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Mozart in the Market-Place

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2020

Julia Moore*
Syracuse University


Mozart's financial situation has been the subject of controversy and speculation since his death in December 1791, when a rumour circulated through Vienna that he had left debts of 30,000 fl. (see Table 1 for information on currencies). Although this fantastic figure was ten times too high, his widow's situation was indeed precarious, at least at first.

Copyright © 1989 Royal Musical Association

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1 Niemetschek, Franz Xavier, Lebensbeschreibung des k. k. Kapellmeisters Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart aus Ortgtnalquellen (2nd edn, Prague, 1808), 57 See also Joseph Heinz Eibl, ‘Zum Pensions-Gesuch Konstanzes vom 11 Dezember 1791’, Mitteilungen der Internationalen Stiftung Mozarteum, 14/3–4 (August 1966), 48Google Scholar

2 Puchberg noted on each of Mozart's letters the amount loaned and the date. Mozart Briefe und Aufzeichnungen Gesamtausgabe, ed Wilhelm Bauer and Otto Erich Deutsch (Kassel, 1962–75), The Letters of Mozart and his Family, trans, and ed Emily Anderson (London, 1938).Google Scholar

3 Nissen, Georg, Biographie W A. Mozarts nach Originalbnefen (Leipzig, 1828; 2nd edn, 1849; repr. Hildesheim, 1972), 686.Google Scholar

4 The text of the contract with Lackenbacher is given in Bauer/Deutsch as no. 1137, see also the editors' commentary on this document. There is discussion of other possible loans and identification of Johann Odilio Goldhahn as another individual who may have loaned Mozart money in the extraordinary, recently published study by H. C. Robbins Landon, 1791 – Mozart's Last Year (London, 1988), 50, 52–3, 63.Google Scholar

5 This cable lists only amounts of Mozart's income which are fairly certain; income of questionable amount is excluded. Various fees are reported for the Requiem – 50 d., 60 d., or 200 d. – and it is not known what, if anything, Mozart got from Schikaneder for Zauberflöte. Landon thinks he got 200 d – his usual fee for court operas. Both Rochlitz and Nissen report (with Constanze as their source) that he was not paid, and I am inclined to believe he had some sort of profit-sharing arrangement with Schikaneder which went awry These and other difficult issues concerning specific amounts of Mozart's income are treated in my larger, forthcoming study, Mozart and Haydn in the Market-Place.Google Scholar

6 Letters to Leopold, 16 June 1781, 22 December 1781 and 23 January 1782. Concerning typical fees for teaching activities, see Moore, Julia, ‘Beethoven and Musical Economics’ (Ph D. dissertation, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1987), 363–5; forthcoming from Oxford University Press as Beethoven in the Market-Place.Google Scholar

7 I now have two pupils and would very much like to increase the number to eight. Try to spread the word that I am giving lessons.’ Letter to Puchberg, 17 May 1790.Google Scholar

8 Letters to Leopold, 4 April and 11 April 1781.Google Scholar

9 Bauer/Deutsch nos 606, 651, 660, Anderson nos. 411, 438, 442. Projected earnings from concerts organized by Philipp Jakob Martin to be held in the Augarten each Sunday during the summer months are discussed in a letter to Leopold of 8 May 1782 Mozart hoped he and Martin would each realize a profit of 300 fl.Google Scholar

10 The Mozart family returned from their European concert tour of 1763–6 with nine gold watches, 12 gold snuff boxes, countless gold rings with precious stones, earrings, necklaces, miscellaneous gold objects and galanterie clothing worth perhaps 12,000 fl Rudolph Angermüller, ‘Auf Ēhre und Credit: Die Finanzen des W. A. M¯ozart’, Ausstellung der Internationalen Stiftung Mozarteum Salzburg (Munich, 1983), 6.Google Scholar

11 Moore, ‘Beethoven and Musical Economics’, 314–20.Google Scholar

12 Letter to Leopold, 3 March 1784Google Scholar

13 This figure was published in Cramer's Magazin der Musik (Hamburg, 9 May 1783), it is not clear whether it was an estimate based on a full house, or whether Mozart's earnings were public knowledge. Otto Erich Deutsch, Mozart Die Dokumente seines Lebens, Mozart Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke, Series X, Supplement (Kassel, 1961), 190–1Google Scholar

