K.361 and Mozart's Wedding: Another Mozart Myth
Dave Morton, April 21, 2002
Last revised: June, 2017
E-mail: Dmorton965@aol.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
K.361 is the Gran Partita Serenade for 13 instruments (mostly Wind instruments),
sometimes called "The Great Wind Serenade".
It's 91 pages long, in 7 Movements, and takes almost an Hour to perform.
It was probably composed in 1781, long before Mozart's wedding in 1782.
(The 3rd Movement (Adagio) in MIDI format is located at the bottom of this page,
and can be played by clicking on the Speaker Icon. Fairly well done.
Page 1 of the Autograph score precedes it - over 200 years old but still legible.)
Some people believe that Mozart wrote this Piece as a Wedding Present for
Constance, and had it performed at the Wedding Reception Banquet.
Both claims are untrue.
The Myth was caused PARTLY by a sentence inserted into a Biography of Mozart,
and partly by Strange Logic applied to the meaning of that sentence.
I'm calling this Myth the "Wedding Present Myth" (the WPM) - namely, that Mozart
wrote K.361 as a Wedding Present for his future Bride, and had it performed at the
Wedding Reception Banquet (the "Supper").
The confusing sentence inserted into a biography of Mozart:
Constance inserted this sentence into Nissen's Biography of Mozart that scholars
thought Mozart had written, after Nissen died, and before his Bio of Mozart was
"During the supper, I was surprised with a 16-Part Harmonie of my own
("The supper" refers to the wedding reception banquet.)
This was the sentence that caused all the Confusion and Strange Theories.
Interpretations of the sentence by various Scholars and Others:
1. A MYSTERY. What 16-Part Harmonie Music?? (There's no such thing).
2. A MISTAKE by Mozart or Nissen. M or N must have meant 13-Part music. (Mind Reading).
3. It must be K.361 for 13 instruments. A MISTAKE?? (16 and 13 are equivalent).
4. It must have been a WEDDING PRESENT from Mozart to Constance,
performed at the reception. (Mind Reading).
5. Everyone knows that Mozart wrote K.361 for his bride as a wedding present,
and had it performed at the wedding reception.
It's COMMON KNOWLEDGE.
(Appeal to Authority and Being Part of the In-Crowd).
MOSTLY UTTER NONSENSE except for the "Mystery" Interpretation.
Note that Interpretation-2 and 3 (A MISTAKE) summons-up our old Friend
"Mr. Mistake", so loved by Mistake-ologists, who attempt to employ Mind-Reading
at the drop of a Hat, including the Mind-Reading of Dead People, but who offer
no evidence for their claim of A Mistake, as usual.
Mistake-ologists are strongly opposed to the use of Evidence in Principle, since
Evidence for a Theory would demonstrate that they have NO EVIDENCE for their
claims of "Mistakes", possibly exposing them to Ridicule, or charges of Fraudulent
While obvious Mistakes don't need any Evidence, all other Mistakes do.
A SUGGESTION that something might be a Mistake doesn't need any Evidence,
since it's not a Claim.
What the inserted sentence probably should have said
(if anything), based on our Knowledge of the Hostess
(the Baroness), the customs of that Era, etc:
"During the supper, I was surprised with an 8-part Harmonie of my own composition,
played by 2 Octets (16 Players) - a wonderful present from our hostess, the Baroness,
noted for her lavish entertaining."
Some people believe that Mozart composed K.361 for his bride-to-be
(Constance Weber), and had it performed at their wedding reception on
August 4th, 1782, after a hastily arranged wedding.
But it's just a FALSE RUMOR.
There is NO WAY Mozart could possibly have composed K.361 on short notice,
have it copied, rehearsed, etc, etc.
It would have involved a Huge amount of work - and time.
Additionally, Mozart never said so.
And Constance never said so.
Written as Background Music for a Wedding Reception???
Not a chance.
Not with a New Piece. Not with a Premier of a Piece.
The Background Harmonie Music was OLD MUSIC.
The Musicians who performed it, ALREADY KNEW THE MUSIC.
Many problems with this "Background Music" Theory.
This false rumor is active even today, in Program Notes for recordings
* There's NO EVIDENCE for it whatsoever.
(How can one construct a plausible Theory with NO Evidence?)
* There's NO LOGIC for it whatsoever.
(Why would Mozart have done it?)
* There was NO TIME to prepare it.
(It's a HUGE Piece!! It might take a couple of weeks to write it, have it
copied for 13 Players, and get it rehearsed.)
* No Evidence that it was performed at the wedding reception.
* No Evidence that K.361 was composed for Constance.
* May have been completed in 1782, but not begun in 1782 (the wedding year).
* Evidence that it was mostly written in 1781 - a year before Mozart's wedding.
* The K Number would have been approximately K.38x if composed in June/July 1782
as a wedding present for Constance - not K.361 .
* Not mentioned in a letter to his Father that he had married Constance - a most
unlikely situation if Mozart had composed the Piece for her, or had it played
at the reception.
* A terrible venue for the Premier of a major piece of music, relegating it to
Background Music for the wedding reception guests.
Mozart would have been insulting himself, much as he felt insulted by the
French when he was job-hunting there in 1778, when on one occasion, they
continued to chat while Mozart performed on the piano.
This would be essentially the SAME insulting situation.
Extremely doubtful that Mozart would intentionally insult himself by having
his new Harmonie Music Masterpiece performed as Background Music.
It's not in the same category as musicians playing lightweight arrangements
of popular tunes as Background Music - even tunes by Mozart himself.
(Herman Abert mysteriously concluded in 1921 that the music played at
the wedding reception must have been K.361 .. But Abert didn't list any
evidence for his conclusion, and he misquoted Otto Jahn, his source for the
basic wedding information, as if he had misread it.
It was just an empty claim with no basis, leaving us still with No Evidence
that Mozart composed it for Constance, and that it was played at their
It's based on a single sentence inserted into a copy of a Letter in a Biography
of Mozart, with an inverted interpretation, depicting Mozart as cold,
impersonal, and self-centered, apparently more interested in having his music
played than in his bride, and was surprised that his wedding gift was delivered
(performed), and a Math-Challenged interpretation where "16" is somehow
equal to "13".
It makes no sense at all, and it cannot possibly be true.
They didn't play K.361, and Mozart didn't write it as a wedding present
for his future bride.
It was probably composed in 1781 - long before his wedding in 1782.
It's another Mozart Myth, and it's all been cleared up for years.
But some people apparently didn't get the word.
Actually, the myth should never have arisen in the first place, and it's
surprising that it developed.
K.361 is music for *13* instruments - not 16 instruments.
The Inserted Sentence says "16-Part Harmonie" - not
And his wedding was hastily arranged - not planned for weeks or months
ahead of time.
Why did this Myth arise at all, before the discovery that the Inserted Sentence
was not in the Original Letter??
It's very Peculiar.
Part of the claim was first made around 1921 by Hermann Abert, when
he said that K.361 was played at the wedding reception, but Abert was
clearly just guessing, and ignoring the evidence.
Then, some unknown person added the fiction that the piece was a wedding
present for Mozart's bride.
It's not known when this occurred, but it would be after 1921 - possibly years
This idea was based on a sentence inserted into a copy of a letter in a Biography
of Mozart, written mostly by Nissen - not on anything Mozart said (undoubtedly
inserted by Constance - Nissen's wife and widow).
It APPEARED to have been written by Mozart, and almost no one realized
that the sentence was an insertion, not written by Mozart or Nissen, and
made after Nissen had died, because most people didn't have access to
Mozart's Original Letters.
(Nissen was the 2nd husband of Constance Weber, and wrote a biography of
Mozart, worked on by several people after he died, and published posthumously,
during Constance's lifetime.)
The sentence was interpreted as a Mystery, then a Mistake by someone, then
re-interpreted by Hermann Abert as being K.361 for no known reason, followed
by the rumor that it was a wedding present for Mozart's bride.
Constance caused the initial problem, and the scholars (and possibly others)
compounded the problem with strange interpretations and additions.
However, Constance did add to our understanding of Mozart's wedding reception,
and the wonderful generosity of the Baroness who hosted the reception, once
we were able to understand the sentence correctly.
Actually, we got lucky, in a way.
Mozart Slightly (and intentionally) UNDERSTATED the lavishness of the Wedding
Reception ("The Supper"), where Constance ELEVATED the description of the
Wedding Reception, to what was presumably the Truth, although she made a
minor mistake in Terminology that threw Scholars off topic into the Ether of
MIND READING and the Haunted Forest of STRANGE INTERPRETATION.
"Intentionally" Understated by Mozart??
I think so.
Speculation: Mozart didn't want to irritate his Father any more than he already had,
since he had gotten married without his Father's permission to someone his
Father didn't like, so he slightly understated the lavishness of the Supper - although,
not by much.
He DID say it "was more Princely than Baronial", but didn't mention the 16 Harmonie
Players hired by the Baroness!!
It's also a HUGE size for a group of Harmonie Players!!
A more typical size would be 4, 6, or 8 - not 16, or 2 Octets.
Can Constance be trusted in this matter?
Yes, I think so.
All the pieces of the puzzle fit, she was there, and Mozart's Father (Leopold) was
long Dead. Constance had nothing to fear from the Deceased Leopold - a man
with Psychopathic, Controlling tendencies.
In the end, what Constance DID say about the Supper, and what Mozart DID NOT say
about the Supper, are coherent and make sense.
Sequence of Dating, Theories, Statements, and Events:
Mozart's Wedding: August 4, 1782.
St. Stephen's Cathedral, Downtown Vienna.
5 guests at the wedding.
Total: 7 People plus the Priest.
The Wedding Reception (The Supper):
The home of the wealthy Baroness Martha Elizabeth von Waldstätten,
friend of the bride and groom, at 360 Jägerzeile, Leopoldstadt, Austria
(a suburb of Vienna).
Streets have been renamed and house addresses have been renumbered
The current address would be 518 Praterstrasse, but the original house
no longer exists.
It was located near the Donau Canal and Ferdinand's Bridge.
Number of Reception Guests:
Possibly 7 People plus the Hostess (8 Attendees) if all the Wedding
Guests showed up for the Reception.
IE, Mozart, Constance, and 5 Guests, plus the Hostess.
Plus 16 Musicians (Harmonie Players).
* Possibly 8 People counting the Hostess.
* Possibly 24 People counting the Hostess and the Musicians.
(Why count the Musicians?? They MIGHT have been invited to
sit down later and enjoy the Food.
They also might have been sent to the KITCHEN to enjoy some
of the Food. They were ordinary Musicians, and might have been
treated as Servants, with Food probably available in the Kitchen -
not at the Table with the Invited Reception Guests. I don't know.
I'm fairly confident that the generous Baroness (the Hostess)
would have been kind and polite to the Musicians, if there was
enough Food and Drink to go around, making sure that they were
also able to partake of the Reception Food.)
Size of Piece: 13 Instruments, 7 Movements, 91 pages, almost an hour to perform.
Nissen (and others): Wrote a Mozart Biography (but not professionally done since he
wasn't a trained historian).
Paraphrased letters included in the book, including
"The Wedding Letter" - Mozart writing to his Father
after the Wedding.
Constance: Inserted a sentence into a copy of a letter in Nissen's Biography after
he died, and before the book was published.
Unknown to almost everyone that 1 sentence was an insertion
by Constance, rather than written by Mozart.
Impossible to detect the insertion without examining the original
letter in Mozart's handwriting (the Autograph version).
Otto Jahn: This 16-part Piece is a Mystery.
Otto Jahn: This 16-part Piece must be a Mistake.
Hermann Abert: This 16-part Piece is actually K.361 ..
Common Knowledge: K.361 was performed at the wedding reception.
Common Knowledge: K.361 was a gift to Mozart's bride.
Bauer-Deutsch: No wedding music mentioned in their book.
Eibl in Bauer-Deutsch Book: K.361 was supposedly performed at the wedding reception.
Alfred Einstein: Begun in Munich in early 1781, finished in Vienna.
Alan Tyson: K.361 not dated. Not listed in the Index of his book.
No one knows why Tyson apparently didn't attempt to date it.
Dexter Edge: K.361 was composed in 1781, per the music paper used.
Method used: A refinement of Alan Tyson's methods.
International Double Reed Society - 1995:
Possibly 1784 for a benefit concert for clarinetist Anton Stadler.
Autograph Score: 1780 or 1781 (changed by someone on the first page).
Mozart's Thematic Catalog: Wasn't in use, yet.
Date of first known Performance:
March 23, 1784.
4 movements of 7.
Total size of the Piece today: 7 movements.
Total size of the Piece in March 1784: Presumably 7 movements.
Date of first Printing: 1803, Vienna.
Facsimile edition: Published in 1976 with a forward by Alfred Einstein.
Composition Estimated Date Range: 1780-1784.
Evidence that the Piece was performed at the Wedding Reception: None.
Related topic: Did Mozart love Constance??
Yes, I think so. But he loved other women more.
He was crazy about Aloysia Weber (the sister of Constance) and
Nancy Storace (singer and friend), although he later realized what
Aloysia was really like.
Aloysia dumped Wolfgang because her mother told her to, not
because she wanted to, but Mozart didn't realize what the reason was,
and he might never have found out.
Articles that state simply that Aloysia dumped Mozart, or had cooled
toward him, without mentioning the MEDDLING MOTHER WHO TOLD
HER TO DO IT FOR FINANCIAL REASONS, give a completely false
picture of Aloysia and the situation.
Later, he became very fond of Nancy Storace.
Their relationship was close, but the details are uncertain.
His marriage with Constance was apparently loving, enjoyable,
satisfactory, and gave him the companionship he needed and craved.
