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The quaint old city of Salzburg, Austria, built into the mountain-side,

is a Mecca for all who love music, and admire the immortal Mozart. When

he was alive, his native city allowed him nearly to starve; when he was

dead, she built him a beautiful monument, and preserved his home, a

plain two-story, stuccoed building, for thousands of travellers to look

upon sadly and tenderly.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was
born Jan. 27, 1756, a delicate, sensitive

child, who would ask a dozen times a day whether his friends loved him,

and, if answered in the negative, would burst into tears. At three, he

began to show his passion for music. He would listen intensely as his

father taught his little sister, Nannerl, seven years old; would move

his playthings from one room to another, to the sound of the violin; and

at four, composed pieces which astonished his sire.

Two years later, the proud father took Wolfgang and his sister on a

concert tour to Vienna. So well did the boy play, that the Empress Maria

Theresa held him in her arms, and kissed him heartily. One day as he

was walking between two of her daughters, he slipped on the polished

floor and fell. Marie Antoinette, afterward Empress of France, raised

him up, whereupon he said, "You are very kind; I will marry you." The

father was alarmed at this seeming audacity; but the lovely Princess

playfully kissed him.

The next year he was taken to Paris, and here two sets of sonatas, the

works of a boy of seven, were brought out, dedicated to Marie

Antoinette. The children sat at the royal table, poems were written

about them, and everywhere they excited wonder and admiration; yet so

excessively modest was young Mozart, that he cried when praised too

much. In London, Bach took the boy between his knees, and alternately

they played his own great works and those of Handel at sight. Royalty

gave them "gold snuffboxes enough to set up a shop," wrote home the

father; "but in money I am poor." Wolfgang was now taken ill of

inflammatory fever; but he could not give up his music. A board was laid

across the bed, and on this he wrote out his thoughts in the notes.

Finally, with ardor dampened at their lack of pecuniary success, Leopold

Mozart took his dear ones back to quiet Salzburg.

Here the cold archbishop, discrediting the reports of the boy's genius,

shut him up alone for a week to compose an oratorio, the text furnished

by himself. Mozart, only ten years old, stood the test brilliantly. The

next year a second tour was taken to Vienna, to be present at the

marriage of the Archduchess Maria Josepha. The bride died from smallpox

shortly after their arrival: and poor Wolfgang took the disease, and was

blind for nine days. When he recovered, the musicians, moved by envy and

jealousy, would not be outdone by a boy of twelve, who was equally at

home in German or Italian opera, and determined to hiss off the stage

whatever he might compose. Sad at heart, and disappointed, again the

Mozarts went back to the old home.

Two years later, after much self-sacrifice, the father took his boy to

Italy for study. The first day in Passion Week they went to the Sistine

Chapel to hear the famous "Miserere" of Allegri, which was considered so

sacred, that the musicians were forbidden to take home any part of it,

or copy it out of the chapel, on pain of excommunication. Wolfgang, as

soon as he reached his lodgings, wrote it out from memory; which

remarkable feat for a boy of fourteen astonished all Rome. So

wonderfully did he play, that the audience at Naples declared there was

witchcraft in the ring which he wore on his left hand, and he was

obliged to remove it. At Milan, when he was nearly fifteen, he composed

the opera "Mithridate," conducting it himself, which was given twenty

nights in succession to enthusiastic audiences. After this came requests

for operas from Maria Theresa, Munich, and elsewhere. He was busy every

moment. Overworked, he was often ill; but the need for money to meet

heavy expenses made constant work a necessity. All this time he wrote

beautiful letters to his mother and sister. "Kiss mamma's hand for me a

thousand billion times," is the language of his loving heart. He could

scarcely be said to have had any childhood; but he kept his tenderness

and affection to the last of his life.

