Dec 29, 2012

Mozart in the Viennese Council of War

Mozart's name ("Mozard Capellmeister") appearing on 21 October 1786 in the protocol of the k.k. Hofkriegsrat (of all places). Mozart stood bail for his friend Franz Jacob Freystädtler, who was accused of having stolen a piano by the Bavarian captain David Haißer. In the last fifteen years nobody has discovered more handwritten Mozart documents from the composer's lifetime than yours truly.

(OeStA, KA, ZSt HKR HR Bücher 2027, p. 1067)

Updated: 10 March 2017
 

Dec 5, 2012

"The Johann Strauss Odyssey" – A Few Necessary Notes

And now for something completely different.

Because Silvia Mattl-Wurm's reply to Frieder Reininghaus' article, "Johann Strauss auf Irrfahrt" ["The Johann Strauss Odyssey"] (in: Österreichische Musikzeitschrift, 65, vol. 9, Vienna 2010, 45) leaves important things unsaid, I wish to add a few points from my perspective as a Schubert scholar and former president of the International Franz Schubert Institute. While the current efforts of the Wienbibliothek to recover stolen Strauss sketches are praiseworthy, it has become evident that these sketches are only the tip of an iceberg, and that the public has not yet been informed of the full extent of the losses suffered by the music collection of the Wienbibliothek (at that time the Wiener Stadt- und Landesbibliothek) prior to the retirement of Ernst Hilmar as head of that collection in 1994. In particular, the estates of Otto Erich Deutsch and Ignaz Weinmann, both owned by the Wienbibliothek, suffered massive losses. Items that were demonstrably in the library as part of Weinmann's estate surfaced in a Viennese antiquarian shop as early as 1993, where they were purchased by the Canadian Schubert scholar Rita Steblin. Steblin (for obvious reasons) did not notify the police, but informed the head of the library, who, however, took no legal action, preferring instead to resolve everything behind the scenes, putatively in the interest of a principle of "confidentiality" that is apparently still in force today. The head of the music collection was suspended and eventually quietly dismissed into retirement. The police and the state prosecutor were not involved. The losses from Weinmann's estate included not only irreplaceable treasures that once belonged to the Krasser family, such as the prayer books of Schubert's sister Therese Schneider and her daughter, but also many other valuable books and a lock of Franz Schubert's hair that had been given to his half-brother Andreas Schubert on the occasion of the composer's first exhumation in 1863. Material from the estate of O. E. Deutsch in the Wienbibliothek also surfaced in the Viennese antiquarian trade. Gitta Deutsch, the daughter of the great Schubert scholar, unsuccessfully tried to awaken the media's interest in these dubious transactions. In 1998 I informed City Councilor Peter Marboe of the alleged thefts – but got no response. In 2000 I informed the head of the Wiener Stadt und Landesbibliothek Dr. Walter Obermaier and his deputy Dr. Gerhard Renner that the missing lock of Schubert's hair from Ignaz Weinmann's estate is now on exhibition at the museum of the Schubert Memorial Site and Museum Atzenbrugg "on loan from Ernst Hilmar" (redated to the year of Schubert's death).

Schubert's lock of hair (stolen from Ignaz Weinmann's estate) on exhibition at the Schubert Memorial Site and Museum in Atzenbrugg

I further informed Dr. Obermaier of several facts strongly suggesting that the lost inventory of lenders to the 1897 Schubert exhibition, likewise owned by the library, had also been stolen. This handwritten register had been described in 1995 in the journal Schubert durch die Brille (edited at the time by Ernst Hilmar) as "having been found in private hands" (Schubert durch die Brille 14, 106). In fact, a copy of a page from this handwritten book had been inserted arbitrarily by Hilmar into one of my articles (Brille 24, 2000, 46). Rita Steblin had seen this precious, leather-bound manuscript in 1993 in the office of the International Franz Schubert Institute (IFSI) in the Kettenbrückengasse, where Hilmar had told her that it could not be given an IFSI stamp, because it "belongs to the Stadtbibliothek".

Ernst Hilmar's office in the Kettenbrückengasse in December 1993. The red arrow points to the lost register of lenders to the 1897 Schubert exhibition (photograph by Rita Steblin).

The management of the Wienbibliothek began to search for this inventory (which never had been given a shelfmark), but the book could not be found. The police were not notified and no attempt was ever made to recover the stolen lock of hair from Atzenbrugg. Dr. Renner merely asked me every now and then in a humorous tone: "Have you been to Atzenbrugg lately?" On 6 May 2009 I informed Dr. Silvia Mattl-Wurm of the theft of the lock of Schubert's hair and gave her copies of all my documents pertaining to this unfortunate case, which had now grown far beyond the realm of "speculation and premature judgments". Following this conversation – long before the Strauss affair had become public – no attempt whatsoever was undertaken by the people in charge "to retrieve the stolen material without damage to its collections with the help of the authorities" (as Mattl-Wurm puts it in her statement in the Österreichische Musikzeitschrift). Mattl-Wurm's reply epitomizes the deplorably passive behavior of the Wienbibliothek and its motives: "If we report the theft, it would be more embarrassing for the library than for Hilmar!" If in this affair the police eventually retrieve the stolen goods, we can safely assume that they were not alerted to the theft by the Wienbibliothek. It was certainly no action taken by the representatives of the Wienbibliothek spun as cunning finesse) that led to the resurfacing of a few of the stolen Strauss manuscripts. It was the stupidity of the perpetrators and a lucky coincidence involving the chairman of the German Johann Strauss Society, Ralph Braun. The whole affair is reminiscent of one involving the Vienna City Archive, where between 1969 and 1999 nine leaves were stolen from Beethoven's probate file. Owing to the lack of an inventory it is not even known what exactly went missing and nobody ever reported the theft to the police.

