Friday, 15 June 2018


The Mozart-Hickel portrait, probably by Austrian Imperial
court artist Joseph Hickel, was authenticated in 2008 by
music scholar Prof. Cliff Eisen of King's College London.
It is one of only four of the so-called "Vienna portraits"
to hold this distinction. This 1783 likeness shows
Mozart as he may have appeared during his last years in
the Austrian capital.
Salzburg’s famed Mozarteum has announced the recent acquisition of a “long-lost” letter from Wolfgang Amadé Mozart to confidante and choirmaster at Baden, Anton Stoll, by way of a generous donation from manuscript collector Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler-Thumann (whose location is left undisclosed in the Museum’s Press Release).

The letter, dated 12 July 1791, was written by Mozart whilst in the fleeting, and precious few final moments of virility: penned some six months prior to iconic composers untimely death (of still unsubstantiated causes), and just two months shy of contracting whilst in Prague, the mysterious final illness which would rob him of his life and send shock waves through musical Vienna (Wolfgang’s last place of residence, and from where the letter to Stoll was written).

The choirmaster Stoll, who Mozart would on occasion visit whilst wife Constanze took to the famously healing spas synonymous with Baden, is known to have been in the possession of several of the musician’s autographs, including portions of the composers late mass “Krönungsmesse,” (K 317; later acquired by Constanze) and the K. 275 (the “Messe…ex B”) [1] mentioned in the letter of July 12 – a direct result of Mozart having taken the opportunity whilst visiting Anton to perform works from his sacred repertoire at the local Baden church.

In the two-part exchange with Stoll (formatted into “two letters” written back to back: one, from Mozart himself, and the other, a purposely conspicuous “forgery,” also penned by Wolfgang as Franz Xaver Süßmayr) Wolfgang’s characteristic wordplay - complete with the sort of scatological humor that made Peter Shaffer’s fictional “biopic” Amadeus a mainstream sensation – is once more on full display as Mozart cheekily pokes fun at Stoll’s less-than-cutting figure, and is most notably present in the "second" letters’ sign-off, in which Mozart places his present location at the “Scheishäusel” (literally, "Shit house") - all whilst assuming the role of young protégé (and future Requiem co-author) Süßmayr (2nd letter).


The ‘letters’ read in full:

liebster Stoll!
bester knoll!
grosster Schroll!
bist Sternvoll! –
gelt, das Moll
thut dir Wohl? –

Ich habe eine bitte an Sie, und die ist, Sie möchten die güte haben mir gleich mit dem ersten Wagen morgen die Messe von mir ex B, welche wir verflossenen Sonntag gemacht haben, sammt dem Graduale ex B vom Michael Haydn Pax vobis – so wir auch gemacht haben, herein schicken – versteht sich, nicht die Partitur, sondern die Stimmen – weil ich gebeten worden bin in einer kirche eine Messe zu dirigiren; – glauben sie nur nicht dass es so eine Ausflucht seye die Messe wieder zu haben – wenn ich Sie nicht gerne in ihren Händen wüsste, würde ich sie ihnen nie gegeben haben. – im gegentheile mache ich mir ein vergnügen, wenn ich ihnen eine Gefälligkeit erweisen kann. – ich verlasse mich ganz auf Sie, denn ich habe mein Wort gegeben.


On the reverse, Mozart tries his hand – quite intentionally unsuccessfully - as Süßmayr, in whom he has donned the role of a “delicate” white knight, and who lays the pressure on Stoll to return the aforementioned items by means of a well placed threat: you shall hear no more of the opera on which Herr Mozart is composing – not until the music is returned! (A "demand" is also made here on "behalf" of Mozart for the return of the music of the “Graduale” of Michael Haydn (Alleluia: In die resurrectionis meae MH 362):

Bester Herr v Schroll!

Setzen Sie uns nicht an sonst sitzen wir in dreck meine herzlich zärtliche Handschrift giebt Zeuge ab, der Wahrheit, was Sie H:r v Mozart ersuchte, folglich – die Meß und das graduale v Mich Haydn oder keine Nachricht von seiner opera. Wir werden Ihnen selbes alsogleich zurücksenden. Apropo erweisen Sie mir eine gefalligkeit meiner lieben Theres einen Handkuß auszurichten, wo nicht – ewige Feindschaft – Davon muß Ihre Handschrift Zeuge sein, so wie die meinige gegenwärtig. Alsdann sollen Sie richtig die Michl Haydnsche Meß bekommen um welche ich meinem Vater schon geschrieben habe. Also ein Mann hält sein Wort.

Scheishäusel den 12 Juli

ächter Freund 
franz Süssmayer Scheisdreck.

Wax seal and addressee: Mozart-Stoll

Although the Mozartuem’s press release indicates the superscript poem

"liebster Stoll!
bester knoll!
grosster Schroll!
bist Sternvoll! –
gelt, das Moll
thut dir Wohl? –"

is a rather crude series of epithets then common in bawdy 18th century German discourse, translator Robert Spaethling offers a rather more tame, less literal translation from the muttersprache into English in his 2000 release, “Mozart’s Letters, Mozart’s Life.” The letter(s) appear in the tome (a carefully curated treasure trove of Mozart exchanges) on pp.438:

“Dearest Stoll!
Good old troll!
you sit in your hole

drunk as a Mole! –

But you’re touched in your soul

by music’s sweet flow.

I have a favor to ask of you, and that is would you be so kind as to send me tomorrow with the very first mail coach my Mass in B♭ (the one we did last Sunday), together with the Gradual in B, pax vobis by Michael Haydn, which we performed also.-Please understand, I do not need the scores, just the voice parts[sic];-it is because I have been asked to conduct a Mass in church here.-Don’t think for a moment that this is an excuse to get my mass back-if I weren’t happy to see it in your hands, I would not have given it to you in the first place.-On the contrary, it is a pleasure for me to be able to do you a favor.-I have to absolutely rely on you in this matter, for I have given my word.



Dearest Herr von Schroll!

Don’t let us down or we shall be sitting in muck; my sensitive and delicate handwriting will attest to the truth of Herr von Mozart’s request – therefore-either he gets the Mass and the Gradual by Mich Hadyn, or there will be no more news about his opera.

We shall return everything immediately. Please do be so kind and kiss the hand of my dear Theresa for me, if not-we’ll be enemies forever!-Your handwriting must be witness thereof, just as mine serves as such now. So, you shall definitely have Michl Hadyn’s Mass, which I have already requested from my father. And remember, a Man keeps his word!

I remain your

true friend

Franz Süssmayer,
From the Outhouse, July 12

The letter to Stoll, once held in the possession of the 19th century Romantic composer Johannes Brahms, is now housed at the famous Mozarteum at Salzburg and will become part of the museum’s annual exhibition which will be open to the public via guided tour during the yearly Mozart Week Festival.

To view and/or download the Stoll document in high resolution, visit the Biblioteca Mozartiana Digital url linked in the footnotes.

Listen below to Herr Mozart's "Messe von mir ex B," his Missa Brevis in B-flat major (K.275). Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducts:

[1] The only "Messe..ex B" authored by Mozart and marked in the Köchel catalogue is the Mass (Missa Brevis) in B-flat major, K. 275, making it very likely to be the mass Wolfgang is referencing.
External links:


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