Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Family Background

My Family Background:

My Dears,

We shall leave Murnau soon for Munich; I cannot say yet precisely when, but when I can, I shall send you some more portraits of this lovely region of Murnau and the Staffelsee.
From Murnau, Mama, Herr Meinke-Haibl, and I shall take the coach to Munich. There, we shall stay in an inn which I know--not far from our old house there and from the Imperial Court Theater, where Papa worked as a musician, singer, and prompter, and my second oldest sister, Aloysia, was engaged as a soprano.
We shall be reunited with old friends, the court musicians from Mannheim, there.
You see, when the old elector of Bavaria passed away, the heir to the throne was our elector in Mannheim, and he chose to reside in the most prestigious of his kingdoms--namely, in Munich.
So all the court musicians, including my Papa, and naturally all of us Webers--moved to Munich.
We had there a more comfortable life too than we had had in our house in Mannheim, due to the combination of Aloisia's earnings as a singer and Papa's larger salary.
In Mannheim, we unfortunately had fallen on hard times.
Papa had had a good position as the Bailiff in Zell, but then Baron Schoenau cheated him and used Papa as a scapegoat, and we all had to flee to Mannheim.
Papa later sued the Baron, but the settlement was small.
Papa had a position as singer (bass), violinist, and prompter at the Mannheim Court Orchestra, but the pay was small, and Papa had to also work on his own as a music copyist to make ends meet, which is how he originally met Wolfgang, when Wolfgang was en route to Paris with his dear mother.
Wolfgang had some music copied by Papa, and they struck up a close friendship.
Thereafter, Wolfgang was a frequent visitor in our home, almost like one of the family.
He spent that winter in Mannheim.
Well, anyway, in Munich we were reunited with Wolfgang the following year, on his way back from Paris. His poor, dear Mama had passed away in Paris, and is buried there.
I also made the acquaintance of my friend, Marianne Mozartin, Wolfgang's cousin from Augsburg, in the company of Wolfgang, in Munich......
We spent more than a year in Munich, but then something very unfortunate happened to my sister, Aloysia.
She had secured her position as Court singer by.....well, the Court Music Director had courted her most fiercely, and he made her give in to his advances. She felt that she had to in order to become a singer at court; she said that is how, unfortunately all the sopranos have secured their employ.
Aloysia, however, does have a beautiful voice, and I regret these kinds of situations...... Papa was very upset about it, but Mama was resigned.
But after a season in Munich, this court director took another singer to his bed, and my sister Aloyia was dismissed, but given a better position at the Imperial Theater in Vienna--which is how we came to move to Vienna.
But barely a month after we arrived there, Papa suddenly died...........Well, enough of reminiscing for now.
The day beckons, and Mama is calling me.
Yours affectionately,
Sophie, nee Weber

Mozart and My Papa:

My Dears,
I have a few moments more, and I wanted to add that Wolfgang Mozart and my Papa were very fond of each other. They had one great thing in common: their unjust treatment at the hands of their aristocratic employers.
They both commiserated very much with each other because of this.
The Archbishop of Salzburg was the thorn in Mozart's side, much as Baron Schoenau was my Papa's nemesis.
The Baron's father had also been my grandfather's nemesis:
The exact same thing had happened to my Papa's father. But in his case, the settlement he received from the injustices had been greater.
So Mozart and my Papa talked a lot about this and many other things, and got to know one another, and become close friends.
Papa often invited Mozart to come dine at our home, to come spend the evening there, and so we all often enjoyed Wolfgang's company.
I used to laugh and play on the floor with Wolfgang. (I was still a child in those days.)
Wolfgang made merry with us, and regaled us with his jokes and mirth.
Wolfgang also gave my sister, Aloysia, lessons on the pianoforte, which she also plays very well, and accompanied her when she sang his arias for him.
Ever yours,
Sophie, nee Weber

A Day on the Heath and the Heather:

Murnau, Kingdom of Bavaria,
den 10. August

My Dears,
You shall never guess what Herr Meinke-Haibl and I have just successfully undertaken........no; no thoughts "in the gutter", please, bitte.
Nothing like that, I assure you.
We have been out horseback riding.
How would such a thing come about, when we have no horses of our own in these parts?
Well, the innkeeper, old Herr Posaunenblaser, is suffering at the moment from gout, and his two horse caretakers are also suffering from broken limbs.
Herr Meinke-Haibl knows Herr Posaunenblaser well from his days as tutor to the Duke of Villmar-Seelbach's children.
Herr Posaunenblaser and his elderly spouse, Frau Bertha Posaunenblaser, were like second parents to Herr Meinke-Haibl.
He used to drop in at the inn sometimes after a hard day of work tutoring the Duke's children, and drink a pint of ale in a stein, converse, play cards, and pour out his heart to the two sympathetic married folk.
They are old and trusted friends.
So Herr Posaunenblaser has entrusted Herr Meinke-Haibl and me to the exercising of his two horses, a spotted mare and a grey gelding.
He is paying us a pretty florin too, of which I rejoice, for that means we shall later on be able to attend the theater and some concerts in Munich.
I'm also most certain that our old friends will let us attend gratis the performances at the Court Theater, where Papa was formerly employed.
When I was a child, Papa taught me to ride on horseback, but not sidesaddle, as aristocratic maidens do, but solidly with both feet planted firmly in the stirrups.
Papa said that this manner affords the safest and securest ride, as gripping the horse's side securely with both feet and holding the reins, we cannot very easily accidentally topple from the horse.
My undergarment and frock are certainly wide enough to allow me to ride thus.
Herr Meinke-Haibl and I were free in the vast green expanse of mountain and plain. It felt wonderful to let ourselves go and just ride.
We headed out to the Murnauer Moss (moss, grasslands, marshland)--a huge expanse of land on the Duke of Villmar-Seelbach's estate.
Practically the whole of the land belongs to the Duke, but, as Herr Meinke-Haibl explained it, the Duke is a free thinker and libertine, and his hero is Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
The Duke's animals and livestock are quartered on another section of his land, so he has granted the peasants and all who care to to have free access to his land to drive their sleep and cattle to and from the high country of the Zugspitze Alps, and for any and sundry to walk the marshlands to their heart's content, and yes, to ride there as they wish as well.
Both of us and the horses were well-exercised at the close of the day--I am talking about only on horseback, of course.
Mama had stayed behind at the inn and was playing games of whist with Frau Posaunenblaser, the innkeeper's wife.
And now it is time for supper, and I wish you all a good night.
Yours affectionately,
Sophie, nee Weber

Flooding in Austria:

My dearest Marianne,
It is so good to hear from you again!
As soon as I awoke bright and early this morning, I heard outside the window of our inn the town crier calling urgently over and over, "Daily Gazette! Read all about it! Worst rains in more than a century! Medieval town of Salzburg flooded! Grave concern!"
Marianne, that is all I have heard up to the present hour.
Mama and I are still up in our bedchamber, and I am writing from my desk here.
Yes; we are so very fortunate; I had so wanted to extend my stay in that delightful region of my heart, Salzburg.
And I am thinking, of course, of the Mozarts--of Frau Anna Maria Mozart, Herr Leopold Mozart, and Mademoiselle Marianna Mozart.
Are they safe and sound?
Have they escaped the great flooding?
Is their beautiful home and are their servants out of danger?
I do hope they will send word to you, to Wolfgang and Constanze, or to myself and Mama.
I am at the "Gasthaus zur Goldenen Rose" in Murnau-Seehausen in the Kingdom of Bavaria.
A post to our inn will easily find us.
I know that downstairs in the tavern, things are bustling.
I can hear the cooks and servants scurrying about--and I can imagine hearing the sound of hot coffee being brewed.
My mind is also on our beloved Salzburg and its inhabitants.
And what an enchanting town.
The things I remember the best about our sejourn by the Salzach River were strolling through the most beautiful Mirabell Gardens with dear Herr Meinke-Haibl, being in the busy market in the Universitaetsplatz with him and Mama on Market Day, and attending the assembly ball with Michael Kelly and Mama!
But I have left out the most memorable thing of all: our supper and visit at the new residence of Herr Leopold Mozart on the Hannibalplatz, on the other, the new side of the Salzach River--and the playing of music with the Mozarts.
Oh, my goodness, Marianne! I know Passau as well, and my dear Papa had friends from those parts! How horrible!
We have dear friends in Guenzburg an der Donau. How are they faring, I wonder......
Dear Mozart, my dear sister, Constanze, where are you? Yes, I pray that my sister and my brother-in-law take the utmost care to avoid going near the riverbanks in Vienna.
Vienna is our home now.
My goodness; my mind is in a whirl. I have not as yet had my morning coffee, which is the only time of day I partake of this unique beverage.
My eldest sister, Josefa, and her husband, Herr Hofer, are tending to the boarders at our home in the Petersplatz until our return.
And our three beloved dogs.....Oh, I hope that we hear from Josefa soon, and that everything will be all right. All these poor souls in the path of the torrent!
Later on this day, Mama, Herr Meinke-Haibl, and I will also go to church and light candles and pray for the rains to cease.
We shall stay quartered for a while here in Murnau, as I would not for all the tea in China want to be on those muddy mountain roads leading to Munich at this moment.
I hope, dear Marianne, that all will soon be well!
Thank you so much for your post!
Adieu for now.
As ever,
Your friend,
Sophie, nee Weber