See also: Response to Walburga Litschauer‘s essay "Perspektiven der Schubert-Forschung in Österreich", (Österreichische Musikzeitschrift, 65, vol. 9, Vienna 2010, pp. 46-49)

Nov 19, 2012

Constanze Mozart's Pearl Necklace and the Heß Brothers

In her will, written on 23 June 1841, Constanze Nissen bequeathed a pearl necklace to her sons with the following words: "11 Schnüre gute Perlen mit Elfenbein-Schließe, von dem berühmten Hesse in Brillanten gefaßt"("11 strings of good pearls with an ivory clasp by the famous Hesse encircled with diamonds"). A miniature portrait of Constanze Nissen by Thomas Spitzer shows her wearing the pearl necklace in question:


According to the Mozarteum this portrait was done in 1826, but this dating seems to be false since Thomas Spitzer already died on 15 August 1821.

In early 2010 Günther G. Bauer published his book Mozart. Geld, Ruhm und Ehre in which he claims to shed light on Mozart's finances. Bauer's book is one of the worst books on Mozart in recent years and a true example of what today's fake Mozart scholarship can lead to. Bauer presents an endless heap of pointless speculation on Mozart's expenses that have no basis in archival research and no connection whatsoever with primary sources. One of the worst flaws of Bauer's book is the fact that he naively takes his data on Mozart's income from Maynard Solomon's Mozart biography, not realizing that Solomon's numbers themselves are the result of ill-informed presumptions and flawed estimates. Bauer's book is basically a huge waste of money which Bauer mistakes for a pathbreaking study in cultural history. The most entertaining parts in Bauer's opus are definitely the ones where he tries to apply his imaginary research skills to deal with special issues of Mozart's finances. In the chapter titled "Goldene Uhren, Schmuck und Tabatieren" ("Gold Watches, Jewelry and Tobacco Boxes") Bauer claims to have identified the jeweler who made Constanze Mozart's pearl necklace and its valuable clasp. His line of argument is absolutely priceless.

In one of his legendary begging letters to Michael von Puchberg Mozart refers to a "Galanteriewarenhändler" (owner of a fancy store) located at the Stock im Eisen, whom he owed 100 florins. Bauer arbitrarily identifies this merchant as Johann Georg Haas who ran a "Galanteriewarenhandlung" named "The King of Hungary" in the house No. 1093 (from 1795 until 1821 No. 1159) on the Graben opposite St. Stephen's Cathedral. Bauer located an interesting list of goods that were available at Haas's shop:


Curiously, Bauer turns the name Haas into "Häas", an error which was obviously caused by two scratches above the first "a" in Haas's name on the printing plate of the above list:


Of course the name of this tradesman was Haas. The name "Häas" does not exist, except in Bauer's imagination. All the primary sources pertaining to the merchant Johann Georg Haas (1754-1826) in Vienna's archives are absolutely clear on this issue:

Johann Georg Haas's signature on his 1780 marriage contract (A-Wsa, Merkantilgericht, Fasz. 3, 1. Reihe, H 61)

It turns out however that Bauer desperately needs the hallucinated umlaut in "Häas" to establish a connection between Constanze Mozart's pearl necklace, Mozart's debt and Johann Georg Haas. Based on his willful renaming, Bauer identifies the "famous Hesse", whom Constanze Mozart mentions in her will, as the Viennese "Galanteriewarenhändler" Johann Georg Haas whom, for the sake of this tormented identification, he must call "Häas". Yet, whoever knows even a little bit about jewelry and ivory sculpture in the 18th century realizes immediately that the "famous Hesse" can only refer to the really famous Sebastian Hess (1732-1800), or his younger brother Paul Hess (1744-1798). Because of their miniature ivory sculptures, carved with inexplicable mastery, set on a blue background and covered with rock crystal glass, these two engravers (as they called themselves) have become truly legendary figures in the history of art. The Viennese Galanteriewarenhändler Johann Georg Haas (who was not a regular jeweler and therefore was not allowed to sell pearl necklaces) has no provable connection with Constanze Mozart's pearl necklace.

Owing to the fact that Viennese art historians are even less competent in doing biographical research than their local musicologist colleagues, very little is known about Sebastian and Paul Heß. The only author who has recently published on the Heß brothers is the Austrian art historian Peter Hartmann, who however does not even know when exactly those two artists died. Therefore I decided to shed more light on the two brothers from Bamberg, who produced some of the most amazing specimens of ivory micro-carving known today. To realize the very special kind of art we are dealing with, when we speak of the wonders that the Heß brothers produced, we have to take a look at Sebastian Heß's so-called Maria-Theresia Brooch which took the artist three years to make:


This unique piece of jewelry, whose value in 2002 was estimated at 375,000 €, is only seven centimeters wide. The three river miniature landscapes contain 26 figurines, five houses, five trees and two ships (of which one is only one milimeter high). The blue background is made of pulverized cobalt, applied inside the silver case that holds the sculpture.

