Franz Jakob Freystädlter, the composer of the work advertised here, was born in Salzburg in 1761, the son of Johann Jakob Freystädtler, a local church musician (on Freystädtler see principally Lorenz 1997, 2000, and 2014; see also Schilling 1836). The young Freystädtler studied organ in Salzburg with organist and composer Franz Ignaz Lipp, and became organist of the Kapelle of St. Peter in 1777. He is said to have contemplated entering a monastic order, sampling the Franciscans, Augustinians, Benedictines, and the Augustinian Canons, before concluding that he had no calling (Schilling 1836). He moved to Munich in 1782, apparently in part to escape debts in Salzburg. In Munich he worked as a piano teacher until 1786, when he absconded to Vienna, again apparently to escape debts—but taking with him a piano that he had appropriated as payment for a debt owed to him (Lorenz 2000). He studied counterpoint in Vienna with fellow Salzburger Mozart; in the fall of 1786, when the owner of the piano informed the Viennese authorities that it had been stolen and Freystädtler was arrested, Mozart posted bond for him (Lorenz 2000). He lived in Vienna for the rest of his life, teaching piano and composing, dying there in destitution in 1841.
The title of Freystädtler’s programmatic Die Belagerung Belgrads (The Siege of Belgrade) for piano and violin refers to a key Austrian victory in the monarchy’s war with the Ottoman Turks (on this war see especially Criste 1904, Beales 2009, and Blanning 1994; also Ammerer 1997). The Turks had declared war on Russia in August 1787; by the terms of a secret treaty with Russia signed in 1781, Austria was bound to come to Russia’s aid; but Emperor Joseph II played for time, not immediately declaring war as the treaty required him to do. Following an unsuccessful attempt to take Belgrade in a sneak attack on 2 Dec 1787 and another failed attempt six weeks later, Austria finally formally declared war on the Turks on 9 Feb 1788, and the emperor departed Vienna for the front on 29 Feb.
Two works by Mozart responded to the initial public enthusiasm for the war: the contredanse K. 535, which he entered into his Verzeichnüß under the date 23 Jan 1788 with the title La Bataille, and was advertised by copyist Laurenz Lausch in the Wiener Zeitung on 19 Mar 1788 with the title Die Belagerung Belgrads; and the song Ein deutsches Kriegslied, “Ich möchte wohl der Kaiser sein,” K. 539, which Mozart entered into his Verzeichnüß under the date 5 Mar 1788, just five days after the emperor departed for the front. The song was first performed by Friedrich Baumann at a concert in the Theater in der Leopoldstadt just two days later, on 7 Mar; Lausch offered it along with K. 535 in his advertisement of 19 Mar. A few months later Mozart followed these with a more reflective war-related song, Beim Auszug in das Feld, “Dem hohen Kaiser-Worte treu,” K. 552, which he entered into his Verzeichnüß under the date 11 Aug 1788, the day after the completion of the “Jupiter” Symphony, K. 551. The song was published that year in the collection Angenehme und lehrreiche Beschäftigungen für Kinder in ihren Freistunde. (For a detailed discussion of K. 552 in the context of the Turkish war, see Beales 2005, 104–6; Beales includes a facsimile of the song and a translation of all eighteen verses on 107–10.)
The campaign against the Turks in 1788 was a disaster. Austria initially deployed around 245,000 men, 37,000 horses, and 800 cannons, spread across a very long front, with the number of men rising to 282,000 by Aug 1788 (on these numbers, see Notes below). Austria made essentially no military gains against the Turks in 1788, and indeed was put on the defensive when the Turks invaded and laid waste to the Banat in Aug 1788. Joseph led a force of 30,000 in an attempt to expel them, but the result was a fiasco, with Joseph at one point during the chaotic Austrian retreat being left alone and in danger of capture (Beales 2009, 573). The number of Austrian soldiers lost to disease in the “malaria-ridden Balkans” (Blanning 1994, 177) was much higher than the number lost in battle. By one estimate, between Jun 1788 and May 1789, 172,000 soldiers fell ill, of whom 33,000 died (Blanning 1994, 178, citing Criste 1904, 222, n. 3). Understandably, the rate of desertion was very high. The war was also extremely expensive: Criste (loc. cit.) gives the costs as 39,671,904 fl in 1788; 42,994,268 fl in 1789; and 54,164,741 fl in 1790, for a total of 136,830,913 fl (Ammerer 1997, 66, cites a much higher total of 220 million fl). The expense and the growing state debt from the war contributed to a prolonged stagnation of the Austrian economy well into the 1790s. Food prices in Vienna are said to have doubled in 1788; as Johann Pezzl described it, the size of a loaf of bread was halved, while the cost stayed the same:
Ein anderer nicht so spaßhafter Umstand ist, daß der leidige Türkenkrieg in Wien das Brod über die Hälfte kleiner gemacht, und die meisten Lebensmittel in eben dem Verhältnis vertheuert hat, weil die Zufuhre aus ganz Ungarn gesperrt ist.
