keeping myself for later, for my one true love.”
And with such romantic thoughts running through my head, I extinguished the candles, and sleep and sweet dreams beckoned.
Wien, den 30. November, 1780
I have the most dreadful news.
Herr Manfred Mosetig and I were rehearsing the garden love scene when Count Rosenberg-Orsini, the director of court theaters, suddenly appeared in our theater and announced to all those present that our beloved Empress, Maria Theresia, was called to the Lord last night at nine o’clock.
I felt a shock go through my being.
There was a stunned silence beyond all power of expression among our company.
I can scarce believe this turn of events.
It seems as though the Empress has always ruled over this kingdom—well, for well neigh over forty years.
I saw the look of surprise and sadness come over Herr Mosetig’s features.
Herr Manfred Mosetig—the dear friend of my bosom.
He is a native son of Vienna, born and bred in this grand city on the banks of the Danube.
I impulsively took Herr Mosetig’s warm, gentle hand in mine, and held on to it.
At that moment, I would have loved to hold him tightly and press my face into his comforting chest, remaining forever safe in that warm, cozy cocoon, and giving him comfort and sustenance as I too received it from him.
Count Rosenberg-Orsini cried, “The Empress is dead! Es lebe der Kaiser! (‘Long live the Emperor!’) Long live our Emperor, Josef II!”
The whole company echoed, “Long live Josef II!”
These past fifteen years, Maria Theresia co-ruled with her son--her husband, the Emperor Franz I Stefan, having died.
However, it seems Maria Theresia has always been Empress; her long reign has defined our age.
I hear tell that Josef II has great enjoyment in music.
He plays instruments and composes.
He greatly esteems concerts and the opera.
As the court is in mourning, there shall be no theatrical or operatic performances in Vienna for one month forward.
Count Rosenberg-Orsini added that the premiere of “The Beggar” shall take place one month from this day, on December 30th.
Rehearsals of our play, however, are to be continued during this upcoming month.
All our company then adjourned to the Hofburg Chapel next door to the theater, where we attended a Mass celebrating the life and praying for the soul of our late Empress, Maria Theresia.
Wien, den 16. Maerz, 1781
This morning, Constanze told me excitedly with flushed cheeks that Herr Wolfgang Mozart is arrived this day in Vienna, or should be arriving momentarily.
Her last letter from Herr Mozart was penned five days ago, before his departure from Salzburg.
Herr Mozart, the court organist, is in the employee of Count Hieronymus Colloredo, prince archbishop of Salzburg, who is in town to visit his ailing father.
Herr Mozart shall be residing with the archbishop’s other employees at his headquarters in the House of the Teutonic Order, near Saint Stefan’s Cathedral.
Late this afternoon, Stanzi and I were returning home after fetching victuals at the greengrocer’s, our arms laden with foodstuffs.
As we climbed the stairs to our apartment, we noticed a thin, blond-haired gentleman with powdered hair mounting the stairs ahead of us.
When he reached the landing and headed towards our door, Stanzi let out a gasp.
The gentleman turned around, spied us, and his face lit up in a wide grin. “Bonjour, mes demoiselles!”
Stanzi gasped, “Herr Mozart!” We rushed to the landing.
Herr Wolfgang Mozart ceremoniously bowed, and we hastily curtsied to him.
Stanzi and I are so overjoyed to be reunited with our old friend from Mannheim.
Our good mother, too, was elated to see Herr Mozart.
She bid him relax in the parlor, had me quickly prepare some fresh Kaffee (coffee), and brought in some delicious Schokolatentorte (chocolate cake).
What a jolly time we all had reminiscing and catching up on the past few years!
Wien, den 25. April, 1781
At present, our humble apartment is bereft of boarders—not one single solitary one.
For the time being, our household consists but of Mama, Constanze, and myself.
Herr Guenzburg, the violin student, has been appointed second violinist in the court orchestra this month just past.
Herr Schaefer, our other boarder and likewise a student of music, was persuaded last week by his family to return to his home on the outskirts of Vienna to be apprenticed to his father and enter the hat making trade.
Herr Schaefer had told me before departing that regretfully, he found he lacks the musical talent he hoped to acquire and nurture, and that a secure trade suits him better than remaining a mediocre Musiker.
However, our good mother yet desires for Stanzi and me to leave things as need be and continue to share Constanze’s bedchamber where, I must confess, at least I have my very own bed.
The free rooms are there for later, when they shall be rented by new lodgers.
Wien, den 1. Mai, 1781
This day, Herr Wolfgang Mozart called upon us.
The poor man seemed to be in an agitated state.
Mama served him red wine, Broetchen (rolls), and fresh, sweet butter.
“My dear ladies, I implore you to rent me a room this very day!
I cannot bear to reside one more moment under the same roof as my princely employer! He makes my life intolerable! I can no longer endure to be but a servant, to be placed at table with the other servants. And we musicians are assigned a lower rank than valets! I did not know I was a valet!
