An Excerpt from My Mozart plus a chance to win a brand new Kindle Fire!
A passionate teller of tales from other times and places, Juliet Waldron's newest release is My Mozart,
a novel about the composer's affair with his 17-year-old pupil and fan.
It's a fascinating follow-up to to Juliet's popular and highly
acclaimed companion book, Mozart'sWife.
About the Author: Juliet Waldron
"Not all who wander
Waldron earned a B.A. in English,
but has worked at jobs ranging from artist's model to brokerage.
Twenty-five years ago, after the kids left home, Juliet dropped out of 9
and began to write, hoping to create a genuine time travel experience
for herself and her readers. She has two award-winning books to her credit. Mozart's Wifewon the first Independent
e-Book Award and still garners high praise many years later. Genesee won the 2003 Epic e-Book Award for Best Historical Fiction.
Juliet enjoys opening doors for cats, long hikes, reading about history and
archeology, and making messy gardens with native plants. She's content
to ride behind her husband of forty-seven years on his bucket list
At nine years of age, the talented singer Nanina meets the great Mozart for the first time and her obsession begins. Over time, he is her
teacher, her mentor, her rescuer--and finally, fatally, her lover.
Lose yourself in a story of love and genius in 18th century Austria in this Free Kindle Nation Shorts excerpt from
In the marble palace of a Prince, a nine-year-old sings for
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, then at the peak of his career. Always
delighted by musical children, he accepts Nanina as a pupil. Gifted,
intense and imaginative, she sees the great Mozart as her own, personal divinity.
The Marriage of Figaro premieres, and Nanina, now twelve, is given a
solo part. For her, this is the beginning of a long stage career. For
Mozart, it marks the start of his ruin. His greatest works will be
composed in poverty and obscurity.
the composer’s last summer,
his wife has left him. Chronically in debt and suffering the emotional
isolation of genius, Mozart encounters Nanina, now grown, and still in
love with him. As the charms of his
young fan become increasingly alluring, no one, least of all Mozart,
understands the depth of her obsession or how a brief affair
will permanently alter her life.
5-star praise from an Amazon reviewer:
"Those of you who are familiar with Mozart's Wife, the companion novel to My Mozart,
will be swept up again in the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but this
time from the perspective of his child mistress, Fraulein Nanina
Gottlieb. The prodigious amount of research that obviously went into
this flight of fantasy shows itself in every paragraph. Ms. Waldron has
again captured the very essence of the period, and places the reader as
observer in a fascinating era of human history
brilliance of the plot is that it is timeless--Teenage fan falls in
love, has a brief love affair with her idol, and is dropped (inevitably)
by older man who didn't really mean for things to go this far, but who
is now alarmed that they have. But he's Mozart, so creating music is all
he really cares about. His human relationships are a means to an end...
along by the story, told beautifully as always, the reader certainly
feels the emotions that boil at every turn, stirred by Mozart himself
and flavored with the spices of adultery, jealousy and even fear. Fear
for the future, fear of the past, fear of what may become of those who
love in such precarious times...."
"Most painfully affected of all by Mozart's fatal illness was Fraulein Nanina Gottlieb..."
From Joseph Deiner's Memoirs,
related at Vienna, 1856
"Mozart, Ich liebe dich. I love you. Love you."
"Come here, Nanina Nightingale. Come and give your poor old Maestro some of your ‘specially sugary sugar."
mouth on his--the friction produced warmth and sweetness, with a
decided undertone of the expensive brandy he liked, flowing from his
tongue to mine. I slid my arms across the brocade of his jacket, none
too clean these days, and swayed a slender dancer's body against him.
me assure you that my sophistication was assumed. It really doesn't
matter--then, or now. I was young, foolish, and drowning in love. I was
seventeen. He was thirty five.
had once been boyishly agile, doing handsprings over chairs, turning
cartwheels of joy at a prima donna’s kiss or a perfect performance of
his own celestial music. He was never tall, and was, like most men of
his age, working on a bit of a belly. Still, he kept more or less in
shape by a daily regimen which included running from bailiffs, dashing
out the back doors of taverns to avoid payment, and climbing in and out
of the bedroom windows of adventurous (and talented) musical
believed he knew everything--that he could see right through me with
those bright blue eyes. He probably could. He'd been my music
master--and, more--my deity, ever since I'd met him, in my ninth year.
jacket, now spotted and stained, must have been fine enough to wear in
the presence of the Emperor. Bright blue, it perfectly matched his eyes.