14 Moore, ‘Beethoven and Musical Economics’, 288–320. See also Alexander Wheelock Thayer, Life of Beethoven, ed. Elliot Forbes (3rd edn, Princeton, 1970), 906. Examples of the wide variation in concert receipts in Vienna are provided by Mary Sue Morrow, ‘Concert Life in Vienna, 1780–1810’ (Ph D dissertation, Indiana University, 1984), 141–6, and Andrew Steptoe, ‘Mozart and Poverty’ The Musical Times, 125 (1984), 197.Google Scholar

15 After the third performance of Entführung (on 26 July), Frau Weber compelled the following series of events on 27 July and again on 31 July Mozart wrote to ask for his father's blessing and consent; on 29 July Johann von Thorwart, Constanze's legal guardian, applied for the marriage licence; on 3 August the couple signed the marriage contract, the following day they were married at St Stephen's. The previous December Mozart had been coerced by Thorwart and Frau Weber to sign a contract promising to marry Constanze within three years, or, if he failed to do so, to pay her an annuity of 300 fl. During the period 27 July to 4 August Frau Weber suddenly insisted the wedding be held immediately, and she applied intense pressure, including threats to involve the police, to destroy Mozart's reputation in polite society, and so on. Bauer/Deutsch nos 651, 680–1, 683–4; Anderson nos. 438. 455–8.Google Scholar

16 ‘In addition to his guaranteed fee, he would earn 400 or 500 fl, because it is the custom here that the poet always gets the receipts of the third performance.’ Mozart to his father from Vienna, 7 May 1783; he was proposing that Abbate Varesco, who had written the libretto for Idomeneo, now write him another libretto. ‘Always’ is certainly an exaggeration. Bauer/Deutsch no. 745, Anderson no. 489.Google Scholar

17 Letters to the Baroness von Waldstädten, 28 September and 2 October 1782.Google Scholar

18 Moore, ‘Beethoven and Musical Economics’, Chapter IV.1 C ‘Publications and Subscriptions’.Google Scholar

19 During Mozart's lifetime the usual first printing was 100 copies, subsequent printings ranged from 20 to 50 copies. Otto Erich Deutsch, ‘Mozarts Verleger’, Mozart-Jahrbuch (1955), 50.Google Scholar

20 Deutsch, Mozart Die Dokumente, 187–8, 274–5Google Scholar

21 Ibid., 200.Google Scholar

22 Kraemer, Uwe, ‘Wer hat Mozart verhungern lassen?’, Musica, 30/3 (May-June 1976), 203–11.Google Scholar

23 Moore, ‘Beethoven and Musical Economics’, Chapter V 1: ‘Beethoven's Estate Inventory in Comparison to those of Other Musicians and Artists’.Google Scholar

24 Kraemer, ‘Wer hat Mozart verhungern lassen?’, 211 There exist no reports of heavy gambling; there are quite a few reports concerning Mozart's billiard playing in general. Nissen described Mozart's ‘passion’ for billiards. ‘In seinen Unterhaltungen war er für eine jede neue sehr passionirt, wie fürs Reiten und auch für Billard. Um ihn vom Umgange misslicher Art abzuhalten, versuchte seine Frau geduldig Alles mit ihm ’(‘In his entertainments, he was quite passionate for each new one, for riding as well as for billiards. His wife patiently pursued every means to keep him out of trouble.’) Nissen (Biographie, 559, 628) also claimed Mozart could compose while playing billiards. In a letter to Constanze, 7–8 October 1791, Mozart wrote ‘Immediately after your departure I played two games of billiards with Herr von Mozart, the one who wrote the opera which is playing at Schikaneder's theatre’ Both Michael Kelly and Thomas Attwood recalled Mozart's enthusiasm for billiards, and Attwood said Mozart once suggested a game of billiards instead of a lesson. Otto Jahn, W. A. Mozart (Leipzig, 1867), i, 720, 743Google Scholar

