23 March 1786

Hugo von Hatzfeld writes to Großmann regarding Idomeneo

University of Leipzig, Slg. Kestner/I/C/III/N2/3/Nr. 24; 3; Nr. 24

             Des Herrn Großmann Wohlgebohr[ne]
             Direktor der teüschen schauspieler=

Hugo von Hatzfeld to Großmann, address

                               Maÿntz d[en] 23 Mertz 1786

                      Euer Wohlgebohr[ne]!

    Die partitur der Mozardschen ernsthaften Oper /: vermuhtlich
meinen sie Idomeneo :/ ist zwar in den händen meines brudern
august, derselbe befindet sich aber in diesem augenblick in
Wien, und hat, so viel ich weis, seinen gantzen Vorraht
von musick von hier mit dahin genohmen. am kürtzten
würde es seÿn, wenn Hoforganist Neefe sich deshalb an H:
Simmerrock, Müsick=Händler in Bonn, wendete, da dieser mit
H: Grafen v: Nesselrode in Düsselldorff in Relation stehet, und
ich sicher weis das besagter Graf die partitur bewuster oper besitzt,
so wird es H: Simmerock wenig mühe kosten dem Hoforganisten
Neefe in seinem gesuch zu willfahren.

       Ich harre mit besonderer wehrtschätzung

                                                 Euer Wohlgebohr[ne]!
                                                                         Ergebenster Graf Hugo
                                                                         v: Hatzfeldt

Hugo von Hatzfeld to Großmann (small)


⁣                               Mainz, 23 March 1786

                      Noble Sir!

    The score of Mozart’s serious opera (presumably you
mean Idomeneo) is actually in the hands of my brother
August, who is, however, at this moment in Vienna,
and has, so far as I know, taken his entire stockpile of
music with him from here to there. It would be quickest
if court organist Neefe applied to Herr Simrock, the
music dealer in Bonn, as the latter is in contact with
Count von Nesselrode in Düsseldorf, and I know
for certain that the aforementioned Count possesses
the score of said opera, so it will cost Herr Simrock
little effort to assist court organist Neefe with his

       I remain with particular esteem,

                                                 Noble Sir!
                                                                         Respectfully Count Hugo
                                                                         von Hatzfeldmpia


Count Hugo Franz von Hatzfeld (1755–1830) was the brother-in-law of Countess Maria Anna Hortensia von Hatzfeld, who sang Elettra in the production of Mozart’s Idomeneo in the theater of Prince Auersperg in the Josephstadt suburb of Vienna in 1786. He was also the next younger brother of Count August Clemens von Hatzfeld, for whom Mozart composed the solo violin part in the scena con rondò “Non temer, amato bene,” K. 490, for that same production (see our entries on Auersperg’s Idomeneo and Countess Hatzfeld). Count Hugo’s letter is a response to a query from Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Großmann (1746–1796), principal of one of the most prominent German theater companies of the time. In 1786 Großmann’s theatrical company was alternating between Frankfurt and Mainz, and it had just ended a week of performances in Mainz on 28 Feb before taking a break for the remainder of Lent (Wolter 1901, Beilage 2, xxvii). Hugo von Hatzfeld lived in Mainz, so Großmann might have made his query in person or in writing.

If Großmann’s query was written, it is not known to survive, but Count Hugo’s reply indicates that Großmann was relaying a request from Christian Gottlob Neefe in Bonn, who had evidently heard about a serious opera by Mozart. Großmann and Neefe had known each other for ten years by that point; they had become acquainted in 1776 when both were members of the theater company of Abel Seyler, in which Großmann acted and Neefe was music director.

ThK 1777, 237 (resized)

ThK 1777, 238 (resized)

Theater=Kalender, auf das Jahr 1777, 237–39

Großmann left Seyler in 1778 to become co-director (with Karl Hellmuth) of the court theater in Bonn under Maximilian Friedrich, the Elector of Cologne (on Neefe and Großmann, see principally Leux 1925, Rüppel 2010). When Seyler’s company collapsed financially in 1779, Neefe asked Großmann for a job, and became music director of the theater in Bonn, where he was also named court organist in 1782. When the Elector died in 1784 and his successor Maximilian Franz (youngest brother of Emperor Joseph II) initially closed the court theater to cut costs, Großmann left Bonn to establish his own traveling company, while Neefe remained. But Neefe and Großmann kept in frequent touch; in fact, 45 of Neefe’s letters to Großmann survive in the library of the University of Leipzig in the Autographensammlung Kestner, the same collection that includes Hugo von Hatzfeld’s letter to Großmann. Großmann and Neefe had collaborated in the past in creating the operas Was vermag ein Mädchen nicht (1778) and Adelheit von Veltheim (1780), and they continued to work together after Großmann left Bonn. Hugo von Hatzfeld might well have known both of them: Hugo’s father Count Carl Ferdinand had been a court official in Bonn and Hugo was born there in 1755.

