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Classical 101

Mozart Minute: Mozart's Almost-Shotgun Wedding

In a previous episode of The Mozart Minute, Mozart had to defend himself when the legal guardian of his love interest, Constanze Weber, accused him of having dishonorable intentions toward Constanze. That episode resulted in Mozart's having to sign a written agreement that he intended to marry Constanze within three years' time, or else would pay Constanze three hundred gulden per year.

Having happily declared his love for Constanze in this way, Mozart continued to seek his father's approval to marry. Leopold was in no hurry to approve his son's marriage. He didn't like the idea of Mozart's marrying Constanze, and he told Mozart that marriage in general would be a distraction. But Mozart, 26 years old and brimming with self-confidence and hormones, and ready to put both to good use, grew impatient. On July 31, 1782, Mozart wrote to his father, "I feel confident that your next [letter] will contain your consent to my marriage. [...] We love each other - and want each other. All that you have written and may possibly write to me on the subject can only be well-meaning advice which, however fine and good it may be, is no longer applicable to a man who has gone so far with a girl. In such a case nothing can be postponed. It is better for him to put his affairs in order and act like an honest fellow!" (trans. Emily Anderson) Musicologist Daniel Heartz has suggested that Mozart and Constanze had moved in together, something that in Mozart's day respectable courting couples did not do. An undated letter from the early days of August seems to bear out this hypothesis. Mozart wrote his friend and former landlady, the Baroness von Waldstätten, that Constanze's younger sister had asked her family's maid to tell Mozart in secret "to arrange for Constanze to go home, for my mother is absolutely determined to have her fetched by the police." Mozart's letter to the baroness continued, "Are the police in Vienna allowed to go into any house? Perhaps the whole thing is only a trap to make her return home. But if it could be done, then the best plan I can think of is to marry Constanze tomorrow morning - or even today, if that is possible. For I should not like to expose my beloved one to this scandal - and there could not be one, if she were my wife." Mozart and Constanze married on August 4, the same day or the day after Mozart wrote the baroness. And the baroness came through for Mozart and Constanze again by hosting their wedding feast.