In this story I have presented two women in Mozart’s life who he loved, each for very different reasons. Each of them fulfilled needs in his life that the other could not fill, and each loved him in a way that only she could. So it is very important for us then, to remove the filters of our modern understanding of marriage and the role of women in modern western society before we can understand the difficult place in which these three people found themselves.
If Nancy Storace was so important to Mozart, then why have we not heard of her? When I began my research on her over ten years ago, I asked myself this question. Several Mozart biographers including Georg Nissen and Joseph Lange mention that Mozart had an “emotional attachment” to
, which, in eighteenth century terms meant an affection of the heart. And the great Mozart historian and biographer, Alfred Einstein, even went as far as to say that Mozart loved Nancy, and that the great concert aria, C’hio mi scordi di te...Non temer amato bene, K. 505, he composed as a farewell gift for her was a declaration in music of his love for her. Einstein makes his disdain for Constanze very clear in his Mozart biography, Mozart: His Character, His Work, and adds that Nancy was much better suited for Mozart in temperament, education, and status. It has only been the more recent biographers who have chosen to minimize the role and influence that Nancy had in Mozart’s life, most often in an effort to accentuate the relationship between Mozart and his wife, and bring Constanze back into a more favorable light. To one, Constanze is the end-all and be-all of love interests to Mozart, and Nancy, nothing more than a minor fling, and to the other, Nancy is the great love of whom fate and circumstances deprived him, and Constanze is little more than an air-headed spend-thrift who didn’t understand her eccentric, genius husband. Through my research I’ve found both views to be extreme and that the truth probably lies somewhere in-between. Again, we have to look within the historical and cultural context of these peoples’ lives and events and look beyond the surface facts and our own cultural biases to what would be most likely true for them. Nancy
After years of combing through Mozart biographies, memoirs of Mozart’s and Nancy Storace’s contemporaries, websites, numerous articles, online forums, BBC transcripts, and one fairly recent, complete biography on Nancy Storace, it became clear to me that a piece of the Mozart story was missing, leaving a number of questions about the latter years of Mozart’s life unanswered. Why did Mozart pawn the family silver to buy a coach and four to go on that last German tour for which he had no invitation or commission? Why did Constanze, in the last two years of Mozart’s life, spend so much time in
Baden, separated from her husband? Why did Mozart write a letter to her while she was at the spa, telling her that he had heard rumors of her amorous adventures, begging her to be discrete? Why was Constanze not at home when she gave birth to her last child, and why was Mozart not present when the child was born? Why did she, only after her husband’s death, give the child the name Wolfgang, Jr.? Why do none of Constanze’s letters to her husband survive? How did Georg Nissen know of the letters that Mozart wrote to , and why did he want to confiscate them? And most importantly, why did Nancy save the letters that Mozart wrote to her only to destroy them just before her death, twenty-six years after his? Nancy
Two things convinced me that there had been a massive cover-up of the relationship between Mozart and
orchestrated by Mozart, Constanze, Georg Nissen, as well as Nancy, herself. First, when my partner, S. K. Waller, and I began to collaborate on the parts about Mozart and Nancy in her novel entitled, Night Music: The Memoirs of Wolfgang Amadè Mozart, we put together a timeline of their lives and found that the opportunities for such a love affair were ample, and that the situations in which they found themselves would easily lend to it. The fact that Nancy was educated in a fashion unlike any other woman performer of her day would have been extremely attractive to Mozart and knowing his character and personality, she would have been irresistible to him. Nothing that I have written in this novel is outside the realms of possibility, and in much of what I have written there is a very strong possibility that it happened in the very fashion in which I described it. I was very careful to stick to the documented events in these two people’s lives, even in my conjecture. Nancy
Second, it wasn’t until very recently that I learned that there had been an inquest into
Nancy’s death in which her maid testified about the two “German men” who showed up at Nancy’s door inquiring about the “letters from ”. The maid testified that when they demanded she hand over the letters to them that Vienna “railed” at them and threw them out of her house. On the evening of that very same day, she suffered the last in a series of strokes and died a few days later. The letters from Mozart (presumably), were never found, but her son, Spencer Harris Braham, years later wrote to Nancy Nancy’s good friend, the English architect, John Soane, that had destroyed them. Nancy
I believe that in an effort to protect their reputations, both living and posthumously, Mozart and Constanze began the cover-up in such a manner as I have described in this novel. Then after Mozart’s death, Constanze continued to try and boost her own reputation, which was directly tied to her husband’s, in order to garner the sympathy of the court so that she could receive the yearly widow’s stipend that would help sustain her and her two children. When Nissen came into the picture, he saw financial opportunity in being the first to write Mozart’s biography.
Knowing that there was much evidence that would sully Mozart’s reputation in the form of letters, Nissen decided to use his diplomatic connections to confiscate any letters that might serve as evidence against the cleaned-up and sanitized Mozart he wished to present, thus the two German men that Nancy’s maid testified about in the inquest into Nancy’s death. In an effort to keep the only thing of Mozart she had left, sacred,
destroyed the letters, leaving history to wonder what had transpired between them. Nancy
© K. Lynette Erwin, 2014
© K. Lynette Erwin, 2014