(Pezzl 1788, 636; cited in Ammerer 1997, 66)
Another not so amusing circumstance is that the tiresome Turkish war halved the size of bread in Vienna, and most foodstuffs increased in price by a corresponding amount because the supply from Hungary was suspended.
There was a riot in Vienna over the price of bread in Jul 1788. In Nov 1788 Joseph instituted an unpopular tax to help cover the costs of the war.
Owing to the exceptionally long and cold winter, the beginning of the new campaign against the Turks in 1789 was delayed until May. There seemed little cause for optimism that things would go better than they had in 1788, given that Austria was beset by additional problems on all sides. As Blanning writes:
. . . Joseph faced the prospect of a war on several different fronts—in the Balkans against the Turks, in the north-east against the Poles, in the north-west against the Prussians, in Italy against the Spanish and the Piedmontese, and in Belgium, Galicia, and Hungary against his own subjects. (Blanning 1994, 181)
To some, the Habsburg monarchy seemed on the verge of collapse. To make matters worse, the emperor himself was seriously ill. Having already been unwell in 1787 before the war began, he returned to Vienna from the front on 4 Dec 1788 with his health completely shattered. He never fully recovered. After two nights vomiting blood in Apr 1789 he called for last rites (Beales 2009, 587); although his condition improved somewhat in late summer of that year, he began to decline again as winter approached, and he died on 20 Feb 1790.
Against that dismal background, the campaign against the Turks in 1789, when it finally began, “turned out to be one of the most glorious in the annals of Habsburg military history” (Blanning 1994, 181). Field Marshal Graf von Lacy, who had assisted Joseph during the campaign of 1788, declined the emperor’s request to take full command the following year, and retired from the army. His replacement, Field Marshal Graf Hadik, soon proved too old and ill to lead, and was replaced in turn on 28 Jul 1789 by 72-year-old Field Marshal Gideon Ernst von Laudon (1717–1790), veteran and hero of the Seven Years War (1756–1763). Blanning gives a succinct account of the subsequent dramatic turn in Austria’s military fortunes:
The plan of campaign [of 1789] called for only the flanking armies to take the initiative, in Croatia and Wallachia respectively. The main army was to sit tight, lulling the Turks into a sense of false security. Only a Russian victory or the onset of autumn, when the Turks would begin to drift home, would be the signal for it to begin its main objective—the siege and capture of Belgrade. The first success came on 8 July when Laudon’s Croatian army captured the important fortress of Berbir (Bosanka Gradisca) on the Sava and advanced into Bosnia. Meanwhile the Russians were beginning to stir in the east and on 31 July a joint Austro-Russian force commanded by Prince Coburg and General Suvorov defeated a large Turkish army at Fokshani (Focşani) in Moldavia. At about the same time, the army corps under Prince Hohenlohe in Transylvania and the detachment of the main army under Clerfayt in the Banat began to advance. Victories now came thick and fast. On 16 September the bombardment of Belgrade began; on 21 September Coburg and Suvorov won another crushing victory at Martinesci on the river Rymnik, inflicting heavy casualties; on 30 September the assault on Belgrade began, leading to the capitulation of the Turkish garrison on 8 October; on the same day Hohenlohe defeated at Porceni what proved to be the last Turkish offensive on the Transylvanian front; on 11 October Semendria (Smederevo) surrendered to Laudon and the Turks also evacuated Passarowitz; and on 10 November Coburg captured Bucharest. (Blanning 1994, 181–82; the victory at Martinesci is usually said to have occurred on 22 Sep, not 21 Sep.)
