I am here to tell to you about Mozart, however, but not about the famous composer but I’ll talk you about his two surviving sons.
In this article I’ll talk about Carl Thomas, his second son.
(In another article I’ll talk about Franz Xaver.)
For Wolgang Amadeus Mozart,the year 1784 was a wonderful year. On September 21, Constanze gave birth to the second child, the
Carl Thomas, who lived until 1858 and that was the first and only one to enjoy the copyright of his father.
Carl was the second child born to the Mozarts, the first child, Raimund, having died as an infant during his parents’ visit to Salzburg. Karl remained an only child for seven years. During this period his parents endured the death of three more babies whose fate would leave the household stricken with sadness until another pregnancy again heralded a renewal of life. In such an atmosphere Carl grew introspective, appearing quite content with his own company. A visitor to his parents’ home described the toddler in 1787 as wandering in the garden quite absorbed in his own thoughts.
During his visit to Vienna, Leopold Mozart testified to his grandson Karl’s amiable nature in a letter (16.2.1785) to his daughter, Nannerl, describing the baby Karl as a picture of his father…On the whole the child is charming, for he is extremely friendly and laughs when he is spoken to. I have only seen him cry once and the next moment he started to laugh.
Carl was an indifferent student. Mozart worried to the end of his life about his much loved son’s education. Apart from Constanze, Carl was the only person Mozart allowed to sit in his study when he composed. For hours on end the child would sit peacefully watching his beloved father, perhaps dreaming of the day when he would himself become another Mozart. Carl attended an expensive private school in Vienna founded by Wenzel Bernard Heeger, which cost Mozart each year more than his own father had earned as Kapellmeister at the Salzburg Court. In the autumn of 1791, Mozart took Carl to the performance of The Magic Flute where the boy sat mesmerised by his father’s music and the spectacle of the special effects devised for the opera.
Carl was increasingly drawn to his merry little brother, whose light-hearted childish pranks eased the tension created by their mother’s endeavours to provide for them. Carl enjoyed the concerts and operas his mother staged in memory of his father. To keep Mozart’s spirit alive she also held Sunday soirees when his father’s and Haydn’s music were performed. During these occasions Karl again found a quiet corner where unobserved, he listened to the beautiful music. He desperately longed to emulate his father. In his loneliness, during the years following his father’s death, he grew close to his mother and little brother only to find himself torn away from them all too soon.
It was now Constanze’s sole responsibility to educate her sons. She believed, like most of her contemporaries, that her son needed a strong male role model to influence him during his teenage years. Constanze made the decision to take Carl to Prague to attend the Gymnasium (high school) there and board with Mozart’s first biographer, Franz Niemetschek, himself a professor at the Gymnasium. Franz Duschek, the noted Bohemian piano virtuoso and the husband of Prague opera’s prima donna, Josepha Duschek, had agreed to become Carl’s music teacher. Although the shy boy must have been apprehensive and fearful to be parted from his mother, as an adult he remembered the time he had spent in Prague as the happiest of his life.
In 1798 Carl was sent to Livorno in Italy where he was apprenticed to an English business house.Although he had spent five years learning business procedure, Carl was unhappy with his life. He once again wanted to study music to follow in his father’s footsteps. At the end of 1805 he moved to Milan to study music at the new Milan Conservatoire. Haydn sent his personal recommendation to Professor Asioli in Milan. It is still extant:
My dear Colleague, I should like Carlo Mozart to have the honour to be one of your students…Allow me to recommend this youth to you as the son of a friend of mine, now dead and the heir to a name which should be dear to all connoisseurs and friends of art… The lack of self-esteem Mozart’s sons continued to experience throughout their lives is due to just such recommendations. Their father’s illustrious name opened every door, but it was the sons who allowed these doors to be closed. Constanze and Nissen agreed to support Carlo financially but Constanze cautioned her son: “…no son of Mozart can be second rate so that he does not bring shame rather than honour to his name. If you have taken all this into consideration then I am happy for you but hope that you will be doubly diligent…”
For the next two years Carlo’s studies progressed well. Constanze corresponded with Professor Asioli and received good reports from him about her son. She would have preferred to have him live with her and Nissen in order to look after him and supervise his studies. However, by early 1809 Albrechtsberger died and in May the French army occupied Vienna. Under these circumstances, Carlo decided to remain in Milan. In 1810 Karl gave up his music studies.He became official in service of the viceroy,Eugène de Beauharnais in Naples, an official of the Austrian finance and accounting department of the government in Milan.He continued to enjoy music, to teach piano to his friends’ children and to organise musical soirees in his home. Despite the new professions,he remained a bureaucrat for the rest of his life, achieving in the end a high position in this capacity.
After 20 years of separation from each other on August 12 of 1820, Carlo meets his younger brother, Franz Xaver.The brothers spent joyous days together and reminisced about their childhood. While on tour, Wolfgang had heard that Karl had married but this proved to be untrue.
Three years after meeting his younger brother, Carlo becomes the father of a child,Constanza,who was born from his relationship with his pupil, ”..the love of his life..” (as he calls her in his last letter).Over the next decade (until the death of her daughter), the activitiesof Carlo are limited.
On December 6, 1841 a memorial service was held at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Mozart’s death.Constanze died on March 6, 1842. It now fell to her sons to represent the Mozart family at the erection of Mozart’s monument. Mozart’s two sons were guests of honour.
The Festival took place over a period of three days in September 1842. That evening a memorial service took place in memory of Constanze in St. Sebastian’s Church.
After the Festival, Carlo returned to Milan and corresponded frequently He had reached a high position as a civil servant but the death of his daughter,of his mother and brother in such quick succession, left him increasingly lonely and unhappy. He had amassed a goodly fortune, enlarged by his inheritance from Constanze.
On his return to Italy, Carlo had learned of the great success of The Marriage of Figaro at the Theatre Lyrique in Paris. He was surprised to receive a payment of 8,000 francs as the heir and legitimate owner of Mozart’s intellectual property. Carlo had a good relationship with Josephine Cavalcabo ( his sister in law )and when he visited her in Vienna in 1849 he saw the newly completed Mozarthof in Rauhensteingasse where he had witnessed his father’s death.
In 1855 Carlo donated the family bible and his father’s forte-piano to the Mozarteum. “…The instrument is so dear to me, he wrote, that I can only part from it with deep sorrow as every time I look at it, I recall my father playing on it, especially that in the last year of his life, I often sat in his study for days on end because my mother was sick…”
Carlo arrived in Salzburg in late August, 1856. He was feted everywhere he went and on August 23 the Mozarteum Orchestra serenaded him. Many dignitaries descended on Salzburg and performers from German-speaking lands took part in the festivities. It was the beginning of the Mozart Festival and it continues to be celebrated to this day. Karl met many of his father’s worshippers, among them Ludwig Ritter von Kochel in whose diary Karl expressed his gratitude for the tireless work Kochel undertook in cataloguing Mozart’s works.
Carlo Mozart died on 31 October, 1858 with his father’s portrait in his hand. Carlo requested a first class funeral but in Salzburg the passing of the last Mozart was honoured with the performance of the Requiem in the Salzburg Cathedral.
In a future article on Mozart, I’ll mention something about his character,similar to the famous father.