Neefe seems to have written to Großmann about Mozart’s serious opera with the idea that Großmann could ask Count Hugo about it, which in turn implies that Neefe had reason to think that Count Hugo knew about the opera. In his response, Hugo shows that he does; he writes that he assumes Großmann (who had not specified a title) means Idomeneo. The date of Hugo’s letter is 23 Mar 1786, just ten days after the documented performance of Idomeneo in Vienna.

Neefe in Bonn might have learned about Mozart’s Idomeneo directly or indirectly from Countess Hatzfeld, whose husband (Hugo’s elder half brother) was a court official in Bonn; she almost certainly would have had at least Elettra’s portions of the opera with her in some form in Bonn at some point in order to learn the role. However, Neefe’s query to Großmann implies that he did not have access to a complete score of the opera through her, and that he thought Count Hugo might have one or know someone who had one.

Hugo’s reply to Großmann seems to refer to a particular physical score: he writes that “the score” (“Die partitur”) of Idomeneo is in the hands of his brother August who has just taken it to Vienna along with the rest of his music—he means August Clemens, the violinist, rather than their half brother Clemens August Johann Nepomuk, the Countess’s husband. Although August Clemens was a canon of the cathedral in Eichstätt, a considerable distance from Mainz, he seems to have spent as much time in Mainz as possible, probably because of the superior musical life there and because of family connections; by the 1780s, three of his brothers lived in Mainz: Hugo Franz, Franz Ludwig (1756–1827), and Maximilian (1764–1824), all of whom had strong musical interests (on the brothers, see the section on August Clemens in our entry on Auersperg’s Idomeneo). Their elder half sister Sophia von Coudenhoven, née von Hatzfeld, was a member of the inner circle of her cousin, the Elector of Mainz, Prince Friedrich Karl Joseph von Erthal, and an important figure in theatrical and musical life at court and in the city (on Sophia, see the Notes to our entry on “Tutte nel cor vi sento” in Bonn). August Clemens became so closely associated with Mainz that Gerber wrote in the first edition of his Lexikon:

Hatzfeld (August Graf von) Domherr
zu Eichstädt, war einer der stärksten
Dilettantin auf der Violine, und hielt
sich meistens am Churfürstl. Mainzi=
schen Hofe auf [...]
[Gerber 1790, col. 604]
Hatzfeld (August Count von) Canon
in Eichstätt, was one of the strongest
dilettantes on the violin, and resided
mainly at the Electoral court in Mainz [...]

August Clemens might have acquired or borrowed a complete full score of Idomeneo purely out of interest in Mozart’s music; but in our entry on Auersperg’s Idomeneo, we examine the possibility that he might have directed the orchestra for that production, in addition to playing the solo in K. 490. If so, he would have had good reason to have a complete score in order to learn the opera.

Hugo suggests that Großmann contact Nikolaus Simrock, a hornist in the court orchestra in Bonn who had recently established a music dealership there. Hugo writes that he knows for certain that Count Nesselrode in Düsseldorf has a score of Idomeneo, that Simrock is in contact with Nesselrode, and that Simrock will consequently have little trouble acquiring a copy of the score for Großmann. Count Karl Franz Nesselrode (1713–1798) was, as it happens, married to Hugo’s younger sister, Josepha Franziska (for their marriage, see her entry among the siblings of Count Clemens Johann Nepomuk von Hatzfeld in this genealogy); so there was a direct family connection between Hugo and Nesselrode.

The score of Idomeneo that Hugo is referring to is almost certainly the so-called “Nesselrode score,” today in the music collection of the Austrian National Library (Mus. Hs. 4709). The Nesselrode score is said to be such an accurate reproduction of Mozart’s autograph that Daniel Heartz, editor of the opera for the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe, was able to use it as a surrogate for acts I and II of the autograph, which were still missing when Heartz edited the opera (Heartz 1972, here esp. xxiiii; see also the description of the score in Brown 2005, source C, 57–59). The Nesselrode score has not previously been dated, but Hugo von Hatzfeld’s letter shows that it was in existence by Mar 1786. One wonders whether it might have been produced by copyists in Simrock’s shop in Bonn; as it happens, the first edition of Idomeneo in full score was issued by Simrock in 1805, suggesting that he may have kept a reference copy in the interim. In any case, it is evident from the staff ruling and copyists that the Nesselrode score was not copied in Vienna.

