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with Mozart "
December 2020

A little sign to clarify a mystery.

Before continuing our journey into Mozart’s heart, life and work, we would like to thank you for your feedback and comments on our newsletters, which are of interest to a high percentage of our subscribers.
 
We had initially planned to prepare a new newsletter on a subject that will be dealt with by the musical symposium on the sidelines of the 2022 Festival, but the news is forcing us to postpone sending this letter.
 
What news, what article and what discovery are inspiring us at this moment? Nothing to do with Covid 19 or the discovery of candidate vaccines ...

This is the reading of an article published in the newspaper Le Figaro which, according to its author, would shed "new light" on the Masonic ideals of Wolfgang. This article, whose title begins as a fable "Master Mozart by captivated Freemasonry ..." [1], deals with the recent study of a letter from Mozart to his father Léopold written in Vienna on April 4, 1787 when the latter was suffering from a serious illness (he will pass away on May 28). Our readers will therefore understand why we could not ignore this new information to close this chapter on the Masonic inclinations of Wolfgang

The journey of this letter is already epic as recounted by Philippe Gault for Classic Radio:
 
“Revealed in 1829 in the biography of Mozart written by Georg Nikolaus Nissen[2], no one knew where the original could be, which, unlike most of the Mozart family correspondence, had escaped the Dommusikverein und Mozarteum, created in 1841 (ancestor of the Mozarteum Foundation). The famous letter would have been bequeathed by Franz Xaver Wolfgang, the last of Mozart's six children, to his wife” [3].

[1] Le Figaro November 20, 2020 "Master Mozart by Freemasonry captivated" by Thierry Hilléroteau
[2] Georg Nikolaus Nissen was Constance Mozart's second husband
[3] Franz Wolfgang Mozart (1791-1844) studied music in Prague and Vienna among others with Hummel and Salieri. He was like his father a child prodigy; at the age of eleven he published a piano quinquet. 

“The identity of the subsequent owners of the precious missive is quite a mystery. It was found with a Viennese lawyer in 1877 and then in the collections of the Wilhelm Heyer's Museum of Music History in Cologne before it was lost during 4 auctions of the collection of this museum in Berlin in the 1920s. and that it reappears on an unknown date in the hands of Albi Rosenthal, a famous antique dealer specializing in musical autographs. The last owner of the letter was Maurice Sendak[4] who sold them in 2012 to the Rosenbach Museum & Library. The Philadelphia Museum, which therefore decided to sell three original letters at the beginning of 2020 to the Mozarteum Foundation in Salzburg, including this one "

[4]  Maurice Sendack (1928-2012) is an American writer famous for his album “Max et les maximonstres”.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IVSXCDRFvg

As we indicated in our 3rd newsletter[5] , if Mozart's Freemason journey in the last seven years of his life is known to us, it is mainly thanks to the archives found in the Viennese lodges. Apart from the few musical opuses connected to Freemasonry (cantatas, his Masonic funeral music or The Magic Flute)[6] , testimonies from the musician or his family on his membership in the freemason organization are rare[7] .

It should be remembered that if the Emperor Joseph II of Austria, enlightened despot and himself music lover[8]  authorized the performance of Nozze di Figaro taken from the play by Beaumarchais censored in France, the revolutionary ideas imported from France scared[9]  Joseph II, pushing him then Leopold II to place the Freemasons under police surveillance because he takes a dim view of these secret meetings calling into question his absolute power. We then understand why Mozart's private correspondence could have been purged of all allusions to his Masonic commitment which could become compromising; "Mozart did not die in the odor of holiness".

This touching letter was not unknown to the composer's scholars and biographers[10], but it had "aroused a certain skepticism" and no one had learned all the lessons from its reading.

"Mon très cher Père![11] 
I have just this moment heard news that leaves me very downcast … But now I hear that you are truly ill! It is surely not necessary to tell you with how much longing I look forward to comforting news direct from yourself; and this is also my firm hope … As death (strictly considered) is the true ultimate destination of our life, I have therefore, over the past few years, made myself so familiar with this true, best friend of man that its image not only no longer holds anything terrifying for me, but also a great deal that calms and comforts! And I thank my God that he has granted me the good fortune to create the opportunity |: you understand me to come to know it as the key to our true blessedness
”.

It is the passage in which Mozart evokes death that challenges exegetes. It must be said that these lines are amazing from a man who was then only 31 years old.

According to Thierry Hillériteau "it had always been difficult to relate this letter with certainty to Masonic thought".

Of course, Jean and Brigitte Massin recalled the place that the question of death held in the Masonic initiation: “The companion must, in order to become a Master, symbolically reproduce in his initiation death and spiritual resurrection of the builder of Solomon's Temple. Put to death by ignorance, fanaticism and ambition, he is called to life by knowledge, tolerance, and detachment ... "[12].