I at least have the honor of sitting above the cooks.
I am also forbidden to concertize or earn any money on my own.
I shall need the room for one week, Frau Weber; at such time, the archbishop and all his retinue must depart again for Salzburg.”
Mama gave Herr Mozart our best bedchamber save Mama’s.
Josef Lange, my new brother-in-law, was its last occupant.
The bedchamber is roomy, and affords a splendid view of the Petersplatz.
Wien, den 6. Mai, 1781
Herr Wolfgang Mozart has been lodging with us these last five days.
It is so very good to have him again within our domicile, almost as part of our family!
Those four and one half months in Mannheim after Herr Mozart entered our lives nearly four years ago were the happiest of my life till the present time.
Herr Mozart became a close friend of Papa and of all us Webers.
Dear Herr Mozart has such a childlike nature—has both child and adult within his heart.
At our home in Mannheim, Herr Mozart laughed with us, and played dice and jacks with Constanze and me upon the floor as though the three of us were children.
He brought Stanzi and me out of ourselves. He made us feel special and important. He joked with us and made us laugh.
Herr Mozart gave us sisters pianoforte lessons.
Our house was suddenly alive with laughter and merriment.
Herr Mozart’s presence among our family was magic; our family was transformed—and this endearing, short and slight of build, eccentric young man with the lovely countenance, prominent nose, sandy blond hair and prodigious musical talent—had stolen all our hearts.
I knew that Herr Mozart was then courting my elder sister, Aloysia, a budding opera singer.
Herr Wolfgang Mozart, then as now, seems always in motion, fidgeting with his hands, playing imaginary notes on the table, on the walls, sometimes even leaping over tabletops, jovial, joking, finding the humorous side of things, jokingly playing on words.
Nine months after departing Mannheim, in the dead and cold of winter, Herr Mozart called upon us in Munich on his return journey to Salzburg after the passing of his beloved mother in Paris.
He stayed with us a fortnight.
Ach, Aloysia turned him away then; she was now a star of the Munich court opera and no longer needed his help.
I felt so sorry for Herr Mozart.
Since Herr Wolfgang Mozart is come to lodge with us five days ago, he has once more transformed our humble Weber household.
Herr Mozart has given our hearth energy and purpose—and new life and warmth.
I observe that our good mother behaves differently as well.
Of late, she had seemed depressed, moody, and out of sorts, ofttimes not even bothering to brush her hair mornings.
I know that Mama misses my dear Papa dreadfully, as do I.
Mama slouched around the house with a woebegone, gloomy expression on her careworn countenance.
I know at night that Mama did not go to bed as is her wont; instead long after bedtime, she sat despondently drinking glass after glass of wine or rum at the kitchen table. Several times, late in the night, I was awakened by noises emanating from the kitchen. I had to rise from my bed, tuck Mama in her own bed, and put the wine or rum away in the cupboard.
Now, Mama does not tarry in the kitchen at bedtime.
There is no wine or rum bottle left on the table, no imbibing of wine or rum by her lonesome late at night.
Mama is up bright and early, her hair well-brushed, a contented smile adorning her face, as she bustles about our household.
Mama’s posture is ramrod straight and purposeful.
I hear her humming the old folksongs and ditties from Mannheim as she used to.
How Mama is doting on and spoiling Herr Mozart!
She has Constanze and myself tending without fail to his comfort and well-being, taking every care that his wardrobe is regularly clean, that he always has a snack or coffee if he so desires it.
Mama herself has overnight become a gourmet cook again—quite like my eldest sister, Josefa.
Dear Mama takes such pleasure and pride in planning sumptuous meals that would please Herr Mozart’s discriminating palate.
Mama is just as partial towards a simple but absolutely delicious meal for Herr Mozart.
She desires nothing save to please him and cater to his every need.
Mama has put our two pianofortes entirely at Herr Mozart’s disposal.
And this afternoon, my good mother took great pains with a late afternoon snack of fresh homebaked Brot (bread) and butter with the Kaffee (coffee) she lovingly prepared.
She had Stanzi and me put our best linen on the dinner table, and at four o’clock, she cordially bid Herr Mozart join us in the dinning room for a coffee-snack.
Mama even lit the candles.
They glowed cheerfully from the table, though it was not yet dusk.
Herr Mozart sat at table with Mama, Constanze, and myself, as we all savored the pungent Viennese coffee, the delicious bread straight out of the oven, and our lighthearted conversation.
Suddenly, the talk turned serious.
Mozart looked pensive and blurted out, “I must leave Vienna in but a few days’ time, my dear ladies. Oh, if only I did not have to depart; if only I could stay……”
“Dear Herr Mozart,” Mama kindly commented, “Your father……I fancy he would not take it well if you remained in Vienna?”
Mozart replied straightforwardly, “No, Frau Weber. I fear he might take it badly. The most important thing to my dear Papa is his family—my dear sister, Nannerl, and myself. It is dear to his heart to have us near him, to have me at home in Salzburg.”