I can still feel the fabric sliding under my fingers as my arms passed
over his shoulders and around his neck.
can still see him a woolly frizz of blonde hair, long, aquiline
nose--a ram that had once been an angel. Sometimes, when he was loving
me in some exquisitely naughty way and joyfully smiling as he did it, I
could almost see horns.
you will understand exactly how I loved him, so that you will know that
it was a real passion, I'll tell you that I adored the feel of him, the
smell of him, the taste of him. They've tried to turn him into a
tinkling porcelain angel, but I'm here to tell you, here and now--he was
eyes were big, slightly protuberant, and as I’ve said, so blue.
Alarming, those eyes! Once they'd shone with the pure light of genius,
radiant and blissful as a summer noonday. Lately, they were simply
wasted. My adored Maestro was mostly either drunk or hung over.
fallen from grace. Everyone knew it. Creditors hounded him. There were
too many wild parties, not enough money. His wife had given up coping,
had gone back to the Baden spa where she had an on-going romance with a
big, handsome Major.
who could blame her? Pretty Constance, in the last ungainly stages of
yet another pregnancy, fleeing Vienna after a winter of freezing and
begging for handouts...
a seventeen year old idolater could recognize her defection for simple
self preservation. I didn't judge her. I didn't judge myself. I was
simply glad to have her out of the way. When she was gone, he was
restless, at loose ends, spending most of his time hanging around our
theater. Of course, nothing could have suited me better.
I can still hear my pained Mama lecturing, telling me all about
Wolfgang's debts, his drinking, and his wife. If I must go whoring, why
couldn't I be sensible, make it pay?
I knew that the lady who filled his mind was one of his damned piano
pupils. She was struggling with a very real fear of her husband and with
her own natural chastity. Dear Mozart always imagined that if a lady
played his music with "taste and feeling", she belonged to him in a
deeper and more complete sense than she could ever belong to a mere
husband. The notion proved in every case disappointing, and, in the
final exercise, fatal.
often held forth upon "acting like a Kapellmeister/ dressing like a
Kapellmeister", long after he'd been ejected both from the court and the
wider world of gentlemanly convention. When sufficiently drunk, he used
to amuse everyone at The Serpent, clowning with a violin like some
impoverished, itinerant musiker.
night, a pair of Englishmen who'd been dining there dropped a handful
of kreutzers and asked in broken German if he knew the way to "the house
of Kapellmeister Mozart." As the regulars roared, Mozart answered with
the filthiest English curse he knew and haughtily stalked away, leaving
the money on the floor. The waiter, Joseph Deiner, God bless him,
scooped it up and applied it to Mozart's perennial bill.
* * *
hard to tell how you will like a true story, but to my mind, all the
best tales grow. Have patience. This, I assure you, is a love story.
* * *
was born a musiker, a poor, pretty, talented girl who could have become
an actress or a singer, a dancer or a prostitute. When I was seventeen,
with no parents and working for Emmanual Schikaneder, I'm afraid the
latter was the fate most likely.
my beauty and voice are gone. Memories are all that remain. Except for
my old friend Joseph, it was lonely for a very long time, but lately
troops of well meaning Volk have been knocking on my door, bringing
little presents and asking questions about the old days.
"Fraulein Gottlieb," they say, "you were the Magic Flute's first Pamina. Tell us about the way it was. Tell us about the great genius, Mozart."
hardly dare speak. Once well begun, this old woman might ramble
straight through from beginning to end. My adored, long dead Maestro has
become famous, a kind of Martyr to Art. I have no wish to stain the
marble purity of the image that his wife, with so much skill and
determination, has spent the last thirty years creating. I understand
the theater of life, this proscenium beneath the arching sky.