25 This position was expressed by Joseph Heinz Eibl in his response to Kraemer, ‘W. A Mozart – Ein Spieler? Bemerkungen zu Uwe Kraemer's Untersuchung’, Musica, 30/5 (September-October 1976), 415–18Google Scholar

26 Carl Bär, ‘Er war … – kein guter Wirth Eine Studie über Mozart's Verhältnis zum Geld’, Acta Mozartiana, 25/1 (January 1978), 52.Google Scholar

27 'Ich versuche es, den Tarif der Lebensbedürfnisse zu entwerfen, so wie sie ungefähr ein Filosof fühlet, der im Mittelstand lebet, beate latere, und eigentlich nur den Zuschauer bei der grossen Weltkomödie machen will. Vorausgesetzt, daß ihr keine Familie habt, in keinem öffentlichen Amt stehet, kein Spieler seyd, und keine ordentliche Liebschaft unterhaltet – Dinge, die in mancherlei Verbindungen ziehen, gewisse Garderobe-Regeln vorschreiben, und unaufhörlichen unordentlichen Geldaufwand fordern .. Was ihr für die Spektakel, Luftgesellschaften und geheimen Vergnügungen ausgeben wollt, das bleibt eurer Fantasie und euren Kräften überlassen.' Johann Pezzl, Skizze von Wien (1st edn, Vienna, 1786–90), i, 98–9.Google Scholar

28 Pezzl, Johann, Skizze von Wien (4th edn, Vienna, 1803), 130. See also Moore, ‘Beethoven and Musical Economics’, 270–1.Google Scholar

29 Pezzl, Skizze (1st edn, 1786–90), i, 99.Google Scholar

30 Two recent University of Vienna dissertations have addressed the ennobled business class during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: Renate Komanowitz, ‘Der Wirtschaftsadel unter Kaiser Franz II (I) in der Zeit von 1729 bis 1815’ (phil. Dissertation, University of Vienna, 1974); Putz, Franz, ‘Die österreichische Wirtschaftsaristokratie von 1815–1859’ (phil. Dissertation, University of Vienna, 1975).Google Scholar

31 Matis, Herbert, ‘Die Grafen von Fries: Aufstieg und Untergang einer Unternehmerfamilie’, Tradition: Zeitschrift für Firmengeschichte und Unternehmerbiographie, 12/1 (January 1967), 490-4.Google Scholar

32 Moore, ‘Beethoven and Musical Economics’, Chapter V.2: ‘Salaries and Pensions for Musicians and Other Occupations’.Google Scholar

33 Sandgruber, Roman, ‘Wirtschaftsentwicklung, Einkommensverteilung und Alltagsleben zur Zeit Haydns’, Joseph Haydn in seiner Zeit. Ausstellung, Eisenstadt, 20. Mai -26. Oktober, 1982, ed. Gerda Mraz and others (Eisenstadt, 1982), 7290.Google Scholar

34 Bär, ‘Er war … – kein guter Wirth’, 31–2.Google Scholar

35 Mozart maintained his household accounts in the same manuscript as his own thematic catalogue; the latter material along with a brief description of the former material was published by Johann André, W. A. Mozarts thematischer Catalog (Offenbach, 1828).Google Scholar

36 Mozart hoped – in vain – to hold subscription concerts in his apartment throughout the summer months of 1790, as described in a letter to Puchberg in May He had planned subscription concerts in a casino in June 1788 which most scholars have assumed were not held; Landon (1791, 31–3) thinks they were held.Google Scholar

37 Despite overexposure as a performer and decreased popularity as a teacher, Mozart's compositions remained popular in Vienna and were frequently performed, although not on occasions for which he was paid. Proving a negative is always difficult; we cannot be certain that Mozart gave no further concerts after 1786, especially since concerts were often not reported in the newspapers See Morrow, Mary Sue, ‘Mozart and Viennese Concert Life’, The Musical Times, 126 (1985), 453–4Google Scholar