After their return to Salzburg, finding the new archbishop even less

cordial than the old--the former had allowed Wolfgang the munificent

salary of five dollars and a fourth yearly!--it was deemed wise to try

to find a new field for employment. The father, now sixty years of age,

must earn a pittance for the family by giving music-lessons, while the

mother accompanied the son to Paris. The separation was a hard one for

the devoted father, who could not say good-by to his idolized son, and

poor Nannerl wept the whole day long. Mozart, now twenty-one, and

famous, well repaid this affection by his pure character. He wrote: "I

have God always before me. Whatever is according to his will is also

according to mine; therefore I cannot fail to be happy and contented."

Stopping for a time at Mannheim, he attempted to gain the position of

tutor to the elector's children, but was disappointed. Here he fell in

love with Aloysia Weber, a pretty girl of fifteen, whose father, a

prompter at the National Theatre, earned only two hundred dollars yearly

for the support of his wife and six children. The girl had a fine

voice; and Mozart, blinded by love, asked no higher joy than to write

operas in which she might be the star. The good old father, who had

spent all his life in helping his son to win fame, was nearly

heart-broken when he learned of this foolish affection, and wrote him

tenderly but firmly: "Off with you to Paris; get the great folks on your

side; aut Caesar, aut nihil. From Paris, the name and fame of a man of

great talent goes through the whole world."

The young man, carrying out his childish motto, "God first, and then

papa," reluctantly started for Paris. Here he did not meet with great

success, for scores of applicants waited for every position. His loving

mother soon died, perhaps from over economy in her cold, dark lodgings;

and the young musician took his lonely way back to Salzburg, begging his

father's consent to his stopping at Mannheim to see the Webers. Finding

that Aloysia had gone upon the stage at Munich, he hastened to see her.

She had been offered a good salary. Meantime Mozart had won no new

laurels at Paris. He was small in stature, and poor; and the girl who

wept at his departure a few months previously professed now scarcely to

have seen his face before. The young lover, cut to the heart, yet proud,

seated himself at the piano, and played,

"I leave the girl gladly who cares not for me,"

and then hastened away to Salzburg. Aloysia married a comedian, and

lived a most unhappy life, gaining some fame from singing the music

which Mozart wrote for her.

He remained at home for a year and a half, till called to Munich to

write the opera "Idomeneo," and later to Vienna. Here, unfortunately, he

met the Webers again, and, their father having died, he boarded in their

house, and gave lessons to Constance, a younger sister of Aloysia. She

was a plain, good-hearted girl, without much energy, but with a great

appreciation of her gifted teacher. The result came naturally; he fell

in love with the penniless girl, and, despite the distress of his aged

father at his choice, married her when he was twenty-six and she


Henceforward there was no hope of any thing save the direst poverty. To

marry without love is a grave mistake; to marry simply for love is

sometimes a mistake equally grave. He could of course do nothing now for

his aged father or sister. Unsteady employment, a rapidly-increasing

family, and a wife ill most of the time, made the struggle for existence

ten times harder than before his marriage. Once when he had prepared to

visit his father for the first time after the wedding, and had waited

months for the necessary funds, he was arrested for a debt of fifteen

dollars, just as he was stepping into the carriage.

The Emperor Joseph said to him one day, "Why did you not marry a rich

wife?" With dignity Mozart at once replied, "Sire, I trust that my

genius will always enable me to support the woman I love"; but

unfortunately it did not. He wrote after his marriage: "The moment we

were made one, my wife as well as myself began to weep, which touched

every one, even the priest, and they all cried when they witnessed how

our hearts were moved." How little they dreamed that they should weep

more seriously when hunger stared their six children in the face!

From the time of his marriage till his death, nine years, says Rev. Mr.

Haweis, "his life can be compared to nothing but a torch burning out

rapidly in the wind." It was a period of incessant, astonishing labor.

He dedicated six quartets to his dear friend Joseph Haydn, who said,

"Mozart is the greatest composer who has ever lived"; wrote "Figaro"

when he was twenty-nine, which had the greatest popularity, "Don

Giovanni" at thirty-one, and the "Flauto Magico" gratis, for the benefit

of the theatre director, who was in want. The two latter creations were

hailed with delight. Goethe wrote to Schiller later of "Don Giovanni,"

"That piece stands entirely alone; and Mozart's death has rendered all

hope of any thing like it idle."