Mus Hs 4709-01

Mus Hs 4709-02

Mus Hs 4709-05

The “Nesselrode” score of Idomeneo
ÖNB, Musiksammlung, Mus. Hs. 4709
(Photos: Michael Lorenz)

But it seems that one of the Hatzfeld brothers already had scores of several numbers from Idomeneo by 1783. Robert Münster has written about a letter to Count Maximilian Clemens von Seinsheim in Munich dated 5 Nov 1783, signed simply “Hatzfeld,” with no first name. The writer asks Seinsheim to procure for him all of the sections of the score of Idomeneo that the writer does not already have (Münster 2001, 92); he writes that he already has the overture; “Padre, germani, addio” (no. 1, Ilia) and its recitative; “Tutte nel cor vi sento” (no. 4, Elettra) and its preceding accompanied recitative; “Idol mio, se ritroso” (no. 13, Elettra) and its recitative; and “Se colà ne’ fati è scritto” (no. 22, Arbace) and its recitative. Münster argues persuasively that the writer was Count Franz Ludwig von Hatzfeld, next younger brother of Hugo Franz and August Clemens (Münster 2001, 93–94). It is noteworthy that already by 1783, the writer (whichever Hatzfeld it may have been) already had both of Elettra’s arias: for their sister-in-law Countess Maria Anna Hortensia von Hatzfeld not only sang Elettra in Auersperg’s production of the opera in 1786, she also sang “Tutte nel cor vi sento” at a concert in Bonn at some point in the second half of the 1780s, making a profound impression on young Anton Reicha and Ludwig van Beethoven (see our entry on “Tutte nel cor vi sento” in Bonn).

For their part, Neefe and Großmann may have wanted to investigate whether Idomeneo would be suitable for adaptation into a German version for use by Großmann’s company. By 1786, Großmann and Neefe were well acquainted with Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail: they had given the Bonn premiere of the opera in 1783 (see our entry for 22 Jun 1783) and Großmann’s company had performed Entführung at least 10 times by the end of 1785, mostly in Frankfurt and Mainz. Großmann’s success with Entführung would likely have made him keen to learn of other operas by Mozart. But no other operas by Mozart were in circulation at that time: Figaro was not yet completed and remained a rumor; and in the 1780s, La finta giardiniera, adapted as a singspiel, had been given just a few times by the company of Johann Böhm, who seems not to have let the score out of his hands (see our entries for 1 May 1780 and 2 Apr 1782). 

As far as we know, Großmann did not end up acquiring a score of Idomeneo, and his company is not known to have performed it. But his query to Hugo von Hatzfeld suggests that Großmann’s success with Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail had prompted both Großmann and Neefe to keep an eye out for other operas by that promising young composer. This in turn suggests that Entführung was proving effective in establishing Mozart’s reputation in German-speaking lands as a young opera composer to watch.

Hugo von Hatzfeld was himself a good amateur tenor and even composed a little. In 1792, in an installment of a series on corrections and additions to Gerber’s Historisch-Biographisches Lexicon der Tonkünstler, Johann Friedrich Reichardt proposes a new entry on Hugo to follow Gerber’s entry for August Clemens von Hatzfeld:

⁣     Hatzfeld (Hugo Graf v.) jetziger Mainzi-
scher Gesandter in Berlin, und Bruder des vo-
rigen, der wegen seiner schönen Tenorstimme
und seines angenehmen geschmackvollen Vor-
trages als ein vorzüglicher Musikdilettant ge-
nannt zu werden verdient.
[Musikalische Monathsschrift 4, Oct 1792, 93]
⁣     Hatzfeld (Hugo, Count von) currently
Mainz ambassador in Berlin and brother of
the foregoing, merits mention as an excellent
musical dilettante, on account of his beautiful
tenor voice and his pleasant and tasteful

Reichardt later writes of meeting Count Hugo again in Dresden in 1808:


⁣              Sechster Brief.

                                    Dresden, den 15. Nov. [1808]



Sehr erwünscht war es mir auch in dem


fürstlich primatischen Gesandten, dem Grafen
Hugo von Hatzfeld, einen alten Bekannten
und Kunstverwandten wieder zu finden, mit dem
ich mich auf Reisen schon so verschiedentlich
traf, und in Berlin so oft die Annehmlichkeit
der Gesellschaft und der musikalischen Unter=
haltung genoß, die nur echte Bildung und
feiner Geschmack in der Kunst gewähren kann.
Mehrere seiner ausdrucksvollen Liederkomposi=
tionen gehören schon längst zu meinen Lieb=
lingsliedern; besonders gern hörte ich immer
von seiner angenehmen Tenorstimme und sei=
nem schönen rührenden Vortrage den Klag=
gesang der Maria Stuart. Jetzt lernte
ich auch eine neue gestochene Liedersammlung
von ihm kennen, die ganz allerliebste Melo=
dieen enthält.
[Reichardt 1810, 71, 79–80]
⁣⁣              Sixth Letter.

