Mozart Minute: Dear Wolfgang, I’m Broke. Bail Me Out.
One of any number of emotionally charged episodes in the complicated relationship Mozart had with his father, Leopold Mozart, played out in a letter father wrote to son in February 1778. At that time, Wolfgang and his mother were in Munich and about to embark from there to Paris, where Wolfgang would continue his fruitless search for a gig. Leopold was entrenched in his job as assistant music director at the court of the ruling prince-archbishop of Salzburg. He worried obsessively about money. In a letter of February 5, 1778, translated here by Emily Anderson, Leopold slaps Wolfgang with all of his cash flow problems – and a bald-faced guilt trip to boot:
“We have done everything to make you happier and through you to bring happiness to ourselves and to set your future at least on a firm footing. But fate has willed that we should not achieve our purpose. As you are aware, I am now in debt to the extent of about 700 gulden and haven’t the faintest idea how I am going to support myself, Mamma and your sister on my monthly salary. [...] So it must be as clear as noonday to you that the future of your old parents and of your good sister who loves you with all her heart, is entirely in your hands.”