Whenever he appeared at the theatre, he was called upon the stage from

all parts of the house; yet all this time he could not earn enough to

live. He received only a hundred dollars from his "Don Giovanni," and

less for the others. He gave lessons every hour he could spare, concerts

in the open air, borrowed from his friends, scrimped himself, to send

money to his sick wife at Baden, pawned his silver plate to make one

more unsuccessful journey to win the aid of indifferent princes, and

fainted often at his tasks after midnight. Still he wrote to "the best

and dearest wife of my heart," "If I only had a letter from you, all

would be right," and promised her to work harder than ever to earn


When Constance was at home with him, if he left her in the morning

before she awakened, he would leave a note for her with the words,

"Good-morning, my darling wife. I shall be at home at -- o'clock

precisely." Once when she had been ill for eight months, and Mozart was

composing beside her as she slept, suddenly a noisy messenger entered.

Alarmed lest his wife should be disturbed, he rose hastily, when the

penknife in his hand fell, and buried itself in his foot. Without a word

escaping his lips, he left the room, a surgeon was called, and, though

lame for some time, the wife was not told of the accident.

His compositions found few purchasers, for the people generally could

not comprehend them. Publishers' shops were closed to him, unless he

would write in the popular style. "Then I can make no more by my pen,"

he said bitterly, "and I had better starve and go to destruction at

once." So poor had his family become, that, with no fuel in the house,

he and his wife were found by a friend, waltzing to keep warm.

About this time a sepulchral-looking man called to ask that a "Requiem"

be written on the death of the wife of an Austrian nobleman, who was to

be considered the author, and thus his intense grief be shown, though

manifested through a lie. Mozart consulted with his wife, as was his

custom, and, as she indorsed it, he accepted the commission for fifty

dollars. Overworked, harassed by debts which he could not pay, hurt at

the jealousies and intrigues of several musicians, disappointed at the

reception of his new opera at Prague, his hopeful nature forsook him,

and he told Constance that the "Requiem" would be written for himself.

In the midst of this wretchedness their sixth child was born. The poor

wife forgot her own sorrows, and prevailed upon him to give up work for

a time; but the active brain could not rest, and he wrote as he lay on

his sick-bed. On the day before he died, Dec. 4, 1791, at two o'clock,

he persisted in having a portion of the "Requiem" sung by the friends

who stood about his bed, and, joining with them in the alto, burst into

tears, saying, "Did I not say that I was writing the 'Requiem' for

myself?" Soon after he said, "Constance, oh that I could only hear my

'Flauto Magico!'" and a friend playing it, he was cheered.

A messenger now arrived to tell him that he was appointed organist at

St. Stephen's Cathedral, a position for which he had longed for years;

but it came too late. Death was unwelcome to him. "Now must I go," he

said, "just as I should be able to live in peace; I must leave my

family, my poor children, at the very instant in which I should have

been able to provide for their welfare." Cold applications were ordered

by the physicians for his burning head; he became delirious for two

hours, and died at midnight, only thirty-five years old. Constance was

utterly prostrated, and threw herself upon his bed, hoping to die also.

Mozart's body was laid beside his piano, and then, in a pouring rain,

buried in a "common grave," in the plainest manner possible, with nobody

present except the keepers of the cemetery. Weeks after, when the wife

visited the spot, she found a new grave-digger, who could not tell where

her beloved husband was buried, and to this day the author of fourteen

Italian operas, seventeen symphonies, and dozens of cantatas and

serenades, about eight hundred compositions in all, sleeps in an unknown

grave. The Emperor Leopold aided her in a concert to raise fifteen

hundred dollars to pay her husband's debts, and provide a little for

herself. Eighteen years afterward she married the Danish councillor,

Baron von Missen, who educated her two sons, four other children having

died. Salzburg waited a half-century before she erected a bronze statue

to her world-renowned genius, in the Square of St. Michael; and, seventy

years after his death, Vienna built him a monument in the Cemetery of

St. Mark. History scarcely furnishes a more pathetic life. He filled the

world with music, yet died in want and sorrow.