Sometimes--paradoxically--honor requires a lie.
to such visitors, I say the obvious, about how poorly his talent served
him while he lived. Then they reply, as if this makes up for the pain:
"His music survives."
a performer like me, it's the opposite. In that most present of present
moments, we are the lark of song, the erotic geometry of dance, the
drum beat of declamation. For a performer there's nothing beyond the
flashing now, and when we grow old all that is left for us is the rusty
rumination of some aged member of a long ago audience.
being so, I'll tell you who I am, or rather who I was: Fraulein Anna
Gottlieb, Nanina to my long dead friends. I was a performer once
admired, first as a dancer, then as a singer, and last, when I grew
older, as a comedienne who had learned all about getting belly laughs
from those two great clowns of the Volksoper stage, Barbara Gerl and
Emmanuel-The-Devil-In-Human-Form Schikaneder. I was the darling of the
fickle Viennese for years.
* * *
parents performed in Vienna and died there, and I grew up in that city a
performer, as close to a free woman as it was possible to be. Papa was a
violinist; Mama was a dancer. Their marriage was the kind often made in
the "immoral" last century and quintessentially Viennese. It was a
marriage of convenience.
had, for a few shining years, been a star of the Court ballet. She said
quite frankly that of all the men who had been sleeping with her, Papa
had been the only one willing to marry her when she'd discovered she was
pregnant. My mother, once a member of the elite Court Figuranti,
claimed my birth ruined her career.
you have a baby, it's as if you've been anchored to the ground," she'd
complain. "You just can't do those floating leaps anymore."
mother told me this, she'd run her long hands reflectively down her
sides. She was not, by any stretch of the imagination, fat, but she was
continually in mourning for some lost, youthful perfection.
child!" She’d stroke my dark curls, so unlike her own. "Of all the rich
Papa's you might have had! Instead, the capricious womb opens for the
seed of a poor musiker, a fellow I lay with in pity." Clearly the Fate
in control of my destiny had done right. I loved my Papa and he loved me.
think he would have loved me no matter who had fathered me, but happily
for both of us, I strongly favored him. We were both small, slender,
pale brunettes, with thick, curly hair. To Papa, I was always
"Princess." Like all young creatures, I was pretty enough, although I
didn't have the particular flash that Nature gives to blondes.
A woman the world judged beautiful, my lovely Mama could make conditions. She was quick to slap, quick to scream and scold.
Papa overheard that remark about "the capricious womb," he'd retort
"Fool that I was to think that real devotion could reform a public
then I would hide somewhere, for that was always the start of a battle.
Mama would scream about Papa's lack of money while he detailed her
* * *
god, Mozart, manifested on a beautiful June day, when the sun blazed in
the bluest of skies. Mama hated dancing at garden parties. There were
grass stains and insects, but to children summer was the best party
time. We could run in gardens and make our own ballets and plays. It was
a treat to be out of the hot, smelly streets of the summer city. There
were always other children present, theater brats, just like me. Parties
were an important part of our education, for this was the way we too
would someday earn our bread.
could run through great halls or hide behind the tapestries. On bright
summer days, we could romp through gardens big as city blocks.
Unattended food was everywhere. As long as we didn't get in the way,
break or steal, no one cared what we did. The first thing was always to
extract a glass or two of wine from the tray of a passing servant and
share it out. Then, enjoying the pleasantly giddy sensation that
followed, we’d wander out into the garden.
Cobenzl owned the best. There were roses, reds, whites and pinks, so
many shades, so many scents, not only bushes, but an entire corridor
lined with rose trees, an amazing sight. Next came a topiary. There we
gawked at dragons, peacocks and rabbits all cut from thick green hedge.
day, rounding a corner, we came up short, for we’d stumbled upon one of
those unnerving adult activities. There stood an aristocratic lady and a
somberly dressed gentleman, embracing across the obstacle of
fashionable dress. Their lips and hands were the only parts in busy and
ardent contact. The man had to be careful not to touch her white
powdered face or he would have caused it to turn blue, a tell tale sign
bodies were distant, for she was in full court dress, the panniers
swelling out on each side in a wave of ivory satin and lace. She
accepted his tribute like a great white statue, one hand caressing his
cheek, the other holding a pink and white parasol over them both.