“But, my dear Mozart,” Mama’s face lit up, “here in Vienna, you could do your Papa proud! You would surely enjoy good fortune here, Herr Mozart—and how could your dear father and sister then not rejoice in it! Why, we have our very own opera company here in Vienna, our own national theater, our Singspiel (opera in German).
And ach, so many fine patrons of music, as you well know—starting with the Emperor himself! Herr Mozart, you would be a celebrated, successful composer and virtuoso!”
Herr Mozart’s eyes brightened, and there was joy in his face. “Frau Weber,” he replied. “The opera is my passion! In Salzburg, we have alas no opera company. How I would relish the opportunity to compose more operas!”
Mama sipped her coffee and mused, “My dear boy, you should really think seriously of settling here in Vienna.”
Herr Mozart was silent.
He looked warmly at Stanzi, and out the window at the bustling Viennese street scene below.
The Kaffee and Brot were just the thing for a late afternoon pick-me-up.
I felt energized, and knew I was needed in the kitchen to help prepare supper.
Mama and I quietly left the dining room as Herr Mozart and Stanzi remained still there, absorbed in their conversation and in one another.
Wien, den 10. Mai, 1781
Yesterday, Herr Mozart came to his final decision.
He abruptly resigned his post with the archbishop of Salzburg.
This fateful step could no longer be postponed.
His princely employer bade him return forthwith to Salzburg—It was now or never!
Herr Mozart strode through the door at midday yesterday, in a high state of excitement.
“I have endured all I can take from the archbishop, meine lieben Damen!
He has insulted me and my honor beyond the point of return!
Oh, I am still so boiling mad! How could I have been in his service so long, have endured his injustices and not quit his employ before this day!
I tell you, that man is a monster!
I have not the slightest doubt that my decision is the right one, my dear ladies.”
Herr Mozart’s voice sounded calmer.
“I have cut loose those ties that were cruel and heartless and would have stymied my creativity.
There—I feel better. The worst is over. I must say, I am relieved and feel lighthearted,” Mozart laughed.
Mama also is so relieved and happy.
Of course, I am as well—and not to mention, dear diary, the feelings of my dear sister, Constanze!
Herr Mozart exclaimed, “Frau Weber, let us celebrate by the four of us spending the afternoon in the Prater! I shall rent us a horse and carriage for tomorrow!”
Thus this morning, Mama, Constanze, and I were busy as bees in the kitchen, preparing a picnic to take along to the Prater.
With three pairs of deft, nimble hands at work, our picnic meal was completed in a jiffy—the sooner to be off and deep within the soothing sanctuary of nature.
We all three readied ham sandwiches, cooked and mixed a savory tart potato salad, and rinsed off some apples.
Mama placed a bottle of red wine and a bottle of punch into our picnic basket.
Our good mother sat in the front seat of the carriage beside Herr Mozart at the reins and Stanzi and me in the back seat.
How we enjoyed the delicious lunch and each other’s company.
After our repast, Herr Mozart said, “It is a fine day to take a walk! Shall we?”
He and Stanzi arose, and I started to get up as well.
Mama quickly took hold of my skirt and suddenly, my backside gently and noiselessly hit the picnic blanket spread across the grass.
Mama whispered to me, “Sophie dear, it seems that Constanze and Herr Mozart have formed an attachment.
Let us leave them alone as often as may be, daughter, to better become acquainted and to enjoy their friendship.”
The two had not noticed my clumsy landing on my rump.
Herr Mozart and Stanzi turned around, facing us.
Mozart smiled, “Come and join us, dear ladies!”
“You are most kind, Herr Mozart,” Mama replied, “but I have been meaning to finish knitting this shawl. And Sophie has just told me how engrossed she is in Herr Goethe’s new novella; she wishes to keep me company and read aloud to me.”
Later, after they both returned to us, Mama spoke up, exclaiming, “Ach, what beautiful trees! It puts me in mind to take a constitutional and enjoy the scenery! Why, in the city, we have sore need of this profusion of greenery.
Sophie dear, let us take a turn around the park!”
Arm in arm, Mama and I strolled around blissfully, both at one with nature and avidly observing the passersby, the carriages, and horses.
I seldom have occasion to walk with Mama!
Usually, it is Stanzi and I out of doors together, engaged in doing errands for our good mother.
Mama commented, “Dear, it is high time we cut flowers from the small garden we planted in back of the courtyard, and pot plants for the windowsills. Likewise, we need cut fresh flowers for indoors.”
When Mama and I were returning to rejoin Stanzi and Herr Mozart, we heard a soft, sweet duet in progress, wafting in the breeze.
We sat down on our large picnic blanket and listened contentedly to Mozart’s tenor and Stanzi’s soprano blended charmingly together.
They were singing a duet in Italian from Herr Mozart’s new opera “Idomenio”, premiered in Munich this past January.
“O Creta fortunate; oh me felice!” sang Mozart. “Oh fortunate Crete; oh happy me!”