 
Sebastian Heß: Centerpiece of the Maria-Theresia Brooch (2,4 x 1,7 cm)

The fishing rod of the fisherman on this centerpiece of the brooch is about 0,02 mm thick. How Sebastian Heß managed to carve the branches of the trees without ever tilting with the file is absolutely inexplicable. The problem is not only the cutting and filing of the piece of ivory, it is also the extremely difficult task of mechanically fixing it in such a way that prevents it from breaking while being worked on. The carvings of Paul Heß (no Viennese source ever calls him Paul Johann) excel in similar dazzling micro-artistry. The exquisitely lifelike shape of his trees is even more intricate and thus quite distinguishable from his brother's work. The size of the following landscape with a classical facade (with the signature HESS)  is 3,2 x 2,7 cm:


Paul Heß: Landscape with Classical Facade

Both of the above pieces of jewelry were given by Maria Theresia to her personal physician Jan Ingenhousz for rescuing her family from smallpox. In 1779 after his return to England Ingenhousz sold them for a fortune and until their sale in December 2002 they were part of the so-called Connoisseur Collection that consisted of 29 micro carvings. In 1782 the German historian Johann Georg Meusel (1743-1820), who was personally acquainted with the Heß brothers, described their work in his addenda to Füeßli's Lexicon Miscellaneen artistischen Inhalts as follows:



The brothers Heß, born in Bamberg; for a long time they lived in Brussels, where especially the elder stood in high regard of the late Prince Charles of Lorraine whom he had to assist with the Prince's various hobbies. Since several years both brothers have settled in Vienna, where they still reside. The actual object of their art consists of ivory, from which especially the younger delivers pieces of incomprehensible smallness and delicacy; by then (1780) he was working on a box lid for the Russian Empress that shows a rural landscape with trees, a farmhouse and a view on the water, where one could see people, cattle and everything arranged and executed so splendidly, that the incomprehensibly small is in no way inferior to the greatest in art. He also makes bracelets of this kind for ladies and rings for both sexes that currently are so very popular in Vienna that only few ladies and gentlemen don't wear them. Heß makes his trees and figures through a magnifying glass piece by piece and then pins them with glue into the ivory bottom one after the other. The background is always blue to make the beauty of his wooly incomparable trees even more discernible. His forgrounds he usually decorates with a bridge, Roman ruins or a country house. At the same time he knows how to set everything properly into action; at one place he engages a countrywoman in feeding her fowl and you see the oats fall from her hands: elsewhere a young man is standing in a tree, throwing an apple into the apron of a girl and you can actually see the apple's stem in his hand: at a third place a woman is drawing water from a well and in her hands one can see the ivory rope going across a wheel: here and there he puts a recumbent sheperd with his cattle, or assigns some other rural activity to his figures. [...] Heß is a completely singular genius and an enthusiast of this art which he is able to judge with deep understanding. The easiness of his work is incredible; I have been watching him many times for hours with amazement, how he produces one creature after the other with his delicate saw; one thinks to be able to imitate the man's work, only to finally leave him, indignant about the fact that nobody can learn anything from this man, who certainly has no peer.
Paul Heß: Maid at the Well (1,4 x 1,2 cm!)


Paul Heß: Pastoral Scene at the Foot of a Rock (clasp of a necklace, 3,2 x 2,7 cm)

Archival research shows that there were actually four Heß brothers living in Vienna in the last quarter of the 18th century.

1) Theodor Heß. He was born in 1730 in Bamberg the son of master locksmith Philipp Jacob Heß and his wife Maria Margaretha. He was the first of the Heß brothers, who moved to Vienna. At the occasion of his marriage on 14 August 1768 to Maria Magdalena Kreyl he declared to have come to Vienna already in 1764:

The entry concerning Theodor Heß's wedding on 14 August 1768 in Vienna's Schottenkirche (A-Ws, Tom. 32, fol. 188v)

Theodor Heß's best man in 1768 was his younger brother Conrad's father-in-law Joseph Gissinger. From 1768 (or even earlier) until his death Theodor Heß always lived in the house "Zum weißen Schlüssel" ("At the White Key") No. 363 in the Tiefer Graben (today Tiefer Graben 13):

The house Tiefer Graben 363 (Puthon's house Am Hof 309 is on the left)

With his first wife Heß had one daughter and three sons, all of whom had Johann Baptist Puthon and his mother Eva Barbara Schuller as prominent godparents. Puthon (1745-1816), who by that time was still addressed as "Wechsler" (banker), was soon to become one of the wealthiest factory owners and merchants of the Austrian monarchy. Heß must have made the banker's acquaintance at the house of his first father-in-law Franz Kreyl, who ran an inn in Puthon's house Stadt No. 309 "Zur großen Weintraube" ("At the Large Grape", today Am Hof 7, the place of birth of the painter Joseph Mathias Grassi). After the death of his first wife Theodor Heß married again in 1782. His second wife was Elisabeth Schubert, daughter of Albert Schubert, a carpenter at the Schottenhof. She bore Heß two more daughters (b. 1783 and 1789). Theodor Heß, "K.K. Hof und bürgerlicher Schlossermeister" died of "Harnblasen" (some bladder problem) on 5 December 1798.

2) Sebastian Heß He was born in 1732 in Bamberg. Like his father and his brothers he became a locksmith. This profession seems to have been essential for the micro-sculpturing craftsmanship of the Heß brothers, because many of the inexplicable mysteries of their art were obviously founded in various self invented and specially handcrafted metal tools. In the second volume of his encyclopedia Das gelehrte Oesterreich Ignaz de Luca expressedly refers to Heß's initial profession:


The sources suggest that Sebastian Heß and his brothers already came to Vienna before 1770. By 1773 Sebastian was definitely active there, since in that year he started to work on his brooch for the Empress which he finished in 1775.

The two Hess brothers, listed as ivory sculptors in Joseph von Kurzböck's Neueste Beschreibung aller Merkwürdigkeiten Wiens (Vienna 1779)

In 1790 he published a book titled Geschichte des alten Roms in Medaillen von Johann Dassier und Sohn (gedruckt bey Fr. Ant. Schrämbl. k. k. privileg. Buchdrucker und Buchhändler) in which he calls himself "engraver and mechanic at the late Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine". In Vienna the brothers Sebastian and Paul lived together in the house Stadt 116 on the Schottenbastei (today Helferstorferstraße 1) which is documented by the church records of the Schotten parish and Ignaz de Luca's 1787 handbook Wiens gegenwärtiger Zustand unter Josephs Regierung.