young as we were, we understood that here a basic, underlying rule of
the world had been violated. It was not simply that the lady was married
to someone else. In the Vienna of those days, adultery was the ordinary
way of things. The shocking part was that the Lady was titled, a
Baroness. The man kissing her was a mere musiker, dressed in the plain
white wig and dark livery of a servant.
and I were dumbfounded. We knew that noblemen made love to ladies of
any class, but never before had we seen a woman cross the social
barrier. Profoundly unsettled, we ran away as if the devil was in
all the love-making I saw at parties, this was unquestionably the most
dangerous. The lady had a husband, and the husband, could, with
impunity, kill that trespassing servant.
* * *
the same day, while the orchestra tuned, we became part of the
anticipating throng in an outdoor amphitheater. For ease of passage, we
slipped hands and made our way separately among the ladies, who, like
ships of silk and brocade, drifted in our way.
top step of a newly erected summer pavilion seemed a good place for us.
In a passion for all things classical, Prince Cobenzl had erected a
replica of a little Roman temple. Here we perched, gazing over the white
and silver audience to the red-coated orchestra. From among the
violins, a bow lifted and waved.
It was Papa. I waved back.
the orchestra, stood an oak tree, absolutely the broadest I'd ever
seen. Powerful limbs lifted, it was a leafy, bark-armored Atlas. I could
imagine it holding up the sky. One of those large new fortepianos had
been set on delicate walnut legs between the violins. An erect little
man, seemingly not much more than a boy, sat before it.
I thought, must be the new Kapellmeister, the pianist Wolfgang Amadeus
Mozart, the one Papa liked so much. He wore the same uniform as the
began to play. The allegro made me smile with pleasure, for it seemed
as brilliant as the day. I was not alone in my pleasure, for among the
audience there were some who threw back their heads. Some even swayed,
as if they wanted to get up and dance.
and joyful music buzzed in our heads. Notes splashed into the air and
fell around in a sparkling cascade. I was carried away, straight into
heaven. The fleecy cloud sheep that had dotted the sky earlier wandered
off. Now the aching blue suffered no interruption, except for the
occasional flash of swallows. His music was a heart, beating inside me.
my imagination aflame with music and wine, I saw the rough bark of the
great tree shiver. It was breathing and alive, just like me—and that was
when I heard it:
I looked around to see a face that would acknowledge the words, but met only the questioning gray eyes of Kath.
* * *
sparrows made their homes in the ivy and awoke me every morning with
their chatter. I had grown beyond the child's bed in the corner of my
parent's room. Sometimes I could hear them shift and sigh, the bed ropes
creaking. Sometimes there would be an urgent rhythm. I knew the
sound--a cadence, accompanied by sighs. This was the so called
any of my friends, I was an only child. Twice, at least, I remember
Mama taking her swollen belly to bed. Mina, a servant who'd been with us
forever, dashed for the midwife and later carried away the bloody thing
in the chamber pot. When I asked what had happened, I was told that my
brothers and sisters wouldn’t stay inside long enough to ripen.
the one I loved so much, is harder to remember. I have a miniature, but
the painter was a friend and not a professional, so the skewed portrait
doesn’t much resemble him. What I do remember are moments of comfort,
of a warm lap beside a fire, of an agreeable leathery smell, of hugs,
and scratchy Papa kisses. The clearest memories come in the brown of my
mirrored eyes, or while watching the blurred fingers of a violinist deep
in his art.
for Mama, well, she was beautiful but usually unhappy, at least while
she lived with Papa. She lost her place in the Figuranti, and though she
still performed, it was only in the corps de ballet, in mimes, or in
the puppet dances. Even in this narrow sphere, she excelled. Puppet
dances became a particular specialty. I remember people saying that she
did the cleverest "peasant with a basket" they'd ever seen.
did teach me, and did so with a certain amount of violence. She was
quick to cry "Clumsy!" and slap. Only the fact that I loved what I
learned saved me from complete discouragement. By my ninth year, I was
performing. Mama, assisted by her contacts at Court, got me parts. She
painted my face and saw to my costumes.
she never said much in the way of praise, Herr Franck, Master of the
Figuranti, asked for me almost as much as he asked for pretty blonde
Kath. I came to understand that I pleased him.
adoring Papa praised, but he didn't want me in the ballet. Too many
dancers became courtesans instead of wives. He wanted me to have a
respectable life, so he taught me music. All his hopes rested upon my
high, sweet voice. I remember performing for his orchestra friends. Such
nice fellows, for they made us both happy, applauding "Gottlieb's
I'd swell with pride. I can't remember a time when I didn't know the difference between "nightingale" and mere "canary."