“Torna la pace al core. Torna lo spento ardorare,” he continued. “Peace returns to my heart. The spent ardor returns.”
Stanzi, looking adoringly at Mozart, her head almost touching his, continued the melody, “Fiorisce in me l’eta. Tal la stagion di Flora. L’albero annoso infiora.” “Age flourishes in me. Just as the season of Flora—Embellishes the aged tree with leaves.”
They chimed in, in unison, “Nuovo vigor gli da!” “And gives it new vigor!”
And with a flourish, the enchanting song was ended.
Mama then cried, “Bravo, meine Kinder!”
Stanzi giggled like a schoolgirl. Mozart’s and Stanzi’s complexions were both flushed and rosy pink.
Shafts of light from the waning afternoon sun lit Stanzi’s dark, rich hair and Mozart’s sandy, abundant locks, their tresses gently touching.
Our party enjoyed a beautiful afternoon in the Prater, much like on my birthday.
After we were again come home, Herr Mozart returned the horse and carriage a block away, and walked back on foot to our apartment.
By that time, Mama had some fresh, piping hot Viennese coffee waiting for him, and we all sat at the dining table, sipping it and enjoying its richness.
Then Mama and I went to the kitchen to tidy up.
Soon thereafter from the kitchen, I heard a reprise of the duet from this afternoon.
Gingerly, I stole a glance into the parlor.
There were Herr Mozart and Stanzi seated together on the pianoforte bench.
They seemed so happy together, appeared to be in another world.
I looked at their faces.
Nothing mattered except this moment, this song.
It seemed as if their voices were searching for the other’s, belonging together, united.
As they sang, Mozart played the melody and harmony, but Stanzi’s beautiful, dainty hands joined Mozart’s strong, dexterous ones, crossing and touching, while Stanzi added some extra harmony.
I saw how truly Stanzi and Mozart delighted in singing together, in sharing the most sublime human experience—music.
Wien, den 31. Mai, 1781
This night, I am in a state of euphoria!
I am become an aunt, dear diary!
And Mama is now this day a Grandmama!
It all started early this morning.
Josef Lange, my brother-in-law, rode over in a gallop with Frieda, his fine and precious horse—attached to his carriage, ran up to our threshold, and hastily rang the doorbell.
“Guten Morgen (good morning), Mama, Constanze, and Sophie!”
Josef was practically out of breath.
“All three of you are urgently needed at my home! Aloysia is gone into labor not two hours past, and her contractions are beginning to quicken!
Do you think it is time to send for the midwife? Aloysia is bearing up well and not yet in great pain.”
Mama, all business and practicality, stated matter-of-factly, “Perhaps it is very near time, Josef. You are right, my son. There is no time to lose! We need make haste!”
I knew that underneath, Mama felt uneasy, as we all were gripped with uncertainty in such circumstances.
Thank goodness for Josef’s carriage!
Aloysia, lying in her bed propped up with pillows, was not feeling exceedingly unwell, and bore each contraction by taking deep breaths and endeavoring to relax her muscles and ignore the increasing surges of pain.
When she first cried out “Ow!” in the midst of a contraction, Mama observed, “Josef, now is the time to fetch the midwife!”
Frau Schotte, the midwife, resides not four streets distant in the Rotenturmstrasse (Red Tower Street) next to the Wiener Kanal, a tributary of the Danube, and Josef and his horse and carriage were immediately off and running to bring her hither.
Frau Schotte is an elderly woman, and has been engaged in midwifery nearly her entire life.
Josef has the utmost confidence in her experience and expertise.
Frau Schotte bade Constanze, the maidservant Hanne, and me boil water, and Mama soothe Aloysia’s brow with wet compresses.
The midwife promptly and firmly dismissed Aloysia’s worried husband to the parlor, exclaiming, “It is not seemly or decent to have the menfolk intruding upon this delicate business!”
Between bouts of boiling water for the midwife, I sat next to my sister, Aloysia, and read aloud to her from my new novella by Herr Goethe.
Aloysia took comfort and diversion from the story and smiled appreciatively though tiredly at me.
I naturally ceased my reading at the onset of each contraction and held Aloysia’s hand while Mama wiped her brow and Constanze took her other hand.
Our good mother spoke soft, soothing words of endearment, encouraging my sister on.
Aloysia’s confinement seemed interminable.
A slowly increasing fear gripped my innards, although my ceaseless occupation and activity masked it well from her.
Aloysia struggled mightily to refrain from crying out in pain, but could not help herself at this point.
Mama cooed to my sister, “It is all right, dear. I have borne so many children and believe me, I know this is quite normal. You are doing so well, my dear daughter. It will soon be over.”
And it was!
Towels were hurriedly called for; Frau Schotte was in rapt concentration and her steady hands, which had birthed thousands of babies, expertly accomplished their task.
The dark head crowned, then more and more of the little body appeared, and finally the feet, the placenta.