In another Viennese guidebook, von Lichtenstern's Statistisch-geographische Beschreibung des Erzherzogthums Oestreich unter der Ens (Kleinmayr 1791), Sebastian Heß is described as "arguably the most famous and most skillful ivory sculptor in Europe":


Sebastian Heß also produced medals and cast copies of his own micro-sculptures which he made of a special alabaster-like substance and sold for seven Kreuzer apiece. Before 1798 a major strife seems to have occurred between the brothers, because on 23 March 1799, almost a year after the death of his younger brother, Sebastian Heß published an ad in the Wiener Zeitung, in which he completely denied the artistic activity of his brother Paul and denounced him as mere distributor of his own ivory artworks (a claim that is of course refuted by J. G. Meusel's account and other testimonies):
Nachricht.
Dem verehrungswürdigsten Publikum den irrigen Wahn zu benehmen, daß mein nicht mehr lebender Bruder Paul Heß, der wahre Künstler in Graveur=Arbeiten aus Elfenbein gewesen wäre, fordert mich auf, hiermit öffentlich bekannt zu machen, daß ich diesem, nur den Verkehr meiner Arbeiten, in Rücksicht seiner Familie, übertragen hatte, zugleich aber auch anzuzeigen, daß von nun an bey mir selbst Bestellungen auf alle Gattungen von Graveur=Arbeiten aus Elfenbein, als: Figuren, Blumen, Opfer, Namen, kleine Landschaften u.s.w. für Kabinetstücke, Schliessen, Medaillons, Dosen und Ringe können gemacht werden.
Notice.
To relieve the honorable public of the mistaken illusion that my deceased brother was the true artist of the ivory engravings, I see myself obliged to publicly declare that out of consideration for his family I had merely assigned him with the distribution of my work. At the same time I herewith announce that from now on orders can be made with me personally for all kind of engravings from ivory, i.e. figures, flowers, votiv pictures, names, small landscapes etc. for cabinet pieces, clasps, medallions, boxes and rings.


Sebastian's wife Anna Heß ("Kunst=Graveurs Ehegattin") died on 5 February 1786 from uterine cancer at the age of 55 in the so-called Tischlerherberg, Stadt 1344 ("The Carpenters' Hostel", today Ballgasse 8). In the 1788 municipal tax register Sebastian Heß is still listed as tenant of a three-room apartment on the fourth floor of this building.

Sebastian Heß listed as tenant at Stadt 1344 in the 1788 Josephinische Steuerfassion (A-Wsa, Steueramt B34/5, fol. 373)

Sebastian Heß had two children: Elisabeth, born in Brussels in 1767 and Franz, born in 1769, who at the time of his mother's death served as artillerist in the Austrian army in Kaiserebersdorf Castle. When Sebastian Heß died on 13 December 1800 of dyspnea ("an Dampf") in the house Jägergasse 20 on the Laimgrube (today Papagenogasse 4), both his children were already dead. Heß's belongings were auctioned off for net 255 fl 28 x, but at the gathering of the creditors on 26 March 1801 it turned out that the debts of the deceased amounted to 1,533 fl 27 x. The meager assets were used to cover the remaining rent, the physician's fee and the burial. Sebastian's younger brother Conrad Heß of course renounced the inheritance.

Sebastian Heß (A-Wn, PORT_00115962_01)

3) Conrad Heß. He was born in Bamberg in 1737 and also became a locksmith. His first marriage on 10 May 1767 to Eleonora Gissinger (b. 1744, daughter of the Viennese locksmith Joseph Gissinger) at St. Stephen's is the second earliest documentary evidence of a Heß sibling's actual presence in Vienna.

The entry concerning Conrad Hess's marriage to Eleonora Gissinger on 10 May 1767 (A-Wd, Tom. 64, fol. 9v)

After the death of his first wife on 23 December 1770 Conrad Heß in January 1771 got married a second time to Anna Maria Hallmann in the parish of St. Ulrich. It seems likely that his brothers and his half-sister Johanna Heß came to Vienna around the year 1770. Conrad Heß's success in his profession on 12 May 1786 enabled him to purchase the house Stadt 640 (today Rotgasse 9) which on 2 October 1807 he sold again for 10,500 fl to the merchant Bernhard von Grandin. Conrad Heß and his second wife (who died in 1808) had no children. He died on 31 January 1809 in the house Stadt 756 (today Fleischmarkt 11) and bequeathed 12,733 gulden to his half-sister Johanna and the two children of his younger brother Paul. The main part of his estate however consisted of a debt certificate from the buyer of his house which two years later was to lose significantly in value.

Conrad Hess's signature from 1796 (A-Wsa, Mag. ZG, A10, 210/1808)

4) Paul Heß. He was born in Bamberg in 1744 and like his brothers seems at first to have taken up the profession of a locksmith. His marriage to Katharina Dobler, the daughter of an employee of Archduchess Maria Elisabeth of Austria (1680-1741), took place in Brussels. He had several children of whom only two reached adulthood. 