Finally, in the 1970's, Dan Leeson and Neal Zaslaw discovered that someone
had inserted that sentence into Nissen's Biography of Mozart, in a letter being
quoted. The sentence was missing from the original letter - a letter from Mozart
to his Father after he was already married (which I have termed "The Wedding Letter").
The inserted sentence in "The Wedding Letter" reads:
"During the supper, I was surprised with a 16-part Harmonie of
my own composition."
But the common BELIEF among many people that K.361 was played at Mozart's
wedding reception, and that it was a gift from Mozart to his bride - apparently
remained unchanged - a piece almost an hour long, written for 13 instruments -
not 16 instruments, even after Leeson and Zaslaw told the Mozart community
that the sentence was inserted by someone, and not in Mozart's original Letter.
(It doesn't need to be written by Mozart to be true, but any insertions are suspect,
and need to be verified for their veracity and Meaning.)
And the sentence, inserted or not, shouldn't have caused anyone to conclude
that the Piece was K.361 ..
Why would anyone conclude that the Piece was K.361, whether Mozart wrote
that sentence, or someone else did??
How could a 16-Part Piece be a 13-Part Piece??
How could a 13-Part Piece be a 16-Part Piece??
Not even Constance made that claim.
Somebody used an assumption (or bogus logic) to conclude that the sentence
referred to K.361 (13 Parts), and somebody else assumed that the Piece was
a wedding gift from Mozart to Constance - a Piece that Mozart was mysteriously
surprised with during the Supper.
How could a Gift be a Surprise to the Giver (Mozart)??
Wouldn't CONSTANCE be the one surprised with the Musical Gift??
This seems to be completely BACKWARDS!!
CONSTANCE would be the one surprised -
MOZART would be happy and content!!
But the Wedding Letter says that MOZART was surprised!!
Just the opposite of Human Nature.
Why did the Scholars and Others deduce the OPPOSITE of Human Nature??
Why would Mozart be surprised to hear his Piece played if he wrote it as
The initial claim was flawed (K.361 was played at the reception) and based on nothing.
Historian Hermann Abert claimed it in a moment of carelessness, it would seem.
And the "Wedding Gift Theory" was essentially just a Rumor, based on nothing.
The "Common Knowledge" was therefore part Assumption and part Rumor.
Let's take a Brief, initial look at that sentence, with more evaluation later.
16 Parts?? Surprised?? About a musical gift for Constance with 13 Parts??
Played by 16 Players?? Surprised that they showed up??
Surprised that they found the house where the reception was held??
Surprised that too many Players showed up (16)??
A nameless composition for his new bride??
Why didn't Mozart give it a name or a better description??
Why isn't Constance mentioned as the person it was written for??
Did he tell her that it was for her?? Did she like it??
Why did he write the Piece?? Who did he write it for, if anyone??
Things aren't making any sense if the Harmonie music is K.361, played at the
reception, and written as a musical gift for his bride.
That sentence is the most STERILE, IMPERSONAL, and PERFUNCTORY mention
of a Gift given to someone I've ever heard.
And Meaningless in this context.
Examples of a Normal statement compared with a Sterile, Impersonal statement:
Normal Statement: "My kids were very happy with the coloring books I
Abnormal / Sterile / Impersonal / Perfunctory / Meaningless Statement:
"In the morning, I was surprised with the books purchased."
Mozart Writing to his Father about the wedding - Invented Text:
Normal Statement: "Constance was very flattered that I wrote a lengthy
Harmonie for her, which 13 Players performed during
I call it a "Serenade for 13 Instruments". It's almost an
hour long, has 7 movements, is the longest and largest
Harmonie I've written, and uses the new Basset Horn
which gives the piece a wonderful flavor - the first piece
I've used that instrument in.
Several people inquired about the music, and told me
how delightful it was.
I wish you could have been there!
I could give Constance only 2 gifts: My Love and my Music.
I pray that I've done both."
Actual Text inserted into the Letter.
Abnormal / Sterile / Impersonal / Perfunctory / Meaningless Statement:
"During the supper, I was surprised with a
16-part Harmonie of my own composition."
Do you see how absurd, ridiculous, impersonal, cold, and sterile that sentence is,
if it means that Mozart wrote K.361 for Constance, and it was being played??
And how the "Wedding Gift Theory" makes no sense if Mozart was "surprised" by it??
If it was an 8-Part 16-Player Harmonie gift from the Hostess to the Bride and Groom,
the sentence DOES make sense, and isn't sterile and impersonal (but not a 16-PART
(Mozart often went into significant detail regarding his music - and other items - in
letters to his Father. So the "Normal Statement" would be normal for Mozart.
The entire Wedding Letter, in German and English versions, is located towards the end
of this page.
See Exhibit-1 - Mersmann Version of the Wedding Letter, in English, near the end of this page,
or click on the link to go directly to it.
Link to Mersmann Version ).
And some people think that the 2nd statement refers to K.361 - the gift of music
that Mozart gave to his new bride, but he doesn't bother to MENTION her??
And he only talks about HIMSELF??
And he failed to mention WHO it was for, what her reaction was, the correct number
of Players and Instruments, the great length of the Piece, the use of the new Basset
Horn, compliments received, etc??
What kind of Harmonie music?? What new bride?? Constance "Who"??
Just a short, 1-Line, inscrutable comment about the gift to his new bride??
Do you see you ridiculous that theory is??
This is utter nonsense.
It doesn't matter who wrote that sentence if it's supposed to refer to K.361
and a gift for his bride.
With that kind of personality, he might have also have written:
"I arrived at the church for the ceremony.
The ceremony went quickly, and then I left.
I then went to Martha's house where the Supper was held, and ate some food.
I listened to some of my music, including a 16-Player Harmonie, and then I left."
Self-centered, sterile, cold, impersonal, perfunctory, etc.
He did not say that!!
Actually, he wrote that he and Constance wept during the wedding ceremony,
so did the Priest and their friends, etc, etc. Very moving and touching.
K.361 was not involved, and it was not a gift for his bride.
The sentence refers to SOME OTHER MUSIC.
And the recipient of the musical gift was primarily MOZART - not Constance.
The 361-Theorists have it Backwards. Primarily MOZART - not Constance
received the gift.
That's why he was **Surprised**.
The term "16-Part" threw everything into confusion.
Mozart received a Surprise Gift - a 16-Player Harmonie of his own composition,
not 16-Part Harmonie, from the hostess and friend: The Baroness.
Music for the Wedding Reception:
Supplied by the Hostess - the Baroness.
A Special Gift to the Bride and Groom:
Music Supplied by the Hostess - the Baroness.
What KIND of Music?
Music by Mozart.
A Special and Personalized Gift.
Musical Wedding Gift:
Baroness ====> Mozart and Constance
Mozart ====> Constance
Most likely as 2 Octets. 8 + 8 Players.
The Baroness would do something like that.
She was a lavish entertainer.
And she might have done it before, using
the same group, or 2 groups of 8 Players.
Did she have time to do this??
Yes, if she hurried.
She had to locate a Harmonie group (or two) to play some Harmonie music, and
probably already knew where such groups could be located.
She had to request that they play Harmonie music by Mozart.
Could they do it??
Yes. Harmonie groups were known to play music by Mozart.
They played music composed as Harmonie music (Wind music) and arrangements
of known tunes.
Did the players know where she lived??
Probably. They had probably been there MANY TIMES since the Baroness was
noted for her lavish entertaining.
This was probably a short-notice Gig at the home of the Baroness - their frequent
It may be "The Bride's Day" as far as most people are concerned, but it was
primarily "Mozart's Day" (or Mozart's and Constance's) as far as the Baroness was
concerned, and she supplied 16 Harmonie players (wind instruments, normally)
playing Mozart's music.
If there's going to be music at the reception (and there would be), let it be music
by the groom: Mozart.
Thoughtful, creative, caring, and clever.
What a wonderful and PERSONALIZED Surprise!!
The Baroness did a great job!!
She was a wonderful friend to Mozart and Constance.
It was probably 2 Octets (16 Players) playing an Arrangement of a Piece by Mozart.
2 groups playing in stereo, or alternating their playing, wall to wall.
As long as we realize that, there's nothing wrong with the sentence (except for the
"16-Part" term which should read "16-Player" or similar).
Mozart mentioned the Wedding Feast in his letter, as being "more Princely than
Baronial", but didn't mention the Harmonie music and the 16 Players, which is
probably why Constance added that sentence.
I think it's true, necessary, and would be typical behavior for the generous Baroness,
who loved to entertain.
Why didn't Mozart mention the 16 Players and their Harmonie music?
One of the reasons was probably that he was trying to convince his Father of his
correct choice of a wife - someone conservative.
Additionally, he was apologizing for getting married without his Father's permission -
NOT trying to impress the imperious and controlling Father of what a wonderful
and lavish reception the Baroness supplied.
That might tend to enrage the Father.
Mozart said he was writing in haste, and his letter was fairly long already.
Those would be reasonable reasons for not mentioning "Everything", and an understandable motivation for Constance to add that sentence into Nissen's Biography of Mozart.
And Father Leopold was long dead by the time Constance added that sentence.
(So was Wolfgang).
Constance could say whatever she wanted to, now, without enraging Leopold.
It all hinges on believability. Was Constance telling the truth??
In my opinion, Yes.
The claim of the Harmonie music fits the situation very well.
There's nothing "fantastic", strange, or unlikely about it.
The added comment was a bit brief, but appropriate. There would be no need to
go into detail, and it would detract from the "personalized generosity" aspect of
the Surprise. I don't see any reason to doubt her.
Otto Jahn (early biographer - 1800's) called the "16-Part Piece" mysterious,
and later, a mistake.
Jahn was partially correct: Somebody made a mistake.
Hermann Abert (Jahn's editor, around 1921) said the Piece was K.361, for no
apparent reason, failing to account for the 16/13 difference, as well as failing to
supply any evidence that it was played, to my knowledge.
And, of course, he couldn't have supplied any evidence that the Piece was played.
Abert's conclusion is MYSTIFYING.
Some people blame Constance entirely for the confusion. I don't.
I think Constance is only PARTIALLY to blame, and her mistake and
sentence-insertion were done quite innocently, not trying to mislead
Discovered in the 1970's by Dan Leeson and Neal Zaslaw.
But it really shouldn't have changed the meaning of the sentence, just because
someone inserted it.
And just because Mozart didn't say it, doesn't mean it's wrong (except for the
"16-Part" mistake, in this case.)
Ironically, the inserted sentence is probably essentially TRUE if we change
the term "16-Part" to "16-Player", as explained later.
Just change 1 word (16-Part) to the correct word (16-Player) and we have a
sentence that's probably true.
And the inserted sentence probably means (Parts/Players/Groups):
"2 Octets of Players - 16 Players".
"8 Players in 2 Groups of 8".
Whatever music they played, it was a Piece composed by Mozart - an arrangement
of some piece, or a wind octet. OR multiple arrangements of multiple Pieces,
played throughout the reception.
Arrangements of known Pieces were done all the time by wind players
to produce entertaining background music for wealthy people, and
were preferred to new pieces by customers.
We can even hear an example of this in the opera Don Giovanni in the
Supper scene, near the end of the Opera, where wind players are playing
popular tunes for Don Giovanni's entertainment.
Even playing a tune from the Opera "Figaro" by Mozart.
In the case of the Don, they were probably his employees.
In the case of the Baroness, they were either employees or musicians hired
for the evening.
The inserted sentence probably means:
"2 octets (16 Players) played music at Mozart's wedding reception.
The original music was composed by Mozart, and this was an arrangement
of a Piece, or perhaps a Mozart wind octet.
Mozart was surprised to hear it."
Even if Mozart didn't write the sentence, that scenario seems reasonable.
With "16 Players" or "2 Octets" stated, anyone could figure out that the
inserted sentence wasn't referring to K.361 - a Piece with 13 Parts and
The phrase "16 Parts" was incorrect, and made it impossible to determine
what was meant, except that it couldn't possibly be K.361 ..
Hermann Abert thought he knew what was meant, and guessed wrong.
We know this because there's no evidence that K.361 was played at the
wedding reception, and because Mozart didn't write that sentence.
Mozart wouldn't have made such a huge mistake (16 Parts), or even
"16 Players" for a 13-Part Piece. He didn't mention ANY music being played
in his original letter (the autograph version of the letter), and he never
wrote any Harmonie music with 16 Parts.
Thus, the Piece referred to could not possibly have been K.361 - a Wind
Serenade for 13 instruments (13 Parts).
Otto Jahn should have left it as a mystery ("I don't know what is meant
by that."), and Hermann Abert should not have assumed or guessed that
Mozart made a mistake (or whatever Abert was thinking), writing "16-Part"
instead of "13-Part", then declaring the Piece to be K.361.
We don't know when or why K.361 was composed, and we don't know
what music was played at the reception.
Those questions require further research, but might never be answered.
Probable date of K.361's composition based on the available evidence:
1781 - a full year before his wedding in 1782.
Possibly composed in 1780, but 1781 is more likely.
A photograph of the first page of the autograph score is located near the
bottom of this page. (Link to K.361 autograph score, first page).
Note: This section is the result of a discussion on a Mozart
discussion board, and is presented here simply to preserve
those efforts. Additional verbiage was added later.
If Mozart composed it as a wedding gift, why was he **SURPRISED** it
was played? Did he forget that he wrote it?
[He didn't forget that he wrote K.361, and that piece wasn't played there.
There was no "musical wedding gift" from Mozart to Constance, so Mozart was
surprised to hear some of his music played - a surprise gift from the hostess of the
If he had written K.361 as a wedding gift for Constance, he would not have been
surprised to hear it played.]
