The answer came only too soon, for, a few days later, Wolfgang wrote announcing his intention of taking Aloysia Weber to Italy, in order that she might have an opportunity of displaying her ability. " I will be answerable with my life for her singing," he said, "and her doing credit to my recommendation. ! I will gladly write an opera . . . solely that Mdlle. Weber may acquire fame by it; for if I don't, I fear she may be sacrificed. I have now written you of what is in my heart; my mother is satisfied with my plans."
This was terrible. Did Wolfgang realise what he was doing ? The father implored him not to sacrifice his genius to any quixotic, immature ideal. But the son was obdurate. What cared he for fame ? Love was his creed. And, he wrote, although " it would not suit a grandee to love his wife . we poor humble people are privileged ... to choose a wife who loves us and whom we love. Besides," he continued, "we need no wealthy wife, for our wealth, being in our heads, dies with us; and this no man can deprive us of, unless he cut them off, in which case we need nothing more."
Such logic was unanswerable. In reply, therefore, Leopold appealed to his son's better judgment. He urged him first to make a name, then to think of marrying. "Get to Paris," he said, " take your place by the side of the really great. Aut Caesar aut nullus."
This was the wisdom of a father. It was sound philosophy. Yes - Wolfgang confessed it now - perhaps love was but folly until the lover could provide a future and a home for his beloved. Accordingly he yielded, and, full of good resolutions, set out for Paris with his mother.
But he hated the gay metropolis. It was utterly irresponsive to his art. Work lost its interest for him, and he longed solely for the society of Aloysia. During his stay in Paris, moreover, the greatest sorrow of his life befel him. His mother died. Wolfgang was distracted with grief.
Could Aloysia console or comfort him ? The thought refreshed him. He hastened to her side. But there, poor man, he was forced to drain the cup of sorrow to the dregs. The girl received him coldly, and on Christmas Day returned to him his heart. This was her Christmas offering, a broken heart. But Mozart did not give way to vain recrimination. His grief was too real. He went to his room, locked the door, and wept.
And Aloysia - she, too, deserves some sympathy. She foolishly had rejected a true and honourable suitor, and subsequently paid the penalty of folly to the utmost farthing, for with the man she ultimately married, Lange, the actor, she never had a moment's happiness.
But broken hearts soon mend. Mozart's was no exception. His father mocked at him in his anguish, chided him for indulging in foolish "dreams of pleasure." This first roused him from his lethargy. "What," he asked, " do you mean by dreams of pleasure ? I do not wish to give up dreaming, for what mortal upon, earth does not often dream ? " Forthwith, therefore, he began to dream again, and - it sounds incredible - fell in love with Aloysia's sister.
In 1781, the Weber family moved to Vienna for professional reasons, and in the same year Mozart also received an appointment there, in the household of the Archbishop. This position, however, he soon resigned, for the archbishop piqued him beyond endurance.
To resign was an audacious action, and Count Arco, the prelate's brother, infuriated by what he regarded as a mere minstrel's unwarranted impertinence, proceeded to kick Mozart down the stairs.
And Mozart submitted to this indignity; he was too much of a gentleman to fight in the august presence of the Archbishop. But he left the house vowing vengeance on the Count. He never fulfilled the vow. But that was not his fault; an opportunity did not present itself. And at the time he was concerned with other problems. How was he to earn a livelihood ? Where was he to live ? The second question was an easy one to answer. Why should he not join the Webers ? He would; it was a brilliant inspiration.
But old Leopold Mozart thought otherwise. He protested violently. The mere mention of the name Weber was to him as a red rag to a bull. In vain did Wolfgang try to pacify him. "What you write about the Webers," he said, "I do assure you is not the fact. I was a fool about Madame Lange, I do own; but what man is not when he is in love ? As for Madame Weber," he continued, " she is a very obliging person, and I can never serve her in proportion to her kindness to me, for indeed I have not time to do so."
Leopold, however, was not thus easily bluffed; he was a discriminating man, and replied peremptorily, ordering Wolfgang to leave the Webers' house immediately. And Wolfgang obeyed, but he left his heart behind him.
Exactly when Constanze Weber accepted the young composer's love it is difficult to say; perhaps it was in October, 1781, perhaps in November. Mozart himself is reticent on the subject, and naturally, for he found himself in a position which was far from enviable, a position in which no hero of fiction could have found himself - indeed, the actions of his prototype are often stranger.
However, something had to be done; it was impossible to keep the glad tidings for ever from the world. But how was he to announce them ? Trouble was inevitable; how was he to minimise it ? Desperate cases need desperate remedies. Accordingly he mustered the necessary courage, and on December 15th sat down to communicate with his father.