Paul Heß in the 1788 Steuerfassion as tenant of an apartment on the 4th floor of the house Stadt 116 (A-Wsa, Steueramt B34/1, fol. 151)

Paul Heß did not only dedicate himself to ivory carving, but also made a number of technical inventions. In 1791 he unsuccessfully tried to establish a production of self designed "English buckles" and in 1795 he presented a newly invented telegraph in the Prater ("eine von ihm ganz neu erfundene, noch nie gesehene beleuchtete Fernschreibmaschine") that used colored light signals to communicate information. In November 1795 he also demonstrated his telegraph in the k.k. Reitschule for an entrance fee of ten to 30 Kreuzer. In order to be able to become a member of the Viennese K.K. Pensionsverein bildender Künstler (the I. & R. pension society of visual artists), he needed to apply to the Empress herself, presenting a certificate of his entitlement. On 2 June 1794 the K.K. Hofzeichenmeister and vice director of the society Lorenz Kohl duly obliged and wrote the following:
It is herewith certified by the Pension Society of Visual Artists in Vienna that Paul Heß is a well-known artist in carving small figures, especially of ivory and that he belongs to the class of visual artists.
On 5 July 1794 Heß submitted a detailed application to Empress Marie Therese, explaining the main reason for his dire financial situation:
Owing to the unfortunate revolutions and the lengthy war the livelihood of the undersigned, which made good progress based on the shipment of small ivory works to foreign countries, has been cut back to such an extent that he is unable to raise the necessary deposit for the membership in the aforesaid institution.
Paul Heß's letter to Empress Marie Therese (A-Wsa, Private Institutionen, Pensionsgesellschaft bildender Künstler, A1/1)

The Empress of course granted Paul Heß a free membership in the Pensionsgesellschaft bildender Künstler. His financial situation however did not improve. At least he was able to procure a secure job for his son Franz Joseph (b. 8 April 1774), who being employed as Ingrossist der K.K. Tabakgefällsbuchhalterei provided housing and financial support for his parents. On 17 May 1798 Paul Heß committed suicide by jumping into the Danube. His body was found almost one month later and on 15 June 1798 was autopsied in Vienna's General Hospital. The entry in the death records of the Magistrate reads as follows:
Heß, Paul Graveur von N° 14 in der Josephstadt, welcher in der Donau ertrunken gefunden und im Allgemeinen Krankenhaus gerichtl[ich] besch[au]t worden, alt 54 J[ah]r.
Heß was survived by his wife, his son Franz Joseph and his daughter Katharina (b. 25 October 1778). He left absolutely nothing and his estate was "armuthshalber abgetan" (discounted owing to poverty) by the civil court. The Emperor, who was notoriously interested in cases of murder and suicide, took keen interest in Heß's tragic death and the protocol of the Imperial Cabinet-Chancellery duly notes: "Hess, Paul Elfenbeingraveur. Hat sich wahrscheinlich wegen Schulden in der Donau ersäuft." ("Killed himself in the Danube presumably because of debts"). Not surprisingly none of Paul Heß's three brothers reported to the authorities in the course of the legal proceedings at the civil court. It seems that the rift between Paul and Sebastian was mainly caused by Paul's inability to pay back money his brother had lent him. In 1799 Paul's son Franz Joseph Heß was promoted to the rank of Raitoffizier (accounting official), he married and together with his wife and his sister moved to his new place of employment in West Galicia.

Paul Heß was not easily forgotten. In 1799 his friend, the Austrian poet Johann Carl Unger published a collection of dedication poems titled Feierstunden. Wiens Bewohnern gewidmet that contains an "Elegie auf den Tod des biedern Künstlers Paul Heß" ("Elegy to the death of the honest artist Paul Heß").


In Unger's poem (of which the remaining five stanzas are available here) we also learn that Paul Heß was a proficient singer.

I do not know where Constanze Mozart's pearl necklace is today. Regardless of its current location – whether it is lost or held by the Mozarteum – its value increases immensely by the identification of the creator of its clasp. Only about 100 ivory micro-carvings are known today worldwide. Most of the Heß brothers' masterpieces are held by the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the British Museum and the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. The inexplicable mastership of the art of Sebastian and Paul Heß will never cease to amaze.


© Dr. Michael Lorenz 2012. All rights reserved.

Updated: 2 April 2017

Oct 8, 2012

An Unknown Grandmother of Liszt

The genealogical basics of Franz Liszt's family tree have been established decades ago. This may have been caused by the debated question whether Liszt was a German or a Hungarian composer and by the fact that having been Richard Wagner's father-in-law, his ancestry simply was an important issue in the eyes of purebred Wagnerites and a ministry of propaganda that used Liszt's "Les Preludes" as signature tune of its regular reports from the theater of war. The essential literature on Franz Liszt's ancestry consists of the following four publications:
  • Heinrich E. Wamser: "Abstammung und Familie Franz Liszts", Burgenländische Heimatblätter 1936, vol. 2, 24-33.
  • Eduard Ritter von Liszt: Franz Liszt. Abstammung, Familie, Begebenheiten, (Vienna-Leipzig: Braumüller, 1937).
  • Josef Beatus Klingohr and Wolfgang Huschke: "Zur Herkunft Franz Liszts. Neue Forschungen über die Ahnen seiner Mutter (Lager, Laager)", Genealogie 14, 1965, 422-28.
  • Heinz Schöny: "Neues zu Franz Liszt", Adler. Zeitschrift für Genealogie und Heraldik, (Vienna: Heraldisch-genealogische Gesellschaft Adler), vol. 21, 2001-02, 28-30.

