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Mozart: The Boy Musician
by [?]

On entering Vienna, at the Custom House, Wolfgang, after a brief chat with the official there, took out his violin, and played to the official, who was so delighted with the boy and his music, that the family had no trouble with examination of their luggage, as they would otherwise have had.

The Imperial family of Vienna were all very fond of music, and had also had their curiosity greatly excited in regard to this child prodigy, so it was not strange that only a few days after the Mozarts arrived, Leopold should have received a command to bring his children to play at Schoenbrum, an imperial palace near Vienna, and this without any effort on Mozart’s part to get the invitation.

The Emperor was delighted with the little “sorcerer” as he called Wolfgang, and besides listening to his real playing with deepest interest, he made him play with one finger, in which the little fellow was perfectly successful. Then he asked him to play with the keys covered by a piece of cloth, which he did instantly, and these musical tricks suggested by the Emperor’s fancy, thereafter formed a far from unimportant part of Wolfgang’s repertoire on his long concert tours, and always interested his audiences. The boy had a keen sense of humour, and always entered heartily into any joke that was made with him, but sometimes he could be very serious, as for instance, when he was called to play for the court composer, George Wagenseil, who was himself a proficient performer on the harpsichord. The Emperor stepped back when Wagenseil came forward, and Mozart said very seriously to him:

“I play a concerto by you, you must turn over the pages for me,” and turn the pages the great man did.

The Emperor ordered one hundred ducats to be paid to Wolfgang’s father for the performance, and the Empress, both then and later, was kindness itself to both the children, and sent them expensive and beautiful clothes. In writing to a friend at that time, Leopold Mozart said:

“Would you like to know what Wolferl’s dress is like? It is the finest cloth, lilac-coloured, the best of moire of the same colour. Coat and top-coat with a double broad border of gold.”

In the portrait which is in the Mozart collection in Salzburg, Mozart is painted in this dress, and he wore it with as much ease as if he had always been used to such finery. Also he never showed any embarrassment or self-consciousness when in the presence of royalty, and once jumped on the lap of the Empress, Maria Theresa, put his arms around her neck and kissed her as effusively as if she had been his mother, while he treated the princesses as if they were his sisters. Marie Antoinette was one of his great favourites after she helped him up from a severe fall on a highly polished floor. To her great amusement he thanked her by saying:

“You are good. I will marry you,” and when the Crown Prince Joseph, who afterwards became Emperor, played the violin before the little prodigy, he exclaimed: “Fie!” at something he did not like, then, “that was false!” at another bar, and finally applauded, with cries of “Bravo!”

Little Nannerl who played only less well than her remarkable brother, was a charmingly pretty, piquant little girl, whose manner, both in society and in the concert hall, was winning and demure, while Wolfgang’s grace and elegance of manner were striking. Wherever the children went, people went mad over them. They were the fashion, the furore, no musical entertainment was a success without them, and they were so petted that they might easily have been spoiled, had it not been for their father’s wise and watchful care. But with true German caution, the father guarded them from bad effects of over-excitement or indulgence. All sorts of presents were constantly given them, among which were many jewels and beautiful articles of clothing, but the clothes were only used on concert nights or special occasions, the jewellery was kept locked up in a box, and the children were only allowed to see or handle it when they had been especially good.