Mozart &
Material Culture


Habsburg monarch, daughter of Charles VI (1685-1740) and wife of Holy Roman Emperor Francis Stephen of Lorraine (Nancy, 8 December 1708-Innsbruck, 18 August 1765, Grand Duke of Tuscany from 1737, Holy Roman Emperor, as Franz I, 1745-65). Following the death of her husband, Maria Theresia became dowager empress and her son, Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor; she remained the Habsburg monarch until her death in 1780.

Meytens Maria Theresia 1759-500.jpg

Martin van Meytens, Empress Maria Theresia, 1759 (Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace)

Mozart Relevance

The Mozarts first met Maria Theresia when the children performed for her and her husband at Schönbrunn in Vienna on 13 October 1762. According to the contemporaneous diary of the monk Placidus Scharl, it was said that Mozart 'had rushed up and would have embraced the Empress, saying that he loved her with all his heart'. (Deutsch, Mozart. A Documentary Biography, 19). Her children included the future emperors Joseph II and Leopold II. The children performed for Maria Theresia again in January 1768. Leopold wrote to his Salzburg landlord and friend Johann Lorenz Hagenauer on 23 January:

  1. The latest news that I have to report |: apart from the fact that we’re all in good health, thank God :| is that on Tuesday the 19th we were with Her Majesty the Empress from ½ past 2 to ½ past 5. His Majesty the Emperor [Joseph II] came out into the anteroom where we were waiting until Their Majesties had taken coffee and led us in himself. Apart from the Emperor and Empress, the only people present were Prince Albert of Saxony and all the archduchesses[1];  but apart from these royal personages there wasn’t a soul. It would take me too long to describe all that was said and done there. I’ll say only that you can’t possibly imagine the familiarity with which Her Majesty and Empress spoke to my wife, discussing partly my children’s smallpox[2]  and partly the circumstances of our grand tour etc.; and how she stroked her cheeks and squeezed her hands, while His Majesty the Emperor talked to me and Wolfgangerl about music etc. and many other things, often causing Nannerl to blush.

[1] Albert of Saxon-Teschen, his wife Archduchess Maria Christina, and the archduchesses Maria Carolina and Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna (‘Marie Antoinette’).

[2] The Mozart children had bouts of smallpox in October and November 1767.

Date 1
1717-05-13, Vienna
Date 2
1780-11-29, Vienna