The young Franz Liszt
While the details of  Liszt's family's roots have been covered quite extensively back to Liszt's great-grandfather Sebastian List (~1703-1793), including the identification of the complete fourth generation of ancestors, ten of Liszt's sixteen great-great-grandparents still remain unknown. Three generations of the Liszt family are given in the following table by Heinrich Wamser:


The date of the marriage of Liszt's parents, given by Wamser, is wrong. The correct date is 17 January 1811. At times the genealogical literature is a little messy. Liszt's four grandparents ("Generation III"), on whose identity the literature agrees unanimously, are given as follows in Heinz Schöny's 2001 article in the genealogical journal Adler:


It is easy to see that a few things are gravely amiss in the above list and one wonders, who served as editor at the Gesellschaft Adler back in 2001. Liszt's grandfather Georg Adam List was not born on 14 January, but on 14 October 1755. He did not marry in 1715, but in 1775. His first wife Barbara Schlesak was of course born in 1753, not in 1853. Mathias Lager was not born in 1815, but 100 years earlier. Lager did not get married in Kirchberg am Wagram on 26 May, but on 27 May 1777 (with Ludwig von Köchel's grandfather Georg Heinrich Köchel serving as his best man), his bride's name was Schuhmann, not Schihmann and the place of her birth was not "Öttinger", but Oettingen in Bayern.

The entry concerning the wedding of Liszt's grandparents Mathias Lager and Franziska Schumann on 27 May 1775 in Kirchberg am Wagram ("ex Kremß dimissa") (Pfarre Kirchberg am Wagram, Tom. 2/7, p. 51)

At least Franziska Lager's date of death (9 June 1797) is correct in Schöny's chart, whereas Wamser gives it one month too early. It is also interesting to note that Georg Adam List was not only an organist, but up into the 1830s was also in charge of rehearsing the boys' choir in the chapel of Pottendorf Castle.

Liszt's grandfather Georg Adam List (1755-1844)

According to the literature, Georg Adam List (he always signed his name just "Adam List") was married three times, namely  to 1) Barbara Schlesak (1753-1798) (Liszt's supposed grandmother), 2) Barbara Weninger (1778-1806) and 3) Magdalena Richter (1780-1856). His late third marriage in 1807 led to his last son Eduard (1817-1879) being actually six years younger than his first grandson, the famous pianist Franz Liszt.

A few days before on 11 January 1811 Franz Liszt's father Adam married Maria Anna Lager in the Hungarian village of Unterfrauenhaid, the banns had to be published in the two Viennese home parishes of the bride. The sources in Vienna's parish archives concerning Adam List's wedding have hitherto not been acknowledged by Liszt scholarship. The information in these documents regarding the mother of the groom is starkly at odds with what is documented in the genealogical literature. According to the entries in the marriage records of St. Stephen's and the Schottenkirche, which were made on 7 and 8 January 1811 respectively, Adam List's mother was not Barbara Schlesak, but a certain Katharina Baumann.

The section pertaining to the groom of the entry concerning the publication of the banns on 7 January 1811 for Adam List's wedding (A-Wd, Tom. 82b, fol. 325)
d[en] 7t[en] Jänner [1811] / Tit[ulo] H[err] Adam \List/ Rechnungs= / führer beÿm Fürst / Esterhazy zu Raiding / in Hungarn, geb. von / Matterstorf[sic] in Hung= / garn, des Tit. H[errn] / Adam List, Schaf / fers zu Matterstorf / beym Fürst Esterhazy / leb[end] u. der Fr. Kathar[ina] / geb. Baumann, sel[ig] / ehel[icher] Sohn.
January 7th, [1811] Mr. Adam List, head accountant with Prince Esterházy in Raiding in Hungary, born in Mattersdorf in Hungary, legitimate son of Adam List, workman in Mattersdorf at Prince Esterházy's, alive and of Mrs. Katharina [List], née Baumann deceased.
As a matter of fact Adam List was born in Edelstal, not in Mattersdorf. And the fact that List's age is given as 30 (instead of 35, as given in the Edelstal records) might also be of interest, considering his unknown mother that appears nowhere in the Liszt literature. The earlier original entry from 7 January 1811 (A-Wd, Rapular 1810-13, fol. 220), referring to the bride, also yields new information: we finally learn for whom Liszt's mother had worked as parlourmaid in Vienna.

The previously unknown entry in the wedding Rapular of St. Stephen's pertaining to Anna Laager's employment (A-Wd, Rapular 1810-13, fol. 220)
J[un]gf[er] Mar[ia] Anna / Laager, Stu= / benmagd gew[esen] / beÿ der Frau / v. Kurzbeck, / geb. von Krems, / des H. Mat= / thäus Laager / Bürgers da= / selbst sel[ig] u. / der Fr. Fr[an]z[is]ka / geb. Schuchmann / sel., ehel[iche] Tochter.
Derzeit / Pfarr= / ort zu / Matter= / storf / in Hungarn, / vordem / Pfarr St. / Steph. / Nro 1139. / dann vordem / Pf. Schotten / Nro 235.
22 / d[en] 9t Maÿ 788
The maiden Maria Anna Laager, formerly parlourmaid with Frau von Kurzbeck, born in Krems, legitimate daughter of Matthäus Laager, deceased citizen in said town, and Mrs. Franziska, née Schuchmann deceased. [Her] current parish is Mattersdorf in Hungary, formerly at St. Stephen's parish No. 1139, then at Schotten parish No. 235. [years of age] 22, [born] 9 May 1788
Unlike the groom the bride was underage and therefore had to present a birth certificate and a license from the Krems magistrate. On 10 January 1811 the couple also received a dispensation from the other two publications of the banns. Maria Anna Laager's employer "Frau v. Kurzbeck" was Katharina von Kurzbeck, née Gerold (b. 15 November 1748 in Vienna, d. 19 August 1821 in Baden bei Wien), widow of the printer, merchant and estate owner Joseph von Kurzbeck (1736-1792). The Kurzbeck family is of particular interest because of seven very musical daughters who were acquainted with Mozart and Haydn. These daughters are listed in the 1788 Taschenbuch des weiblichen Adels as living at Stadt 1152 (today Bräunerstr. 1), a house that had been owned by Joseph von Kurzbeck since 1775.