38 The Lackenbacher loan was frantically negotiated by post from Frankfurt in September-October 1790 during Mozart's concert tour The previous year he had written to Constanze, ‘My most beloved little wife, you must be happier with me on my return than with the money ….’ Letter from Berlin, 23 May 1789. Bär (‘Er war .. – kein guter Wirth’, 49–50) argued, convincingly I think, that the gold box Mozart received in Dresden in April 1789 from Kurfürst Friedrich August von Sachsen did not contain 100 d.Google Scholar

39 Moore, ‘Beethoven and Musical Economics’, 410–11Google Scholar

40 Frieben, Birgit, ‘Die Sozialstruktur Wiens am Anfang des Vormärz’ (phil Dissertation, University of Vienna, 1966); Bammer, Winfried, ‘Beiträge zur Sozialstruktur der Bevölkerung Wiens aufgrund der Verlassenschaftsakte des Jahres 1830’ (phil. Dissertation, University of Vienna, 1968).Google Scholar

41 Moore, ‘Beethoven and Musical Economics’, 409–11.Google Scholar

42 Ibid., Chapter III. 1: ‘Price Inflation and Devaluation of Paper Currencies during the Austrian State Bankruptcy Era’, Chapter III.3. ‘Indices for Food and Rent Costs in Vienna’, Chapter III.4: ‘Calculating the Purchasing Power of Beethoven's Income’.Google Scholar

43 See above, note 23.Google Scholar

44 Moore, ‘Beethoven and Musical Economics’, 403, Johann Pezzl, Beschreibung und GrundriB der Haupt- und Residenzstadt Wien (Vienna, 1802), 236–8Google Scholar

45 Moore, loc cit, Pezzl, loc citGoogle Scholar

46 Moore, loc cit, 546–8 Hannes Stekl, Osterreichs Aristokratie im Vormärz Herrschaftsstil und Lebensformen der Fürstenhäuser Liechtenstein und Schwarzenberg, Sozial- und Wirtschaftshistorische Studien (Munich, 1973), 8694.Google Scholar

47 Moore, ‘Beethoven and Musical Economics’, 392–6, 24–9Google Scholar

48 Ibid., 168–73, 188206, 214–19, 223–4Google Scholar

49 Ibid., 186–9 The outstanding study of living standards in Austria during this period is Roman Sandgruber, Anfänge der Konsumgesellschaft Konsumguterverbrauch, Lebensstandard und Alltagskultur im Österreich im 18. und 19 fahrhundert. Sozial- und Wirtschaftshistorische Studien, 15 (Munich, 1982)Google Scholar

50 Moore, ‘Beethoven and Musical Economics’, 188203.Google Scholar

51 For the latest exciting research on this apartment, including drawings of a likely floor plan, see Landon, 1791, Appendix A. See also Otto Erich Deutsch, ‘Mozarts Wohnung in der Schulerstraße (Domgasse 5), 1784–1787’, Mozart-Wohnung (Figarohaus) Wien 1, Domgasse 5, ed. Robert Waisenberger (Vienna, 1984), 35; and Heinz Schöny, ‘Mozarts Wiener Wohnungen’, Osterreichische Musikzeitschrift, 11/4 (April 1956), 137–43.Google Scholar

52 Mozart's estate inventory lists the following liabilities, presumably incurred during the calendar year 1791, since Viennese merchants customarily turned to legal action in early January to collect any debts remaining from the previous year: Georg Dümmer, bürgerlicher Schneider, 282 fl. 7 k.;Google Scholar

56 Concerning the disbanding of aristocratic Kapellen in 1780–95 see Moore, ‘Beethoven and Musical Economics’, Chapter II. ‘The Changing Socio-Economic Structure of Musical Patronage‘Google Scholar

57 Abert, Hermann, W A Mozart (Leipzig, 1956), ii, 730–1, Erich Valentin, ‘Das Testament der Constanze Mozart-Nissen’, Mozart-Jahrbuch, 2 (1942), 137, note 24; Landon, 1791, 64, 78, 184–7.Google Scholar

58 Valentin, ‘Das Testament’, 137.Google Scholar