Six Documents from 1765
Posted: Mon, 25 Feb 2019
We have just added six new documents to our site, all from 1765, during the Mozart family’s European tour. We are also delighted to welcome Christopher J. Salmon and Catherine Sprague as guest contributors. Mozart: New Documents now has 152 documents online; we expect the project eventually to have more than 300, and new documents are still turning up!
A single-color engraving of the Mozarts by Jean-Baptiste Delafosse, based on a watercolor by Louis Carrogis de Carmontelle, was the best known and most widely distributed image of Wolfgang during his lifetime. This item in L’Avantcoureur is now the earliest known advertisement of that engraving. Dexter Edge and Christopher J. Salmon take the opportunity to reassess the still cloudy early history of Carmontelle’s portrait and the Delafosse engraving based on it.
The public appearances of the Mozart children in London during the family’s fifteen-month stay in 1764–1765 are well documented, but their appearances at private concerts and social functions are not. This letter from Lady Margaret Clive in London to her husband Robert in India documents a concert that she gave on 13 Mar 1765 featuring the Mozart children and the great castrato Giovanni Manzoli. The letter was discovered by Ian Woodfield, who published an article about it in Music & Letters in 1995.
James and Elizabeth Harris were avid music lovers and frequently attended concerts and operas when they were in London. This entry in Elizabeth Harris’s London account book was discovered by Donald Burrows and Rosemary Dunhill, who published it in their 2002 study of the Harris family papers. It shows that Elizabeth Harris bought two tickets for the Mozarts’ concert in Hickford’s Great Room on 13 May 1765.
It appears that during the Mozart family’s long stay in London, skepticism began to be expressed (in private if not in public) over whether the preternaturally skilled and knowledgeable Wolfgang was actually a child, with rumors circulating that he might be an adult of diminutive size. This letter to The Public Advertiser responds to those skeptics and defends the truth of Mozart’s age; the item was found by Ilias Chrissochoidis, who published it in The Musical Times in 2010.
The Mozart family’s itinerary between their arrival in Calais from Dover on 1 Aug 1765 and their arrival in The Hague on 10 or 11 Sep 1765 has been poorly documented, and the dates given in the Mozart literature for this portion of their tour have been based largely on guesswork. Two documents have recently come to light that help fill the gaps in our knowledge of the first two weeks of that period. An entry in the manuscript diary of the Duc de Croÿ shows that the Mozart children performed at a party he gave in Calais on Sun, 4 Aug 1765. The significance of this entry for Mozart scholarship was first recognized by Catherine Sprague, and Cliff Eisen published an article about it in the Mozart-Jahrbuch 2014. The commentary here by Sprague and Dexter Edge adds new context, including the possible location of the concert.
Published here for the first time is a newly discovered contemporaneous inscription on the back of an exemplar of the Delafosse engraving of the Mozarts: “ils Etoient a Dunkerque les 9 & 10 aout 1765” (They were in Dunkirk on 9 and 10 August 1765). The inscription was probably added by the first owner of the print, who likely received it from Leopold himself when the Mozarts were in Dunkirk. The inscription places the Mozarts in Dunkirk several days later than previously thought, and this in turn suggests that they may have stayed in Calais for an entire week (1–8 Aug). The commentary here, by Dexter Edge and Christopher J. Salmon, also identifies two previously unknown names in Leopold’s travel notes for Dunkirk, and shows the approximate location of the Mozarts’ lodgings there. New context is also provided for Leopold’s interest in the fortifications at Dunkirk, as expressed in his letter to Lorenz Hagenauer of 19 Sep 1765.
We are tremendously grateful to those individuals who have made financial contributions to our project. Thank you! These contributions have been helpful in covering a portion of our research and technical expenses. (Donors are listed on our Acknowledgments page).
We continue to welcome financial contributions to the project, which currently receives no institutional support of any kind; we still cover most of the costs of sources, research, and technology out of our own pockets. If you would like to contribute, please contact Dexter Edge at email@example.com; or if you have a PayPal account, you can send a contribution directly to the account linked to that e-mail address.
DE dedicates this post to the memory of his mother, who would have turned 92 today.