The source for Mozart’s entry in Kronauer’s Stammbuch
Posted: Sat, 15 Aug 2020
On 30 March 1787, Mozart made an entry in English in the Stammbuch (friendship book) of his fellow Mason Johann Georg Kronauer: “Patience and tranquillity of mind contribute more to cure our distempers as the whole art of Medecine.” Mozart scholars have long suspected that this maxim did not originate with Mozart, but its source remained unknown.
Mozart’s entry can be traced back to a saying first published in English in 1728, where it appeared as a translation of a French original published more than twenty years earlier, in an edition of Instruction sur L’Histoire de France et Romaine by Claude Le Ragois. The English version of the saying achieved wider circulation in the German-speaking world after 1737, when it was included in the first edition of English Miscellanies, a compendium of examples intended for English learners, assembled by John Tompson, public lecturer in English at the new University of Göttingen.
In his commentary, Dexter Edge considers Mozart’s choice of this quote in the wider context of his knowledge of English and his plan to go to London in the spring of 1787. It has generally been thought that Mozart gave up this plan after the strong counterarguments from his father in letters from late 1786 and January 1787. But a careful reconsideration of the evidence shows that Mozart almost certainly still planned at least as late as 24 April 1787 to proceed with the trip to London. The most likely explanation for his abandonment of the plan was his receipt at some point after that date of a commission to write a new opera for Prague later that year, the opera that became Don Giovanni. The Notes contain new biographical information about Kronauer and new insights into his Stammbuch.
[NB: The original version of this commentary, published on 8 Aug 2020, has been substantially revised to take into account an earlier source for Mozart’s quote.]
We have also made updates to our recent entries for 11 Dec 1769 and 27 Dec 1769, the latter based on a correction to our transcription of Count Domenico Lodron’s letter (Lodron wrote “la sua Virtù a Copella,” not “Capella,” as we originally had). The correct transcription and translation were pointed out to us by Carlo Vitali, to whom we are very grateful. Our entry for 28 Feb 1787 has also been updated and a translation added.
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