The arrival of General Klebeck in Vienna on the morning of 12 Oct carrying the news of Belgrade’s capture touched off several days of unparalleled celebration. On the day of Klebeck’s arrival, Archduchess Elisabeth wrote to her husband Franz (later Emperor Franz II/I), who was still at the front:
C’était un spectacle superbe et qui m’a fait pleurer d’attendrissment de voir toute la place du Bourg remplie de monde comme le jour du nouvel an, et le peuple criant de joie; toutes les têtes tournent à Vienne de joie et la mienne aussi, je vous assure. (quoted in Criste 1904, 218–19, n. 2)
It was a magnificent spectacle and made me cry from tenderness to see the entire Burgplatz as full as on New Year’s, and the people shouting with joy; all heads in Vienna were turned by joy, and mine too, I assure you.
Three days later, after the news of Hohenlohe’s successes reached Vienna, she wrote to Franz again:
Vous ne pouvez vous faire d’idée de la joie qui régne ici sur tous nos succès [. . .] les plus vieux ne se souviennent pas d’en avoir vu jamais à Vienne une semblable. Hier ce n’a été que cris et jubilations dans les rues; le soir la ville était presque entièrement illuminée et ceux qui n’avaient pas leurs maisons illuminées ont eu leurs vitres cassées. J’ai été avant d’aller au théâtre un instant dans vos chambres, je n’aurais pas pu y rester un quart d’heure tant le vacarme sur la place de la Bourg était grand; vous ne le croiriez pas, mais depuis trois jours personne ni en ville ni dans les faubourgs ne peut fermer l’oeil; on tire des fusées, on voit des troupes entières masquées qui se promènent dans les rues pendant la nuit; on rit, on danse, on fait de la musique et il y a eu défense d’empêcher le peuple à se laisser aller à sa joie, aussi s’en donnent-ils en pleine. On voit sur tous les visages la joie et le contentement, enfin l’Empereur même est étonné de la vivacité de l’allégresse du public. (Ibid.; a portion of this passage is given in a different translation in Beales 2009, 607–8.)
You cannot imagine the joy that prevails here over all our successes. The oldest cannot remember having ever seen anything like it in Vienna. Yesterday there was nothing but shouting and jubilation in the streets; in the evening the city was nearly entirely illuminated, and those who did not have their houses illuminated had their windows broken. Just as I was about to go to the theater I was in your chambers for a moment—I could not stay there for a quarter hour, so great was the din on the Burgplatz; you would not believe it, but for three days no one in the city or in the suburbs has been able to shut their eyes; volleys are shot off, one sees completely masked groups promenading through the streets at night; there is laughing, dancing, music-making, and it has been forbidden to prevent the people from expressing their joy, which they do openly. One sees joy and contentment on every face, even the Emperor himself is astonished by the intensity of the public’s happiness.
Johann Pezzl published a vivid description of the celebrations in his Skizze von Wien (Pezzl 1790, 811–820), and Caroline Pichler’s description of them in her memoirs, published posthumously fifty-five years after the fact, remains just as vivid (Pichler 1844, 109–112).
Musicians were not slow to react. Already on 14 Oct 1789, just two days after the news of the taking of Belgrade had reached Vienna, the prolific Ferdinand Kauer published the following advertisement in the Wiener Zeitung:
Victoria di Belgrad
Aufgemuntert durch den Beyfall, welchen
Unterzeichneter von den schäzbaren Gönnern
der edeln Tonkunst über seine Sonate Mili-
tare von der stürmischen Eroberung Okzakov
erhielt, hat die Ehre einem verehrungswür=
digen Pubikum ein anders musikalisches Stück
zu liefern, unter dem Titel: Sonata, per il
Clavicembalo solo, intitolata: La Victoria
di Belgrad, ist täglich alda im Violin, oder
Discantschlüssel zu haben. Eben jenes Stück
bekömt man gegen Bestellung in grosser Mu=
sik unter dem Titel: Sinfonia intitulata: La
Victoria di Belgrad, a due Violini, due Vio-
le, Basso, e Violoncello, due Oboe, due
Flauti, due Fagotti, due Clarinetti, due
Corni, due Clarini, e Timpano.