Philippe Gault for Radio Classique also recalls that Mozart appreciated the reading of Moses Mendelssohn[13] and Gotthold Ephraïm Lessing[14] who developed thoughts on the positive image of death (to be compared with this idea of ​​death as the key to happiness).

The rediscovery of this letter, never presented in any public collection, and its study by Ulrich Leisinger[15] (at the center on the photo) would confirm Mozart's attachment to Freemasonry thought.

Looking at the original Ulrich Leisinger observes a detail that catches his attention: “Right next to the signature, after the abbreviation “manu propria”, we can decipher a small symbol which clearly resembles two interlocking triangles: one points upwards, the other downwards”. A Masonic hieroglyphic triangle found in rare documents related to Freemasonry, such as a letter that Léopold Mozart addressed on July 8, 1785 to his “esteemed friend and brother” the Freemason editor Pasquale Artaria, as well as a note by Mozart himself on March 30, 1787 in the guestbook of his lodge brother Johann Georg Kronauer "Patience and tranquility of mind contribute more to cure our distempers as the whole art of medicine".

[5]  See our News Letter 3 “Religious but in a different way - 1784 The Masonic turn”.
[6] Refer to our News Letter n ° 3 op.cit. and News Letter n ° 4
[7] See Press article in Figaro 20 November 2020 op.cit.
[8] Milos Forman takes up in his film Amadeus, a funny scene in which, according to Nissen, the emperor, expresses to Mozart at the same time admiration and a slightly outdated opinion about a tune of the Abduction from the Seraglio which would contain "too much notes”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6_eqxh-Qok 
[9] Many Freemasons welcome revolutionary ideas with enthusiasm and more or less make propaganda of them.
[10] First of all, Baron von Nissen, second husband of Constance, mentions it in Mozart's bibliography published in 1829. Jean and Brigitte Masson also quote it in their work with a note on which we will come back. Jean-Victor Hocquard also refers to it in his Mozart - 1958 - Plon.
[11] Mon très cher Père! is written in French, so frequently used to show deference. The translation of the letter is then taken from the Mozarteum website. https://dme.mozarteum.at/DME/briefe/letter.php?mid=1614&l=2
[12] See op.cit. in Jean & Brigitte Massin, Mozart 1958 - CFL page 999.
[13] Moses Mendelssohn (1720-1786): great Jewish philosopher and great figure of the “Jewish Enlightenment” (Haskala), he is the grandfather of the composer Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. Translator for the German-speaking public of Rousseau's Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, he is also the author of Phaedo or Interviews on the Immortality of the Soul published in 1767, of which Mozart had a copy in his library.
[14] Gotthold Ephraïm Lessing (1729-1781): playwright, literary critic and philosopher. Forms with M. Mendelssohn the "enlightened" group of Berlin. He is particularly known for his play “Nathan the Wise” which stages the three great monotheistic religions and which advocates active tolerance, the touchstone of piety. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGraxZa0N8U
[15] Ulrich Leisinger is Director of the Research Department at the Mozarteum.

Mozart's autograph on his letter of April 4, 1787 to his sick father [16] 

[16] It is possible to consult some of these digitized documents on the Mozarteum website, including now Wolfgang's letter to his father. https://dme.mozarteum.at/DME/briefe/letter.php?mid=1614&l=2   See on website the page n° 3 with Mozart signature.

Autograph of Leopold Mozart on his letter of July 8, 1785 in Artaria

Mozart's autograph on J.G. Kromauer's guestbook [17] 

[17] J.G. Kronauer (1743-1799) was a collector of autographs of well-known masons. Under the text "Patience ..." Mozart signs the guestbook as "true and sincere friend and lodge brother" http://data.onb.ac.at/rep/1004802B, page 95 of the catalog.

In April and May 1787, Mozart composed in quick succession two quintets for strings (C major K. 515 composed on April 19, 1787 and G minor K. 516 composed on May 16, 1787). It has been said that the Quintet in G represented the commentary on Mozart's letter.

This is not the opinion of Jean-Victor Hocquard[18]  for whom Mozart's letter to his father "dogmatically affirms the faith in immortality ...; and theoretically the blessed aspect of death”. However, for J-V Hocquard "the two quintets evoke the painful and distressing aspect of death".

But for Jean and Brigitte Massin, after the pathetic adagio of the first part of the finale, the fourth movement of the Quintet in G minor ends with an allegro which sets aside the tragic ... "it is that we must continue to live and ... tear his eyes away from the most painful”.

It is therefore on the notes of the excerpt from the adagio-allegro of the Quintet in G minor (to listen) that we will put an end to the Masonic aspects of the life and work of Mozart.

[18] Jean-Victor Hocquard, Mozart 1958 - Seuil

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