Mozart &
Material Culture


Nobleman, cardinal from 26 July 1766 and Secretary of State under Pope Clement XIV from 1769.

Mozart Relevance

On 18 March 1770, Pallavicini was sent a letter of recommendation for the Mozarts by his cousin Gian Luca Pallavicini-Centurioni dated 18 March. He replied on 21 April: 

  1. Your Excellency,
  2. I reckon as my particular good fortune any occurrence which brings me your valued commands, since the devotion which I owe you always equals the pleasure I experience in obeying you. You may thus understand the satisfaction I have had in acting upon your praiseworthy requests on behalf of Sig. Leopoldo Mozart, chapel master in the service of the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, and of his son. The testimonial which your most sensitive discernment procured me about the latter's extraordinary talent for music only enhanced the interest I shall take on all occasions in everything that is of advantage to you and which makes me hope that I may deserve the honour of further commands from you; in expectation of which, and with the accustomed respectful and unvarying regard, I kiss your hands from my very heart.
  3.                                                                        Your Excellency's [. . .]
  4.                                                                        Rome, 21 April 1770

  5. [Postscript] It is certainly not often the case that Pontiffs hear musical virtuosi in their chambers; however, I addressed myself to the gentlemen amateurs, and last night, at my instigation, Prince Chigi engaged the one recommended by you to play.
  6. I was present, and no less than all the others there assembled admired the incomparable singularity of the enormous progress this boy has made at such a tender age in  the difficult science and performance of music.
  7. The said youth is truly amazing.
  8. May Your Excellency continue to love me and to believe me when I truthfully declare myself
  9.                                     Your true servant and most affectionate cousin,
  10.                                                    Lazzaro, Cardinal Pallavicini[1]

Mozart and his father first met Lazaro Opizio Pallavicini on 12 April, as Leopold described on 14 April in a letter to his wife: 

  1. . . . on the 12th we attended the foot washing and found ourselves very close to the pope while he was serving the poor at table, as we were standing beside him at the top of the table. This is all the more surprising in that we had to pass through two doors patrolled by Swiss Guards in armour and force our way through several 100 people – and remember that as yet we’d made no acquaintances. But our fine clothes, the German language and my usual freedom in telling my servant to speak to the Swiss Guards in German and make way for us helped us through everywhere. They thought that Wolfg. was a German gentleman, others even took him for a prince, and our servant let them believe this; I was taken for his tutor. And so we made our way to the cardinals’ table. There it chanced that Wolfg. ended up between two cardinals, one of whom was Cardinal Pallavicini. The latter beckoned to Wolfg., saying: Would you be good enough to tell me in confidence who you are?  Wolfg. told him everything. The cardinal replied with the greatest surprise and said: Oh, so you’re the famous boy about whom so many things have been written to me. To this, Wolfg. asked: Aren’t you Cardinal Pallavicini? – – The cardinal answered: Yes, I am, why? – – So Wolfg. told him that we’d got letters for His Eminence and were going to pay him our respects. The cardinal was very pleased by this and said that Wolfg. spoke very good Italian, saying among other things: ik kann auck ein benig deutsch sprecken [I too can speak a little German] etc. etc. As we were leaving, Wolfg. kissed his hand, and the cardinal removed his biretta and bowed very politely.

[1] Eccellenza Ascrivo a mia particolare sorte ogn’incontro, che V. E. mi porge de Suoi pregiati comandi, mentre all’ossequio che Le devo corrisponde sempre il piacere che ricavo dall’ubbidirla. Può Ella dunqu da questo comprendere la soddisfazione che avrò nel secondare le di Lei respettabili premure a pro’del Signor Leopoldo Mozart Maestro di Capella al Servizio del Signor Principe Arcivescovo di Salisburgo, e del di lui Figlio. La testimonianza, che dal di Lei finissimo discernimento mi viene del talent staordinario di quest’ultimo per la Musica renderà vieppiù plausibile quell’interesse, che prenderò in ogni occasione per tutti I di Lui vantaggi, e che spero, mi farà meritare l’onore d’altri suoi comandi, in attenzione de quali con la solita respettosa ed invariable stima Le bacio di vero curore le mani. Di V.E. Rome 21 aprile 1770 Non èfrequente per cert oil caso in cui I Pontifici sentano nelle stanze loro virtuosi di Musica, mi rivolgo pertanto ai Signori dillettanti ed ieri era a mia intimazione il Principe Chigi ha fatto sonare il di Lei raccomandato. lo vi intervenni e non meno di tutti gli altri concorrenti ammirai l’incomparabile singolarità del sommo progresso in così teneral età fatto dal noto giovane nella difficile scienza ed esecuzione della musica. Vermanete il detto giovane è portentoso. Vostro Eccellenz continui ad amarmi ed a credermi quale veramente mi riprotesto Servitore vero e cugino affezionatissimo Lazzaro Cardinale Pallavicini.

Date 1
1719-10-30, Genoa
Date 2
1785-02-23, Genoa
Date (Mozart)
Location (Mozart)
Bibliographic Reference
MDB, 177; Basso, I Mozart in Italia, 73