Our Family Honor


On April 6th, 1778 Leopold Mozart responded to a letter from his son Wolfgang Amadeus in Paris, hoping to prod the young genius into gainful employment:

“If, like Honnauer or the late Schobert, you could rely on a monthly salary from some prince in Paris and on top of that, work every now and then for the theater, the Concert Spirituel and the Concert des Amateurs, and occasionally have something engraved for subscription, and if your sister and I could give lessons and she could perform at concerts and musical entertainments, then we would surely have enough to live comfortably.

“You would like for me to be completely chipper in my letters. My dear Wolfgang! You know that honor is more dear to me than life itself. Think about all that has happened. Recall that even though I hoped–with your help–to get out of debt, so far I have only sunk in deeper and deeper. As you know, my credit with everyone here is solid. But the moment I lose it, my honor will evaporate too. Furthermore, the kindness and sympathy of the trades people lasts only as long as you are paying them, and if payment is late, well then–you can kiss the friendship of the world good-bye.

“And then there’s the Archbishop. Is he going to get the satisfaction of hearing that things are going badly with us so that he can laugh at us and make fun of us? I would sooner drop dead on the spot than face that. When I received your letter and read it I was right away in the best mood, and to everyone who had been asking about you we passed on the good news that you had arrived safely in Paris. All of them send their greetings.

“Can you blame me if such an urgent matter affecting all of my loved ones. is on my mind, night and day?

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