Mozart in Paris – a Dark Chapter in the History of his Life

Unsuccessful Search for Employment and Abject Poverty

View of Paris with Notre Dame cathedral

Engraving by Jacques Rigaud (1680-1754) 1729 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) Source: Wikimedia
Mozart und his mother Anna Maria lived in Paris in Rue du Sentier 8, where she died on 3 July 1778

Mozart und his mother Anna Maria lived in Paris in Rue du Sentier 8, where she died on 3 July 1778

Source: Wikimedia

Leopold Mozart had decreed: Wolfgang and his mother Anna Maria Mozart were to introduce themselves to the court at Versailles. Under adverse conditions the Mozarts put down roots in a sleazy hotel. It was cold and money scarce. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart hardly knew any French. While he was out, getting rebuffed by Parisian nobility again and again, his mother lingered in a dark, cold room, suffering from hunger. They truly had come a long way…

Mozart could not understand why the Parisians were not raving about him. How different the times had been when he, the child prodigy, had cavorted with Marie Antoinette. Now nobody was interested in him. He experienced one disappointment after another. He wrote to his father: “Now I have to wait half an hour in a freezing, unheated room without a fireplace.” Whatever he tried, it was to no avail. Only by taking on some music students was he able to support himself and his mother. He hardly composed anything at all. His greatest success in this time was the symphony “Paris” for a big orchestra with timbales, trumpets and for the first time clarinets.

Reaching Rock Bottom…

At this time, Anna Maria Mozart was fifty-seven years old and a simple housewife who had given up everything for her son. She fell seriously ill. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart watched over her at her bedside. A doctor was called but to no avail. Mozart’s mother died on July 3, 1778. Mozart, at twenty-two years of age, was stranded alone in hated Paris…