28 February 1787

A Mozart benefit concert in the Kärntnertortheater

Bayreuther Zeitung, Anhang zum no. 30, Mon, 12 Mar 1787


⁣          Wien, vom 1. März. (Fortsetzung.)

Bayreuther Zeitung, 1787-03-12-a (BSB)


⁣    Herr Mozzart durfte gestern eine musikalische Aca=
demie zu seinen Vortheil geben, und hatte eine gute
Einnahme. Er reist in diesem Monath mit seiner Frau
nach Londen, um sein Talent daselbst bewundern und
belohnen zu lassen, wohin er von dem Sohn des Königl.
Capellmeister Sir Atwulf, der sich einige Monathe
hier aufgehalten hat, eingeladen worden, und es ist
als gewiß anzunehmen, daß er sehr gefallen werde.

Bayreuther Zeitung, 1787-03-12 (BSB, rev)


⁣          Vienna, from 1 March (continued).

    Yesterday Herr Mozart was able to give a musical
academy for his own benefit and had good receipts. He
is traveling this month with his wife to London to have
his talent admired and rewarded there, having been
invited by the son of the Royal kapellmeister Sir Atwulf
[recte Attwood], who stopped here for several months;
and it can be taken as certain that he will please greatly.


Mozart’s music occupied a prominent place in the Lenten concerts held at the Kärtnertortheater in 1787 (for a list of the concerts see Morrow 1989, 264–68 and Edge 1992, 152–54.) On 23 Feb, the composer played the Concerto in D Minor, K. 466, and the piano obbligato in the aria “Ch’io mi scordi di te,” K. 505, at Nancy Storace’s farewell academy. At a benefit for the Willmann family on 7 Mar, Walburga Willmann performed “a grand fortepiano concerto by Herr Mozart.” The oboist Friedrich Ramm’s benefit concert on 14 Mar featured a Mozart symphony and an unidentified Mozart aria sung by Aloysia Lange. Finally on 21 Mar the bass Ludwig Fischer held a benefit concert featuring another Mozart symphony and the new aria “Alcandro, lo confesso,” K. 512 (Neue Folge, 51–54, 90.) Despite the presence of his works in the concerts of other musicians, and the fact that he had given his own Lenten benefit concerts in 1784, 1785 and 1786, Mozart was not previously known to have organized a similar event for Lent 1787. As the program for the Lenten season of 1787 can otherwise be reconstructed almost entirely, the absence of any surviving Theaterzettel for a Mozart benefit concert had until now made it seem unlikely that Mozart had organized such a concert that season.

The report in the Bayreuther Zeitung refers to a concert on Wed, 28 Feb 1787, the second Wednesday in Lent, and the day before the dateline of the report, 1 Mar. (Ash Wednesday fell on 21 Feb in 1787, and Easter on 8 Apr. The Burgtheater was closed throughout Lent in 1787.) Hadamowsky (1966) lists a performance of the play Edwin und Emma by Franz Anton Schrämbl in the Kärntnertortheater on 28 Feb 1787, but this seems to be mistaken (Link 1998, 100).

Assuming that Mozart’s concert on 28 Feb actually took place, which of his works were performed? There are no known dated compositions between the Six German Dances K. 509 (6 Feb) written in Prague and the Rondo in A minor K. 511 (11 Mar) completed back in Vienna, so it appears that no last-minute compositions were prepared for the concert. The possibilities are thus similar to the other unidentified concert items of the season: contemporaneous works include the Piano Concerto in C K. 503 and the “Prague” Symphony K. 504. However, while it may make intuitive sense to associate a concert with music completed a few days or weeks earlier, it has been pointed out that there is little solid evidence to confirm that Mozart always programmed his newest works to the exclusion of older ones (Neue Folge, 51–52; Edge 2001, 522). Among the possible attendees at the concert was the young Beethoven, who was in Vienna at the time (see Haberl 2006). Despite the frustratingly laconic nature of the report, it does inform us of what appears to be Mozart’s final benefit concert in the Viennese court theaters. However, as long as potential dates in the Lenten seasons of 1788–1791 remain “open,” we cannot rule out the possibility that he continued to give concerts for which no documentation has yet been found.

The Bayreuth paper also gives a rather confused account of Mozart’s unrealised plans to travel to London. The “son of the royal Capellmeister Sir Atwulf” is evidently Mozart’s pupil Thomas Attwood, but his father Thomas senior (d. 1825) was not Master of the King’s Music, although he did play in the King’s Band. As we learn from Leopold’s testy reaction to the proposal (Briefe, iii:606), Mozart had been planning a journey to England since at least Nov 1786, and a number of other reports carried the rumor (see our entry for 30 Mar 1787). On their way back to England, Attwood, Michael Kelly, and the Storaces visited Salzburg on 26–27 Feb 1787, with Leopold reporting that Wolfgang’s plan assumes that Attwood “will have arranged something certain for him in London in advance, namely a contract to write an opera or a subscription concert etcetc” (Briefe, iv:28–29).

This item is quoted in Auszug, ii:1231–32 (22 March 1787).


Edge, Dexter. 1992. “Review Article: Mary Sue Morrow, Concert Life in Haydn’s Vienna.Haydn Yearbook 17: 108–166.

Edge, Dexter. 2001. “Mozart’s Viennese Copyists.” Ph.D. diss., University of Southern California.

Fuchs, Ingrid. 2006. “W. A. Mozart in Wien. Unbekannte Nachrichten in einer zeitgenössischen Korrespondenz aus seinem persönlichem Umfeld.” Festschrift Otto Biba zum 60. Geburtstag, edited by Ingrid Fuchs, 187–207. Tutzing: Schneider.

Haberl, Dieter. 2006. “Beethovens erste Reise nach Wien – Die Datierung seiner Schülerreise zu W. A. Mozart.” Neues Musikwissenschaftliches Jahrbuch 14: 215–55.

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

Credit: DB

Author: David Black

Search Term: mozzart

Categories: Biography, Reception

First Published: Thu, 12 Jun 2014

Updated: Sun, 9 Aug 2020

Print Citation:

Black, David. 2014. “A Mozart benefit concert in the Kärntnertortheater (28 February 1787).” In: Mozart: New Documents, edited by Dexter Edge and David Black. First published 12 June 2014; updated 9 August 2020. https://www.mozartdocuments.org/documents/28-february-1787/

Web Citation:

Black, David. 2014. “A Mozart benefit concert in the Kärntnertortheater (28 February 1787).” In: Mozart: New Documents, edited by Dexter Edge and David Black. First published 12 June 2014; updated 9 August 2020. [direct link]