A firm wack on its little bottom, and oh so welcome tiny, tinny-sounding cries burst forth, piercing the air of Aloysia’s birthing room.
Smiles and cheers erupted all around!
Mama, Stanzi, and I all cried tears of happiness and relief.
Frau Schotte cleaned off the infant and exclaimed, “A girl! Frau Lange, you have a beautiful, bonny baby girl! What shall be her name then?”
Aloysia was all radiance. “Maria Anna Sabina,” she smiled.
“Oh, a beautiful name, Frau Lange! Why,” she laughed, “we have nearly forgot the father! Let us promptly fetch him!”
I ran to the parlor, exclaiming, “Josef! Wonderful news! Aloysia is safely delivered of a beautiful, healthy baby girl!”
Josef’s grin was a mile wide. Relief and joy etched his tired countenance.
Inside the bedchamber, we all rejoiced and embraced one another.
We congratulated the brand new mother, spoke words of joy and comfort to her, and took turns holding little Maria Anna.
When it was my turn, I tenderly looked at the precious little bundle squirming in my arms. New life! A miracle! Tears of joy spontaneously ran unchecked down my cheeks. I looked and marveled at the tiny hands and feet, teeny fingers and toes. Just look at that wee little mouth, that tiny nose, those beautiful eyes. What a beautiful infant!
Aloysia called out, “Sister, I would feed Maria Anna now! Do let me start! I am filled to overflowing with milk, and it pains me!”
I handed little Maria Anna into her mother’s welcoming, waiting arms, and Loysi modestly covered part of herself and pressed the infant’s eager mouth to the right spot. Loysi knew just what to do. “I have observed Mama often enough!” she grinned. My sister added, sighing, “Ach, I yearn for the stage—to go back to singing and treading the boards! But I feel at this moment—I shall not hasten my return prematurely. Welcome to the world, little Maria Anna!”
She gently kissed the infant’s cheek.
Wien, den 19. Juli, 1781
Before retiring for the night, Constanze and I were sitting on our beds.
She came over and sat down upon my bed and lowered her eyes.
“Sophie, Wolferl and I……last night—it happened. We both let it happen. Oh Sophie, Wolferl and I……we knew each other, as man and wife.
I felt a sharp pang of astonishment from Stanzi’s unexpected words and gazed intently at my sister.
Constanze looked exactly the same as yesterday; she sounded just the same.
That moment, I felt dumbfounded.
“Oh Stanzi! Stanzi……what was it like?”
“Sophie……it was……absolutely wonderful……although I also know now it is part of life, but the rest of life still goes on as before……”
“Stanzi, do you feel……different now?”
Stanzi smiled warmly at me and suddenly poked me with her elbow, giggling, “No, Sopherl!……And yes.”
We both burst into laughter.
Stanzi turned serious.
“You know, dear sister, do not ever breathe a word of this to Mama—not to anyone!”
“Cross my heart, Stanzi.”
Then I suddenly had a solemn thought. “Sister, what if you should become with child?”
Stanzi shook her head.
“Wolferl took every precaution, sister. He is very mindful and conscious not to get me in the family way. And you know, dear Sophie, I utterly trust my Wolfchen. And ach, I love him with all my heart. If such a thing were to happen, Wolfchen would do the right and honorable thing. I feel safe with him, Sophie. I know that Wolferl shall take me to the altar BEFORE a child is on the way.”
I saw my sister with new eyes. “Stanzi, you are a woman now.”
Suddenly, Stanzi burst out laughing—contagious peals of laughter; I had to join in the mirth.
Constanze’s face was glowing.
My sister softly echoed my words: “I am a woman now.”
She gently smiled.
“Yes, I am.”
In blowing out the candles this night, I feel that a new chapter in our lives is just beginning.
Wien, den 15. September, 1781
The frequent quarrels between Mama and Constanze over Mozart and the state of his relationship with my sister have taken a toll on us, and vanished much of the peace and quiet we have hitherto enjoyed.
A feeling of discontent and uneasiness hangs heavily over the Weber hearth.
I so wish for Mama to be unburdened and for Constanze to enjoy with happiness her special attachment with Wolfgang Mozart!
Constanze trusts Mozart, and how could I not also trust and have confidence in him, in his honesty and strength of character, in his faithfulness.
My heart tells me that where it matters, Mozart shall do the right and honorable thing by my sister.
Oh, dear diary, I seek refuge from the household turmoil in reading, in losing myself in a romantic novel or a history book.
I also place myself squarely between my good mother and my sister while we are engaged in domestic tasks; my presence and my changing the subject often stops their quarrels.
Last week, as I was exiting Herr Egil Ekko’s bookstore, a new novella by Herr Gotthold Lessing under my arm, Frau Ekko, his spouse, entered the shoppe with her two daughters.
Frau Ekko is a comely, handsome woman, like in age to her husband.
I was struck by her expression: beaming, happy, self-satisfied, and content with her lot.
And content in her marriage too? I wondered.