Papa had me sing scales for an hour every day. He also found time to
teach me to read, to write and to figure. He was very demanding, exactly
as if I'd been a son. He paid for me to attend, along with other
musiker children, a teacher of French and Italian, the languages of the
my parents quarreled about this. Mama, who could barely read-- although
like most performers, she had, by ear, Italian and some French--thought
formal education wasted on a daughter.
don't need much. As for her voice, she's a soubrette, nothing grander.
In another year Herr Franck says he'll be delighted to take her into the
Court Figuranti. Even plain as she is, those legs of hers will get her a
man quicker than you can blink."
She couldn't imagine a larger life for me than the one she'd had herself.
* * *
and manners have changed. Basset horns have disappeared, and the oboe
d'amore, too. The dainty klavier has metamorphosed into the big, loud
few things do remain the same. The oxen still drag wagons into town,
their great brown and white heads nodding thoughtfully. Sleepy servants
stagger out on errands at dawn. Butter and sugar on my porridge, today
as yesterday, a warm slurry filling my stomach. There are chickens in
the street, sparrows in the ivy, and men and women still break each
look up, half expecting to see Pieter shaving Papa by the tenuous light
of the window. The cat--some cat--curled tight in my lap, the pleasant
creaking warmth of our small smoky stove.
"Nanina, Princess, did you know that Herr Mozart will be at the party tonight?"
the party at Cobenzl's, I'd been lucky enough to hear my Orpheus, Herr
Mozart, many times. He could play prima vista the most difficult
music, play it better and with more spirit than the composer. He could
take themes and combine them into fugues worthy of old Johann Bach.
a party, after only one hearing, I saw him sit down and play a song
from memory. Herr Mozart, my Papa said, was the most learned
Kapellmeister in Vienna.
had learned enough to understand why the adults were astonished, but
the excitement I felt when Mozart played centered directly in my body,
not my mind. I wanted to spin for joy when he wove a tune into one of
his cat's cradles of sound.
he seemed hardly more than a boy, when he played he exuded the calm of
absolute authority. Even the most jaded audiences were intimidated by
his manner into polite silence. Listening to him play, I had the odd
notion that this small man was larger than anyone else in the room.
Still, when Papa's friends spoke of Herr Mozart, they weren't always
"Those French suits!"
"Yes. He looks like Baron Zinzendorf’s valet."
his music that bothers me. Someone should tell him that scholarship is
no substitute for melody. I have indigestion from all those cadenzas."
Papa would generally protest. "Rubbish, gentlemen. Mozart is brilliant; a young Haydn."
"An den Haaren herbeigezogen, Gottlieb. Have you lost your mind?"
couldn't agree more. Mozart's a novelty, just like all these other
keyboard men that besiege the concert halls. He won't last."
"Time will tell," was my father's serene reply.
* * *
this party night I remember so well, all the entertainments were over.
My child's part in a pastoral singspiel was long over. One by one my
friends had waved good-bye. It was very late now, and when my last
companion left, I knew I'd better find my parents. Pelting through a
succession of poorly lit, yawning rooms, I finally discovered few
surface was covered with a litter of glasses and bottles. It had been a
very successful party, the entertainment well received. The servants
were as tired, and perhaps as drunk, as everyone else. Those who were
devoted to music were here, listening, ignoring their work.
stood around the klavier. Silhouettes of lovely legs were visible
through the thin gauze of skirts. Garlands of wilted flowers crowned
their heads. One of them was Mama. A pair of gentleman dandies, peacocks
of color and ornament, kept them company. The men struck poses, too.
