11 August 1788

Preisler hears Josepha Hortensia Müller play sonatas by Mozart and Auernhammer

Joachim Daniel Preisler. Journal over en Reise igiennem Frankerige og Tydskland i Aaret MDCCLXXXVIII. Copenhagen: Christian Frederik Holm, 1789, vol. 2

     Mandagen den
11 August. Rosing havde
Skrivelse med fra Rahbech til Skuespilleren
Hr. Müller, som er Medlem vom Ausschuß**).
Vi gik derhen og fandt ved det förste Öiekast
den heele Familie elskværdig. En höflig, sel-
skabelig Mand, borgerlig og huuslig Kone,
og den ældste Datter, en smuk Pige som viiste
sig i al sin Ynde. Hun er Actrice og skulde
paa Pröve. Med den anstændigste Friehed
blev hun ved at fuldföre hendes Toilette, og
spilte siden uden Overtalelse et Par Sonater af
Mozardt og Madame Aurnmeyer, hendes
Læremesterinde, med al optænkelig Færdig-
hed. Man inviterede os til den paafölgende
Onsdag, og vi geleidede Jomfrue Josephe til
hendes Vogn. [...]

Preisler, ii-189a (cropped)

**) Ausschuß kaldes National-Theatrets Direction.

Preisler, ii-189b (cropped)


⁣     Monday, 11 August. Rosing carried a letter
from Rahbek to the actor Herr Müller, who
is a member of the Ausschuß**) We went
there, and found the entire family amiable
from the first. A courteous, sociable man, his
respectable and domestic wife, and their
oldest daughter, a beautiful girl, who appeared
in all her youthful grace. She is an actress and
was getting ready for a rehearsal, so went on
with her dressing with unaffected ease, and later,
without persuasion, played a couple of sonatas
by Mozart and Madame Auernhammer, her
teacher, with all conceivable dexterity. We were
invited again the following Wednesday, and we
escorted Miss Josepha to her carriage. [...]

**) The Ausschuß is the directorate of the National Theater


⁣⁣In 1788, Joachim Daniel Preisler and Michael Rosing, members of the Royal Theater in Copenhagen, undertook a study tour of major European theaters, leaving Copenhagen on 3 May and returning on 23 Sep. Their principal stops were Hamburg, Paris (where they stayed a month and half), Vienna, and Berlin, with shorter stays in several other cities along the way. The following year, Preisler published his travel diary in two volumes as Journal over en Reise igiennem Frankerige og Tydskland i Aaret MDCCLXXXVIII; Rosing also kept a manuscript diary of the tour. The diaries of Preisler and Rosing have long been known to Mozart scholars for their descriptions of a visit to Mozart in the late afternoon of Sun, 24 Aug 1788 (Dokumente, 285–86), and Preisler’s description of a visit to Joseph and Aloysia Lange on 20 Aug (Dokumente, 284–85).

Three additional Mozart references in Preisler’s diary have escaped notice up to now. In the first volume, Preisler includes the text of a letter that he had written to a friend from Hamburg in the summer of 1787, in which he describes attending the premiere of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail in Hamburg on 18 Jun 1787 (see our entry for that date). And in his entry for 17 Aug 1788 in the second volume, Preisler describes an outing to Pötzleinsdorf on the outskirts of Vienna with the eminent engraver Jacob Matthias Schmutzer, which ended in a convivial meal with a group consisting mainly of young art students. Because the party was well lubricated with local wine, Preisler ends the entry by quoting the beginning of “Vivat Bacchus” from Entführung (Preisler 1789, ii:219).

Preisler, ii-219

Johann Daniel Preisler, Journal over en Reise igiennem Frankerige og 
Tydskland i Aaret MDCCLXXXVIII
, vol. 2, 219
(Royal Danish Library)

The third overlooked Mozart reference in Preisler’s diary is a description of their visit to the home of actor Johann Heinrich Friedrich Müller (1738–1815) on their first full day in Vienna, Mon, 11 Aug 1788. During that visit, Preisler and Rosing heard Müller’s eldest daughter Josepha Hortensia play piano sonatas by Mozart and her teacher Josepha Auernhammer, as described in the passage above.

Preisler and Rosing arrived in Vienna on Sun, 10 Aug 1788, and departed Wed, 27Aug. On the evening of their arrival they attended the Viennese premiere of Cimarosa’s opera Il fanatico burlato. Their first stop the following day was the home of J. H. F. Müller, an actor in the company of the court theater, and at that time a member of the theater’s directorate (“Ausschuß”). Rosing carried a letter of introduction to Müller from the Danish writer and critic Knud Lyne Rahbek (1760–1830), who had visited Vienna in 1784 during a study tour of his own (for more on Rahbek, see our entry on Johann Friedrich Jünger’s letter to Brockmann).