The two girls have blond locks, rosy cheeks, and round faces like their father, and are scarce younger than myself.
This day, badly in need of a new book to boost my spirits, I received Mama’s permission to venture out alone and unaccompanied.
“But do not tarry, daughter! Do hurry back, and be ever watchful of strangers! Anyway, I cannot spare Constanze this day. Darn that Hedwig and Kristl, our servant girls, are both home with colds!
I need Constanze in the kitchen, and you too, Sopherl—so be not long away!”
My mood improved and my heart quickened as I approached Herr Ekko’s bookshoppe.
There he was; his blue eyes and warm smile greeted me as I entered, and I set to task exploring the many rows of books for that one special selection I had saved my coins for and would take home.
How happy I am looking around the shoppe and browsing through books!
How peaceful it is for me to be in the company of books, to be surrounded by them on all four sides.
A new biography of our late Empress Maria Theresia piqued my interest.
This is the one I would buy!
I held the book in my hands, savoring the musty, comfortable look of this special place and the nearness of Herr Ekko—row upon row of books, bathed in a warm, light-brown aura cast by the flickering candles onto the book-lined walls.
We conversed and laughed together, standing very close.
Then—oh, dear diary—Herr Ekko shyly and tenderly kissed me on the cheek.
The feel of his mouth on my skin sent a sudden, unexpected quiver to my lower body and a tingling to my breasts.
Then Herr Ekko’s mouth was on mine—Ach, Gott im Himmel! (God in heaven!)
Through my garments, I could feel the gentle pressure of his hand lightly graze my nipple.
The overpowering desire to yield to my passions overcame me.
Our bodies were touching, locked in a tight embrace, while all the world was forgotten.
How well our two bodies fit together.
(Herr Ekko is but slightly taller than myself.)
The hourly peeling of the church bells from nearby Saint Peter’s jolted me back to reality.
It was five of the clock!
I am come alone to the bookshoppe and must return now, or Mama shall surely be beside herself with worry!
Herr Ekko dropped his head and looked ashamed and contrite.
“Forgive me, dear Miss. Forgive me. I forgot myself. Yumping Yimminy, what overtook me? My dear Fraeulein Sophie, I would not want to endanger our friendship. I was very wrong……to take liberties.”
He gently smiled at me—a melancholy smile, his two dimples gleaming.
Herr Ekko’s round, angelic countenance which I so love—the beautiful features and beatific warm smile, the face framed with rumpled, dark blond hair—was tinged with sadness as he whispered under his breath, “I have come to my senses.”
I too was all at once seized with the fear and dread of being unmarried and with child.
The shame and disgrace it would bring upon me and my family and the thought of hurting Herr Ekko’s wife and daughters flashed through my mind.
Herr Ekko’s somber words were like a welcome pitcher of cold water thrown onto my face.
“Sophie,” I thought to myself, “I cannot allow this to happen. My dear Herr Ekko is a married man after all……
But, yes, we can be friends.”
Herr Ekko offered to escort me home, as the daylight was rapidly fading.
I declined. “There is no need, Herr Ekko; if I make haste, though the street lanterns are now lit, there remains a trace of daylight. I can make it in the nick of time and,” I giggled, “no need to subject you to Mama’s barrage of questions at the door.”
“I do not mind your mother’s queries, dear Miss Sophie, and hope to have the opportunity of meeting your Mama later,” Herr Ekko replied in his charming Norwegian lilt.
“Vell, at least, take this hand lantern along; I shall yust light the vick (wick) for you. You can return it at your leisure, Fraeulein Sophie.”
I thanked Herr Ekko and, new book in hand, I bid him adieu.
This was one of the few times that I have ventured out on errands alone, and I want not for Mama to come down strongly and disapprove of my solo outings and lack of a chaperon.
As I raced homeward, a light fog crept steadily over the buildings and streets in the encroaching darkness.
The reflection in the fog of the street lanterns and my borrowed hand lantern gave off a strange glow of comfort, as at Christmastide, and not a curtain of darkness approaching.
I felt my heart beating rapidly as I entered our threshold.
Thankfully, no one was at the door, vexed and upset at my late return.
Why, quite possibly, no one had even noticed my tardiness—nor my absence at all!
There was not a soul in the parlor either.
Then I heard soft crying emanating from the kitchen.
“Gruess Gott, mein Sopherl!"
Mama, slumped over and dejected, spoke plaintively.
“Ach, your sister! What can I do with her?”
“Cheer up, Mama. Surely tis not as bad as you think!”
“Thank you, Sopherl.”
Mama wanly smiled. “Daughter, your kind words bring me comfort and hope.”
Mama struggled to regain her composure.
In our bedchamber, I found Constanze with red, swollen eyes.
My sister straightened herself up and seemed to muster the courage to enter Mama’s domain, the kitchen.
“Sophie,” she spoke in a low voice, “Let us go help Mama prepare the evening meal.”
Civility and normalcy was temporarily restored to the Weber household.