Perhaps for the benefit of the onlookers, or perhaps, like the males of
every kind, to intimidate each other.
knot of musicians collected around Kapellmeister Mozart. Papa and two
other string players stood by his klavier, instruments in hand. They
were discussing a score. A prima donna, Madame Lange, was present. Her
bejeweled fingers rested familiarly on the brocade of Mozart's shoulder.
company was intimidating, but I drew closer. After a few minutes, they
set the music on stands where candles burned with long tongues of flame.
The lowest was for the 'cellist, the higher one to be shared by Papa
and a violist friend. Kapellmeister Mozart seemed to be playing from
a quick one-two-three, they were off into a trio. Mozart’s hands
traveled precisely over the black keys of the fortepiano. Caught in his
net of sound, I had closed my eyes, hearing, seeing nothing else, when a
skirt, weighted with paniers, struck me. Apparently one of the ladies
had stepped back. Full court dress was more than a match for any skinny
I found myself sitting on the floor. At my scuffling fall, the music
stopped. There were scattered chuckles. Nearly obliterating me in
skirts, with a monstrous hiss, the lady turned to see what had happened.
look! I've downed a nymph." The red mouth in her whitened doll's face
drew into a smile. The lady offered me a glittering hand.
Such egalitarian kindness! Blushing, I tried to rise gracefully.
Profoundly nervous, I dropped a curtsy which I hoped would adequately include all these great personages.
"Frau Gottlieb's little girl, aren't you?" asked the lady.
dropped another curtsy and so did Mama, who had come hastening forward.
I heard her murmur, "You honor us with your kind attention, Madame
seated at the klavier, smiled. "Why, look, Herr Martin," he said to the
gray headed 'cellist, who had watched the scene with irritation, "Here
is Franz Gottlieb's Princess."
had my fond Papa been saying about me? Wanting to sink through the
floor, I shot a look in his direction, but Papa, blind with parental
pride, could not see my discomfort. I could feel a wretched blush, that
bane of my life, throbbing into my cheeks.
"Your Papa says that you appreciate good music and that you sing."
were his first words to me. There wasn't a hint of condescension or
mockery in his voice. Shy and proud as a cat, I had braced for it.
"I hear all of your music that I can, Kapellmeister."
I remember rocking up on my toes. I absolutely couldn't stop myself.
Here I was, talking to this magician!
"She clearly has excellent taste. Come here, Princess Gottlieb. Sit beside me."
Mama released me. I wanted to skip, or at least execute a few pirouettes, but I forced myself to walk properly.
When I arrived, Mozart gravely leaned towards me and whispered, "You know, I'm a great dancer myself. I can turn cartwheels."
I remember smiling uncertainly. Tumblers turned cartwheels, but I had never before heard of a Kapellmeister doing such a thing.
trio began again. I sat without a single fidget. Even from such a
vantage point, I could see no effort. Contrarily, the more intricate the
piece grew, the more relaxed and dreamy became his expression.
the beautiful sound concluded, I went where he pointed, to a
cross-legged seat on the Turkey carpet beside the fortepiano. His
sister-in-law, the wonderful Madame Lange, was going to give the
gathered faithful one final aria.
opera lovers ask me about this lady, about what her voice was truly
like. I lack the ability to be critical, for Aloysia Lange was another
of my musical idols. Tall and curvaceous, with a voice like spun silk,
she was to me a goddess.
night she wore a cream colored court dress. Her long hands flashed with
the offerings of admirers, and her curls, the color of honey, were not
last of the Prince's party had been drawn into the room by the trio.
The aria she sang was poignant, all about love in vain. As thrilled as I
was to be there, I could feel sleep sitting heavily on my eyelids.
Sometimes Madame Lange's soft passages were too delicate to be heard
properly in a theater, but here, in this intimate setting, each
exquisite phrase fell perfectly upon the ear.
the end, there wasn't a dry eye in the room, but the piece set the
final seal upon the evening. Suddenly, it seemed, the party was over.
were passed, music folded, adieus murmured. All around were bows and
hand clasps. Chins and cheeks were kissed, depending upon affection or
musikers were making arrangements to meet in the morning, Sunday, to
play in the Prater. That is, if anyone could will themselves out of bed
I can't remember exactly how it happened, Papa put a hand on the ivory
sleeve of Mozart's jacket and asked a question I thought would stop my
"Will you hear my little girl sing sometime? Tell me what you think?"
