On 13 Dec 1769 Leopold and Wolfgang Mozart departed Salzburg for the first of their three trips to Italy. Following a brief stopover in Innsbruck from 17 to 19 Dec, they traveled across the Alps via the Brenner pass, arriving in Bressanone (Brixen) on 20 Dec and Bolzano (Bozen) the next day. They then proceeded to Rovereto in Trentino, where they arrived on 24 Dec and stayed over Christmas, before continuing on to Verona on 27 Dec (see our entries for 5 Jan 1770 and 8 Jan 1770).
This letter of recommendation for the Mozarts, dated the day of their departure from Rovereto, was written by Count Domenico Lodron to Count Gian Luca Pallavicini-Centurione in Bologna. The letter is today preserved in the Archivio Pallavicini in the Archivio di Stato di Bologna; it was first published by Anelide Nascimbene in 1994 in her “Mysliveček e i Mozart a Bologna. Documenti, cronaca e critica” (Nascimbene 1994, 10–12). The letter is not in Dokumente or Neue Folge, and remains little known to Mozart scholars. It is published here in facsimile for the first time, with a new and corrected transcription by Bruce Alan Brown.
The geneaology of the noble Lodron family is long and complex, and secondary sources disagree on details. For this commentary it sufficient to understand that the primogenital and secundogenital lines of the family can be traced back to two sons of Count Francesco I di Lodron (1468–1505): Paride (Paris V) and Nicola. (On sources for the genealogy of the Lodron family, see the Notes below.) The head of the main branch of the primogenital line at the time of Leopold and Wolfgang’s Italian trips was Count Ernst Maria von Lodron (1716–1779) in Salzburg. Ernst Maria’s second wife, Countess Antonia née von Arco (1738–1780), was a daughter of Count Johann Georg Anton Felix von Arco (see our entry for 11 Dec 1769); Wolfgang later composed his “Lodron” divertimenti for her name-day (13 Jun) in 1776 (K. 247, with the March, K. 248) and 1777 (K. 287), and he wrote his “Lodron” Concerto in F Major for Three Keyboards, K. 242 (1776) for her and her daughters Maria Aloysia and Maria Josepha. Count Ernst Maria von Lodron’s sisters Maria Theresia (1733–1764) and Maria Johanna (b. 1735) were the second and third wives respectively of Prince (Fürst) Michael II von Thurn und Taxis in Mantua. It was Prince Michael and Johanna who snubbed Leopold and Wolfgang when they attempted to visit the couple in Mantua on 11 and 12 Jan 1770 (see our entry for 11 Dec 1769).
The head of the secundogenital Lodron line was Count Nicola Sebastiano di Lodron-Laterano-Castelromano (Nikolaus Sebastian, 1719–1792), born in Trent, who at the time of the Mozarts’ Italian journeys was Obersthofmarschall in Salzburg (Angermüller & Margreiter 2005, 268–69). During the Mozarts’ stay in Rovereto over Christmas 1769, they encountered two of Nicola Sebastiano’s brothers, both likewise born in Trent: Counts Massimiliano Settimo (Max Septimus, 1727–1796) and Domenico Antonio (1728–1806). Leopold mentions both in his travel notes:
Il sig: Conte de septimo Ladron. [sic]
Conte Domenico Ladron. [...]
In a letter to his wife from Verona on 7 Jan 1770, he also writes that at Christmas dinner in Rovereto he had met “Comte Septimo”, to whom he had a letter of recommendation from “Sr: Ex: Hofmarschall” (His Excellency the Hofmarschall), meaning Settimo’s brother Count Nicola Sebastiano in Salzburg (Briefe, i:298). Settimo had studied at the university in Salzburg in the 1740s, and Leopold may have known him from that time. In 1769 Settimo was Erzpriester (arch priest) and Dechant (dean) of the comune Villa Lagarina. His younger brother Count Domenico Antonio, who wrote the letter of recommendation at the top of this page, joined the Habsburg military in 1745, distinguishing himself during the seige of Schweidnitz (Świdnica) in 1762 during the Seven Years’ War, for which he was awarded the cross of the Order of Maria Theresia (Maria-Theresien-Orden; Wurzbach 1866, xv:369–70). He left active service in 1765, and settled in his homeland. The meeting in Rovereto seems to have been the Mozarts’ only encounter with Domenico, whose name does not occur elsewhere in the family’s correspondence.
Wurzbach (1866) includes two detailed Lodron family trees (here and here). His genealogy conflicts in various details with other secondary sources, but according to Wurzbach, Count Ernst Maria of the primogenital line and Counts Nicola Sebastiano, Settimo, and Domenico of the secundogental line shared a fifth-great-grandfather, Francesco I, and were thus sixth cousins.