Wien, den 19. Dezember, 1781
Constanze is returned home yesterday from her stay of one month’s duration with the Baroness Waldstaetten.
I have certainly missed Stanzi dearly, and indeed have also missed our nightly confidences and heart-to-hearts.
Our apartment seemed so uncommonly quiet.
Stanzi is my elder by scarce one-and-twenty months, and it is hard for me to grasp the fact that soon, my beloved sister shall be a married lady.
In truth, she and Mozart are betrothed to each other in their hearts.
Stanzi shall be a wife before I enter the matrimonial state, of that, I am certain.
And were I to remain a lifelong spinster, I find spinsterhood strangely not disagreeable to me.
The thing I most dislike about never marrying is the pejorative moniker “old maid”.
And I cannot leave dear Mama were I to marry.
No; Mama is widowed; I would take her to reside with my husband and myself.
My future husband need be obliged and most willing to welcome Mama, and make a comfy place for her within our household.
And to eventually find a man—a soulmate—I can love and be a wife to—is my heart’s desire.
Though were I never to marry, I can still be content and happy.
If I do remain single, I shall not be subjected to the risks of childbirth and the grief of perhaps burying my infants and children.
I would long for all my precious, future children to survive, to grow to adulthood, to be happy, and live long lives!
It is possible, dear diary!
I have been witness to its happening!
In truth, I have known persons who have lived to a great age, and some women whose children all survived!
Regarding my sister, Constanze—I must therefore, dear diary, grow accustomed to her absence from our hearth, get used to Stanzi’s not being there daily.
I am the youngest of the four Weber sisters.
I have known my sisters—have known Stanzi—my entire life.
From my birth onward, Stanzi was there.
This kind of solitude is new to me, dear diary, though I mind not at all being alone and solely in my own company.
I can then dream, play the pianoforte, or read.
There were always snatches of quiet, but also the frequent company of my sister, Constanze—my best friend.
Ach, I know that afterwards when Stanzi is a married lady—Frau Mozart—we shall ever and always remain close.
Last night, I was fast asleep in my bed and already in dreamland, when I was startled awake by an uncommonly loud thud coming from the kitchen.
I sat up with a start, quickly lit a candle, and rushed into the kitchen to see what the matter was.
It was Mama—sitting at the kitchen table with her wine glass and two wine bottles on the table.
She had probably knocked over the chair while fetching the second bottle.
Ach, Du lieber Himmel! (Goodness gracious!)
Mama’s unwelcome behavior had been foreign to her since that happy time last spring when Herr Wolfgang Mozart came to lodge with us.
And now? Has Mama fallen back into her old ways?
“Pray, what is the matter, Mama? You must get to bed!”
“It is Constanze, my child! I am so worried!
I know she is in love with Herr Mozart.”
She furrowed her brow.
“Daughter, I can see it in her face and in his face.
Ach, I am sore afraid Constanze is going to become with child, Sopherl! Why, it shall lead to her disgrace, to her utter ruin!
Josef, Maria—what if Herr Mozart decides to return to Salzburg after he is finished composing his new opera “The Entfuehrung aus dem Serail” (“The Abduction from the Seraglio”)?
Herr Mozart has no firm position here in Vienna!
Ach zum Teufel (the devil)—He would leave Constanze in the family way; he would abandon her here to her fate!” she frowned.
Mama’s voice rose and became shriller, “Just you look at what happened to your sister, Aloysia!
One in the oven—ach, even before the marriage banns were posted!
Providence was favorable then, my daughter.
Aloysia was truly fortunate; Josef brought her to the altar in the nick of time! Constanze may not be so blessed, you know!”
I put my arms around Mama’s plump, round shoulders.
“Do not trouble yourself, dear Mama!” I soothed.
“Constanze is a sensible girl.”
Mama interjected, “—but in love!
Sophie dear, I have of late been thinking—of what I must do.
I shall need the help of your and Constanze’s guardian, Herr Johann Thorwart.
Gott sei Dank (thank goodness) for Herr Thorwart!
He shall be my savior—and Constanze’s—and the savior of all our family! Herr Thorwart shall not permit us to lose our honor, daughter!
We Webers have the right to lay down the law!
Indeed we do!
This moment, it comes to me, dear child.
I shall request Herr Thorwart to draw up a written betrothal contract and speak with Herr Mozart!
Herr Mozart shall be obliged to sign the legal, binding betrothal contract! Herr Mozart need agree to marry Constanze within three years’ time!
If he does not, then he shall be obligated to pay her 300 gulden a year!”
Mama breathed a sigh of relief.
“Sophie, my daughter,” she exclaimed, “do not ever take liberties with a man before marriage, pray.
I would not wish to see you brought to the brink of ruin and shame, my dear child!”
“Mama!” I smiled, “You need not fret over me.
Ach, Mama, I do not intend to.”
I then had a wicked gleam in my eye and added impishly, “Besides, would not Herr Thorwart also come to my rescue, Mama!”
