This deeply felt personal reaction to a Mozart memorial concert in Hamburg is part of a longer report on musical life in Hamburg published in the Musikalische Korrespondenz on 28 Mar 1792, with the byline “Iwan Anderwitsch.” The writer remains unidentified, and no other publications from the time are known with this attribution. The name appears to be Russian, and in English would probably be written “Ivan Andervich.” The second name has the form of a Russian patronymic, and is unlikely to have been the writer’s family name. The spelling “Anderwitsch” also seems suspect: a Google search on this Germanized spelling returns only items referring to this article; and the anglicized spelling “Andervich,” while a relatively common surname in the United States, seems rarely to appear anywhere else. A more plausible spelling would be “Andrewitsch” or “Andrevich” (with the “er” reversed), or some variant of these. In fact the author of the article on Hamburg musical life is referred to as “Andrewitsch” in a response published in the Musikalische Korrespondenz on 25 Jul 1792:
Aus Hamburg im Junius 1792.
In ihren vorigen Blättern der Korrespondenz
d. J. haben wir eine Nachricht von unsern
Musiken hier, von einem Iwan Andrewitsch
(Iwan Andrewitsch) unterschrieben, gefunden,
die hier gern gelesen und gut gefunden worden.
[Musikalische Korrespondenz, no. 30, 25 Jul 1792, col. 236]
From Hamburg in June 1792.
In your previous pages of the Korrespondenz
this year we found a report on our local music
signed by an Iwan Andrewitsch (Iwan Andrewitsch),
which was read with pleasure here and found to be
(The name is printed twice, in Fraktur and italic type.) Thus the spelling “Anderwitsch” in the issue of 28 Mar 1792 could be a typographical error, and the intended name may have been “Andrewitsch.” Because the author’s identity remains uncertain, however, we will continue to use the spelling Anderwitsch, without quotes, and will use the pronoun “he,” while keeping in mind that the name may be a pseudonym and the writer could have been male or female.
Anderwitsch refers to an earlier report on the Mozart memorial concert published in the “Korrespondent,” meaning the Staats- und Gelehrte Zeitung des Hamburgischen unpartheyischen Correspondenten (no. 30, Wed, 22 Feb 1792). The article in that newspaper states that the concert took place on Sun, 19 Feb 1792; see the separate entry for this article on our site, with a full discussion of the concert program, the performers, the venue, and the background of Mozart reception in Hamburg at that time. The concert took place in the Concertsaal in Hamburg, as part of a private winter amateur concert series given there by music dealer Johann Christoph Westphal (1727–1799). Although Anderwitsch states that he will not repeat what the article in the Hamburgischer Correspondent has said about the details of the concert program (even as he mentions all of the items in the program at length in his long denial), he does add a few additional details of his own that are not in the other report, and these help narrow down the possible identities of the works performed: he mentions that the piano concerto, played by Westphal’s son, was in the key of B-flat and that the bassoonist in the orchestra, “Herr Schwenke” (Johann Gottlieb Schwenke, 1744–1823), particularly stood out, thus narrowing the possibilities to K. 595 or K. 456; that the aria with obbligato fortepiano sung by “Madame Langerhans” (Johanna Langerhans, 1769–1810) was a “Rondo,” thus clinching the identity of that work as K. 505; and that the cantata was sung by a tenor, “Herr Pleisner” (Heinrich Christian Pleisner, 1756–1830), thus implying either K. 471 or K. 619. (For a full discussion of the possible identities of the works performed, including the two unspecified symphonies, see our commentary to the report in the Hamburgischer Correspondent.)
Combining the information in Anderwitsch’s report and the earlier one in the Hamburgischer Correspondent, the program of the memorial concert in Hamburg on 19 Feb 1792 was:
A symphony by Mozart
Piano Concerto in B-flat Major (K. 595 or K. 456)
Johann Christian Westphal, piano
“Ch’io mi scordi di te … Non temer, amato bene,” K. 505
Johanna Langerhans, soprano
Johann Friedrich Hönicke, piano
A symphony by Mozart
A short cantata (K. 471 or K. 619)
Heinrich Christian Pleisner, tenor
Symphony in E-flat Major K. 543
Anderwitsch also tells us that the original plan had been to repeat this program at the final concert of Westphal’s winter season, but this concert was canceled after news reached Hamburg of the unexpected death of emperor Leopold II in Vienna on 1 Mar 1792, leading to a ban on all musical performances in Hamburg during a four-week period of mourning.
