Mozart &
Material Culture

Souvenirs

K10-15. Sonatas for keyboard and violin or flute, with violoncello ad libitum. Composed in London in 1764 and published in 1765 as Six Sonates pour le Clavecin qui peuvent se jouer avec L’accompagnement de Violon, ou Fluate Traversiere Très humblement dediées A Sa Majesté Charlotte Reine de la Grande Bretagne Composées par J. G. Wolfgang Mozart Agé de huit Ans Oeuvre III. London Printed for the Author and Sold at his Lodgings At Mr. Williamson in Thrift Street Soho. An ad libitum violoncello part, though not mentioned in the printed edition, survives in a Leopold Mozart autograph included with an example of the edition in BL, R.M.II.f.5. The sonatas were published with a dedication to Queen Charlotte:

W. A. Mozart, Sonatas K10-15, title page

W. A. Mozart, Sonatas K10-15, title page


To the Queen. Madam,

Full of pride and joy at daring to offer a homage to You, I finished these sonatas in order to lay them at the feet of Your Majesty; I  was, I confess, intoxicated with vanity and ravished with myself when I perceived the Genius of Music at my side.

“Thou art very proud”, he said to me, “of knowing how to write at an age when others are still learning to spell.” “I, proud of thy Work?”, I answered him. “No, I have other causes for vanity. See in me the favourite of the Queen of these Fortunate Isles. Thou deemest that, if she had been born far from the Supreme rank that distinguishes her, her talents would have brought her glory: see upon the throne as she is, She honours and protects them. Let Her permit thee to make her an offering, thou art avid of glory, thou wouldst that all the world should know it; more philosophical, I entrust my pride to my harpsichord, which becomes a little more eloquent thereby, that is all.” “And that eloquence produces Sonatas! . . . Is it quite certain that I have ever inspired a maker of Sonatas?”

This provoked me. “Fie, father”, I said to him, “thou speakest like a pedant this morning . . . When the Queen deigns to listen to me, I surrender myself to thee and I become sublime; far from Her, the charm grows weak, her August image gives me a few ideas which art then takes charge of and completes. . . . But let me live, and one day I shall offer Her a gift worthy of Her and of thee: for with thy help I shall equal the glory of all the great men of my fatherland, I shall become immortal like Handel, and Hasse, and my name will be as celebrated as that of Bach.”

A great burst of laughter disconcerted my noble confidence. Let Your Majesty judge of the patience I need to live with so whimsical a Being! . . . Did he not also wish me to dare to reproach Your Majesty with that excess of kindness which is the object of my pride and my glory? I, Madam, reproach You with a fault? That glorious Fault! Your Majesty will never in a lifetime cure herself of it.

It is said that everything should be allowed to Genius; I owe mine the happiness of Pleasing You, and I forgive it its caprices. Deign, Madam, to receive my poor gifts. You were from the first destined to reign over a free people; the children of Genius are so no less than the British People; free above all with their offerings, they take pleasure in surrounding Your throne. Your virtues, Your talents, Your benefactions will for ever live in my memory; wherever I live, I shall consider myself Your Majesty’s subject.

I am, with the most profound respect,
     Madam,
     Your Majesty’s
     Very humble and very obedient little servant
     J. G. W. Mozart.
London, 18 January 1765.