I put the wine away in the cupboard and led Mama to her bed, where I gently tucked her in.
“Dear Mama,” I warned, “I implore you—do not drink so much wine or rum.
It is wasteful and destructive to you, and it ill becomes you.”
Mama, tired out, her head resting on the pillow, wryly gave me answer. “Maria Sophie, who is the mother here? And who is the child?”
I adjusted Mama’s wide, plump comforter over her large girth, took the candles back to my bedchamber, and for the last time this night, snuffed them out.
I know in my heart that everything should be all right.
Wien, den 21. Dezember, 1781
Herr Johann Thorwart, accompanied by Herr Mozart, came to call on us this day.
The betrothal contract is now a fait accompli, and the document was entrusted into the dependable hands of our good mother.
As soon as Herr Thorwart took leave of us, Constanze insisted that Mama hand her the document.
At that point, as Stanzi held the writ in her hands, she turned to Herr Mozart and addressed him, “Dear Mozart! I do not need any written assurances from you. I believe what you say.”
Thereupon my sister tore up the betrothal contract.
Mama gasped and fainted straight away.
Herr Mozart rushed over to Mama and revived her with smelling salts.
“There, there, Frau Weber,” he soothingly intoned. “Rest assured that I shall never forsake Constanze!”
My dear sister, Stanzi, and I had a heart-to-heart talk this night shortly before blowing out the candles.
Already in our night frocks and nightcaps, we sat on Stanzi’s bed.
“Stanzi,” I uttered in awe. “How can you do that—just tear up the betrothal contract with Herr Mozart?
How can you be so brave, Stanzi?
I admire your courage, though I do not think I would have the nerve to do as you did this day!”
“Sophie, I would not for the world coerce my Wofferl into marriage!
Were this ‘betrothal contract’ allowed to exist, I am certain that Wolfgang would soon suffer under its weight!
Its presence would distance him from me, sister. You see, instead of seeing me as his beloved, his cherished Stanzi Marini, his ‘liebstes, bestes Herzensweibchen’(‘dearest, best little wife of my heart’)—he would begin to regard me as an obligation, a duty.
That would surely be the death of his love for me.
Sopherl, it is akin to throwing cold water onto a flame.
I fear Wolferl’s passion for me would likewise be extinguished—the inexhaustible freshness, beauty, and depth of love would wither and die within his heart.”
I shook my head and mused.
“Wolfgang’s love for you shall not cease, Stanzi.
And a gaping hole of uncertainty is left now in the wake of destroying the document.
You now have no firm foundation to rest your feet upon, Stanzi—without the betrothal contract—no security, should your Wolfgang renege on his promise to make you his wife!”
“Ach, Sophie—I have no fear whatsoever about that,” she glowed.
“Remember when I confided to you that night six months ago after Wolferl and I consummated our love for the first time—that I trust Wolfgang, that I feel safe with my Wolferl, secure, at home with him.
Sophie, Wolfgang is my soulmate, my dearest darling.
I know that providence wills it that we are meant to be together; it was simply meant to be.
I am certain of that, Sophie.
It is very important to me that Wolfgang knows full well I trust him completely, sister!
And in my tearing up the document, he has undeniable proof of my trust and my undying confidence in him.”
Stanzi smiled peacefully.
“Sister,” she mused, “I am changing my tune slightly from what I just told you—upon further reflection.
You see, contract or no contract—my heart tells me Wolfchen would still be by my side.
You are so right, Sophie.”
“Ach, Sophie, I melt when my Wolfchen calls me ‘Stanzerl’. Is that not sweet?” my sister giggled, her cheeks a rosy pink.
I grinned, “I understand your feelings, Stanzi. And we Mannheimers have a soft spot for these local southern endearments.
Why, even in our family, I often now answer to ‘Sopherl’!”
“Stanzi,” I went on, “What about our good mother?
She does not have your faith in the outcome, Stanzi.
Mama wants a soft cushion to fall back on should things go wrong.”
“Sister," Constanze countered, still radiant and at peace, “I am now full grown-up, and cannot allow Mama to live my life for me, nor prevent me from doing what I feel is right for me.
I know that Mama has a tender spot in her heart for Wolfgang.
Her true feelings for him are unspoken, to be sure—but I perceive how highly Mama esteems him, and I would say more, sister, how dearly Mama loves Wolfgang—as dearly as if he were her very own son!”
Constanze and I were quiet, and then as an afterthought, my sister said, “Mama goes with the flow, Sophie.
She is inwardly tough, a survivor.
What Mama cannot change, she learns to accept.”
“Stanzi, you astonish me!
This may be true—but Mama’s apprenticeship in adjusting to change is mighty long, and you likely have much to bear before she comes to your reasoning!”
I smiled and playfully elbowed Stanzi in the ribs.
Stanzi laughed and hurled a pillow at me, and I rushed to my bed and countered with my own pillow!
Soon, our bedchamber was rollicking with peals of laughter and merriment.