Wednesday, April 28, 2010

People: Baroness Martha Elisabeth von Waldstätten & Mozart's Red Coat

In the year 1781, when Mozart first arrived in Vienna, he was introduced to a Baroness who lived in the Leopoldstadt, (a suburb of Vienna), and who was thirty-seven at the time. Elisabeth Waldstätten was estranged from her husband, whose estate was not far from Vienna in the village of Klosterneuburg. The Baroness, who was an excellent pianist took an instant liking to Mozart and invited him to her home in the Leopoldstadt to celebrate his name day, which was on October 31st. That evening when everyone was getting ready for bed, he was surprised to hear out his window, six musicians playing his Serenade for Winds (K. 375). They had been paid-for and sent by the Baroness as a gift for Mozart's enjoyment.

The Baroness was known for "educating" young women--sort of a private finishing school--in her home in the Leopoldstadt. In the following months, after Mozart's then fiancé, Constanze Weber, quarreled with her mother, Mozart took her to the Baroness' to live for several weeks. Then, in August of 1782, when Mozart and Constanze were married, it was the Baroness who hosted their wedding dinner in her home. It was also the Baroness to whom Mozart wrote of a lovely red coat that would go elegantly with some fine mother of pearl buttons with gold stones.

"I really must have a coat like that, as it's worth it just for the buttons that I've been hankering after for some time ... They're mother-of-pearl with some white stones around the edge and a beautiful yellow stone in the centre."
The Baroness had the coat made as a gift for Mozart.

Mozart wrote to his father, Leopold, of the Baroness Waldstätten, and in the spring of 1785, when Leopold visited his son and Constanze, in Vienna, he met the Baroness and grew quite fond of her.

In So Faithful a Heart we see Nancy, Mozart, and the tenor, Michael Kelly with the Baroness at her husband's estate in Klosterneuburg, where it would not have been out of the ordinary for her to have stayed when her husband was away.

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