Domenico’s letter of recommendation is addressed to Count Gian (also Giovanni) Luca Pallavicini-Centurione (1697–1773) in Bologna. Count Gian Luca was born in Genoa. Following a brief stint as Genoa’s ambassador to the Habsburg court in Vienna, he entered imperial service, heading Habsburg naval forces during the War of the Polish Succession (1733–1735) and its flotilla on the Danube during a war with the Ottomans (1737–1739). He was Governor of Mantua from 1742–1745, and Governor of Austrian Lombardy (with some gaps) from 1747. In 1753, Pallavicini settled in Bologna. He was named Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece that same year and General-Feldmarschall in 1754. He retired from all official duties in 1768; when the Mozarts met him in Mar 1770, he was 72 years old. (On Count Gian Luca Pallavicini, see Treccani, it.wikipedia, and Wurzbach.)
Leopold and Wolfgang left Rovereto on 27 Dec 1769, continuing on to Verona, where they stayed from 27 Dec to 10 Jan. Wolfgang performed at a concert of the Accademia filarmonica there and had his portrait painted (see our entries for 5 Jan 1770 and 8 Jan 1770). From 10 to 19 Jan they were in Mantua, where Wolfgang performed at a concert in the Teatro scientifico dell’accademia (see our entry for 11 Dec 1769). They then proceeded on to Milan, where they stayed for seven weeks, departing on 14 Mar. They visited Parma and Modena on their way to Bologna, after which they went on to Florence and Rome, where they arrived on 11 Apr.
Their stopover in Bologna was intended to be brief, as Leopold hoped to reach Rome by Holy Week (Easter was on 17 Apr that year). In the event, they arrived in Bologna on 24 Mar, and stayed until 29 Mar. They presented themselves to Count Pallavicini on 25 Mar, the day after their arrival, and the count immediately organized a concert for Wolfgang the following day, to which he invited 150 of the first nobility, as well as the eminent composer and teacher Padre Martini. In Milan Leopold had been able to acquire a second letter of recommendation to Pallavicini, from Count Carlo di Firmian (1718–1782), Habsburg minister plenipotentiary in Austrian Lombardy (Dokumente, 100–101; on Firmian, see our entry for 4 Apr 1770). Firmian’s letter of recommendation seems ultimately to have been more important than Count Domenico Lodron’s for establishing the Mozarts’ connection with Count Pallavicini: Firmian’s letter is the only one that Leopold mentions (see below) and it is registered in Count Pallavicini’s correspondence book in connection with the concert:
Essendo stati raccomandati con lettera di S. E. il Sige. Conte Carlo di
Firmian nel loro passaggio per Bologna Il Sige. Leopoldo Mozart Maestro
di Musica al servizio del Sige. Principe Arcivescovo di Salisburgo, e il di
lui figlio Gio. Giorgio Wolfango Mozart Maestro di Musica, e Compositore
in età ora di 13. anni si è tenuta quest’oggi giorno 26. un’Accademia di
Musica … [Dokumente, 102]
Having been recommended by a letter from His Excellency Count Carlo di
Firmian, during their passage through Bologna, Leopold Mozart, Kapellmeister
in the service of the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, and his son Johann Georg
Wolfgang Mozart, master of music and composer, presently aged 13, a musical
academy was given this very day, 26 [Mar] ...
(See also the more extended transcription in Angermüller & Margreiter 2005, 67, which includes the names of the nobility invited to the concert.) The date on the wrapper shows that Lodron’s letter was received the same day, 25 Mar 1770—but if it is recorded in Pallavicini’s correspondence book, the entry has so far escaped the notice of Mozart scholars.
Count Firmian’s letter might have been given precedence over Domenico’s because Firmian would have been regarded as Pallivicini’s equal in prestige and position, whereas Domenico was a step or two below. In addition, Leopold might have felt that Domenico’s hasty scrawl would not make the best impression; in any case, Domenico’s letter is unusual in mentioning Leopold’s talents and referring to him as a “prodigy of nature,” whereas Leopold was certainly attempting to promote his son, not himself, so he may have felt that Domenico’s letter misrepresented his intention. Yet the preservation of Domenico’s letter in the Pallavicini archive shows that the letter was indeed given to the count—and even if Firmian’s letter was ultimately more important, Leopold’s acquisition of a letter from Domenico in Rovereto on 27 Dec, three months before reaching Bologna, shows foresight and advance planning. Leopold seems in general to have seized opportunities to acquire potentially useful letters of recommendation when he had the chance; in this case, he could not have been certain when they were in Rovereto that he would be able to acquire any other letter to Pallavicini—and any letter of recommendation was better than none. We do not know, in fact, whether Leopold planned from the start of the first Italian journey to visit Count Pallavicini in Bologna. It is not out of the question that the idea arose in conversation with Count Domenico and others in Rovereto. Although we do not know whether Domenico was personally acquainted with Pallavicini, he was probably chosen to write the letter (or he may have volunteered) because he and Pallavicini both had prominent careers in the Habsburg military. Domenico’s letter also suggests that Pallavicini consider writing the Mozarts letters of introduction for Rome and Naples, whereas Firmian’s letter does not mention this.
