Mozart Minute: Mozart Says Parisians Have No Taste

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Catch The Mozart Minute every Friday at noon during the Amadeus Deli on Classical 101, and listen to the Mozart Minute podcast at wosu.org/podcasts.(Photo: Wikipedia)
Catch The Mozart Minute every Friday at noon during the Amadeus Deli on Classical 101, and listen to the Mozart Minute podcast at wosu.org/podcasts.(Photo: Wikipedia)

Like almost everyone who jets off to the big city seeking fame and fortune, Mozart had big dreams for his 1778 job hunting trip to Paris.

He cozied up to all the right people in the French capital, networked something fierce and, as he did everywhere, handily made a bunch of friends.

Mais hélas, (imagine Gallic shrug here), pas de chance. No. such. luck.

Mozart’s revenue stream in Paris consisted mainly of income from some commissions for new works and from teaching at least a student or two. In a letter of April 5, 1778, he tried to reassure his father that his financial prospects were improving. But, as he also wrote, what seems to have irked Mozart at least as much as his difficulty gaining a foothold in Paris was the apparent lack of musical taste among the locals. Here’s Emily Anderson’s translation:

“What annoys me most of all in this business is that our French gentlemen have only improved their goût [taste] to this extent that they can now listen to good stuff as well. But to expect them to realize that their own music is bad or at least to notice the difference – Heaven preserve us! Good Lord! Let me never hear a Frenchwoman singing Italian arias. I can forgive her if she screeches out her French trash, but not if she ruins good music! It’s simply unbearable.”

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