More News from Austria and from Murnau:

Murnau, Kingdom of Bavaria,
den 13. August
My Dears,
The mail coach is just arrived here in Murnau, and I have finally received word from my dear sister, Josefa, in Vienna, that our family there is not now in any danger, and that the banks of the Danube River are being shored up with sandbags to hopefully prevent an overflow of its banks, and to prevent the dams from bursting and flooding Vienna.
The three dogs, she writes, are all right, but confused about the change in their daily routine.
Josefa brings them several times during the day into the courtyard, where the second story acts as a roof, and they then can relieve themselves.
Mama, Herr Meinke-Haibl, and I have gone to church this evening to pray and light candles.
I read this day in the "Daily Gazette" that the roads from Salzburg to Munich are flooded with carriages seeking to flee Salzburg.
I have as yet heard nothing from Herr Leopold Mozart, Frau Maria Anna Mozart, or Mademoiselle Maria Anna Mozart. We all hope that they are safe and well, and that their home has not suffered any damage.
The roads leading from Salzburg in the direction of the kingdom of Bavaria are the worst-kept roads of all in the Habsburg Empire!
They are so uneven and usually muddy, and hidden with potholes.
The coachmen have to be extra alert to steer the horses correctly, and the bumpiness is quite uncomfortable.
When we reached the Bavarian frontier, the roads became much better and smoother, though often are still not perfect.
We were forced to content ourselves occasionally with the shaking and jaring of the carriage.
I can write no more now, dear Marianne, as Mama calls me, and we are to go downstairs at present to play a game of pinnocle with Herr Meinke-Haibl, the innkeeper, Herr Reinhold Posaunenblaser, and his spouse, Frau Bertha Posaunenblaser.
Bis spaeter (until later),
Ever yours,
Sophie, nee Weber

Portrait of Herr Meinke-Haibl:

Murnau, Kingdom of Bavaria,
den 17. August

My Dears,
Our thoughts are on the flood-ravaged lands and people where the angry waters still rage.
Here in Murnau in Upper Bavaria, in the foothills of the Zugspitze, Bavaria's highest mountain, it is this day sunny and warm.
Herr Meinke-Haibl--a Prussian with a father from the Habsburg Empire--has in his wardrobe some Bavarian garments, saved from the days he was a tutor in the von und zu Villmar-Seelbach household.
The Innkeeper, Herr Reinhold Posaunenblaser, has in the past to the present day been an old and trusted friend of Herr Meinke-Haibl, and so the innkeeper affords him the use of his carriage and horses.
We both have been exercising all the horses, which is good fun and exercise.
In this portrait, painted this day by Frau Posaumenblaser, our inn "Zur Goldenen Rose" (At The Golden Rose) is seen from the front side, with the profusion of roses and other beautiful flowers in the windowsills.
Is this not a lovely place to take a holiday?
As it is, we are but passersby on our route to Munich, Augsburg, to my hometown of Mannheim, and beyond to Bayreuth, where my friend, Marianne Mozartin, has been so kind as to invite Mama and me for a visit.
So here is a portrait of my beloved Herr Meinke-Haibl in Lederhosen! Is it not amusing!! You can not see him here close-up, but he has a most arresting and pleasing countenance.
I could never tire gazing upon his face and thinking about him.
Sometimes then, my legs seem to turn to jelly.....
But the practicality of my nature asserts itself, and there is work to be done. I must take leave of such thoughts.....
I so love it when Herr Meinke-Haibl is near me, in the room or in my company, and when he is not, I spend far too much time daydreaming about my darling.
After Frau Posaunenblaser had finished painting this portrait, I joined Herr Meinke-Haibl for another tour through this delightful town, after which, we took the road to the mouth of the Staffel Lake, and circled its vast shores, being all the while privileged to the most serene and pristine view of this splended region.
I do hope that Wolfgang and the others are all right.
I kiss your hand, Wolfgang, and wish you a most happy weekend, as I do all of you.
I hope that your weekend is felicitous and restful--though our minds are on those in the flooded regions.
Yours very affectionately,
Sophie, nee Weber

Dogdom and Other Matters:

