Requiem for Mozart – part 3

by 5:4

The third part of Requiem for Mozart, “I didn’t know I was a valet!”, was broadcast on 3 December 1991, just two days before the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s death. The episode’s title speaks of the indignation Mozart felt upon his return to Vienna, where his employer Archbishop Colloredo treated him with the typical disdain given to all his other servants: “The two valets sit at the top of the table, but at least I am placed above the cooks!”. Despite attempts at cooling the situation from father Leopold, it doesn’t take long for the two of them to come to verbal blows, resulting in Mozart attempting to terminate his employment. He ultimately gets his wish, but it’s the Archbishop who executes the coup de grâce, arranging for his steward to send Mozart packing “with a kick on the arse”. A far greater distraction soon presents itself, however; having moved in with the Weber family (who had relocated to Vienna from Mannheim), Mozart convinces himself marriage would be a good idea, and having moved on from Aloysia, decides on Constanze as a suitable wife.

Music does get a look in from time to time—Mozart slags off Clementi (“a mere technician”) and composes Die Entführung aus dem Serail—but much of the first half of the episode focuses on his wranglings with his father to get permission to marry Constanze; due to circumstances, Leopold ultimately—and with no little grace—gives his consent. Soon, Mozart makes the acquaintance of one who would have one of the biggest impacts on his creative life: librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte; we hear too of Mozart’s friendship with Michael Haydn, and his generosity toward him when he fell ill, composing a pair of duets that Haydn could pretend he had composed, and thereby fulfil an important commission. Also mentioned is the first performance of the “Great” C minor Mass, in which Constanze took the solo soprano part—despite Mozart’s rather unflattering description of her earlier, she must have been a highly competent singer.

Throughout the episode, a sense of estrangement between father and son becomes increasingly evident; it’s not just caused by geography, and sadly, it eventually becomes the ultimate separation.

Requiem for Mozart – 3. I didn’t know I was a valet!

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