Tuesday, October 28, 2008



Salzburg, April 1, 1846

My dear friends, I again found myself this day at one of my very favorite landmarks in my adopted hometown of Salzburg, looking upon the venerable yellow exterior of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birthplace at Getreidegasse Number Nine.
The day is again mild and sunny, and I find renewed pleasure in these early spring days in strolling about town.
The sunlight makes the exterior of that august yellow, narrow building brighter still.
How symbolic of the essence and personality of one important being who dwelled within its walls--Maria Anna Mozart, nee Pertl, Wolfgang's own dear mother.

I had the pleasure of making Frau Mozart's acquaintance in my hometown of Mannheim when I was but fourteen years of age.
Wolfgang was undertaking an exploratory journey through the Southern German lands in search of better employment than at the Salzburg court orchestra under the authoritative Archbishop Colloredo.
This time, the Archbishop had refused Leopold Mozart's request for a leave of absence in order to accompany Wolfgang on this quest.
So instead, Frau Mozart was undertaking the long, arduous journey with Wolfgang in Leopold's stead.

You see, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and my Papa, Fridolin Weber, had become close, dear friends, and Mozart was often at our home, as like a member of the family.
With Mozart was his dear Mama, Maria Anna Mozart, nee Pertl.
Mozart gave me and my older sisters lessons on the pianoforte, and was at that time particularly solicitous of my elder sister, Aloysia, a budding opera singer.

I remember what an altogether pleasant and agreeable person Frau Mozart was--always smiling, offering encouraging comments, down-to-earth, open and straightforward.
I remember thinking what a cheerful person she was.
And she had such beautiful alabaster skin.
Frau Mozart got on wonderfully well with Mama, and the two ladies were often seated in the parlor absorbed in games of whist and cards.
One time, I was playing cards with the two of them, and I remember Frau Mozart saying to Mama as Frau Mozart shook her head resignedly yet not angrily, "Wolfgang has reached an age where he listens little or not at all to my advice. He does what he wishes and pays no mind to my counsel."
"Ach, Frau Mozart," Mama retorted and laughed softly. "Just you wait," Mama continued. "Your son is going through a difficult stage as all youths do, a rebellious stage. Why, you will see: In but a few years' time, a sensible, respectful, adult Wolfgang will emerge."
Frau Mozart looked bemused and amused, and her cheerful smile was again in evidence.
"That is something to look forward to!" she smiled broadly, pleased, her blue eyes twinkling.

Wolfgang and his mother were likes peas in a pod.
I remember how very much Wolfgang resembled his dear Mama.
He had his Mama's prominent nose.
Wolfgang later told me that he also owes his cheerful nature to the dear person who gave him birth and life.
Wolfgang’s endearing, lighthearted ways of joking and teasing, and yes—even that slightly bawdy, ribald scatological humor--he has inherited from his mother, though joking in this rather bold manner was more in evidence in my youth than in our present day in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Maria Anna Mozart, nee Pertl, was born in Saint Gilgen, a lakeside village not more than a day's journey from Salzburg, in December of 1720, being one year younger than her future husband, Leopold.
Her esteemed father, Wolfgang Nikolaus Pertl, was the mayor of Saint Gilgen.
He was called to the Lord when Maria Anna was but four years of age, so her mother moved with Maria Anna and her sister to Salzburg, residing in--but wait--this is no surprise, dear friends--the very same Getreidegasse!

Well, it was fate!
Sooner or later, the comely Maria Anna and the dashing, eligible bachelor-about-town Leopold, who had taken his bachelor lodgings in the very selfsame Getreidegasse, were destined to meet, and (I being a romantic, know this to be true)--to fall in love, and then to marry.

The wedding took place in Salzburg on November 21, 1747.
It was said about town that the young Mozarts were the handsomest couple in all Salzburg!
They had seven children, only the fourth (Nannerl) and the seventh (Wolfgang) surviving to adulthood.
Nannerl was born on July 30, 1751 and Wolfgang on January 27, 1756.

Frau Mozart accompanied Leopold on one of the great, long tours he undertook with Wolfgang and Nannerl as child prodigies.
This last tour to Paris, undertaken when Wolfgang was two-and-twenty years of age, proved too long and strenuous for the seven-and-fifty year old Mozart matriarch.
Lodged in Paris, knowing not the French language, she often had to remain at their lodging while Mozart made the rounds seeking employment and giving music lessons.
The room was alas often drafty and cold, with little coal for heating available.
Maria Anna sickened and died.
What a sad thing to happen.
Poor Wolfgang.
Poor Leopold.
How very sad for her family and friends.

I also vividly recall almost seventy years after the fact Wolfgang's sad return visit to our family hearth on his journey home to Salzburg.
(At that time, we resided in Munich for a little over one year before our move to Vienna.)
Mozart was wearing a black jacket--each buttonhole circled by red crepe--that being the Parisian custom for mourning attire.
It was for Wolfgang's beloved Mama.

I shall always fondly remember Maria Anna Mozart's simple, winning ways, her cheerfulness, her smile, her friendliness, kindness, and approachability.
I found these very same qualities in her cherished son, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Through Mozart, we shall always remember his dear Mama.
Maria Anna Mozart has become unforgettable and immortal.

"SOPHIE WEBER HAIBL: MOZART’S MOTHER, MARIA ANNA" is the exclusive property of Marti Burger, and is not to be reprinted without her written permission.

© Marti Burger 2003-2008

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