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Classical 101

Mozart Minute: A Day in the Life of Mozart

portrait of Mozart in whcih he wears a bright red coat
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It's fascinating to imagine what a day in the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart must have been like. Mozart's father had a chance to experience that first-hand at the height of his son's career.

In February 1785, Leopold Mozart left his home in Salzburg for a visit with Wolfgang and his family in Vienna. Leopold sent reports of all the hustle and bustle to his daughter, Nannerl, at her home in St. Gilgen. His letter of February 16 - written right after his arrival in Vienna - shows Leopold energized by Mozart's non-stop schedule of concerts. Leopold was also proud of the high praise - and, he surmised, the handsome fees - Mozart received for those performances.

The concert chronicle (and the armchair accounting) continued in Leopold's next letters to Nannerl. But by mid-March, Leopold seemed nearly worn-out from the frenetic pace of his son's life.

"We never get to bed before one o'clock, and I never get up before nine," Leopold wrote on March 12. "We lunch at two or half past. The weather is horrible. Every day there are concerts; and the whole time is given up to teaching, music, composing and so forth. I feel rather out of it all. If only the concerts were over! It is impossible for me to describe the rush and bustle." (The Letters of Mozart and His Family, trans. Emily Anderson).

And since Mozart's piano was on the concert circuit with him, it, too, was always on the go.

"Since my arrival," Leopold continued, "your brother's fortepiano has been taken at least a dozen times to the theatre or to some other house." 

Busy or not, this visit was an important one. It was the one during which no less than Franz Joseph Haydn told Leopold that Mozart was "the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name." And it was the last time Mozart father and son would see each other before Leopold's death two years later.