Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Salzburg, den 1. Mai, 1846

My dear friends and visitors,
As I sit at my writing desk on this warm spring morning in my apartment in the Marktplatz, my thoughts turn to my dearest nephew, Franz Xaver Mozart.

It was both a blessing and a curse for him to be the son of the great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
I never had children of my own, and professed not to have favorites among my many nieces and nephews.
But if any child awakened the dormant mother in my heart, it was my beloved nephew.
I have nowadays much time for musings and reflections, having reached in October last the great age of two-and-eighty.
I believe that I was secretly pleased to remain a spinster until I safely passed the age of bearing children.
The fear of dying in childbirth or of losing children in infancy was unspoken but remained in my heart.

My beloved nephew, Franz Xaver Mozart, saw the light of day in Vienna on the 26th of July in the year of our Lord 1791, scarcely four months before his father's untimely passing.
I recall so well that beautiful, joyous summer day in Vienna.
My dear sister, Constanze, experienced but a short labor, and our dear Mama and I were there to assist the midwife.
I remember my euphoria, since the beautiful baby boy was healthy and plump.
My sister let me hold him in my arms and cuddle him, and the strong bond between us was forged.
Franz Xaver's older brother, Karl, aged nearly seven, was delighted with the appearance of a baby brother.
Mama and I took the infant to Saint Stephen's Cathedral to be christened: Franz Xaver Wolfgang Gottlieb Mozart.

Wolfgang was the name his mother called him, though she favored the pet name of Wowi, as all our family did.

My nephew bore a strong physical resemblance to his father.
Franz Xaver grew up to be a gifted composer and virtuoso on the pianoforte.
If only so much had not been expected of him!
If only his beautiful musical creations were not immediately and inevitably compared with his father's immortal masterworks!
If only he himself had not also been guilty of these very things!
My dear nephew possessed a kind heart and a sensitive nature, and I miss him deeply.

For one thing I am most grateful: that the Almighty saw fit to take my dearest sister, Constanze, in March of 1842, aged eighty years, without having to endure the grief of losing her beloved son.
Franz Xaver Mozart passed from this world in Karlsbad on the 29th of July, 1844, aged three-and-fifty years, barely two years after his mother.

My nephew commenced his musical studies at an early age and aged six years, he sang the aria "Der Vogelfaenger bin ich ja" from his father's opera, "The Magic Flute."
He was fortunate to study with Joseph Haydn and Antonio Salieri and other notable composers.
My dear Franz Xaver enjoyed early success with his own compositions and his virtuosity on the pianoforte, but he felt most keenly the expectations heaped upon him to duplicate or even surpass the musical genius and success of his father.

My poor Wowi! What frustration he experienced in attempting to fulfill his youthful promise.
Oh, his music is sublime and beautiful.
No one can attest that he is not indeed a gifted composer and virtuoso.
But there is only one Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
No one can touch his dear father.
I wish that this gradually dawning knowledge would have pleased Franz Xaver rather than have cast a haunting shadow over his heart and his life.

My nephew traveled widely throughout the European lands--giving concerts, interpreting both his own and his esteemed father's music.
He favored composing in his father's style--even, alas, when it was no longer fashionable.
But had Wowi remained in Vienna, he would have been aware of more current, modern musical styles and fare.
You see, Franz Xaver settled in Lemberg, Ukraine, in a more isolated region of the Austrian Empire.
He served as a tutor in two aristocratic households, and subsequently became a music teacher in the town, all the while composing.
In Lemberg, Franz Xaver met his great love, Countess Josephine Cavalcabo, married to a man she did not esteem.
My nephew and the countess were very attached one to the other, and she bestowed personal happiness upon him.

Toward the end of Franz Xaver's life, he returned to live in Vienna.
In 1842, only months after the passing of his dear mother, Franz Xaver participated in the erection of the Mozart Monument in Salzburg.
I so wish my dear sister, Constanze, could have lived to witness this great day.
Franz Xaver's elder brother, Karl, and I were also present.

I shed tears of happiness and pride for my late brother-in-law, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
The Michaelsplatz was then renamed the Mozartplatz, and the statue of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was unveiled.
My dear nephew performed one of his own and one of his father's works.
Sadly, two years thereafter, Franz Xaver's health began to fail, and he died in Karlsbad in July of 1844.

I hope that you, meine lieben Freunde und Gaeste, have enjoyed hearing a little about my dear nephew and will recall him and his music with pleasure.
Franz Xaver Mozart can securely stand alone in his own right--as composer, viruoso, and Mensch.

"SOPHIE WEBER HAIBL: MY BELOVED NEPHEW, FRANZ XAVER MOZART" 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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