Why didn't Mozart mention this huge piece in his letter to his father, a few days
later, in which he discussed the wedding and the reception at quite some length?
[Because he didn't write it for the wedding reception.
He wrote it 1 or 2 years earlier - probably in 1781.]
How long would it have taken Mozart to write this 91-page piece of music?
[At least several days - probably longer. 13 instruments, 91 pages.]
How long would it take to get the 91 pages of parts copied for the 13 instruments
(up to 1,183 pages?) ?
[Perhaps 2 or 3 days with multiple copyists. Maybe longer.]
How much rehearsal time would the 13 musicians have needed for this new,
almost hour-long piece?
[Perhaps several days to get it polished.]
Did 16 PLAYERS (musicians) play a known 6-part or 8-part arrangement
of a piece (or Pieces) at the reception?
Was Constance wrongly blamed for misleading historians, when it was
actually their own fault - mis-reading or mis-attributing "16" as "13"?
[Yes. Constance was partly to blame, but not entirely.
She made a mistake in the inserted sentence, and she probably shouldn't have
inserted it into a Biography of Mozart, but the historians made bigger mistakes
in jumping to unwarranted conclusions, assuming that Mozart really meant
"13" -- "a 13-Part Piece".]
Was some other music by Mozart played at the reception?
[Almost certainly. Constance said so, and the Baroness would do something
nice like that.]
How did this rumor get started?
[Leaping to the conclusion that Mozart made a MISTAKE in his letter to his Father,
and meant "13-Part" rather than "16-Part" (although Mozart didn't write that part
of the letter, unknown to most scholars).
It's the self-inflicted Curse of both Professionals and Amateurs:
1. Attempted Mind-Reading.
Mozart rarely made mistakes, and you have to be careful.
Calling something a "Mistake" means:
"I know what Mozart intended because I can read his mind (or know how Mozart
"16-Part" wind music is illogical - no such music existed.
"16-Player" wind music DOES make sense as a possibility, as 2 Octets.
Partly caused by incorrect terminology in a sentence inserted by Constance
into a copy of a letter in a Biography of Mozart:
Namely, she wrote "16-Part" instead of the correct "16-Player" wind music.
(Or "16-Performer" or "16-Instrument" or "16-Piece" wind music.)
She used the WRONG WORD.
Hermann Abert assumed the Piece was K.361 for no apparent reason.
Was there a Mistake somewhere?? Yes (by Constance).
But the correction should not have been "K.361".
Mozart didn't write any 16-Part wind music. But someone could have hired 2 wind octets
to play 8-Part wind music with the players doubled for each Part. Simple. Thus, 16-Players
were certainly a possibility playing 8-Part music. 8+8=16. Not higher math.
And the hostess (the Baroness) had the money, the house, the personality, probably the
motivation, and certainly the life style to do it , making it all a feasible idea.
What a WONDERFUL idea!! What a WONDERFUL Lady!!
For many years, the only person who knew that the sentence about the "16-Part music"
was a later insertion by someone, was the biographer Otto Jahn in the 1800's.
But he didn't mention it in his biography of Mozart. Why??
In the 1970's, the myth of the "K.361 Wedding Music" was finally cleared up by
examining the original letter Mozart wrote to his father (The Wedding Letter).
Namely, there was no mention of 13-Part or 16-Part music - or even 16-Player music.
And no."K.361 Wedding Music" - a piece almost an Hour long, in 13 Parts.
Besides, quickly writing that Piece would have been an impossible, super-human
feat even for Mozart, as he had hastily arranged his rather sudden marriage.
Thus, In a few days:
* Ensure that the Baroness had a space and chairs to perform it.
* Write 91 Pages of music.
* Get the 13 Parts copied for the 13 Instruments.
* Proofread the Copies.
* Hire 13 Musicians.
* Hold several rehearsals (probably) for this nearly hour-long Piece.
* Give the 13 Musicians directions or Maps to the home of the Baroness.
(* Afterwards: Pay the Musicians, including transportation costs, possibly).
These tasks could easily require a Week or more of nearly full-time effort.
I hate to jump to conclusions before all the facts are in, but I would imagine
that Mozart had other things to do, and other things on his mind.
* Then, write a Letter to his Father, but don't mention this huge Piece, as he
normally would have.
Fortunately, Constance came to the rescue, years later, mentioned 16-Part
Music, as if Mozart had written it, and the Scholars assumed that Mozart had
made a MISTAKE and meant 13-Part Music, and that this was K.361, and
someone appended the Fiction that Mozart wrote it as a present for his Bride.
In the 1970s, Leeson and Zaslaw set the record straight, but not everyone
got the word.
Additionally, the Wedding Reception Supper seems like a terrible venue to
debut a huge Piece of beautiful music, with people eating and talking.
This was not "Ordinary" Harmonie Music, playing known tunes from the music
of the Day, for people to hum along to or whistle, or simply regard as background
music. This was not "Muzak" - Elevator Music.
This was NEW music which some people might like to listen to, while others
might be annoyed by, while holding conversations with their friends.
Mozart might have been quite annoyed that not everyone was listening to his
Mozart not only COULD NOT prepare K.361 in time, he WOULD NOT do such
a stupid thing, in my opinion.
Serenade number 10 in B-flat Major for 13 instruments.
K.361/K.370a. (K3/K6 Koechel Catalog numbers).
Specifications and Details
Popular name: The "Gran Partita" (written on the autograph score
Sometimes called "The Great Wind Serenade" (although this piece
includes a String Double Bass).
1. Largo, molto allegro
4. Menuetto and Trio
6. Tema con variazione
2 basset horns
1 contra-bass (string double bass)
Total: 13 instruments.
Number of pages of the autograph score: 91 pages.
Performance time: About 50 minutes. Quite lengthy!
Mozart's first known use of the basset horn.
Other Horns: 2 pitched in F, 2 pitched in B flat.
Size of the Piece:
Largest number of instruments in a wind serenade by Mozart.
Longest wind serenade by Mozart.
Type of piece:
"Harmonie Music" (on a grand scale), which was in existence
and thriving some years before 1781.
Typical Harmonie group for that Era:
8 wind instruments with 8 players.
An octet of winds.
2 oboes, 2 clarinets (or basset horns), 2 horns, 2 bassoons.
No strings. (However, this piece does have a contra-bass).
Large Harmonie group for that Era:
16 instruments/players, commonly divided into
2 octets of players (8 + 8) playing 8-part music.
Date of composition:
1784 has also been suggested as the date, but with no solid evidence,
and has been rejected by Scholars.
Probable Best estimate: 1781 by Dexter Edge, based on the manuscript
paper, using a refinement of Alan Tyson's rigorous methods.
Why "1780" as a possibility?? Because someone wrote 1780 on the Score.
There's no way of knowing the accuracy or reason for the 1780 date,
but it's there, and it wasn't added recently.
It might be a year off, and it might be correct.
It might also be trumped by Dexter Edge's "paper" date of 1781.
Awaiting the dating by the new Köchel Catalog (NMA).
Composition date based on manuscript paper used:
Not dated. Undefined.
Not listed in his book's Index.
We don't know why.
Alan Tyson did not date this piece for unknown reasons.
Tyson does not mention K.361 (or K.370a) in his 1987 book
"Mozart - Studies of the Autograph Scores" where he analyzes
the manuscript paper used, and dates various works.
K.361 is not in the book's index, although hundreds of other
works are listed, including K.359 and K.363, bracketing K.361.
Apparently, Tyson chose not to attempt to date the work.
He gave no reason for the omission. Rather mysterious.
Note that Alan Tyson was suffering from some kind of mental
illness in his final months and years (physical and mental),
and behaving very strangely, according to Dan Leeson, who
tried to help him.
Mr. Tyson eventually succumbed to his illness.
It's especially unfortunate in this case, since K.361 is a
piece which many people would like to see dated.
However, Dexter Edge HAS dated the piece at 1781 using Tyson's
basic methods, which he has improved on. See entry below.
I think we can, and should, take his word for it.
Composition date based on manuscript paper used:
Technique: A refinement of Tyson's methods.
Since Tyson's methods were rigorous and well documented,
and since Dexter Edge used an improved method based on Tyson's
basic methods, I think we can be confident that the date of
composition was 1781, or very close to it.
See Exhibit 6 near the end of this page for a short paper by
Dexter Edge on dating manuscript paper.
Composition date based on date written on the score:
Writer unknown - possibly Andre, the music publisher.
Date apparently changed from 1781 to 1780 by someone.
See the photo of the first page of the autograph score at the
bottom of this page.
Unusable for precise dating, but might be usable for general dating.
If the date originally written was 1781, it corresponds exactly
with Dexter Edge's dating of the manuscript paper.
If 1780 is the correct date, it's different by only 1 year from
Dexter Edge's date.
Neither date written on the score (1780 or 1781) is "1782" --
the year of Mozart's wedding (August, 1782).
Therefore, if 1780 or 1781 are correct, Mozart did not write the
piece as a wedding gift for his future bride, unless he was very
clairvoyant and could see 1 or 2 years into the future, knew that
he would marry Constance in 1782, knew that a 13-Part Wind Serenade
would make a great wedding present for her, knew that someone would
probably offer their home for the wedding reception, knew when to
hire the players, knew when to start rehearsals of the piece, etc.
Quite a feat, if he did it.
Composition date based on Mozart's Thematic Catalog:
Mozart did not use a Catalog until 1784 - 2 years after the wedding.
Composition Date: Sometime before February 9, 1784.
The catalog was begun in February 9th, 1784 (or begun a little
later, and up to 10 entries made for previous dates, per Dan
Leeson), and the first entry is K.449 (a piano concerto in E flat).
"A serenade for 13 winds" (or similar description) does not
appear in the catalog, so it was composed before the catalog was
started - prior to K.449 (February 9th, 1784).
Usable only for negative dating (before Feb 9, 1784).
Begun in Munich in early 1781, finished in Vienna.
Date of completion:
Date of first known performance:
March 23, 1784, Vienna (4 movements).
Date of first printing:
August 4, 1782, St. Stephens Cathedral, Vienna.
(Downtown Vienna). 5 guests.
The home of the wealthy Baroness Martha Elizabeth von Waldstätten,
friend of the bride and groom, at 360 Jägerzeile, Leopoldstadt,
Austria (a suburb of Vienna).
Streets have been renamed and house addresses have been renumbered
The current address would be 518 Praterstrasse, but the original
house no longer exists.
It was located near the Donau Canal and Ferdinand's Bridge.
Published in 1976 with a forward by Alfred Einstein.
Location of the autograph score:
Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
The notion that Mozart composed K.361 - the Gran Partita wind serenade
for 13 instruments - for his bride-to-be as a wedding gift, and have it
played at their wedding reception on August 4th, 1782, is pure fantasy,
and has no evidence for it.
1. Mozart never said so.
2. Constance never said so.
3. The musicians who played at the reception never said so.
4. The hostess who hired and paid the musicians never said so.
5. No reception attendees said so.
6. There is no evidence the piece was played there.
7. There is no Dedication to Constance or to their wedding
on the score or on a cover page.
8. There is no "Wedding Date" on the Score, or a date close to
No "1782" or "May" or "June" or "July" or "August" or "July/August"
or "August 4th" date on the score.
9. There is a date of 1780 or 1781 on the score which is 1 to 2 years
prior to the wedding reception.
10. The manuscript paper has been dated as "1781" by Dexter Edge -
1 year prior to the wedding.
11. There is some evidence that it was NOT played there.
It's another Mozart myth.
This document (with a flowchart) lays out the history of misunderstandings,
misinterpretations, and unfounded rumors concerning this myth.
The myth revolves primarily around a letter dated August 7, 1782, which
Mozart wrote to his father a few days after his wedding, and is referred
to here as "The Wedding Letter".
He had just received his father's belated blessing of the marriage - after
he was already married - and said that he was writing the letter in haste.
The phrase "wedding music" refers to music supposedly played at a
reception following the wedding - a supper given by their wealthy
friend, Baroness von Waldstädten - who was known for her lavish,
However, the original letter in Mozart's handwriting, located at the
Mozarteum in Salzburg, does not contain any references to music played
at the wedding reception - including the serenade for 13 instruments
The Confusion Begins
The problem began with the biography of Mozart by George von Nissen
(Constance Mozart's husband), and some inserted text in the copy of
the wedding letter which he was dealing with in his biography.
(Nissen was deceased by the time his biography was released, and it had
been worked on by several people. So "Nissen's Biography" is actually
"A Biography by Nissen, Edited by Several Other People After His Death,
Published Posthumously". Assuming that Nissen said "this", and Nissen
said "that", is not justified since others worked on his book after
However, that text refers to a 16-Part Harmonie - not a 13-Part Harmonie,
so it shouldn't have led anyone to think that it was K.361 with its
Nevertheless, people became confused.
It was then treated vaguely and assumingly by Otto Jahn, then misquoted
and misinterpreted by Hermann Abert, and was reinforced by Joseph Eibl
without any attribution of his source.
In the Nissen version of the letter used in his biography of Mozart (not
the original letter in Mozart's handwriting), there is an added sentence
inserted by an unknown hand.
The version of the Wedding Letter portion, from Nissen's
book, where Mozart is writing to his father:
"Während des Souper wurde ich mit einer
sechzehnstimmigen Harmonie von meiner
("During the supper, I was surprised with a 16-part
Harmonie of my own composition.")
This sentence was mysteriously added to Nissen's book
by someone, before it was published, long after Mozart
and Nissen had died, and is not in Mozart's original letter,
which is still available at the Mozarteum Archive in Salzburg,
And it's probably ESSENTIALLY true, substituting "16-Players"
for "16-Parts" (16-part).
The statement might be true - and probably *IS* true (more or less), but
we know for a fact that Mozart did not write that sentence since it's not
in the original letter located at the Mozarteum in Salzburg.
Someone tried to make it APPEAR as if Mozart wrote it, although the attempt
may have been an innocent one, done to impress the reader with the grandeur
of the banquet.
Since the sentence might be true, and probably IS essentially true
(replacing "16-PART Harmonie" with "16-PLAYER Harmonie"), based on the
customs of the time and the lavish entertaining style of the Baroness,
the insertion is not nearly as important as the illogical conclusions
drawn from it, IE, "The Myth" of its purpose - the myth that the piece
played was K.361 for 13 instruments, and that Mozart wrote it as a
wedding gift to Constance, to be played at the wedding reception.
It's important to know that someone (probably Constance) inserted that
sentence into Nissen's book after Nissen had died, but far more important
to correctly understand what it means.
NOTE: Just for the record, I don't find any SERIOUS fault with inserting
the sentence into Nissen's biography. It was done innocently, and the
added sentence is probably essentially true, with a minor error being
made regarding "PARTS" rather than "PLAYERS" (16-PLAYERS most likely).
We learned something about Mozart's lavish wedding reception/banquet that
we didn't know, as well as something about their wealthy and generous
friend, the Baroness.
Constance wasn't lying. She just made a small mistake with her
terminology, which anyone could easily have made.
So let's not make a Federal Case out of it. All we need to do is to
understand what happened, explain as much as possible, put forth
reasonable theories, set the record straight, enjoy the food, and enjoy
The music is more important than any of this.
As to the myth aspect of K.361, why would anyone think that a 16-PART
Harmonie music piece referred to the 13-PART Wind Serenade??
Concluding that this was K.361 makes no sense. 16 and 13 are two different
numbers. Anyone who concluded that this banquet Harmonie in 16-parts or
for 16-players was the 13-part K.361, was not paying attention.
If Constance made an error in judgment (and terminology) in inserting
the sentence into the deceased Nissen's biography, historians made
much bigger mistakes in assuming that a "16-part Harmonie" referred
to the 13-part Gran Partita.
Furthermore, why would anyone think that Mozart apparently FORGOT that he
wrote it for the wedding reception, and was surprised that it was played??
Or that he remembered that he wrote it for this very special occasion -
this 91-page piece of music - but didn't think they would bother to play
it, and was surprised that they did?? Ridiculous.
And why is there no DEDICATION of the piece to his wife on the first page
of the manuscript, if he wrote it as a gift to her??
Shouldn't there be some kind of dedication somewhere? Perhaps on a cover
page of the full score rather than the first page of music? Nothing has
turned up. (Link to K.361 autograph, first page).
If Mozart wrote K.361 especially for his wedding reception, wouldn't
* Writing it,
* Having it copied into 13 parts,
* Paying the copyists quite a bit of money (it's a long piece - 91 pages
with 13 instruments),
* Carrying the finished product home (or watching the Copyists do the
work in his home, as Mozart usually did),
* Turning the music over to the hostess for playing by a large hired
group of musicians?
Of course he would remember!!
And he wouldn't have been surprised to hear it played.
For that matter, he probably would have had to rehearse the group to ensure
a good performance, rather than simply hoping they'd get it right -
possibly even sight-reading the piece!
Would simply trusting to luck on your wedding day be a good idea?
What if they sight-read it, but messed it up??
Wouldn't both Mozart AND Constance be irritated??
Mozart would have been heavily involved in all the aspects of getting
the piece written, copied, rehearsed, and performed, and probably
even in selecting the musicians, and making sure they had transportation
to the Baroness' home.
Naturally, Mozart would have needed to tell the musicians where the event
was to take place, and the date and time they should arrive.
Since the Baroness' "city home" was located in the Vienna suburb of
Leopoldstadt on Praterstrasse (current name), the musicians would probably
have had to take a carriage to get there, since it's about 1/2 mile
to 1 mile from central Vienna to her home, and Mozart might have been
expected to reimburse them for their round-trip transportation costs.
Was he hoping they wouldn't show up so he could save some money?
The musicians would have shown up to get paid for their performance,
possibly reimbursed for their transportation costs, possibly get hired
for future events, and hopefully eat some good banquet food in the kitchen.
They would be highly motivated to show up, yet Mozart was supposedly
surprised that they showed up and played his special piece.
Why would he be surprised?
Did he intentionally give them the wrong directions to the house?
Did he intentionally give them the wrong date or time for the reception?
Did he forget that he wrote the piece for his bride as a wedding gift?
This makes no sense at all.
Obviously, Mozart had no connection with the 16 musicians who surprised
him with a 16-part Harmonie music of his own composition (or 16-player
Harmonie music, more accurately), or with the scheduling of the music.
Note that Mozart actually WAS surprised once by some street musicians
playing K.375 (we think) in a courtyard outside his window, one evening
in November 1781. He then dutifully mentioned it to his father in a
letter referred to by Eric Hoeprich.
As to the original wedding letter (with no inserted sentences), why
DIDN'T Mozart say anything at all to his father about this beautiful
a) He mentioned being surprised by a sextet playing his music outside
his window in a different letter, 9 months earlier.
b) He sent his father a "short march" with the wedding letter.
c) And he mentioned that his opera had been given again at Gluck's request.
Yet Mozart mysteriously didn't bother to mention the lengthy and beautiful
Wind Serenade (K.361) - almost an hour long - which he had supposedly
composed as a wedding gift for his wife.
He encloses a "short march", mentions the performance of his opera, and
doesn't bother to mention the 91-page Gran Partita Wind Serenade which
was supposedly played at the wedding reception??
91 pages of music, almost an HOUR long,
and he doesn't even mention it to his
The father that he shared most details
of his life with??
He includes a "short march" in the
envelope, but doesn't mention this huge
and lengthy Piece??
Why would a short march be more important
than a lengthy Harmonie Piece??
Clearly, that unmentioned piece (K.361)
Somebody just made it up.
Somebody invented the myth that Mozart
wrote K.361 for the wedding reception.
That person was Hermann Abert, editor of
Jahn's bio of Mozart, done around 1921.
Then some unknown person added the
fiction that the piece was a wedding
present for his bride. PURE FICTION.
PURE INVENTION. NO EVIDENCE.
And to top it all off, Mozart forgot that
he wrote it (Surprised??), or was surprised
that the Musicians showed up for this important
event, and referred to this GRAND, LENGTHY,
HOUR-LONG, COSTLY, WELL-REHEARSED, MAGNIFICENT
PIECE, THIS WEDDING PRESENT TO HIS NEW BRIDE,
MYSTERIOUSLY MISSING A DEDICATION TO HER,
A PREMIERE FOR PEOPLE TO TALK, EAT, AND DRINK
WHILE LISTENING TO IT,
as being merely 'a large piece I wrote'
("a 16-Part Harmonie of my own composition"),
and was unable to recall the exact number of
Parts in the Piece (13), even though he had
just written it a couple of days earlier.
If you believe that, I have a Bridge for Sale,
once owned by Wrong-Way Corrigan.
Could he have once again forgotten that he'd written it, and put so much
ancillary work into it? This is certainly negative evidence regarding the
idea that Mozart wrote K.361 as a wedding gift to his wife, since he
WOULD HAVE mentioned such a piece and gesture to his father.
He always did. It was Mozart's nature and his custom, as we can see
from the references to the "short march" and his opera, even in this
letter primarily discussing his wedding.
Clearly, the inserted sentence about a 16-part Harmonie, if true,
refers to some music other than K.361, and was probably a special
wedding gift from the hostess to her friend. And we can thank her
for making the wedding reception so special for the newlyweds.
The sentence first appeared in George von Nissen's biography of Mozart
in 1828, 2 years after Nissen died.
And since Nissen died 2 years before his biography of Mozart was published,
we don't know if Nissen or someone else inserted the extra sentence into
his Mozart biography, which is why "Nissen" is often shown in quotes,
or as "Nissen?" with a question mark.
Only Constance could have - and would have - inserted the sentence.
Maybe she shouldn't have done it, but it's not her fault that
educated historians thought that "16" meant "13". Good grief.
Constance is being wrongly blamed for the confusion over the origins
of this piece.
Otto Jahn (historian) saw the ORIGINAL LETTER without the insertion,
but didn't say that someone had inserted a sentence into Nissen's
Hermann Abert (historian) JUMPED TO CONCLUSIONS and MISQUOTED
Eibl (historian) was VAGUE and imprecise in his treatment of K.361.
Shifting the blame to Constance for the rash and illogical conclusions
of others, is not only extremely picky, it's dishonorable, and a failure
to assign responsibility for mistakes where it rightfully belongs.
And if the subject was THAT important ("Why was the piece written and
when was it first performed?" and "What music was performed at the wedding
reception?") then some effort should have been put into trying to
determine the answer.
Nissen did his best, did not insert any verbiage into his book after he
died, and does not deserve any blame.
The fault, Dear Brutus, lies with the other historians for their failure
to count (16/13), read, think, theorize, and pay attention.
Most importantly, Constance NEVER SAID that this Wind Serenade was
performed at the wedding reception, and blaming her for the confusion
over the wedding reception music is just a cop-out.
She didn't do it.
Various versions of the Wedding Letter are located in this document.
* The Mersmann version of the letter (in English), which is a translated
copy of the original letter, can be viewed here (Exhibit 1).
* The Bauer/Deutsch (Eibl) version of the letter, which is a text copy of
the original, can be viewed here (Exhibit 2).
* The Nissen version of the letter with the ADDITIONAL TEXT can be viewed
here (Exhibit 3).
These are all located further in this document under Exhibits 1, 2, and 3.
Flowchart of Events
| Mozart's |
| autograph | Original "Wedding Letter" in Mozart's handwriting:
| manuscript | No music mentioned regarding the wedding reception.
| of the letter | Nothing about being surprised with a 16-part
| now in the | Harmonie piece of Mozart's own composition.
| Mozarteum | This original document is the final authority.
| in Salzburg |
| | | Wedding Letter paraphrased in Nissen's biography. |
| | Nissen bio of | Wedding music: 16-part Harmonie of his
| | WAM, with | own composition played. Mozart surprised.
| | Constanze and | [Nissen?: "Während des Souper wurde ich mit einer sechzehnstimmigen
| | others. | Harmonie von meiner Composition überrascht."]
| | Pub 1828. |
| | (Nissen died |
| | in 1826.) |
| | |-------------> Other authors: Wedding music sentence included.
| | |
| V V
| | | Jahn had the original letter.
| | Otto Jahn - | Footnote in 2nd edition.: Wedding music - 16 parts, per Nissen,
| | Author of | "But this must be a mistake because even the great
| | WAM bio | serenade for winds has only 13 parts."
| | (4 editions). | (Ie, we don't know what music was played, if anything).
| | 1856 for WAM | Realized that there was a discrepancy between the original
| | 100-yr anniv. | letter and Nissen's version with its additional text.
| | |
| +---------------+ Nissen's version of the letter was not published for
| | comparison, so people probably didn't realize that text
| | had been inserted into the Nissen version, even though
| | Jahn knew. (How could they know unless they checked the
| | Nissen version of the letter against the autograph?)
| | Jahn's footnote to 2nd edition, 1867: "Während des Soupers wurde er
| | nach Nissen mit einer 'sechzehnstimmigen Harmonie' von seiner
| | Composition überrascht. Das wird ein Irrthum sein, denn auch die
| | grosse Serenade (361 K.) ist nur dreizehnstimmig."
| | ["During the supper, according to Nissen, he was surprised with a
| | '16-part Harmonie' of his own composition. This must be a mistake,
| | because even the great Serenade (K.361) has only 13 parts."]
| | The first edition footnote (1856) is similar, but doesn't
| | attribute the source of the comment to anyone, or declare it a
| | mistake, saying instead, "I don't know what is meant by that."
| | The 2nd edition is more rigorous, and mentions Nissen as the source.
| | The 3rd and 4th editions say the same as the 2nd, re the music.
| | Ironically, Jahn's first edition is more accurate than the 2nd.
| | First mention of 16-part wedding music by Jahn: 1856, 1st edition.
| | See Footnote 1 for the complete text of both of Jahn's footnotes.
| | This was passive, inept work for a professional historian to let
| | the mystery be stated, then let it hang in mid-air, when he had the
| | the original letter in front of him.
| | |
| | Hermann | Wedding music: K.361 (13-parts) mentioned in footnote.
| | Abert - | Abert quotes Jahn partially, attributing the wedding music information
| | Editor of new | to Nissen, then mysteriously jumps to the conclusion that the music
| | edition of | must have been K.361 without accounting for the 16/13 difference, etc.
| | Jahn's bio | Also misquotes Jahn, slightly, by omitting the phrase "surprised with,"
| | of WAM. | radically changing the meaning of the comment.
| | | [Abert: "Dabei wurde nach Nissen eine 'sechzehnstimmige Harmonie'
| | Approx 1921. | seiner Komposition gespiellt. Es handelt sich wohl um die
| | | dreizehnstimmige Serenade (K.V.361)."]
| | | Abert JUMPED TO CONCLUSIONS, and MIS-QUOTED Jahn!!
| | |
| | | -----------------> Other authors: Wedding music was K.361
| V 1930's
| | |
| | Common | K.361 was performed at Mozart's wedding reception
| | Knowledge | on August 4th, 1782.
| | | Mozart wrote it for Constanze as a wedding gift.
| | | (This is the piece that Mozart apparently forgot he wrote for
| | | Constance as a wedding gift and was surprised to hear it.)
| | |
| V 1950's
| | |
| | Dan |
| | Leeson | Studied history of K.361.
| | |
| | |
| | |
| <===autograph copies of letters sent to Bauer and Deutsch, below.
| | Wedding Letter:
| Bauer & | No wedding music mentioned. However, the 1962-1975 edition contains
| Deutsch: | extensive comments by Eibl. Referring to this letter, he states,
| Mozart's | "Supposedly at the 'wedding feast' the Serenade K.361 had been
| letters. | performed". No attribution of source given.
| In German. | [Eibl: "Bei dem 'Hochzeits festin' soll die Serenade KV361 (370a)
| 1962-1975 ed. | aufgeführt worden sein."
| | ("The Serenade KV361 (370a) was supposedly performed at the wedding
| | feast).
| | This was VAGUE and IMPRECISE of Eibl.
+---------------+ -----------> Other authors: No wedding music in letter
| if only quoting the letter
| and not Eibl's comment.
| If quoting Eibl's comment, then
| K.361 was supposedly played at
| the wedding feast.
| | Dan Leeson and Neal Zaslaw discover that a
| | sentence had been inserted into the letter
| Leeson and | in Nissen's biography of Mozart, per Bauer/Deutsch.
| Zaslaw | Re-thinking of the date of K.361 composition.
| | Nissen, Jahn and Abert consulted as well as
| | Bauer/Deutsch.
| | Article published in the 1976 Mozart Jahrbuch by
| | Dan Leeson and David Whitewell.
Progression of Statements and Beliefs
1. Original letter: No mention of wedding reception music by Mozart.
Mozart was surprised with a 16-part Harmonie of his own
composition during the wedding reception given by the Baroness von
3. Otto Jahn:
1st ed: Mozart was surprised with a 16-part Harmonie of his own
composition, per Nissen, but "I don't know what is meant by that...".
2nd ed: According to Nissen, Mozart was surprised with a 16-part
Harmonie of his own composition, but "this must be a mistake...".
3rd and 4th eds: (Same as 2nd).
See Footnote 1 for full text of Jahn's footnotes.
4. Hermann Abert - 1920s: Apparently K.361 was played at Mozart's
5. Common Knowledge - 1930s: K.361 was played at the wedding reception.
6. Common knowledge - 1960s-1970s: K.361 was written by Mozart as a
wedding gift to his bride.
7. Leeson and Zaslaw - 1970s: No evidence of any specific music
played at the reception. No evidence that K.361 was played, and
therefore no evidence that K.361 was written as a wedding present
for Mozart's bride.
Following the path backwards, we find that Hermann Abert:
1. Misquoted Otto Jahn.
2. Jumped to conclusions (It must have been K.361).
This led to the "Common Knowledge" belief that K.361 was played.
This led to the "Common Knowledge" belief that Mozart composed K.361
for his bride as a wedding gift since the piece was supposedly
first performed there.
Possible Mistakes Made, or "Who can we blame?"
Hermann Abert is the main culprit.
1. The sentence shouldn't have been inserted into the Nissen
transcription of the letter, because it gave the appearance
that Mozart said it, and sowed confusion.
It didn't seem to make sense.
It corrupted the secondary source (Nissen) which served as
the Primary source for most readers and scholars, and it
appeared before Jahn's version.
(People would trust Nissen - Constance's 2nd husband.
And only scholars have access to the original letters of
Mozart, Constance, Nissen, etc, traveling to Salzburg to
It should have been added as a footnote, indicating that Constanze
recalled certain music played at the wedding reception, etc.
Scholars would then be judging Constanze's memory of the piece
(after several decades) as opposed to Mozart's apparent "statement".
We don't know who inserted the sentence (several people could have done it), but
the only one of the group who attended Constanze's wedding in 1782 was Constanze.
That Nissen would suggest adding a sentence to a letter about music played at a
wedding held many years earlier, which he didn't attend, seems highly improbable.
As to the reproduction of the letter (the transcription) by Nissen, it's crucial to
note that not only was the book published after his death, and worked on by others
after he died, but the text of the letter contains many omissions in addition to
the insertion. Thomas Nielsen (Discussion Board) and Viggo Sjoeqvist (author)
have this to say:
In such cases Nissen, contrary to good modern practice, did not indicate
that he omitted text. In his book on Constanze, Viggo Sjoeqvist says:
"The reproduction of the letters [in Nissen's book], by and large, are not
bad, in particular when it is remembered that he did not have much knowledge
of editorial technique. But the selections are very often paraphrasing, and
the contractions are as a rule made in such a way that it is in reality
impossible to see where there are omissions or paraphrases" (my
translation). I cite this not in order to defend Nissen, but simply in order
to suggest that the fact that the insertion is not indicated as such conforms
to the usual editorial practice of the book:
not to indicate (as an editor is expected to do today) editorial adjustments
of the texts printed.
In other words, Nissen can be forgiven for his paraphrasing, omissions, and
additions in quoting Mozart's letters, but this would not be acceptable
editorial practice today.
(See Exhibit 3 for the Nissen version, and for an itemized list of what text
was cut from and inserted into the letter).
Since Jahn and Abert both realized that the statement about the 16-part
Harmonie was ambiguous - even as an insertion in a letter (Jahn) - and both
men were unclear in their exposition of this issue (see 2 and 3 below),
there is no good reason to believe that the issue would have been handled
better even if the statement had been added as a footnote rather than a
fraudulent insertion. In fact, Jahn was at a distinct advantage since he was
able to compare the original letter with the Nissen version of same, and
realized that Mozart did not write those words in that letter. Knowing that
Mozart didn't write that sentence in that letter, Jahn's task should have
been one of exposing the insertion of inauthentic text into a transcription
of an otherwise authentic letter, rather than trying to analyze what piece
had been performed. His role should have changed from "musical historian"
to "musical detective" at that point.
Why analyze "fraudulent" text for its musical significance? Why not point it out, mention
that it *might* be true, and check for more such examples when reproducing letters?
Therefore, if Jahn didn't handle a case of "fraud" correctly, why would he handle
a footnote by Constanze better? If anything, a footnote would carry more weight than
than the insertion of text into a letter since it wouldn't be tainted by fraud.
And not being tainted by fraud, Jahn would almost certainly have been more forthcoming
in his analysis, speculated that "16" should have been "13", and that K.361 had been
played at the wedding reception. All this in 1856, rather than 1921 when Abert
decided that the piece must have been K.361.
So, a footnote to the letter, rather than an insertion in the letter, would probably
have resulted in the world believing that K.361 was played at Mozart's wedding.
And since the statement would have had the credibility of an eyewitness, it not
only might never have been disputed, it might actually have been true. But since
the sentence was NOT a footnote, and since we don't know why it was inserted into
the letter rather than added as a footnote, we cannot say what music - if any -
was played at the wedding.
Thus, if Constanze wanted the readers of later generations to know the truth, she
would have been better off "telling" the truth, ie, by adding a footnote, rather
than inserting text into a letter (assuming, for the moment, that it was Constanze
who wanted the text inserted).
If Constanze had wanted readers to believe a lie, it still would have been better
to add a footnote, since a footnote would be more believable than an insertion.
Whatever the facts, it was a mistake to insert the text, but that's from a perspective
of over 150 years later, and probably has nothing at all to do with the motives or the
mindset relevant to the issue at the time.
2. Jahn should probably have been clearer about the situation. Rather than simply saying
"according to Nissen", he should have said that a sentence had been inserted in the Nissen
version of the letter, and at what point in the letter.
Readers would have been able to see exactly what he meant since he published the original
version of the letter (without the inserted text) in his book.
Doing this would permit later scholars to understand what the phrase "according to Nissen"
meant. Until recently, scholars did NOT realize what Jahn meant.
The ambiguity of part of the sentence - "a 16-part Harmonie of my own composition" -
which didn't indicate whether it was a new or recent composition for winds, or
whether it was simply an arrangement of some other piece made by a nameless "arranger",
proved to be a problem for Jahn. While noting that "this must be a mistake" (2nd ed.),
he was apparently assuming that the work must have been written by Mozart for 16-part
winds, when it could have been simply an arrangement. Although Jahn's 2nd edition
is more rigorous than his first, his 1st edition comment beginning with,
"I don't know what is meant by that" is more accurate than his 2nd edition comment,
since the inserted sentence in the letter could have been true if the music played
was simply an arrangement of an earlier piece. Making arrangements of pieces for
playing by Harmonie groups was a common practice.
So Jahn made two mistakes:
a) Being vague about the inserted sentence by saying "according to Nissen", which is
meaningless under the circumstances.
b) Assuming (in his 2nd edition) that the piece being referred to - the 16-part Harmonie by
Mozart - was an ORIGINAL composition as opposed to an ARRANGEMENT of an existing piece,
when he states "but this must be a mistake". It was a mistake only if the sentence
referred to an original composition, and may have been completely truthful if it
referred to an arrangement. The 1st edition footnote was more accurate.
Let us keep in mind, however, that Jahn was in a difficult spot: He could see that
a sentence had been inserted in Nissen's version of the letter, but in the first
edition was reluctant to let go of the "received wisdom". And he was also working with
material which had been edited with cuts and an insertion (as well as possible
paraphrasing), making his job of determining the very existence of the insertion more
difficult, and puzzling over its meaning within that context. Nissen's book was regarded as
authoritative - after all, he was the husband of the widow of the composer - and Jahn
apparently wasn't sure what to do with the discrepancies between the book and the original
materials. He probably was simply trying to be deferential and respectful of Nissen and
Constanze, and did the best he could under the circumstances.
3. Abert's error in jumping to the conclusion that K.361 was performed is more understandable
given that he didn't realize a sentence had been inserted into the letter. But he should
have clarified why he felt that Nissen meant 13 parts (a very unusual grouping), not 16
parts for the piece - or even 6 parts ("sechstimmige") - a very common kind of wind band.
In short, he should have explained himself, but didn't, and left the impression that it
was almost certainly K.361 which was performed.
Additionally, Abert doesn't render Jahn's quote of Nissen precisely, omitting the
words "surprised with" and replacing them with "played". This change altered the
meaning of the event and its social significance, and unwittingly enabled the
unknown inventor of the myth that "K.361 was composed by Mozart as a wedding gift
for his bride" to make his case more plausible, even if unfounded. It changes the
social nature of the event from what would appear to be a surprise gift from the
Baroness, to the playing of Mozart's music, and ultimately to the notion that
Mozart wrote it as a wedding gift to his bride.
4. Eibl (of Bauer-Deutsch) should have listed the source of his information that "supposedly
K.361 was played...". Not listing the attribution makes it difficult or impossible to track
down the source, and shows carelessness. We don't know why he made that statement, and
it muddled the issue further.
5. Once the musical world believed that K.361 had been performed at Mozart's wedding
reception, whoever invented the fiction that it was composed as a wedding gift
for his bride was also guilty of making an assumption and spreading an unfounded
rumor. If Mozart composed it as a wedding gift, why was he surprised it was played?
The inserted sentence would have read something like, "During the supper, I surprised
my bride with a gift of a 16-part Harmonie of my own composition." After converting
the "16" to "13", the "wedding gift" theory would make more sense...
But then, they apparently didn't check Jahn's or Nissen's version of the story (at
least, the earlier editions) even though Jahn and Abert had both said "according to
Nissen...". And both Jahn and Nissen said that "[Mozart was] surprised with..."
the playing of his music.
So there was apparently an attitude of presumption and some laziness by the inventor
of the "wedding gift" story, and an unquestioning attitude on the part of those
who believed it.
6. Mozart should have begun his thematic catalog earlier in his career, and entered the piece
with a completion date. Then there would be no confusion.
Summary of Mistakes
1. Constanze is probably guilty of using poor judgment in inserting
the text. Nissen (or someone) is probably guilty of poor judgment
in allowing it to be inserted. (But let's remember: Constance was
Mozart's wife, and she was the only one of the group at the wedding,
and the only one who would know (or might know) what music was played.
Constance spoke with SOME authority since she was there.
Nissen might have been deceased when the insertion was added.)
2. Jahn is probably guilty of poor judgment in his weak treatment of
what was clearly not authentic text, and guilty of assuming that
the piece referred to was an original composition as opposed to an
arrangement of an existing one.
(A difficult situation to be in, though, all factors considered).
3. Abert is guilty of jumping to conclusions, not accurately quoting
Jahn, and not explaining himself.
4. Eibl is guilty of not naming his source(s) and perpetuating a myth
in a book of Mozart's letters.
5. Some unknown person is guilty of starting the rumor that Mozart
composed K.361 as a wedding gift for his wife.
6. Some unknown person is guilty of starting the rumor that the
confusion was all the fault of Constance, even though she clearly
wrote "16-Part" not "13-Part" in her inserted sentence.
Why would that be HER fault when she wrote "16-Part"??
7. Mozart is guilty of not keeping better records of his compositions
and other musical accomplishments soon enough, not initiating his
Thematic Catalog until 1784, and depriving his future admirers of
important information. A Class-Action lawsuit is being considered,
but might be dropped since Mozart reportedly wants to examine OUR
Catalogs, as well.
1. No music was played at the wedding.
Extremely unlikely for that era.
2. K.361 was played (13-part music).
No evidence for this from any source.
3. A portion of K.361 was played (13-part music).
No evidence for this.
4. An arrangement of a piece by Mozart was played using 16 players,
but only 8 parts.
("Harmonie music" often consisted of arrangements of pieces, much
as the arrangements of operatic numbers were played by wind players
in the opera "Don Giovanni").
5. An arrangement of a piece by Mozart was played using 6 players (not 16).
6. An arrangement of a piece by Mozart was played using between 6 and 16
7. A composition of Mozart's for winds was played using between 6 and 16
players. K.375 (original version for 6 parts) would have been such a
possibility, composed in October 1781.
8. Harmonie music was played, but Mozart was not the composer.
This makes no sense as he allegedly said "of my own composition...".
9. Whatever was played was a wedding gift from Mozart to his bride.
Impossible since he was supposedly surprised to hear it.
*10. Whatever was played was given as a wedding gift from the Baroness
to the newlyweds, and was probably Harmonie music by Mozart, probably
in 6 or 8 parts, played by 16 musicians, who already knew the piece,
and needed only limited or no rehearsal time to do a good job.
*Possible, likely, and almost certainly true.
Arrangements of known pieces rather then new pieces written expressly
for a Harmonie ensemble were often preferred by those who could afford
to pay for such groups.
There is no evidence that the 13-part K.361 was played at the wedding
reception, or that the music played was composed and prepared as a
wedding gift from Mozart to Constanze.
However, music was almost certainly played at the wedding reception,
per the customs of the time, and the lavish entertaining style of the
Baroness von Waldstädten.
Therefore, the sentence inserted in the wedding letter might easily be
true and probably *IS* essentially true (with a minor quibble involving
"players/parts"- see below).
(Can you imagine a wedding reception at the home of the wealthy Baroness,
who loved to entertain, with no music for her good friends and other
If someone had made an arrangement of one of Mozart's Harmonie pieces for
8 parts with 16 PLAYERS, a piece by Mozart could easily have been played,
and could have been a surprise wedding gift by the Baroness to the newly
married couple, with the necessary arrangements made quickly by the
Baroness who undoubtedly had plenty of contacts in the entertainment world.
Also plausible is the possibility that it was a 6-part Harmonie arrangement
of a Mozart composition, or a 6-part original composition by Mozart,
misremembered, misstated, or misprinted as being a 16-part Harmonie, or
played by 16 players. K.375 (original version in 6 parts) is such a
But all things considered, it was probably 16 players performing a Harmonie
piece by Mozart, given as a surprise wedding gift to the newlyweds by the
Calling the music "16 parts" instead of "16 players" was a minor mistake,
and only Mozart and the musicians would have known how many parts
the piece contained.
Constance wrote "16 parts" in her insertion, but she probably meant
The historians should have considered that possibility - especially since
it was Constance who inserted the sentence in Mozart's letter, and might
not know (probably would not know) how many PARTS the piece had.
Footnote 1: The full text from Jahn's footnotes to the 1st and 2nd
Jahn's footnote to 1st edition, 1856:
"Während des Soupers wurde er mit einer "sechzehnstimmigen Harmonie" von
seiner Composition überrascht. Ich weisz nicht welche damit gemeint sei,
denn die grosse Serenade (II S. 490 ff.), an welche mann zunächst denken
möchte, ist nur dreizehstimmig und es ist nich bekannt dass Mozart mehrere
Instrumente zugesetzt habe; eine achtstimmige doppelt besetzte
Harmoniemusik hätte er schwerlich sechzehnstimmig genannt."
Jahn's footnote to 2nd edition, 1867:
"Während des Soupers wurde er nach Nissen mit einer "sechzehnstimmigen
Harmonie" von seiner Composition überrascht. Das wird ein Irrthum sein,
denn auch die grosse Serenade (361 K.) ist nur dreizehnstimmig."
Exhibit 1 - Mersmann (Mersmann/Bozman)
The English language transcription of the letter in Mersmann's book of Mozart's letters,
based on a source other than Nissen.
Even though some kind of music at a wedding would have been commonplace, there
is no mention of music played at the wedding reception.
I have inserted "[****]" in the letter to indicate where the single sentence was inserted
in the Nissen version of the letter.
Note that the Mersmann version of the letter is COMPLETE, whereas the Nissen version
is missing a number of sentences, as well as containing an inserted sentence.
See: "NISSEN VERSION OF THE WEDDING LETTER" further below. for the text
inserted into the Nissen version of the letter.
From "Letters of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart", selected and edited by Hans Mersmann.
Translated from the German by M.M. Bozman.
Dover Publications, New York. 1928/1972. Paperback edition. Page 203.
[This should actually be called the Mersmann/Bozman version of the Wedding Letter,
since it was translated from German into English by M.M. Bozman.]
MERSMANN VERSION OF THE WEDDING LETTER
(THE ENTIRE LETTER IN ENGLISH)
(Paragraphs created by Dave Morton for easier reading).
VIENNE, ce 7 d'août, 1782.
[Vienna, 7 August 1782]
Mon très cher Père!
You are much deceived in your son if you can suppose him capable of acting dishonestly.
My dear Constance, now (I thank God) actually my wife, knew my circumstances, and long
since heard from me what I had to expect from you. But her affection and love for me were
so great that she willingly, most joyfully, consecrated her whole future life to -- sharing my fate!
I kiss your hands and thank you with all the tenderness a son ever felt for a father for the
consent and paternal blessing so kindly bestowed upon me. But I could safely rely upon it -
for you know that I could not but see for myself only too well all possible objections to such a step!
But you also know I could not act otherwise than as I did without injury to my honor and my
conscience. Consequently, I could build on your consent!
For this reason, having waited in vain for an answer for over two post-days, and the ceremony
having been fixed for a day by which I expected to have received your reply, I plighted troth to
my dear one before God and in the comforting certainty of your consent. Next day I got your
two letters together.
Well, it is over! I have now nothing to do but to beg your forgiveness for my perhaps
over-precipitate reliance in your paternal affection. In this frank admission you have a fresh
proof of my love of truth and hatred of a lie. Next post-day my dear wife will beg her dearest
father-in-law for his paternal blessing and her beloved sister-in-law for the continuance of her
No one was present at the wedding save her mother and youngest sister, together with
Herr von Thorwarth as trustee and guardian to both, Herr von Zetto (Landrath) as friend
of the bride, and Gilofsky as my friend. When we were joined together both my bride and I
shed tears. All present, even the priest, were much moved, and all wept at witnessing these
tokens of our deep emotion.
The marriage-feast consisted in a supper given for us by the Baroness von Waldstadten,
and which, as a matter of fact, was princely rather than baronial!
(The additional sentence was inserted Here in the Nissen version of the letter,
but does NOT exist in the autograph version by Mozart, or in this copy of the
autograph by Mersmann.
The inserted sentence is probably TRUE if we substitute "16-Player" for "16-Part".)
"During the supper, I was surprised with a 16-part Harmonie of my own composition."
My dear Constance is now a hundred times more delighted at the prospect of a visit to
Salzburg! And I wager-- I wager-- you will rejoice in my good fortune when you come to know
her! -- that is if you agree with me that a right-minded, upright, virtuous and amiable wife is a
blessing to her husband.---
I send you herewith a short march! I only hope it will arrive in good time and prove
according to your taste. The first Allegro should go with considerable fire.
The last - as fast as possible.
Yesterday my opera was given again - and that at Gluck's request. He complimented me
upon it very warmly. I am to dine with him tomorrow. As you will see, I write in great haste.
Adieu. My dear wife and I kiss your hands a thousand times, and we both embrace our
dear sister with all our hearts.
I am ever
Your most obedient son,
W. A. Mozart.
[No mention by Mozart of a lengthy, 13-Part Wind Serenade, or ANY music,
written for the occasion. He just mentions that the marriage feast,
given by the Baroness, was "princely rather than baronial".
Unrelated music: Mozart includes a short march with his letter, but
doesn't even mention a 91-Page Harmonie music. That's because it wasn't
written for or played at the Wedding Feast, and he wrote that piece
1 or 2 years earlier.]
[Pardon my editorial comment, but it seems so sad that a man 26 years old
should have to beg his Father for permission to marry, beg for forgiveness
for marrying without his permission, explain his reasons, assure him of
his son's moral rectitude, bribe him with a composition (a short march),
then sign his name "W. A. Mozart" rather than "Wolfgang", "Wolfie",
"Wolf", or something similar.
In other words, Wolfgang Mozart, the adult, was apologizing profusely for
acting independently, etc, etc, then signing his name officiously, as one
might sign for a bank loan or a parking ticket in front of an officer with
a title or a badge.
Can you imagine William A. Smith signing his name "W. A. Smith" rather than
"Bill" in a letter to his Dad??
"Please forgive me for not checking with you, Father.
Thank you, oh my dearest and most wonderful Father.
I kiss your hand a thousand times!
And I remain, your most obedient son,
W. A. Smith."
(You know - W. A. Smith - the little boy who used to live at
your official residence for many years, upstairs, Room 3A,
who cleaned his room before he left, and still obeys your
"Sorry I didn't have time to let you know ahead of time.
Thanks, Dad. I'll write later.
Perhaps customs were different then for letter writing.
Perhaps Mozart absent-mindedly signed his name as "W. A. Mozart",
momentarily forgetting who he was writing to, and writing in haste,
as he said.
Regardless, it feels as if this grown, married man is bowing and scraping
like a serf in front of the King, hoping not to displease.
Figuratively speaking, that's exactly what he was doing.
In any event, I'm gratified that we have this letter - the original and
the one modified with the insertion by Constance. At least the added
insertion tells us more than we knew about the wedding feast and their
generous friend, the Baroness, who did a magnificent job on short notice.
Perhaps we can say, "All's well that ends well." despite many years
of needless confusion over 16 musicians playing Harmonie music in a
"wedding band" for the happy couple, with some of the music composed
by Mozart himself, in a clever and touching gesture by the hostess,
who must have asked the musicians if they could play some music written
by the groom, Wolfgang Mozart, personalizing the musical entertainment
and honoring her newlywed friend with something sure to please and be
No wonder she was a Baroness!! Her instincts, knowledge, experience,
savvy, and generosity were top shelf - the best.
Mozart (and Constance) must have felt deeply honored.
Too bad Mozart's Father had to be cajoled into accepting the new status
of his son - something that was right and obvious to the Baroness.
Back to the letter.]
Exhibit 2 - Bauer/Deutsch
The Bauer/Deutsch version of the letter with comments. Taken from a posting on the Mozart
Discussion Board by Gary Smith. I'm including his full posting here since it is entirely concerning
the Bauer/Deutsch version.
The section in question matches the Mersmann version (no reference to wedding music, etc).
Gary has verified that it is from the Bauer/Deutsch volume of Mozart's letters.
"Since I have received three requests already for this letter in German, I’ve decided to type it out
here instead to save time getting it to folks. You will have to pardon my typing, as I don’t know
German and the photocopy isn’t all that clear.
BAUER/DEUTSCH VERSION OF THE WEDDING LETTER:
Vienne ce 7 d’aout 1782
Mon tres cher Pere!
Sie haben sich sehr an ihrem Sohne Betrogen, wenn sie glauben konnten, das er im Stande seye eine schlechte handlung zu begehen;--
Meine liebe konstanze, nummehro /: gott sey dank :/ meine wirkliche frau, wuste meine umstande und alles was ich von ihnen zu erwarten habe, schon lange von mir. – ihre freundschaft aber und liebe zu mir war so gross das sie gerne – mit grosten freuden ihr ganzes kunftiges leben meinem – schicksaale aufopferte. – Ich kusse ihnen die hande und danke ihnen mi taller zartlichkeit die immer ein Sohn fur seinen Vatter fuhlte, fur die mir guttigst zugetheilte Einwilligung und vatterlichen Seegen. – Ich konnte mich aber auch ganzlich darauf verlassen! – dennsie wussten das ich selbst alles, -- alles was nur immer gegen solch einen schritt einzuwenden ist, nur zu gut einsehen muste; -- und aber auch, das ich ohne mein gewissen und meine Ehre zu verlezen, nicht anderst handeln konnte – mithin konnte ich auch ganz gewis darauf bauen! – dahero geschahe es auch das, da ich 2 Postage umsonst auf eine antwort wartete, und die Copulation schon auf den tag /: wo ich schon alles sicher wissen musste :/ fest gesezt war, ich – ihrer Einwilligung schon ganz versichert und getrostet, mich in gottes Nammen mit meiner geliebten trauen liess. den andern tag bekamme ich die 2 Briefe zugleich; -- nun ist es vorbey! – ich sie nur um mein zu voreiliges vertrauen auf ihre vatterliche liebe um verzeihung; -- durch dieses mein aufrichtiges gestandnuss haben sie einen Neuen Beweis meiner liebe zur Wahrheit, und abscheu zur luge. mein liebes Weib wird nachstem Postage ihren liebsten, besten schwiegerpapa um seinen vatterlichen Seegen, und ihre geliebte schwagerin um die fernere fortdauer ihrer Werthesten freundschaft bitten. – bey der Copulation war kein Mensch als die Mutter und die Jungste schwester. – H: v: thorwart als vormund und beystand von beyden; -- H: v: Zetto /: Landrath :/ beystand der Braut; und der gilowsky als mein beystand.—als wir zesamm verbunden wurden fieng so wohl meine frau als ich an zu weinen; -- davon wurden alle, sogar der Priesten, geruhrt.—und alle weinten, da sie zeuge unserer geruhrten herzen waren.—unser ganzes Hochzeits festin bestund aus einen soupee welches uns die frau Baronin v: Waldstadten gab – welches in der that mehr furstlich als Baronisch war – Nun freuet sich meine liebe konstanze noch hundertmal mehr nach Salzburg zu reisen! -- und ich wette – ich wette sie warden sich meines gluckes erfreuen wenn sie sie warden kennen gelernt haben! – wenn anders in ihren augen so wie in den meinigen ein gutdenkendes, rechschaffenes, tugendhaftes, und gefalliges Weib ein gluck fur ihren Mann ist. –
Hier schicke ich ihnen einen kurzen marsch! Wunsche nur das noch alles zur rechten zeit kommen mochte – und nach ihrem geschmack seye. – das Erste Allegro mus recht feuerig gehen. – das lezte—so geschwind als es moglich ist. – Meine oper ist gestern wieder /: und zwar auf begehren des glucks :/ gegeben worden; -- gluck hat mir vielle Complimente daruder gemacht. Morgen speise ich bey ihm. – sie sehen, wie ich Eilen mus. Adieu. Meine liebe frau und ich kussen ihn 1000mal die hande, und wir beyde umarmen unsere liebe schwester von herzen und Ewig dero.
Exhibit 3 - Nissen
The George Niklaus von Nissen version of the Wedding Letter with comments, published in 1828 in his biography
of Mozart (Nissen died 2 years earlier in 1826).
Taken from a posting on the Mozart Discussion Board by Thomas Nielsen. I'm including his full posting here since it is entirely concerning the Nissen version.
For ease of locating the inserted sentence, I have bolded, italicized and underlined it (like this) in this Exhibit. (In the Nissen book, the sentence looks like all the other sentences. I have a photocopy of the pages from the Nissen biography, pages 466-467.)
(From Thomas Nielsen - Mozart Discussion Board)
Below I have typed the text of the much-discussed letter exactly (I hope! I am not a trained
typer of German ...) as it appears in the book by Nissen, edited (herausgegeben von, as the
title page states) by Constanze.
The copy I have used is:
G.N. von Nissen, Biographie W.A. Mozarts. Nach Originalbriefen, Sammlungen alles über ihn Geschriebenen,
mit vielen neuen Beylagen, Steindrücken, Musikblättern und einem Facsimile.
Herausgegeben von Constanze, Wittwe von Nissen, früher Wittwe von Mozart.
Reprografischer Nachdruck der Ausgabe Leipzig 1828
Herstellung: fotokop, Reprografischer Betrieb GmbH., Darmstadt.
Best. Nr. 5100630.
Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, Hildesheim 1964.
A comparison with the Bauer/Deutsch text posted earlier by Gary shows other differences than the insertion we have been discussing. It seems that Nissen often edited the letters he printed by abbreviating them. (I say Nissen for the sake of convenience; but remember what Margaret said about it being a little unfair to refer to the book as by Nissen: it was published after his death and some sections were demonstrably not written by him, as I understand). I have noted the following major omissions in Nissen's text as compared with the Bauer/Deutsch edition:
(1) Sie haben sich sehr an Ihrem Sohne betrogen, wenn Sie glauben konnten, das er im Stande seye eine schlechteHandlung zu begehen.
(2) Ich konnte mich aber auch ganzlich darauf verlassen! – denn Sie wussten das ich selbst alles, – alles was nur immer gegen solch einen Schritt einzuwenden ist, nur zu gut einsehen musste; – und aber auch, das ich ohne mein Gewissen und meine Ehre zu verlezen, nicht anders handeln konnte – mithin konnte ich auch ganz gewis darauf bauen! – dahero geschahe es auch das, da ich 2 Posttage umsonst auf eine Antwort wartete, und die Copulation schon auf den Tag wo ich schon Alles sicher wissen musste fest gesezt war, ich – Ihrer Einwilligung schon ganz versichert und getrostet, mich in Gottes Namen mit meiner geliebten trauen liess. Den andern Tag bekame ich die 2. Briefe zugleich; – nun ist es vorbey! – ich Sie nur um mein zu voreiliges Vertrauen auf ihre väterliche Liebe um Verzeihung; – durch dieses mein aufrichtiges Gestandnuss haben Sie einen Neuen Beweis meiner Liebe zu Wahrheit, und Abscheu zur Luge.
(3) Hier schicke ich Ihnen einen kurzen Marsch! Wunsche nur das noch Alles zur rechten Zeit kommen mochte –
und nach Ihrem Geschmack seye. – Das erste Allegro muss recht feuerig gehen. – Das Lezte – so geschwind als es möglich ist.
(4) Sie sehen, wie ich eilen muss. Adieu. Meine liebe Frau und ich küssen Ihn 1000mal die Hände, und wir beyde umarmen unsere liebe Schwester von Herzen und Ewig dero.
In such cases Nissen, contrary to good modern practice, did not indicate that he omitted text. In his book on Constanze, Viggo Sjoeqvist says: "The reproduction of the letters [in Nissen's book], by and large, are not bad, in particular when it is remembered that he did not have much knowledge of editorial technique. But the selections are very often paraphrasing, and the contractions are as a rule made in such a way that it is in reality impossible to see where there are omissions or paraphrases" (my translation). I cite this not in order to defend Nissen, but simply in order to suggest that the fact that the insertion is not indicated as such conforms to the usual editorial practice of the book: not to indicate (as an editor is expected to do today) editorial adjustments of the texts printed. Sjoeqvist has, however, nothing to say about the insertion, which is indeed something very different from an omission. Additions of this kind a modern editor would probably – indeed, should – relate to a note or commentary volume, with indication of the source. The Nissen book, in fact, does make use of footnotes: it runs to 699 pages and by a quick glance I spotted at least 57 footnotes.
NISSEN VERSION OF THE WEDDING LETTER:
Vienne, ce 7 d' Août 1782
Mon très cher Père!
Meine liebe Constanze, nunmehro (Gott sey Dank) meine wirklich Frau, wusste meine Umstände und Alles, was ich von Ihnen zu erwarten habe, schon lange von mir. - Ihre Freundschaft aber und Liebe zu mir war so gross, dass sie gern mit grösster Freude ihr ganzes künftiges Leben meinem Schicksale aufopferte. - Ich küsse Ihnen die Hände, und danke Ihnen mit aller Zärtlichkeit, die immer ein Sohn für seinen Vater fühlte, für die mir gütigst zugetheilte Einwilligung und väterlichen Segen. - Mein liebes Weib wird nächsten Posttag ihren liebsten, besten Schwiegerpapa um seinen väterlichen Segen, und ihre geliebte Schwägerin um die fernere Fortdauer ihrer werthesten Freundschaft bitten. - Bey der Copulation war kein Mensch, als die Mutter und jüngste Schwester; Hr. von Thorwart als Vormund und Beystand von Beyden, Hr. Landrath von Zetto, Beystand der Braut, und Hr. von Gilowsky als mein Beystand Als wir zusammen verbunden wurden, fing sowohl meine Frau als ich zu weinen an; davon wurden Alle, sogar der Priester gerührt, und Alle [this word in italics] weinten, da sie Zeugen unserer gerührten Herzen waren. Unser ganzes Hochzeitsfest bestand aus einem Souper, welches uns die Frau Baronin von Waldstetten gab, - das in der That mehr fürstlich als baronisch war.
Während des Souper wurde ich mit einer sechzehnstimmigen Harmonie von meiner
Nun freuet sich meine liebe Constanze noch mehr, nach Salzburg zu reisen, und ich wette, Sie werden sich meines Glückes erfreuen, wenn Sie sie werden kennen gelernt haben, wenn anders in Ihren Augen, so wie in den meinigen, ein gutdenkendes, rechtschaffenes, tugenhaftes und gefälliges Weib ein Glück für ihren Mann ist. Meine Oper ist gestern wieder, und zwar auf Begehren des Ritters Gluck gegeben worden; Gluck hat mir viele Complimente darüber gemacht. Morgen speise ich bey ihm.
Exhibit 4 - Harmonie Music (Hellyer/Rhodes)
An article from the Journal of the International Double Reed Society, 1995.
THE JOURNAL of the INTERNATIONAL DOUBLE REED SOCIETY
e-edition: NO. 23, 1995
IDRS JOURNAL 21 [e-edition No. 23, 1995]
Harmonie Music at the Mecklenburg-Schwerin Court
in the 18th-19th Centuries
By David J. Rhodes
According to Roger Hellyer,
"The size of a harmonie was never fixed but depended on many factors, principally historical,
geographical and economic. Historically, in common with most other things, their size tended to grow;
thus an average harmonie numbered five or six in the 1770’s, eight or nine in the 1780’s and 1790’s, and
those that remained past the first decade of the nineteenth century sometimes consisted of twelve players.
The geographical factor was that different traditions prevailed in different regions: thus all French
harmonien seem to have consisted of six players, two each on clarinet, bassoon and horn, while
the majority of the Viennese aristocracy retained what came to be known as the ‘full harmonie’ consisting
of pairs of oboes, clarinets, horns and bassoons. The economic factor was simply that no-one retained
a harmonie which was larger than he could afford."
[end of Hellyer's quote]
Mozart’s Serenade or ‘Gran Partita’ for 13 wind instruments [sic], K361, is probably the largest piece
of Harmonie music ever to have been composed, although he is believed to have written it not for the
usual ‘domestic’ purposes but more likely for a public benefit concert in aid of the clarinetist Anton
Stadler that took place in Vienna in March or April 1784. At the other end of the spectrum are pieces
for a single pair of wind instruments, typically oboes or horns, obviously the result of economic
There is no need to delve into the various alternative instrumentations that existed throughout Europe
(such as the use by Prince Schwarzenberg in Vienna of a pair of cor anglais instead of clarinets in the
otherwise ‘standard’ octet formation), suffice it to say that there were many ‘local’ variants.
Exhibit 5 - Harmonie Music (Hoeprich)
An article by Eric Hoeprich, clarinetist, scholar, and instrument maker, on Harmonie music and Mozart.
"Nachtmusique" is an ensemble of nine of the world's finest wind-players drawn from Frans Bruggen`s
extraordinary Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, performing Harmoniemusik on original instruments.
Founded by Eric Hoeprich.
Harmoniemusik by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Serenade in Es-Dur (Eb major), KV 375
1 Allegro maestoso 10:44
2 Menuetto 4:31
3 Adagio 5:28
4 Menuetto 2:56
5 Finale - Allegro 3:25
Harmoniemusik: «Die Zauberflöte»
(arr. J. C. Stumpf, except (1) arr. A. Hörberg, (2) arr. anon.)
6 Overture1 4:35
7 Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja2 1:25
8 Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön 3:06
9 Hm! Hm! Hm! 4:27
10 Du feines Täubchen, nur herein! 1:58
11 Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen 2:33
12 Schnelle Füße 3:14
13 Marsch der Priester2 3:01
14 O Isis und Osiris 2:00
15 Soll ich dich, Teurer, nicht mehr sehn? 2:24
16 Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen 2:30
17 Bald prangt, den Morgen zu verkünden 2:36
18 Tamino mein! O welch ein Glück! 2:48
19 Es siegte die Stärke 1:19
NACHTMUSIQUE: «EINE ABENDSERENADE»
In a letter to his father dated November 3rd, 1781, Mozart describes being surprised one
evening by the opening chords of a Nachtmusique of his own composition, performed by a
sextet of musicians assembled in the courtyard outside his window: two clarinets, two horns
and two bassoons. The composition can be no other than the Serenade in Eb, KV 375, which
Mozart had only just completed a few months before. As for the performers, we shall probably
never know who they were, but described by Mozart as «poor beggars who play together very
nicely», they were presumably not the elite of Viennese musicians.
By the last quarter of the 18th century wind ensembles or Harmonie as they were called,
flourished in the capital city of Vienna and far beyond. The Emperor Joseph II had his own
special Harmonie at court which performed during meals and at special evening events,
providing background music, and generally performing not as the focus of attention. The date
usually given for the formation of the Emperor’s Imperial Harmonie is the 24th of April 1782,
but as Robbins-Landon has pointed out, there is ample evidence to show that the Harmonie
was performing regularly at court prior to this date.
A Harmonie can be defined as any group of wind instruments, from a mere duo to the forces
required to perform Mozart’s Gran Partita: 12 in total, plus contrabass. Wind ensembles of
various descriptions existed prior to this time, and indeed well into the 19th century, but the
most successful period of this ensemble formation was in the last decades of the 18th century,
and the first decade or two of the 19th century. The origin of the Harmonie can be traced
most convincingly to Bohemia where pairs of bassoons and horns were added to either a pair
of oboes, cors anglais or clarinets to form a sextet. From there the ensemble would have been
added to, the standard formation eventually becoming the wind octet, made up of pairs of
oboes, clarinets, horns and bassoons.
As this recording includes only music related to Mozart it is interesting to look at his
extremely close relationship to these ensembles of wind instruments. His interest in wind
instruments was already in evidence in his well-known description of the orchestra of
Mannheim, and upon his arrival in Vienna Mozart was undoubtedly struck by the superb
quality of the players there, many of whom had come to the capital from Bohemia, the
birthplace of the Harmonie and its repertoire. Typically for Mozart, when he turned his
compositional talents to realizing works for groups of these instruments, the results were
astonishing. For instance, no composition is more unusual and more beloved than the Gran
Partita, KV 361, which Mozart composed as a wedding gift to Constanze in 1781. [???]
Scored for pairs of oboes, clarinets, basset horns, bassoons, 4 horns and contrabass, it is a
milestone of compositional novelty and genius.
Soon after, Mozart would compose his Serenades in Eb major, KV 375, and in C minor, KV 388,
which although smaller in scale, are also works representing the absolute best of the genre.
He would also use this skill to infuse his orchestral compositions with rich wind writing.
In no place is this as noticeable as the piano concertos where at times, it seems as though
the Harmonie within the orchestra surpasses the solo piano in importance. It is particularly
in the later concertos that there are rich and frequent excursions into sections where the
wind ensemble dominates.
In the operas Mozart composed in the 1780’s, one can see extensive use of the orchestra’s
wind section, both as an independent force as in Don Giovanni, where he includes a
Harmonie arrangement of Non più andrai from Figaro, and also of other composers’ operas
(Martín y Soler and Sarti), and also in creating a pastoral atmosphere as in the garden scene
in Cosi fan tutte. This served to create a new sonority in the orchestra as a whole.
It is important to stress that Mozart came by his extensive and expressive use of winds
through a close understanding of how the instruments worked, both as individual voices and
in combination with each other. Through the delicacy of «voicing» of each wind chord, in
unusual inversions for example and often without the tonic, he created a sonority that had not
been heard before and perhaps will never be heard again. As the character Salieri points out
in the film Amadeus: change any aspect of Mozart’s carefully orchestrated music and one only
In this respect there can also be no better reason to use the wind instruments that were actually
known to Mozart. It is probable that if Mozart had known the wind instruments of today he would
have appreciated them very much, but he would also without question have composed in a vastly
different way. The possibility for achieving a perfect balance and organic sonority in playing Mozart’s
wind compositions is most easily accomplished by the use of late 18th century wind instruments,
managing to get inside them and learn their every detail. The choice of keys, range, articulation,
dynamics all point the way to making these instruments sound their best.
It is interesting to note that 18th century wind instruments possess both a strong individual
sonority and a great ability to blend well together. It is seemingly a contradiction that each
instrument can sound so different from the other, and yet form a perfectly blended chord,
particularly when the chord was scored by a master like Mozart. Unlike the wind instruments
of today where in a symphony orchestra it can be difficult, for instance, to distinguish
between an oboe and a flute, when 18th century winds are involved, there can be no doubt
which instrument is playing at any given moment.
There is abundant evidence outside the Harmonie compositions to show that Mozart had a
depth of understanding of wind instruments beyond what was normal for the time. For
instance, he always composed his solo wind concertos for a particular player. For the horn
concertos, it was Joseph Leutgeb, horn virtuoso and cheese merchant. In the case of the
clarinet concerto, it was Anton Stadler, friend and fellow mason. Leutgeb, for instance, was
often the victim of Mozart’s wicked humor (not that Stadler wasn’t!). For instance in the
autograph solo horn parts, one can see that Mozart wrote the most difficult passages in vivid
blue ink, and scribbled quips in the margins. Elsewhere, in the lessons on composition that
Mozart gave to the English composer Thomas Attwood (1765-1838), Mozart shows the extent
to which he knew the characteristics of all of the wind instruments. In Attwood’s notebooks,
he describes in detail all the types, the keys in which each instrument sounded best, their
range and many other important characteristics.
One other aspect of musical life circa 1800 must be mentioned here. During the course of the
18th century, not only did musical style evolve, but the design of wind instruments changed
as well. Exactly how this process took place remains an interesting question as there cannot
be a clear answer. The impetus behind an important part of this development must rest with
the members of three groups: composers, players and instrument makers. It is impossible to
view the whole picture if one of these groups is missing. There was a spirit of co-operation
between the groups that had not been seen before and has not been since. The detailed
knowledge of the nature of abilities of the musicians themselves, coupled with the influence
they both exerted on instrument makers, created an intimate exchange of ideas that came to
be reflected in the compositions.
Often individuals were members of more than one group.
Mozart for instance was a virtuoso pianist as well as composer and there are many instances
of his working closely with piano builders. Theodor Lotz, a fellow mason and clarinet maker
to Anton Stadler also performed as a musician. This essentially symbiotic relationship
between composers, players and instrument makers of the 18th century is perhaps what
makes it so compelling for us to hear these works performed on 18th century instruments
today. Add to the use of period instruments a sense of the musical style which captures the
spirit, if not the letter of an 18th century performance of these works, and the results are
Since the wind octet as defined by the Imperial Harmonie with pairs of oboes, clarinets,
bassoons and horns, set the standard for groups of this type, it is interesting to look at the two
serenades Mozart wrote for this formation. The first, the Serenade in Eb, KV 375 was
originally composed as a sextet without oboes, and later reworked by the composer as an
octet, the form in which it is most often heard today. On this recording we hear the original
version for six instruments. In the same letter to his father referred to above, Mozart recounts
how he wrote this piece as a way of influencing Herr von Strack, the valet of Emperor Joseph
II, and therefore took extra care to imbue it with «a modicum of good taste». The opening
chords of the Allegro maestoso remind us of the two great Sinfonia concertante, KV 297B and
364 with their energy and majestic sonority.
It is often the case with Mozart that a particular key prompted him to write in a specific way,
so it is not by chance that these three works share the key of Eb major. (Another example of
this is the similarity in the openings of the piano concerto, KV 488, and the clarinet concerto,
KV 622, both in A major). After this strong, almost military opening, the music tapers away
into a cantabile section, before being swept onward by a new theme in the horns; finally
the Allegro has begun. The second movement of the serenade is one of the two minuets
appearing in the work.
Although Mozart was still bound by tradition to compose these dance-like movements, he
nonetheless found original ways to infuse them with novelty and wit, often creating an effective
contrast between the plain trio (always in a different key) and the minuet proper. In this recording the
musicians follow the 18th century practice of taking the repeats in each da capo. The five
movement serenade has a symmetrical construction with two fast outer movements, minuets
as the 2nd and 4th movements, and at the center, the sublime Adagio, giving more than any
other movement in the work the sense of a serenade. Here one finds oneself in a room lit by
candles. We have time on our hands, time to savor and enjoy the richness of every aspect of
this perfect music. Following this moment of reflection comes a spirited minuet, and then the
finale, a fast and brilliant movement, relying on a recurring theme to anchor and connect all
the flights of Mozart’s endless musical fantasy.
Some months after Mozart completed the Serenade KV 375, the Emperor’s official
announcement of the formation of an Imperial Harmonie took place, and this must have
provided the impetus for him to reconstruct the work as an octet. Little is gained by this
transcription, but perhaps it did inspire Mozart to write an entirely new Nachtmusique: the
Serenade in C minor, KV 388, one of his greatest masterpieces. It is full of both the darkness
and the ingenuity of the composer’s musical mind stretched to the limit. Nevertheless, it
would appear that in the eyes of the court, Mozart remained behind the times, because it
seems that what the Emperor wanted to hear after all, were only transcriptions of operas,
oratorios and symphonies, i.e. the works that would become the true heart of the Harmonie
repertoire. Certainly a great deal of original music was composed for wind ensembles, but by
the time these ensembles were out of fashion, the number of original compositions was vastly
outweighed by the number of transcriptions: works with a more universal appeal.
Typical of the latter genre are the movements on this recording from Mozart’s Magic Flute.
Appearing in three sets published by the firm Johann André of Offenbach am Main, they are
typical of the Harmonie arrangements that were available throughout Europe c. 1800. The
arranger in this case was Johann Christian Stumpf (c. 1740 - 1801?), a German composer and
bassoonist. Very little is known about him, but a small body of music written for orchestra and
chamber ensemble survives. The skill he demonstrates in these arrangements is impressive.
With forces considerably smaller and less diverse than Mozart had for the original arias,
Stumpf manages to capture the spirit of each movement in ingenious ways.
For the recording, the ensemble decided to perform two numbers from the opera with even fewer
than six instruments: Papageno’s Ein Vogelfänger bin ich ja is played in an anonymous
arrangement for two clarinets also published by André, and the Marsch der Priester is performed
with two basset horns (as in Mozart’s original) and bassoon. The idea is simply to vary the texture
somewhat and in the case of the Marsch der Priester to allow the use of basset horns, that
most Masonic of wind instruments.
Exhibit 6 - Overview of Manuscript Paper Analysis (Dexter Edge)
"The Study of Eighteenth-Century Music Paper: Problems and Prospects"
Dexter Edge (London)
(Introduction to his Speech)
Alan Tyson's catalogue of watermarks in Mozart's musical autographs is a landmark in music-paper studies. During more than a quarter of a century of research on the musical autographs of Beethoven and Mozart, Tyson developed a rigorous and consistent technique for describing and recording musical 'paper-types' (i.e., conjunctions of mold pairs with 'rastral' measurements, the ruling of musical staff lines). Tyson's conclusions, most especially his redatings of many Mozart works and his conclusions about Mozart's working methods, have been generally accepted by music scholars. The Mozart watermark catalogue is, despite minor flaws of design and presentation, by far the most important reference work yet published on music papers of the second half of the eighteenth century. It is the first such catalogue to give full-sized representations (exactly 100%) of both molds of a sizeable body (over 100) of relatively securely dated music papers.
Yet Tyson's catalogue should be seen not as a culmination, but as a point of departure. Although the potential importance of watermark studies for the study of eighteenth-century music has been recognized since the 1950s, most of the work done by scholars before Tyson lacked sufficient rigor, and much is virtually useless. Even today, very few scholars have mastered the relatively simple techniques advocated by Tyson, and one still reads distressingly often, even in otherwise respectable scholarly works, such vacuous statements as 'watermark with three moons.'
My talk will outline the current state of research into eighteenth-century music paper, focusing particularly on the papers in use by composers and music copyists in the Habsburg lands from 1740 until roughly the end of the Napoleonic wars. I shall begin with an evaluation and critique of Tyson's Mozart catalogue, drawing comparisons with the recently published A Catalogue of Handel's Musical Autographs by Donald Burrows and Martha J. Ronish. Based on my own work on eighteenth-century Austrian music, especially manuscript copies of Mozart's music, I shall suggest refinements to Tyson's technique, particularly in the areas of rastral measurements and mold deformation, and I shall discuss the potential value of archival study of the manufacture and circulation of music paper. My examples will be drawn from a wide variety of eighteenth-century manuscript musical sources, including the recently rediscovered original orchestral parts from the 1788 Vienna version of Mozart's Don Giovanni . These parts remained in use until around 1900, and consequently represent a special challenge to the paper analyst, as they contain laid-in pages (mainly from later productions) on at least 25 different paper types (in extreme cases, successive leaves of the original part are separated by 50 or more inserted pages).
I shall conclude with suggestions for teaching the techniques of paper analysis (for the past two years I have successfully taught these techniques to my graduate music students at the University of Wales, Cardiff), and I shall propose a project for a visual database of eighteenth-century music papers and music copyists, paying particular attention to the relative merits of making such a database available on CD-ROM or the World Wide Web.
(K.361 First Page, First Movement. NOT the portion played in the movie Amadeus.)
Page 1 of the autograph score of K.361, with the writing of others in the margins,
such as "gran Partitta" at the top, and 1780 on the right (or 1781 changed to 1780 ??).
Even though the 1780/1781 date on the right might be untrustworthy and not in
Mozart's hand, note that the date is also not "1782" - the year of Mozart's wedding
(August 4th, 1782), making it all the more unlikely that he wrote this piece as a
wedding gift for Constance, one or two years before they were married.
In other words, SOMEONE thought that the date of composition was 1780/1781 and
so indicated on the first page, but no one wrote 1782 on the score.
Dexter Edge has assigned a composition date of 1781 based on the manuscript paper.
But focusing solely or excessively on the date of composition is really "off topic"
(compared to the subject of the music) and causes the conversation to veer off into
"calendar-istics" instead of the music.
Dates are interesting, but not nearly as important as the music.
Mozart didn't write dates on the music or in his Thematic Catalog so that scholars and
historians could analyze them sometime in the future, while treating the music as wall
If Mozart hadn't written such wonderful music, no one would care what date was written
on the score.
(Old Salieri on K.361, 3rd Movement, or "Salieri finally gets it"):
"Extraordinary! On the page it looked nothing. The beginning
simple, almost comic. Just a pulse - bassoons and basset horns -
like a rusty squeezebox. Then suddenly - high above it - an
oboe, a single note, hanging there unwavering, till a clarinet took
over and sweetened it into a phrase of such delight! This was no
composition by a performing monkey! This was a music I'd never
heard. Filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing, it had
me trembling. It seemed to me that I was hearing a voice of God."
It DOES sound like a rusty squeezebox, in a way, but Mozart imbued it with such wonderful
melody, mood, sonority, clarity, simplicity, searching, musical vistas, harmony, beauty, purity,
warmth, peacefulness, contentment, gentle motion, and gracefulness that we don't care.
And Harmonie music was just "background" music anyway.
It's as if we're taking a pleasant, comfortable walk with a good friend, in perfect weather,
passing by interesting scenery of all sorts, discussing enjoyable and fascinating subjects,
solving problems, asking questions, discussing plans, smiling, laughing, being carefree, and
all is well with the world. Or is it Heaven?
This version, even though inadequate, and not up to "orchestral" or "movie" quality, is
actually BETTER than some of the MP3 versions available, due to inferior playing with
plenty of dragging, and the inferior quality of some MP3's.
(Not all MP3's are high quality, and not all Conductors are very talented - especially
when it comes to Interpreting Mozart and keeping the Beat.)
With a decent Sound Card and big Speakers, this MIDI version should sound good.
Better than most. Enjoy.
K.361, 3rd Movement, Adagio. MIDI file (fairly well done).
The portion played in the movie "Amadeus".
Music evoking a pleasant, comfortable walk with a good friend.
Click the Speaker to Play.
Acknowledgements:All individuals are Mozart researchers, historians, and/or authors,and made significant contributions, directly or indirectly, to thispaper. Any errors are mine.1. Main Source of Information - Open Mozart Net (Mozart Discussion Board)http://www.openmozart.net/index.jsp (2002)2. Neal Zaslaw3. Daniel Leeson4. Margaret Mikulska 5. Gary Smith6. Thomas Nielsen 7. Hans Mersmann8. M.M. Bozman9. David J. Rhodes 10. Roger Hellyer11. Eric Hoeprich12. Dexter Edge......................................................................
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