Dec 072020

[What follows is just the first four paragraphs of the stories. Read the full story on the Loud Mouth website.]

It was breath-taking! Young Wolfgang Amadeus, hand-in-hand with father Leopold, returned to St Peter’s Square, entering from surrounding streets as the walled Vatican City again rose in intimidating splendour before them. Yesterday had been their first visit. Father and son had felt overwhelmed, necks forever arched, as they looked at treasures of the gigantic St Peter’s Basilica. Stunning antiquities lined its miles of corridors and details of over-arching frescoes still flickered in his mind, and the little 14-year-old again felt dwarfed, his excitement mounting.

He felt so overwhelmed by works of Perugino, Botticelli, Michelangelo, van den Broeck and so many other great artists, he resorted to something more familiar, and re-assuring. As the pair ambled beyond the Square’s twin semicircles of colonnades enclosing them, Wolfgang began humming a tune under his breath, a simple folk melody he had heard a vegetable seller sing during their first day in Rome, and which he had instantly notated and embellished in his mind, and now added some very silly lyrics to, still smiling. Perhaps he could re-set it for violin and keyboard, instruments he had mastered from age five. Perhaps, if utterly changed, it might also emerge reborn in an opera he was planning. It would also be nice to whistle that tune to a pet canary. But all that would keep for later, as would a game of billiards and some dancing, when the time allowed.

It was April 13, 1770, mid their two-year tour of Italy, as Leopold gestured dramatically, ushering his son towards the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Gardens to their right. Then, after negotiation with the entrance guides, who were also guards, this father and son – who had left Salzburg, Austria, intent on becoming cosmopolitan citizens – were led, via the Papal corridor, direct to where choirs and audience had assembled to hear a piece rarely heard, because usually reserved for Holy Week before Easter Sunday, and including today’s Good Friday performance.

The younger Mozart sat quietly, and fiddled with his mustard-coloured and genteel tricorne cocked hat, which he must not wear inside the chapel, as a sign of devotional respect. He noted where he had put a small slip of parchment and pencil stub. He rarely wore hats anyway, and also disliked wigs, as his long hair, curled on both sides above his ears, was elegant enough, although he did not wear a ribbon at the back today, to make negotiating his hat easier, once back outside. Not that he would need that pencil, in any case, but he would still keep it under his hat.