Web Site: Mozart's Wife
Married life for the new couple includes an adorable puppy.
To be married. So many things to share! Things I hadn’t really even thought about. At first, I was embarrassed all the time.
Even well-bred men break wind in the privacy of their own home. There was the chamberpot too; especially after it got too cold to go out to the backhouse for the early morning call of nature. Opening my eyes to the sight of a night-gowned figure squatting in the corner was not particularly romantic, but knowing he sometimes saw me in the same position was an even worse trial.
There were other embarrassments, too. I remember climbing into bed with him, wearing my oldest nightgown and painfully aware of the wad of cloth between my legs.
Had I tied enough on? After all, the new linen, the new featherbed, the new husband.
Of course, he rolled over immediately and kissed me in his particularly sweet and hungry way.
“No, Wolfi. Please. I can’t.”
Thinking he was being teased, he promptly reached between my legs and encountered the lump. Embarrassed to the core, I covered my face.
My husband, however, thought it was funny. Patting the swaddled place, he chuckled, “How did we ever get through last month without making a baby?”
Most nights I went to bed alone, but later I’d be awakened by candle light. There he’d be, yawning and tipsy, stripping shamelessly next to the bed.
Although I’d sleepily resist, cold hands commenced warming themselves under my nightgown.
“Wolfi! Stop. I’m sleeping. You’re drunk.”
He quizzed me the whole time, interrupting his kisses to ask whether I liked what he was doing. He was serious about getting an answer and would tease mercilessly until I did. The pleasure he gave soon taught me not to be shy. Once he knew what I liked, he was always obliging.
“Why don’t you do just what you want?” Nice as the outcome could be, I continued embarrassed by all his asking.
“Because when my girl is all pink and happy, oh, so am I.”
This wasn’t what I had heard about marriage!
My days were spent alone in our apartment, trying to keep busy with sewing. I had started a new petticoat and chemise. Of course, there was his mending too. His clothes hadn’t been properly cared for in months. There were all sorts of little problems growing into big ones.
While I played housewife, Mozart worked tirelessly, giving lessons all over town, meeting people, setting up concerts, and responding to the many invitations he received. He tried to be cheerful, but I knew that he hated hanging around for hours waiting on noblemen, hated elbowing his way to the front in a crowd.
“Good music? Why, so-and-so wouldn’t know good music if it bit him on the ass. The apes I compete with! No! Not compete. If it were a real competition there would be real judges, not just a bunch of rich idiots handing out prizes to the brownest nose.”
Every morning he set out early, leaving me with nothing to look forward to but a lonely day and a lonelier evening. He had lessons to give, engagements to play, people to meet.
It was all part of the game of getting on at Court. I understood, but that didn’t make a long day waiting for him any shorter. Since our last fight with Mama, (she had wanted us to room with her!) I hadn’t even been home to visit.
Besides Sophie, I missed the lively times I’d had at the Baronesses’ house. I even missed Madame Podleska’s French lessons. I tried to go on with my reading, but when I got stuck there was no one I could ask for help. Even when Wolfgang was home he wasn’t much company, because he desperately needed time to compose. How could I interrupt him with questions about French verbs? His music was our bread and butter.
Each day went by more slowly. Wolfi didn’t like me to go out by myself, but sometimes I did anyway. That was lonely, too, although it was a nice change to be out of our stuffy little rooms. After all the excitement of our courtship, marriage had turned out to be terribly dull.
Some days, as soon as he was out the door I’d lie down on our bed and cry. One day I became so sorry for myself that I didn’t hear him coming back for something he’d forgotten.
“My poor darling.” He sat beside me and dried my tears. I tried to be brave and stop crying, at least until he had gone away again.
That night Wolfgang came home early, and what’s more, he brought me a present.
“Here’s someone to keep you company. Even someone to talk to, although she can’t answer.” Beaming, he thrust a wetting, squirming puppy into my hands. She was just a silky mop of a thing, liver and white in color, with bulging brown eyes, comic pushed in nose, and long ears.
“The Countess Thun gave her to me. I’m told she’s an English spaniel. Isn’t she pretty?”
I had to agree. I named the little creature Gaukerel, and she was the best dog I ever had. Of course, I never had the time to train another as well, but Gaukerel was so eager to please. After the first day, she hardly ever had an accident. She never sat on a dress or a coat, even if it was temptingly laid out on the bed. She quickly learned to walk beside me without a leash and how to sit up and beg. Her bright, bulging eyes regarded me with what was, without a doubt, perfect understanding. Greatest of all her doggy accomplishments, she understand the word “no.” If I scolded, her ears sagged and she looked deeply repentant.
Gaukerel and I took a couple of long walks each day as well as several short trips to the alley behind the house. She barked bravely at anyone who came too close.
Still, there were a few problems. Most of her breed are very friendly, but Gaukerel wasn’t. The more time we spent together just the two of us, the more suspicious of other people she grew. She even got that way with Wolfi.
Soon after he brought Gaukerel home, he had to travel to a house party at Prince Cobenzl’s which took him out of town for almost two weeks. It was a horribly lonely time for me. If it hadn’t been for my darling puppy, I think I might have run home to Mama, so desperate was I for company!