Whether or not Leopold planned in advance to visit Count Pallavicini in Bologna, and whatever the influence of Count Domenico’s letter, the connection with Pallavicini proved to be an important one for the Mozarts. In addition to the concert and the badly needed 20 zecchini they received for it, as well as the introduction to Padre Martini, Pallavicini himself wrote at least three letters of recommendation for the Mozarts to take to Rome: one to his distant relation Cardinal Count Lazzaro Opizio Pallavicini (Dokumente, 103); one to Prince Andrea IV Doria Pamphilj-Landi (see the prince’s response to Pallavicini, Dokumente, 107); and one to Dominique Mathieu Charles Poirot de la Blandinière, Baron de Saint-Odile, Tuscan ambassador to the Holy See (see the baron’s response to Pallavicini, Dokumente, 107–108, and his own letter of recommendation to Giuseppe Bonechi in Naples, Dokumente, 110). Feldmarschall Pallavicini’s letter to Cardinal Pallavicini raises the idea of arranging for Wolfgang to play for Pope Clement XIV; the Mozarts did, in fact, have an audience with the Pope on 8 Jul 1770, on their return to Rome after visiting Naples, and the Pope made Wolfgang a Knight of the Order of the Golden Spur. Count Gian Luca Pallavicini also hosted Leopold and Wolfgang at his country estate outside Bologna from 10 Aug to 1 Oct 1770. This period of respite allowed, among other things, Leopold finally to recover fully from the serious injury that he had suffered when their carriage overturned during their high-speed return from Naples to Rome, and it gave Wolfgang the opportunity to begin work on his opera for Milan, Mitridate, re di Ponto.
That Count Pallavicini made an excellent impression on Leopold is clear from a passage in his letter to his wife on 27 Mar 1770, the day following the concert in Bologna:
Gestern war bey Se: Ex: H: feld Marschallen Grafen Pallavicini ein
Concert, dazu Se: Eminez [sic] der Cardinal und die erste Nobleße
eingeladen wurde. Du kennst Se: Ex: Graf Carl v Firmian; nun wünschte
ich, daß du auch Se: Ex: Gr: Pallavicini kennen möchtest, dies sind
2 Cavalier, die in allen Stücken gleiche denkungsart, freundlichkeit,
Großmuth, gelassenheit und eine besondere Liebe und Einsicht in
alle Gattungen der Wissenschaften besitzten. Sontags [25 Mar] hatte
ich die Gnade Se: Ex: dem H: Gr: Pallavicini aufzuwarten und ihm das
schreiben Sr: Ex: Gr: v Firmian zu überreichen; und kaum hörte er, daß
ich in der Heil: Woche in Rom einzutreffen gedenke, sagte er mir gleich,
er wolle trachten es so einzurichten, daß er morgen das vergnügen
haben möge diesen ausserordentl: jungen Virtuosen nicht nur allein zu
hören, sondern auch dem ersten Adl hiesiger Statt das nämliche
Vergnügen zu verschaffen. [Briefe, i:327]
Yesterday there was a concert at His Excellency Feldmarshall Count
Pallavicini’s, to which his Eminence the Cardinal and the first nobility
were invited. You know Count Karl von Firmian; now I wish that you
could also get to know His Excellency Count Pallavicini. These are two
gentlemen who have the same manner of thinking in all things, amicability,
generosity, tranquility of mind, and a special love and insight into all
branches of knowledge. On Sunday [25 Mar] I had the favor of attending
His Excellency Count Pallavicini and to hand over to him the letter of His
Excellency Count von Firmian; and scarcely had he heard that I was
thinking of arriving in Rome during Holy Week, than he immediately said
to me that he would seek to arrange it so that tomorrow, not only might he
have the pleasure of hearing this extraordinary young virtuoso, but also
that he might give the first nobility of this city the same pleasure.