The Kurzbeck daughters listed in the 1788 Taschenbuch des weiblichen Adels

The most prominent member of the family was of course Magdalena von Kurzbeck (1767-1845), pianist, composer and student of Clementi, Haydn and Andreas Streicher. For a long time she was regarded as Vienna's finest female pianist. Haydn dedicated the printed edition of his piano sonata in E flat major (Hob. XVI/52) and the piano trio (Hob. XV/31) to her. Johann Nepumuk Hummel wrote his piano sonata op. 20 for her. Soon after the death of Joseph von Kurzbeck his widow Katharina sold the house in the Untere Bräunerstraße for 46,000 gulden and moved into the so-called Hasenhaus at Kärntnerstraße 8 (then No. 1082, from 1795 until 1821 No. 1139), where about fifteen years later Liszt's mother was to work as parlourmaid.

Catharina Edle von Kurzbeck ("Großhandl[er]s Wittwe gestorben") with three of her daughters on a concription sheet from the so-called Hasenhaus, Stadt No. 1073, dating from about 1805 (A-Wsa, Konskriptionsamt, Stadt 1073/3r)

Shortly before the marriage of her maid, Katharina von Kurzbeck must have moved to the house Stadt 235 (today Tiefer Graben 22). Similar records from other Viennese parishes prove that on 7 January 1811 Maria Anna Laager also had to submit a testimony by her employer to the government and the parish priest, regarding her good moral conduct during her service as maidservant.

Katharina von Kurzbeck's seal and signature from 1795 (A-Wsa, Merkantilgericht, Fasz. 3, 1, Reihe, litt. CK, Nr. 4)

There are three different copies of the entry concerning the publication of the banns for Adam List and Maria Anna Laager in Viennese parish archives: a) the entry in the records of St. Stephen's quoted above, b) a slightly shortened copy of this entry (without the the information regarding the Kurzbeck connection) in the series of duplicate marriage records of St. Stephen's and c) the entry in the marriage records of the Schotten parish which was made one day later, on 8 January 1811. The entry related to Adam List is basically identical with the earlier ones and Katharina Baumann is given again as Adam List's mother. Only the dates referring to the dispensation from two publications of the banns and the delivery of the certificate ("Ist der Braut den 13. Jänner [1]811 der Verkündschein gegeben worden") have been added. This and the date "12 [January]" above the entry shows that the bride was still in Vienna on 13 January 1811, because (contrary to the information in the Liszt literature)  Adam List's wedding in Hungary took place but on 17 January 1811.

The entry concerning the publication of the banns for Adam List's wedding in January 1811 (A-Ws, Tom. 41, fol. 109)

Who was Adam List's mother Katharina List, née Baumann? The following explanatory scenarios come to mind:
  • Heinrich Wamser's genealogical chart is flawed, because Wamser overlooked one of Georg Adam Liszt's wives. Adam List the elder did not marry three, but four times. The age given by his son at the time of his marriage in 1811, pointing to 1780 as his year of birth, could be a clue in favor of this hypothesis.
  • Liszt's father Adam List was an illegitimate child and this family secret was already covered up by Liszt's early biographers.
  • Adam List had been provided with false information regarding his ancestry. In times when many people didn't even know their own date of birth, such a situation was quite common. On the other hand, the fact that his father was still alive and he was in regular contact with his relatives makes such a lack of information unlikely.
  • Liszt's official paternal grandmother Barbara Schlesak and Katharina Baumann are one and the same person. Different first names bear little significance in 200-year-old sources that sometimes are fraught with errors, caused by faulty readings and flawed transmission. And yet it is hardly conceivable that the name "Katharina Baumann" as mother of the groom does not appear in the 1811 marriage records of Unterfrauenhaid.
  • The whole "Schlesak-construct" is a fabrication by the fervent Nazi Heinrich Wamser, who discovered that Liszt had a baptized, but originally Jewish grandmother by the name of Katharina Baumann and decided to erase her from the family tree. The Johann Strauss forgery is ample proof that the Nazis did not shy away from falsifying the sources for the sake of "preserving" a composer for the German nation.
Katharina Baumann's existence could remain undetected for over 200 years, because Viennese genealogists, who obviously considered the marriage of Liszt's parents in Unterfrauenhaid an exclusively Hungarian affair, never did any research in Vienna. Based on the newly discovered documents I consider it very likely that Liszt's father did not make the acquaintance of his bride in Mattersdorf, but actually first met her in Vienna and then made her move to Hungary with his proposal of marriage. A lot of research still remains to be done on a topic that seemed to be covered so exhaustively.

The handwriting of Franz Liszt's grandfather Adam List the elder

© Dr. Michael Lorenz 2012. All rights reserved.

Updated: 18 March 2017

Additional research in the church records of Edelstal has already been conducted, but the results can only be published, as soon as somebody is willing to fund this project.

Oct 1, 2012

Martines, Maron and a Latin Inscription

On 27 May 1773 composer Marianna Martines was appointed member of the renowned Accademia filarmonica of Bologna. Following Padre Martini's favorable judgment of her work and being aware of Pietro Metastasio's interest in her musical career, a committee of eighteen members voted unanimously to grant Martines the title Accademia filarmonica Onorata. A diploma of honor on parchment was prepared explicitly for her to be dispatched to Vienna and a report of the meeting was published in the Gazetta di Bologna on 13 July 1773. In the 108 years of the academy's existence since 1666 Martines was the first woman composer to receive this honor. Only five more women would earn this distinction by the end of the eighteenth century. Soon after she had received the exquisit academic accolades Martines must have commissioned a portrait of herself to be painted by the renowned artist Anton von Maron, who in 1772 had returned to Vienna after having spent seventeen years in Rome.