Müller’s daughter Josepha Anna Hortensia (1766–1807) was also a member of the court theater ensemble from 1782 to 1799, but little is known of her musical activities. From an announcement in Das Wienerblättchen we know that she gave a concert in the Burgtheater on 17 Feb 1785 at which she played a piano concerto:

⁣                           Nachricht.
     Heut wird Mlle. Muller, Mitglied der
K. K. Nationalhofschaubühne, in ebengenann=
tem Theater eine Akademie zu ihrem Vor=
theile geben, wobey sie ein Koncert auf dem
Fortepiano spielen wird.

WB, 1785-02-17, 150

Das Wienerblättchen,Thu, 17 Feb 1785, 150

Preisler states that Josepha Hortensia played sonatas by Mozart and “Auernmeyer,” a garbled reference to Josepha Auernhammer (1758–1820), who herself had studied with Mozart. It had not previously been known that Müller was Auernhammer’s student. We cannot say what Mozart sonata Müller may have played for Preisler and Rosing, since all of the sonatas that he had composed up to that point would have been available to her in print or manuscript. Only two solo piano sonatas by Auernhammer are known, one in A major and the other in E major, both preserved in the collection of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Mus.ms. 901).

Auernhammer, Sonata in A, title

Auernhammer, Sonata in A, opening

Josepha Auernhammer, Piano Sonata in A Major
Title page and opening of first movement
(SBB, Mus.ms 901)

It may be that Müller played one of these sonatas for the Danish visitors. We cannot say what concerto she played in the Burgtheater in 1785. Auernhammer is not known to have composed any concertos, but given that Auernhammer was Josepha Hortensia’s teacher, it is attractive to imagine (albeit entirely speculative) that she might have played one of Mozart’s.

Joseph Hortensia may also have played at least a portion of a work by Mozart in performances of Johann Friedrich Jünger’s play Er mengt sich in Alles, which premiered in the Burgtheater on 23 Aug 1791 with Josepha Hortensia in the role of Charlotte and her father in the role of Charlotte’s father Mileck (see our entries for 23 Aug 1791 and Jünger’s letter to Brockmann).

Other than that, nothing else is currently known about Josepha Hortensia Müller as a musician. We do know that J. H. F. Müller had a Walter piano in his house in 1796 (five years after his daughter’s marriage): it is mentioned in the diary of young Carl Friedrich Kübeck von Kübau, who reported meeting Beethoven at the Müllers’ in Apr 1796 and hearing Beethoven play the instrument (Kopitz & Cadenbach 2009, i:528–31; for this passage in Kübeck’s diary, see also Kübeck 1909, i:9ff, and Kerst 1913, i:68–69). Kübeck writes of the Müller household: “Man betreibt dort viel Musik” (“Much music is made there”). However, Josepha Füger (as she by then was) is not listed in Schönfeld’s Jahrbuch der Tonkunst von Wien und Prag of 1796, suggesting that she may no longer have been performing on the piano in public or private by that point.

On 10 Oct 1791 Josepha Hortensia married painter and vice director of the Akademie der bildenden Künste Heinrich Friedrich Füger (1751–1818) at St. Michael’s church in Vienna. Her children were baptized at the church Am Hof: a boy, Adam Heinrich Josef on 14 Oct 1792 and twin daughters, Anna Konstantia and Josefa Hortensia, on 24 Nov 1794.

Füger-Müller marriage, St Michael, Trauungsbuch, 117a

Füger-Müller marriage, St Michael, Trauungsbuch, 117b

Entry in the Trauungsbuch of St. Michael’s church for the marriage of Josepha Hortensia Müller
and Heinrich Friedrich Füger, 10 Oct 1791
(Vienna, St. Michael, Trauungsbuch 2-9, 117)

Füger’s portrait of his wife confirms Preisler’s opinion of her beauty. Not surprisingly, Rahbek is said to have become infatuated with Josepha Hortensia during his visit in 1784 (Knudsen 1921, 69).

Josepha Füger

Heinrich Friedrich Füger, portrait of Josepha Füger (née Müller), ca. 1797
(Vienna, Oberes Belvedere, Inv. 4194)


The reference to Josepha Hortensia Müller was discovered by Richard Mackey, to whom we are very grateful.