Compositeur, wohnhaft in der Leopold=
stadt bey Federl, im ersten Stock,
in der Jägerzeile.
Victory of Belgrade
Encouraged by the acclaim that the
undersigned has received from the estimable
patrons of noble music for his Sonate Mili-
tare on the violent capture of Ochakov, [he]
has the honor to offer to the honorable
public another musical piece, with the title
Sonata, per il Clavicembalo solo intitolata:
La Victoria di Belgrad, which can be had
at the same place daily in violin clef or
soprano clef. That same piece can be
had on request for large band with the title
Sinfonia intitulata: La Victoria di Belgrad,
for two violins, two violas, basso and
violoncello, two oboes, two flutes, two
bassoons, two clarinets, two horns,
two trumpets, and timpani.
Composer, residing in the Leopold-
stadt at the Federl, on the first floor,
The capture of the Turkish fortress at Ochakov in the Dnieper estuary on the coast of the Black Sea at the end of 1788 had been one of the few military successes of the Austro-Russian alliance that year. That Kauer offered a sonata depicting the taking of Belgrade just two days after the news reached Vienna—in the first issue of the Wiener Zeitung to appear since the news had arrived—suggests that he may have been advertising on spec a piece that had not yet been completed or perhaps even begun; in any case, it seems unlikely that Kauer had already completed the fully orchestrated version that he offered on request.
The taking of Belgrade and the ensuing celebrations provide the immediate public context for Freystädtler’s peculiar advertisement of his own Die Belagerung Belgrads in the weekly supplement of the Münchner Zeitung on 28 Oct 1789—peculiar, because he advertised it in Munich (not Vienna) at an usually high price, 3 fl, for a piece that would be advertised in a printed edition from Artaria just three days later in the Wiener Zeitung for the more conventional price of 1 fl 20 kr—considerably less than the ducat (4 fl 30 kr) that Freystädtler claimed in his advertisement that any printed edition would cost. In fact, Die Belagerung Belgrads was advertised again in the Münchner Zeitung in the next weekly supplement on 1 Nov by the keyboard teacher and music publisher Makarius Falter, now evidently in printed form, for Artaria’s price of 1 fl 20 kr. It is difficult to avoid the impression that Freystädtler (assuming that he personally placed the Munich advertisement on 28 Oct) was attempting to take advantage of a brief window of opportunity to squeeze money from an unsuspecting Munich public before Artaria’s edition appeared. Such a scheme could not have succeeded in Vienna.
The “Kloster Weichenstephan” referred to in the advertisement is the abbey of Weihenstephan in Freising, which had a house in Munich in Prangergasse (now Prangerstraße). Although it is usually said that Freystädtler never left Vienna after settling there in 1786, the wording of the advertisement (it is written in the first person) seems to suggest that he was in Munich at the time. The passage referring to Mozart reads:
NB. Zur Empfehlung dieser Sonate darf ich
nichts schreiben, als das sie den Beifall der
Kenner, die Zufriedenheit der Künstler, die Be=
wunderung der Liebhaber, und selbst das gröste
Lob des berühmtesten Mozards erworben.
NB. To recommend this sonata I need
only write that it has won the applause of
connoisseurs, the satisfaction of artists,
the admiration of amateurs, and even
the greatest praise of the most famous Mozart.
It is not clear whether Freystädtler still had direct contact with Mozart by the time of the advertisement at the end of Oct 1789. Given Freystädler’s rather casual relationship with the truth, one wonders whether he may have invented the endorsement.
Mozart himself responded somewhat belatedly to the Austrian victories. His contredanse Der Sieg von Helden Coburg is entered into his Verzeichnüß under the date Dec 1789; it is said (see K6) to cite a march celebrating the victory at Martinesci (the Battle of Rymnick) of the Austro-Russian army under Prince Coburg and General Suvorov. In the final months of 1790, Mozart composed an Adagio and Allegro in F minor for mechanical organ, K. 594, for a mausoleum in Count Deym’s “Kunstkabinett” dedicated to Laudon, who had died on 14 Jul 1790.
In the treaty of 4 Aug 1791 marking the official end of the Austro-Russian war with the Turks, Austria returned most of the territory that it had gained, including Belgrade.