The inscription on this painting, which today is held by the Wien Museum (Inv. No. 158.809), was first published in 1995 by my friend, the late Irving Godt as follows:


This flawed transcription ("METASTASIO", "VINDIBO") was then also mistranslated by Godt: "Marianna Martines, Pupil of P. Metastasio; born in Vienna, 4th day of May 1744, Member Academia Filarmonica."

When Melanie Unseld was working on her book Mozarts Frauen. Begegnungen in Musik und Liebe and spent time in Vienna "to make original sources the basis of her book" (as she proudly claimed in a press interview), she visited the Wien Museum's deposit to take a look at the Martines portrait. Her "on-site inspection in Vienna" (as she described this excursion) yielded meager results: although her book contains a nice color picture of Maron's painting on which the Latin inscription is perfectly legible, Unseld simply copied Godt's flawed transcription from the 1995 Journal of Musicology. In the review I wrote of Unseld's book in 2007 for the Mozart-Jahrbuch 2007/2008 (which was not published until November 2011[!]) I pointed out this mistake and noted that Unseld should have copied the inscription from the painting proper instead of using Irving Godt's old transcription. It turned out that Unseld was able to even go one better. In the February 2011 issue of the Schweizer Musikzeitung she published a short article on Martines in which she not only repeated Godt's mistakes, but also presented a curious new translation, turning the poet Pietro Metastasio into a "Padre Metastasio":


When in February 2012 Sony Music published the CD Marianna Martines: Il Primo Amore with cantatas and concertos by Martines, Unseld not surprisingly repeated her "Padre Metastasio" gem in the booklet (and note that Maron's portrait all of a sudden has been redated to 1780):


We can safely presume that neither Irving Godt nor Melanie Unseld ever studied Latin. Otherwise they would have realized that the first transcription and its translation were flawed already. The missing genitive in "Metastasio alumna" is the kind of Dog Latin that should be unworthy of any musicologist. Likewise, the translation of the date with "4th day of May" reveals a certain unfamiliarity with the Roman calendar. Maron's Latin inscription on the Martines portrait reads as follows:

MARIA ANNA. MARTINES. P[ETRI]. METASTASII. ALUMNA
NAT[A]. VINDOBO[NÆ].[ANTE DIEM] IV. NON[AS]. MAI[AS]. MDIIXLIV. ACAD[EMIÆ]. PHIL[HARMONICÆ]. SOC[IETATIS].

Maria Anna Martines. Pupil of Pietro Metastasio
Born in Vienna, on the fourth day before the Nones of May 1744, [member] of the Academic Philharmonic Society.

Together with her four brothers Marianna Martines was ennobled by Maria Theresia on 23 January 1774. Here is the coat of arms of the Martines family:


And since he somehow caused the whole confusion, Anton von Maron gets the final word with his signature and seal from 1764 (A-Wsa, AZJ 210/9).


Sep 22, 2012

A Review of Stanley Sadie's Last Book

In the 2009/2010 issue of the Mozart-Jahrbuch Daniel Brandenburg reviews the late Stanley Sadie's book Mozart: The Early Years, 1756-1781. It is by itself a minor absurdity that, owing to the MJb's perpetual tardiness, a book is being reviewed six years after its publication. On p. 252 Brandenburg addresses the (supposed) deficiencies of Sadie's book as follows:
Die einschlägige Sekundärliteratur wird bis zum Jahr 2005 erfasst, allerdings mit ein paar schmerzlichen Lücken: Dexter Edges Dissertation zu Mozarts Kopisten von 2001 ist von Sadie ebenso wenig rezipiert worden wie etwa Michael Lorenz' Untersuchung zu dem sogenannten Jeunehomme-Konzert oder auch die neuen Erkenntnisse zur Licenza KV 36 (33i).
The relevant secondary literature is being covered until the year 2005, but with a few painful gaps: Dexter Edge's 2001 dissertation on Mozart's copyists has been noted by Sadie just as little as Michael Lorenz's research on the so-called Jeunehomme concerto, or the new findings on the Licenza K. 36 (33i).
Apart from the fact that a part of Brandenburg's review seems to be heavily inspired by a review of the same book by David Black, published in Music and Letters in 2007, the following question comes to mind: did Brandenburg really read Sadie's book with the necessary attention? If he had looked on p. 410 of Sadie's final opus (or had at least checked Google Books on this issue), he would have come across the following text concerning my work and the Jeunehomme/Jenamy topic:


It is surprising that Brandenburg's gaffe was overlooked by the editors of the Mozart-Jahrbuch. Not only did Sadie take my research on the identity of the dedicatee of Mozart's piano concerto K. 271 into account, he also was one of the very few colleagues who actually understood how the misnomer Jeunehomme Concerto came to be: the name Jeunehomme is a total fabrication, a figment of the imagination of Wyzewa and Saint-Foix. This basic fact seemed easy to understand after I had explained it in several publications. And yet, according to a review by Ulrich Leisinger in the Mozart-Jahrbuch 2007/2008 (p. 139), the name Jeunehomme Concerto "is based on a misunderstanding". In the book Mensch Mozart!, published in 2005 by the Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum (and reperpetrated 2011 in English under the title Next to Mozart) we surprisingly are being told that the name Jeunehomme was caused by a "Verballhornung", i.e. a corruption:


It is to be noted, by the way, that not at any price the solver of the Jeunehomme puzzle is to be named.
Updated: 21 July 2017