The afternoon Wolfi returned, he came rushing in and proudly set a bulging purse on top of the klavier.
“For your favors, Madame.”
It certainly looked like a great deal of money.
I wanted to empty the purse and count the coins, but I never got the chance. Wolfgang had already got me around the waist and was nibbling my neck...
Our Sundays were usually spent together. In the early days of our marriage, we attended Mass. Perhaps it would be more truthful to say that I attended. Exhausted from playing late Saturday night, Mozart usually fell asleep, especially if the music bored him. Afterward, along with much of fashionable Vienna, we would go to the Prater.
Wolfi and I liked to take Gaukerel on the brick walk that ran alongside the carriage path. It was a splendid place to see and be seen.
There were elegantly dressed riders reining in nervous, high stepping horses. The Chapeaux twirled their canes and strode importantly, their outsized tricorns tipped. (These stylish young gentlemen were jokingly called “Hats” because it was the fashion to wear outsize, ornate tricorns tipped rakishly over their eyes. My little husband was, of course, as extreme, and just as silly, as all the rest.
The park pathways were always clogged with carriages, all carrying the elaborately dressed rich and famous, all of them driving the circuit. There were crowds of walkers. Everyone, both high and low, paraded in their finest.
On one of those unseasonably warm days that cheer October, we were out for a stroll as usual. Mozart had been playing the fool, dashing around me in circles and stealing kisses. We must have looked terribly improper, but we were so very, very happy.
Every time he hugged me, Gaukerel growled. If I protested his embrace at all, she’d emit a high warning whine and raise her hackles. She was definitely a one person dog, and the one person in her life was me. He wasn't around frequently enough for her taste.
“Why did I ever ask Countess Thun for this wretched dust mop?” Mozart stuck out his tongue and stamped on the bricks, provoking Gaukerel to a chorus of piercing yelps.
“Boo, stupid dog! Why, one of these days I’m going to be working away on top of Stanzi and you’re going to bite me in the ass, or somewhere worse.”
“Wolfgang! Hush! Don’t be so vulgar.”
To tease him back, I leaned down and spoke confidentially to Gaukerel.
“He’s a wicked scary stranger, isn’t he?”
Gaukerel responded with a distrustful sideways look at him.
We walked quietly for a few minutes, my husband apparently lost in thought. Then, suddenly, he gave Gaukerel an unfriendly push with his foot. Naturally, she spun and around and growled.
“Are you any good in a fight, dog?”
I was not only astonished by his tone of voice, but that he had been so rough with her. I’d never seen him mistreat an animal.
Before I had any time to think further on this, Wolfgang gave me a more than brotherly pinch in the arm.
“Ow! That hurt!”
“Taking walks by yourself. Don’t think I don’t know what’s going on!”
He swung his walking stick at me. I actually had to dodge to avoid being hit.
“What are you doing? Have you gone crazy?”
Baring her white teeth, Gaukerel took my side, bravely snapping at him.
“The landlady says you go for long walks every single day. Who do you see?”
I couldn’t believe he was serious, but his face was a storm cloud, a fearsome echo of Mama’s swift changes of mood. I could feel my heart shrink.
As steadily as I could, I replied, “I walk Gaukerel! What do you think?”
Steely fingers fastened on my arms. He actually began to shake me until my teeth rattled.
“Tell me the truth, damn it! Who do you see? That pig of an officer?”
I actually thought he’d gone mad. “No one,” I cried desperately. “No one!”
That’s when Gaukerel popped out from under my skirts and plunged her teeth into his ankle.
He had to hit her with the walking stick to make her let go. With an anguished “ki-yi,” she finally fled back under my skirts.
“Sapperlote!” Mozart cried. “Vicious cur! I was only pretending.”
“Monster! Madman! You’ve hurt her.”
The poor loyal dog whimpered and trembled. When I scooped her up, she licked my face wildly.
Meanwhile, Wolfgang ruefully examined his leg. Not only was his silk stocking torn, but his ankle had been well and truly bitten.
“I’m bleeding!” He stared at me, suddenly astonished and quite pale.
“Serves you right. How dare you shout terrible lies about me in public and hit my poor little dog? You vulgar, disgusting beast!”
Gaukerel added her own insults, barking fiercely from the safety of my arms.
In the midst of all this noise and nonsense, a very grand open carriage stopped nearby.
The occupant, a tall, conservatively-dressed gentleman, called out commandingly, “Hola! You two. Yes, you. Herr und Frau Mozart.”
When I recognized who it was, I almost fainted. Our Emperor, Joseph II, was a solemn, rather morose man, not much given to levity, but at this moment a grin cracked his thin face.
I dropped Gaukerel and curtsied deeply. My clever girl knew something important was happening. She ran under my skirts and stopped her noise at once.
“Two months married and fighting already?” the Emperor said. “I say, I am disappointed.”
Mozart bowed very low and then stood fidgeting. “It was just a game, Sir. I wanted to see what her little dog would do.”
The Emperor’s pale eyes traveled to Wolfi’s bloody ankle. Then we heard a sound very few people were ever privileged to hear; a thin, brief whinny—the Emperor’s laugh.
“It looks as if you found out, didn’t you just, Herr Mozart?”
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