My Dears,
I hope that you are all well.
I so miss our dear dogs left of necessity at home in Vienna, and my mind is on everyone's safety in the flooded and danger areas--not the least, on our four-legged friends, and all the horses and livestock.
Tammy and Fawn are both a new breed of dog from the New World, Chihuahuas, and Paddy is a dog originating in Scotland, a West Highland White Terrier.
I do miss having Tammy on my bed at night here in the inn at Murnau.
She is so very tiny, is an adult dog, and among Chihuahuas, the tiniest breed in all the world--Tammy is still tiny, and never grew much beyond her puppyhood.
Tammy is not content to stay on my covers but snuggles under the covers and sheets, where she loves to be.
Fawn, another Chihuahua, used also to be Tammy's--and my--bed companion, but Fawn is quite old now, and often picks fights with Tammy, which I or another family member break up--We hope to correct this dreadful habit.
So Fawn is now consigned at night to the parlor, where she sleeps with Paddy, a neutered male dog.
Paddy is Mama's favorite dog.
I often hear, when I am in a different room from Mama, the sound of Mama's voice engaged in normal conversation, and I perceive that she is perhaps conversing with a boarder.
But I enter the room and no, she is talking softly as in a normal conversation with an attentive Paddy, who looks lovingly and quietly and most devotedly with his soft light brown eyes up at her.
Paddy, with his white whiskers and Scottish countenance, looks exactly like an old Scottish gentleman of the human variety!
I know that Mama misses my dear Papa most dreadfully, as do I and all us Weber womenfolk do, and I believe that Mama has adopted Paddy to take Papa's place in a way, to fill a void in her life, and to be her companion.
At times, Mama takes Paddy into her lap, and he leans against Mama, his head tilted against her chest, and Mama carries on a one-way conversation with Paddy.
Our game of pinochle is resuming again.
We had taken a short break.
I wish you all a good night, and I do hope that we shall hear better news about the rains come tomorrow.
Yours affectionately,
Sophie, nee Weber

Sunset in Murnau-Seehausen:

Kingdom of Bavaria,
den 14. August

My Dears,
The town crier is shouting in the streets below that some of Prague is under water, and a magnificent, beloved elephant at the Prague Zoological Garden, along with a hippo, have been lost to the floods. Salzburg is also hard hit, and many buildings are under water. The same is happening in some towns in Prussia, and along the Danube in other German lands.
I have not as yet had word from Herr Leopold Mozart or his family in Salzburg, and I hope that my dear sister, Constanze, and Wolfgang, my dear brother-in-law, who are now in Vienna, are safe.
I am so glad to acertain yesterday that my family in Vienna is safe.
Well at least yesterday they were, and in Vienna, thank goodness, there is no change for the worst. We all hope very much that the rivers will crest and then finally fall.
it is a comfort to me to have my dear Herr Meinke-Haibl staying with Mama and myself at the inn here in Murnau.
I do not mean to imply that he shares our bedchamber; no, of course he does not.
The inn had been extremely busy, but as the rains continued, most of the travelers have departed for their homes, and Herr Meinke-Haibl now has his whole bedchamber here to himself, which he had previously had to share with two other gentlemen.
It is raining here today, and we have had one thunderstorm and then only light rain, save one downpour--nothing like in other regions.
We are simply saturated from playing pinochle, cards, whist, and billiards all the day.
Thank goodness--not from the rains!
But our thoughts are on our loved ones and friends in other regions!
During a lull in the storm, Mama and I paid a visit to the woolmaker's shoppe, and we bought wool yarn to knit new mittens for the coming winter.
I am partial to green, and have selected a green yarn, and Mama has selected again maroon, which will go well with any clothing.
So here we sit, knitting and playing cards, waiting out the rains.
Herr Meinke-Haibl is at work composing his opera in the music room.
He and I also played on the pianoforte and sang together yesterday. We had such amusement and pleasure in each other's company and in partaking of our passion--music--together.
No, my friends. Alas, there is no divan in this music room. We can hardly repeat the bliss we encountered and shared in the music room at our inn in Salzburg.
That room was off the beaten path in an upper story, and no one save us would enter it.
Here, the room is situated on the ground floor, and is easily reached by others.
I am also glad to have the outlet of practicing on the pianoforte, when Herr Meinke-Haibl is not using the instrument himself.
The playing of it affords me so much pleasure.
We hope to hear further news of the weather in our part of the world ere long.
At the moment, I am looking out our bedchamber window in the second story of the inn at the scene you see above.
It is the twilight hour, and a time for dreaming, as I observe the sunset.
As ever,
Sophie, nee Weber

No comments: