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Classical 101

Mozart Minute: Mozart Hits Up His Friend for Cash

Mozart never secured a court or church music job with a comfortable income.  Instead, he got by on limited earnings as a freelance composer and performer, and with help from his friends.  As Mozart’s letters show, one of these friends was Viennese merchant and fellow musician and Freemason Michael Puchberg.  Here is Emily Anderson’s translation of a letter Mozart wrote to Puchberg in June 1788. “I still owe you eight ducats,â€? Mozart wrote. “Apart from the fact that at the moment I am not in a position to pay you back this sum, I dare to implore you to help me out with a hundred gulden until next week.â€?  Puchberg sent one hundred gulden.  July 12th, 1789: “Instead of paying my debts, I am asking for more money.â€?  Mozart requested 500 gulden.  Only after Mozart’s next letter repeating his request for funds did Puchberg respond with a loan of 150 gulden.  The letters go on through only months before Mozart’s death in December of 1791.  Fortunately, so did the loans, and so did the music.