Daines Barrington’s famous report on young Mozart was received by the Royal Society on 28 Nov 1769 and read on 15 Feb 1770; it was first published the following year in volume 60 of Philosophical Transactions (54–64; Dokumente, 86–92). The volume does not give a precise date of publication, but it was reprinted in The General Evening Post in London in its issue for 31 Aug to 3 Sep 1771, providing a terminus ante quem. Barrington’s report was also reprinted in The Weekly Magazine, or Edinburgh Amusement in its issue for Thu, 17 Oct 1771 (72–76); this version has Mozart’s correct birthdate, 27 Jan, rather than 17 Jan, as given in Transactions.
The beginning of Barrington’s report on Mozart in Philosophical Transactions, vol. 60
The beginning of Barrington’s report in The General Evening Post
The beginning of Barrington’s report in The Weekly Magazine for 17 Oct 1771
Remarkably, the report was also reprinted in full (except for the two introductory sentences and the footnotes) in The South-Carolina and American General Gazette, in its issue for 4–11 Nov 1771 (no. 682, 230, fourth page of the issue). The dateline of the report in the Gazette is “London, September 3.” This is, to our knowledge, the earliest reference to Mozart in a North American publication, and also one of the earliest reprintings of Barrington’s report. (For the earliest known reports of performances of Mozart’s music in North America, see our entries for 14 Dec 1786 and 6 Oct 1789.)
The South-Carolina and American General Gazette was published from 1758 to 1782, and under this exact title from 1764 to 1781 (see Brigham 1947, 1036–37). The exemplar of the issue of 4–10 Nov 1771 at the Charleston Library Society appears to be a unicum; it is the exemplar that appears on microfilm and is the one reproduced at newspapers.com, where we first found it. A large piece of the left-hand column of Barrington’s report is missing from this exemplar, and a portion of the text is consequently lost. It is unlikely, however, that unknown content is lost, as this seems to be a straight reprint.
A portion of the full page containing Barrington’s report on Mozart in The South-Carolina and American General Gazette, 4–10 Nov 1771
(Courtesy Charleston Library Society)
There are minor differences in spelling, punctuation, and capitalization between the printing of Barrington’s report in The South-Carolina and American General Gazette and those in Philosophical Transactions and The General Evening Post. A few discrepancies in spelling—for example, “Johannes”, ”Saltzburgh”, and “Electour” in the Gazette vs. “Joannes”, “Saltzbourg”, and “Elector” in the Post and Transactions—cast some doubt on whether either could be the Gazette’s direct source. But the match between the dateline of the Gazette’s reprinting and the date of the Post’s issue would seem to make it the leading contender. The version in the Gazette follows the Post and Transactions in giving an incorrect birthdate for Mozart (17 Jan)—as, indeed, do all the reprints we have have seen, apart from The Weekly Magazine, where the “correct” 27 Jan may be a typo.
We are grateful to Lisa Hayes, Special Collections Librarian at the Charleston Library Society, for examining that library’s exemplar of this issue of The South-Carolina and American General Gazette and for providing an image of it. Our thanks also to Miguel Arango Calle for his help with the research on this commentary, and to Janet Page for her comments.
Brigham, Clarence S. 1924. “Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, Part XVI: South Carolina.” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society (October 1924): 259–300.
————. 1947. History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820. Worcester, MA, American Antiquarian Society.
Edge, Dexter. 2023. “Barrington’s report on Mozart reprinted in a South Carolina newspaper (4 November 1771).” In: Mozart: New Documents, edited by Dexter Edge and David Black. First published 27 January 2023. https://www.mozartdocuments.org/documents/4-november-1771/
Edge, Dexter. 2023. “Barrington’s report on Mozart reprinted in a South Carolina newspaper (4 November 1771).” In: Mozart: New Documents, edited by Dexter Edge and David Black. First published 27 January 2023. [direct link]