Great musicians, almost without excep-tion, are splendid lovers. Schumann's love story has been told already in this series. It was a delightful romance. But that of Wolfgang Mozart is not one whit less charming. It is as fascinating as. the man's personality.
Sentiment was the most important element in Mozart's nature. He was the human embodiment of his own compositions. Fate wished that he should become the hero of a great romance, and the world did not withhold from him the opportunity.
As a baby, he was an undergrown man; as a man, an overgrown baby. But he was always natural and amazingly ingenuous. In spite of his precocious talent, moreover, he never suffered from "swelled head." The disease is tediously common among infant prodigies, but Mozart, the prodigy of prodigies, escaped it. He was too great an artist to hold an exaggerated estimate of his own importance, and great enough to be in perfect sympathy with life and with the world.
Everybody loved Mozart. And he gave even more love than he received. Never had parents a more devoted son, or a sister a more adoring brother. Affection was lavished upon him. He could not avoid it, and at an absurdly early age his impressionable nature felt the influence of love in its more disturbing, if not more serious, form.
In 1770, at the time when he was dazzling Milan with his genius, he sent a letter to his mother full of dark secrets. "I kiss your hand a thousand times," he wrote, " and have a great deal to say to my sister; but what ? That is known only to God and myself. Please God I may soon be able to confide it to her verbally."
This is a remarkable letter for a fourteen-year-old child to write. Yes; even though that child be Mozart, the youthful genius who, a few days later in a letter to his father, quite casually expressed the hope that his new opera would be successful. And the ridiculous fact is that the opera was successful, so successful that the Pope deemed the composer worthy of a knighthood.
The fuse of love had now, indeed, been fired in Mozart's heart. "Affair" followed "affair " in rapid and bewildering succession. It is impossible to keep in touch with them. First, there was a mysterious sweetheart whom he named Annamindl. "Pray present my kind regards in that quarter," he asked his sister, "but in the most impressive and tender manner - the most tender; and oh ! - but I need not be in such anxiety." Then the daughter of the family doctor became the centre of his heart's desire; then the baker's daughter. And there were many, many others, all boyish fancies; it would be wearisome to mention them.
Not until he had reached the so-called years of discretion did Cupid's arrows make a deep or painful mark upon him. And then, in 1777, while "touring" with his mother, he met at Augsburg one of his cousins, a certain Marianne Mozart. She was a jolly, cheerful girl, and her charms appealed strongly to the susceptible Wolfgang. Immediately he evinced an interest in her far more lively than that demanded by the bond of kinship, and he wrote letters to her which, of their kind, surely are unique. One must be quoted here, for Lady Wallace, in her translation, has reproduced brilliantly, at any rate, its spirit.
As he was leaving Augsburg, Wolfgang asked Marianne to send to him a portrait of herself. She said that she would do so. But several days elapsed, and still the gift was not forthcoming. Mozart received a letter, it is true; but the portrait - not a word of it.
He grew impatient, and, in order to remind his cousin of her promise, wrote as follows : "My dear niece, cousin, daughter ! mother, sister, wife ! Potz Himmel! Croatians, demons, witches, hags, and cross batteries ! Potz element! Air, earth, fire, and water ! Europe, Asia, Africa, and America ! Jesuits, Augustines, Benedictines, Capucins, Minorites, Franciscans, Dominicans, Carthusians, and Knights of the Cross ! Privateers, canons regular and irregular, sluggards, rascals, scoundrels, imps, and villains all! Donkeys, buffaloes, oxen, fools, blockheads, numskulls, and foxes ! What means this ? Such a packet and no portrait!"
He was an amazing mortal. But his latest little love affair was no mean source of anxiety to his father; old Leopold Mozart feared that it was interfering with his son's career. And so indeed it was. He strove, therefore, to exercise some authority. Wolfgang, however, resented paternal interference in so personal a matter; but, because he venerated his father, and always valued his opinions, repudiated the allegations with as much self-restraint as he could muster. "The' bitter way in which you write about my merry and innocent intercourse with your brother's daughter," he declared, " makes me justly indignant; but it is not as you think. I require to give you no answer on the subject."
This was the truth; the father's surmises were incorrect. Wolfgang was merely playing with his cousin, and .was sublimely ignorant of the fact that she regarded his attentions with all seriousness. By this time he was too much engrossed in another woman to allow himself to be worried by such trifles.
While staying at Mannheim in 1778, he had occasion to have some music copied, and, to do the work, employed a copyist named Weber. The world had not dealt kindly with the man; he was very poor, but, like most poor people, extravagantly generous. This trait of character immediately won Mozart's admiration. His visited the house frequently. But perhaps there was a reason for these visits other than sympathy.
Weber had a daughter. "She sings admirably," Wolfgang told his father, "and has a lovely voice; she is only fifteen. She fails in nothing but in stage action; were it not for that, she might be prima donna at any theatre. . . . My Aria De' Amicis she sings to perfection with all its tremendous passages." The father saw the truth which lay behind these words, and now had just cause for alarm. Had his son become infatuated by a mere copyist's daughter ?