                                    Dresden, 15 Nov [1808]


It was also very gratifying to find again an
old acquaintance and artistic kinsman, Count
Hugo von Hatzfeld (ambassador of the Prince
Primate), whom I met already so frequently on my
travels, and whose pleasant company and musical
conversation (of the sort that only true culture and
taste can bring) I so often enjoyed in Berlin. Several
of his expressive song compositions have long
been among my favorites; I am especially happy
to hear the Klaggesang der Maria Stuart sung by
his pleasant tenor voice with his beautiful and
moving delivery. Now I also learned of a newly
engraved song collection by him that contains the
loveliest melodies.

The newly engraved collection of songs is probably Hugo von Hatzfeld’s Six romances avec accompagnement de piano-forte (RISM A/I, HH 2349 I,1), published by Rudolph Werckmeister in Berlin around 1807. We have not yet been able to see a copy of this set, but according to Gottron (1959, 199), it contains a “Complainte de la Reine Maria Stuart,” which would be the “Klaggesang” that Reichardt refers to. Count Hugo also published a work for SATB and piano entitled Die Rheinfahrt, on a text by David Gottlieb Niemeyer (2nd ed, RISM A/I, HH 2349 I, 2). A copy of Die Rheinfahrt survives in the library of the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin with Hatzfeld’s autograph dedication to Carl Friedrich Zelter (D-Bsa, SA 900).

We are grateful to Bruce Brown and Steven Whiting for their comments on drafts of this entry and their responses to various queries; and to Michael Lorenz for his photographs of the examples from the “Nesselrode” score.


Brown, Bruce Alan. 2005. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Kritische Berichte. Idomeneo. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke, II/5/11.

Christian Gottlob Neefe. Ein sächsischer Komponist wird Beethovens Lehrer. Katalogbuch zur gleichnamigen Ausstellung des Schloßbergmuseums Chemnitz in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Beethoven-Haus Bonn, mit Biographie und Werkverzeichnis. Chemnitz: Schloßbergmuseum Chemnitz.

Gottron, Adam. 1959. Mainzer Musikgeschichte von 1500 bis 1800. Beiträge zur Geschichte der Stadt Mainz, vol. 18. Mainz: Stadtbibliothek.

Heartz, Daniel. 1972. Idomeneo. Neue Mozart-Ausgabe, II/5/11. Kassel: Bärenreiter. [English version of preface here]

Leux, Irmgard. 1925. Christian Gottlob Neefe (1748–1798). Leipzig: Fr. Kistner & C. F. W. Siegel.

Loos, Helmut. 1999. Christian Gottlob Neefe (1748–1798). Eine eigenständige Künstlerpersönlichkeit. Tagungsbericht Chemnitz 1998. Chemnitz: Gudrun Schröder Verlag.

Münster, Robert. 2001. “Maximilian Clemens Graf von Seinsheim und Franz Ludwig Graf von Hatzfeld. Zu frühen Abschriften aus der Münchner Idomeneo-Partitur.” In: Theodor Göllner and Stephan Hörner, eds., Mozarts Idomeneo und die Musik in München zur Zeit Karl Theodors. Bericht über das Symposion der Gesellschaft für Bayerische Musikgeschichte und der Musikhistorischen Kommission der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften München, 7.–9. Juli 1999, 89–96. Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-historische Klasse, Abhandlungen, Neue Folge, Heft 119. Munich: Verlag der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

Reichardt, Johann Friedrich. 1810. Vertraute Briefe geschrieben auf einer Reise nach Wien und den Oesterreichischen Staaten zu Ende des Jahres 1808 und zu Anfang 1809. Amsterdam: Kunst- und Industrie-Comtoir. [vol. 1]

Rüppel, Michael. 2010. Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Großmann, 1743-1796. Eine Epoche deutscher Theater- und Kulturgeschichte. [Hannover]: Wehrhahn Verlag.

Schmid, Ernst Fritz. 1955. “August Clemens Graf Hatzfeld.” In: Mozart-Jahrbuch 1954, 14–32. Salzburg: Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum.

Wolter, Joseph. 1901. Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Grossmann, ein Beitrag zur deutschen Litteratur- und Theatergeschichte des 18. Jahrhunderts. Ph.D. diss., Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, Bonn [Cologne: Wilhelm Hoster]

Credit: Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig

Author: Dexter Edge

Search Term: hatzfeld

Categories: Biography, Reception

First Published: Sun, 29 Jul 2018

Print Citation:

Edge, Dexter. 2018. “Hugo von Hatzfeld writes to Großmann regarding Idomeneo (23 March 1786).” In: Mozart: New Documents, edited by Dexter Edge and David Black. First published 29 July 2018. https://www.mozartdocuments.org/documents/23-march-1786/

Web Citation:

Edge, Dexter. 2018. “Hugo von Hatzfeld writes to Großmann regarding Idomeneo (23 March 1786).” In: Mozart: New Documents, edited by Dexter Edge and David Black. First published 29 July 2018. [direct link]