When Mozart began touring Europe with his father and sister, where he performed for royalty, famous musicians and composers – and published his own pieces at the same time – he was just seven years old. His mother, Anne Maria, did not see them for another three years.
Anna Maria stayed home in Salzburg and entrusted her husband, Leopold, with the care of her daughter, Nannerl, and Mozart. Despite Mozart’s great talent, he was greatly dependent on the charity and musings of his audiences. In Treasures of Mozart, John Irving sites Charles of Lorraine as an example of the kind of decadence that Mozart had to put up with. He kept the Mozart family waiting for three weeks for news of whether he could make time for them.
At times, Anna Maria had to bear the news that all three of her family members were very seriously ill – father and son often battling bouts of sickness – and would wait anxiously for news from Leopold of their progress. It was this combination of delays and dependence on others that made their concert tour last two years longer than they had originally planned.
Mozart’s tour consisted of Munich, the Rhineland, Mainz, Frankfurt, Brussels, Holland, Paris – where he performed for King Louis XV – and England – where he garnered a friendly footing with King George III.
As John Irving writes, “Concerts given by the Mozarts were regularly advertised in the London press, typically remarking on the young boy’s gifts and noting how the children could perform duets at the keyboard with their hands covered by a handkerchief! These were benefit concerts to raise money for their day-to-day expenses, though unfortunately some of the proceeds had to be spent on doctors’ fees for both father and son during the following months.”
While the Mozarts did receive actual payment for some of their performances, they were often rewarded in “silver trinkets”, which did not help the family a great deal in terms of their expenses. After three years abroad, they returned home in November 1766, with Mozart’s 11th birthday just around the corner.
To see more information about Mozart’s life, check out Sullivan Entertainment’s Mozart Decoded!
Source: The Treasures of Mozart by John Irving