On Josepha Hortensia Müller’s concert in the Burgtheater on 17 Feb 1785, see also Morrow (1989, 259) and Edge (1992, 148). The concert is listed in Indice de’ Spettacoli for 1785 with the name “Signora Giuseppa Ortensia Müller” (we are grateful to Paul Corneilson for bringing this listing to our attention). At present this is her only known public appearance in a public concert.

The passage on Beethoven and the Müllers from Kübeck’s diary is transcribed in Kübeck 1909, and this transcription is reproduced in Kerst 1913 and Kopitz & Cadenbach 2009. The transcription in Kübeck 1909 gives the family name only as “M . . . r.” But subsequent references in the same paragraph—to the father of the household as an aging comic actor, to a son who is also an actor, and to two daughters, one of whom is married—all fit the family of Johann Heinrich Friedrich Müller, so it is beyond reasonable doubt that Kübeck is referring to the Müllers, and this is the identification given by Kopitz & Cadenbach in their notes.

We are grateful to Geoffrey Chew and Brite Forssén Jackson for their translation of this item. We would also like to thank Ted Albrecht for his help regarding the story about Beethoven and the Müllers, and Michael Lorenz for clarifying the details of Josepha Hortensia’s marriage record.


Alth, Minna von, and Gertrude Obzyna. [1979]. Burgtheater 1776–1976. Aufführungen und Besetzungen von zweihundert Jahren. 2 vol. Vienna: Ueberreuter.

Edge, Dexter. 1992. Review Article, Mary Sue Morrow, Concert Life in Haydn’s Vienna: Aspects of a Developing Musical and Social Institution. Sociology of Music No. 7. Stuyvesant, New York: Pendragon Press. In: The Haydn Yearbook, 17:108–166. [at academia.edu]

Indice de’ spettacoli teatrali di tutti l’anno dalla primavera 1785. a tutto il carnevale 1786. Milan [n. p.]

Kerst, Friedrich. 1913. Die Erinnerungen an Beethoven. Stuttgart: Julius Hoffmann.

Knudsen, Hans. 1921. “Deutsche Briefe aus dem Nachlaß Knud Lyne Rahbeks.” Euphorion. Zeitschrift für Literaturgeschichte, vol. 23, 59–72, 215–26.

Kopitz, Klaus Martin, and Rainer Cadenbach, eds. 2009. Beethoven aus der Sicht seiner Zeitgenossen in Tagebüchern, Briefen, Gedichten und Erinnerungen. Munich: G. Henle Verlag.

Kübeck, Max von, ed. 1909. Tagebücher des Carl Friedrich Freiherrn Kübeck von Kübau. Vienna: Gerold.

Krauß, Joseph. 1786. Vollständiges Verzeichniß der National-Schauspiele und Besetzung…welche in beiden k. k. Hoftheatern…im Jahr 1785 aufgeführt worden sind. Nebst einen Anhang von musikalischen Akademien … Vienna (n. p.)

Lorenz, Michael. 2006. “New and Old Documents Concerning Mozart’s Pupils Barbara Ployer and Josepha Auernhammer.” Eighteenth-Century Music 3/2: 311–22. [at researchgate]

Morrow, Mary Sue. 1989. Concert Life in Haydn’s Vienna: Aspects of a Developing Musical and Social Institution. New York: Pendragon Press.

Preisler, Joachim Daniel. 1789. Journal over en Reise igiennem Frankerige og Tydskland i Aaret MDCCLXXXVIII. Copenhagen: Christian Frederik Holm.

Schönfeld, Johann Ferdinand von. 1796. Jahrbuch der Tonkunst von Wien und Prag. [Vienna & Prague:] Im von Schönfeldischen Verlag.

Credit: Richard Mackey

Author: Dexter Edge

Search Term: NA

Categories: Biography, Reception

First Published: Tue, 3 Apr 2018

Print Citation:

Edge, Dexter. 2018. “Preisler hears Josepha Hortensia Müller play sonatas by Mozart and Auernhammer (11 August 1788).” In: Mozart: New Documents, edited by Dexter Edge and David Black. First published 3 April 2018. https://www.mozartdocuments.org/documents/11-august-1788/

Web Citation:

Edge, Dexter. 2018. “Preisler hears Josepha Hortensia Müller play sonatas by Mozart and Auernhammer (11 August 1788).” In: Mozart: New Documents, edited by Dexter Edge and David Black. First published 3 April 2018. [direct link]