"Gottlieb, dear fellow, you know I don't teach singers."
Papa had already dared as far as was in his nature. There the matter might have rested, except for Madame Lange.
Mozart," she said, "don't be a stump. You with your endless torrents
of opinion! Have the child sing right now. You and I can tell good Herr
Gottlieb the truth in a wink."
I was wide awake now! I remember every nerve tingling, my heart threatening to leap through the walls of my skinny chest.
was overwhelmed to have his request so suddenly granted. I could tell
he didn't think this was the best time, but Mama stepped forward, more
than ready to dispose of all Papa’s nonsense about my talent.
"Nanina knows Far From Their Nests. Shedrives me crazy singing it."
"Indeed?" A sandy Mozart eyebrow arched. Not only was this my favorite aria, but he was the man who'd composed it!
"Well, then, Princess Gottlieb." His blue eyes fixed me. "Will you favor us with a song?"
"Oh yes—Sir." I bobbed another curtsy.
the windows came the sounds of dawn, of birds rousing. The long white
curtains which hung by the doors blew on a puff of chilly air. Guests
had begun letting themselves onto the terrace, passing away like ghosts.
he'd agreed to hear me, Mozart was all business. First, he took me
through a few scales. In the periphery of my vision loomed my Papa's
anxiety, the boredom of the cellist, and Mama's yawns.
Mozart asked. Then, not waiting for an answer, he went into the
prelude. I snapped to attention, drew a last deep breath.
Wandering over alien land,
Yearning for peace and happiness,
The gentle turtle dove
Sings her sorrowful song..."
about the way he accompanied me made breathing and intonation obvious. I
floated to the highs; the cadenza poured from my throat, smooth as oil
from a bottle.
at the end, did I dare to look away from him, steal a look at my meager
audience the Baroness and her servants, Mama and Papa, Madame Lange,
and behind them, the string players. To my huge delight, they were
all--even the 'cellist-- smiling.
Lange swept forward, cupping my face in her long cool hands. "Very
fine, Liebchen," she said. "Work hard and your dreams will come true."
face now wore an expression in which disbelief and pleasure unhappily
mingled. Although this meant expensive singing lessons, something of
hers had been praised.
I didn't have much time to revel, however, for Herr Mozart immediately set another test.
Lange has anticipated me. Before I give my opinion, I want one more
thing. Listen to what I play and sing it back. As many notes as you can
had often given me this challenge, but Mozart played so many notes
before he stopped! As soon as he was done, I began to sing quickly,
hoping to catch them before memory faded. Many were quite high.
The last one I knew I couldn't hit, so I stopped singing and said, "The last was high F--but I can't get there."
Ceremoniously, eyes sparkling with a kind of brotherly delight, he lifted my fingers to his warm lips.
overwhelming salute completed, he turned to my father. "My dear fellow,
I humbly add my opinion to that of my esteemed sister in law. You have
here a fine baby nightingale."
Papa bowed, beaming and speechless.
"But don't send her to Salieri for lessons."
stood, stretching his slim frame and yawning. Then, with a knot of
musicians and servants in tow, he and Madame Lange left the room.
Amusingly, The Diva was far taller than the man who escorted her.
tucked his violin under his arm. We too were on our way. I suppose we
got our cloaks, but I don't remember. What I do remember is dancing and
spinning and twirling until I tripped and fell, skinning my knee. Mama
smacked the top of my head and ordered me to "quiet down."
obey was nearly impossible. Kapellmeister Mozart and the famous Prima
Donna Aloysia Lange had both said I would be a singer! Papa, of course,
was jubilant. Typically, he was so good natured about his victory that
not a single "I told you so" crossed his lips.
we marched through the palace garden, birds shouted dawn. A pink haze
arched in the eastern sky, but there was still one last, bright star.
Even so close to the rising sun, it blazed. On the joyous echoes of
Mozart's music, my heart flew to the light.
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