The writer’s astonishment at the high quality of the performances at the memorial concert contrasts with his disappointment, expressed earlier in the report, at the relative dearth of public concerts in Hamburg for a city of that size, and the relatively poor quality of the performances. He notes that by regulation, orchestras for public concerts in Hamburg were obliged to draw from the “Rathsmusici” (Ratsmusiker), official civic musicians paid by the city, of whom there were only eight at any given time (Gimpel 2008, 9). The concert organizer next had to draw on the “Rollbrüder,” of whom there were fifteen (Gimpel 2008, 9). Anderwitsch goes on to explain that these musicians were generally not up to the task of giving good performances of major symphonic repertoire:
Konzerte müssen hier von sogenannte Rathsmu=
sicis ohne alle Weigerung besezt werden. So gute
brave Spieler dieß sind, und die im Ruf stehen,
daß sie ohne Fehl vom Blat lesen und richtig
vortragen, so ist doch kein einziger Solospieler
unter ihnen, auch sind sie nicht stark genug, ein
großes Konzert alleine zu besezen, und dazu müs=
sen dann ihre Expektanten und denn die von der
Rolle genommen werden, und diese ehrlichen
Leute sind gute Ballspieler, aber keine Helden,
Haydn, noch weniger Mozart Sinfonien richtig
vom Blatt wegzuspielen. Gute Flötenspieler,
Oboe, Klarinet und Hornbläser giebts gar nicht
[Anderwitsch, Musikalische Korrespondenz, no. 30, 28 Mar 1792, col. 98]
concerts here must be staffed without any
refusal from the so-called Rathsmusicis. As
fine and upstanding as these players are, with
the reputation of being able to sight-read
without error and to perform correctly, yet there
is not a single solo player among them, and they
are also not strong enough by themselves to
staff a grand concert; thus others must be
added from their expectants and these from
the rolls, and these honorable people are good
dance musicians, but not heros who can correctly
play from sight Haydn symphonies, still less those
of Mozart. There are no good flutists, oboists,
clarinetists, or horn players among them.
This is the first mention of Mozart in Anderwitsch’s article. Mozart’s symphonies are mentioned again in a following passage, in which Anderwitsch expresses his pleasant surprise upon discovering the distinctly higher quality of the performances in Westphal’s private amateur concerts; in this passage Anderwitsch also gives his impression of the acoustics of the Concertsaal.
Da ich diese Erzählungen hier von verschiedenen
Musikfreunden gehöret hatte, so ward ich auf
eine so angenehme als ganz unerwartete Art ge=
täuscht, als ich durch ein Mitglied des Westphäl=
schen Liebhaberkonzerts eingeführet ward, das in
dem hiesigen Konzertsaal, (welchen er den Win=
ter über miethet, und also als ein Privatzimmer,
das einem Bürger zugehöret,) gehalten wird.
Dieser Saal ist so gut angeleget, und klingt die
Musik darinn ganz vortreflich, und können 20
Instrumentalisten da mehr ausrichten, wie an=
derswo vielleicht nicht 30. Es war mir viel gu=
tes von diesem Konzerte gesagt worden, beson=
ders, daß man Sinfonien hier nicht schöner und
vollständiger aufführen hörte, als daselbst. Dieß
fand ich zu meiner großen Zufriedenheit sehr
bestätiget, da ich verschiedene neuere und ältere
von Haydn, Wranitzky, auch sogar Mozart aus=
nehmend schön, richtig und mit vielem Feuer
und gutem Vortrag ausführen hörte.
[Anderwitsch, Musikalische Korrespondenz, no. 30, 28 Mar 1792, col. 98–99]
Because I had heard these stories locally from
various friends of music, I was surprised, in a manner
as pleasant as it was unexpected, when a member
introduced me to Westphal’s amateur concerts,
held here in the Konzertsaal (which he rents
in the winter, and therefore as a private
room belonging to a citizen).
This hall is very well laid out, and the music
in it sounds quite splendid, and 20 instrumentalists
can achieve more here than perhaps not even
30 could elsewhere. I had been
told many good things about these concerts,
especially that locally one could not hear
symphonies performed more beautifully and
more fully than here. To my great satisfaction,
I found this strongly confirmed, as I heard
various newer and older ones by Haydn,
Wranitzky, and even Mozart performed
exceptionallybeautifully, correctly and with
much fire and good execution.
Anderwitsch goes on to praise a few individual performers and performances that he has heard in Westphal’s concerts, before beginning his report on the Mozart memorial concert. After summarizing the program, he devotes the better part of a column describing his and the audience’s awe on hearing the final work, the Symphony in E-flat, K. 543. Anderwitsch admits that he is not enough of a connoisseur (Kenner) to be able to describe the symphony in technical detail. But he vividly describes a scene in which the symphony, from its opening bars, commanded the full attention of everyone in the audience, even those who would otherwise be inclined to chatter over the music. He uses the words “erstarrt” and “Erstarren” (“paralyzed” or “frozen”) to describe the symphony’s effect on him and the audience, emphasizing that no one there had ever heard anything like it. To our knowledge, this is at present the earliest documented performance of K. 543, and Anderwitsch’s description gives an evocative account of what it would have been like to hear this magnificent and unprecedented work for the first time.