composed in 1772 for Milan‚Ä™s Regio Ducal Teatro and premi` red on St
Stephen‚Ä™s Day, opening the Carnival season. Archduke Ferdinand‚Ä™s pro-
longed attention to family correspondence resulted in a two-hour delay,
yet this was followed by the success of twenty-Ô¬Āve further performances,
after which silence ruled until the 1929 Prague revival. Metastasio‚Ä™s Il re
3 Letter of 10 January 1791 in the Vienna Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv, S¬® mmelbande,
Kart. 20, quoted in J. A. Rice, ‚Ä˜Giovanni de Gamerra‚Ä™, Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy
(accessed 27 February 2006), www.grovemusic.com.
4 T. C. W. Blanning, The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture: Old Regime Europe,
1660‚Ä“1789 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 178‚Ä“9.
Power and patronage in Mozart 327
pastore, a celebration of Alexander the Great, was Ô¬Ārst set in 1751 by the
court composer Giuseppe Bonno for Maria Theresa at Schonbrunn, and
subsequently by about twenty-Ô¬Āve other composers, including Gluck,
whose 1756 version celebrated the birth of Archduke Maximilian Fran-
cis. The archduke‚Ä™s 1775 visit to Salzburg occasioned Mozart‚Ä™s serenata,
which thereafter fell immediately into obscurity. Die Entf¬® hrung aus dem
Serail was composed for Vienna‚Ä™s National Singspiel, founded by Joseph
II and based at the Burgtheater. It ran until the Singspiel‚Ä™s closure in
1783, its fame spreading rapidly, witnessing Ô¬Ārst-year productions in
Prague, Bonn, Frankfurt, Leipzig and Warsaw. Vienna, moreover, swiftly
revived the piece in 1784, under the aegis of the German company at the
K¬® rntnertor. The idea for an operatic version of Beaumarchais‚Ä™s anti-
aristocratic ‚Ä“ ‚Ä˜bourgeois‚Ä™? ‚Ä“ Le mariage de Figaro may have been Mozart‚Ä™s
own; it was written in 1785‚Ä“6 for the Burgtheater, the Singspiel having
sold out to an Italian company. Although its fame took a little longer to
spread than the more obviously ‚Ä˜popular‚Ä™ and ‚Ä˜German‚Ä™ Entf¬® hrung, Le
nozze di Figaro would soon be the toast of Europe, nobles included. The
emperor‚Ä™s notorious prohibition of excessive encores attested to rather
than denied its popularity; the success of its 1789 Vienna revival helped
elicit the imperial commission for Cos` fan tutte.
First, then, we should consider the immediate context to our two
operas, composed and premi` red in 1791, the year of Mozart‚Ä™s death. He
had never stood more isolated from the Viennese court theatre. Commis-
sions fell to Salieri rather than to him, and the Ô¬Ānal blow came in March,
when the latest in a line of scandals led to dismissal from his court post
of Lorenzo da Ponte, greatest of Mozart‚Ä™s librettists. Recipients of such
largesse as Joseph II could muster would not always Ô¬Ānd favour with
Leopold II and his consort. They did, however, share an interest in opera
seria; a successful setting might help secure subsequent commissions.
Tito arose from the Bohemian Estates‚Ä™ commission to the impresario
Domenico Guardasoni and the Nostitzsches Nationaltheater in Prague
to stage an opera in celebration of Leopold II‚Ä™s coronation as King of
Bohemia. Despite having commissioned Don Giovanni for Prague in
1787 and presented it subsequently in Leipzig and Warsaw, Guarda-
soni‚Ä™s preference had been to engage Salieri, who, perhaps mindful that
his operatic style would not please the emperor, declined Ô¬Āve times.5
Guardasoni then offered Mozart 250 ducats which, given his straitened
circumstances, proved ample persuasion. The 8 July contract with the
5 J. A. Rice, Antonio Salieri and Viennese Opera (Chicago and London: University of Chicago
Press, 1998), p. 507.
328 Mark Berry
Estates makes interesting reading for post-Romantic readers convinced
of artistic autonomy. Clauses include:
I promise to give . . . [the Estates] a primo musico [castrato] of the Ô¬Ārst rank,
such as . . . Marchesini, or Rubinelli [etc.] . . . Likewise I promise to give them a
prima donna . . . of the Ô¬Ārst rank and certainly the best of that level free of other
engagements . . .
I promise to have the poetry of the libretto composed on [one of] the two subjects
given to me by His Excellence the Burgrave and to have it set to music by a dis-
tinguished composer; but in the case it should not be at all possible to accomplish
that in the short time remaining [two months], I promise to procure an opera
newly composed on the subject of Metastasio‚Ä™s Tito.6
Mozart had far from a free hand and was Ô¬Ārmly put in his place by the
greater importance allotted to exempliÔ¬Āed singers than to ‚Ä˜a distinguished
composer‚Ä™. He nevertheless set to work with haste, as needs must. Tito
was composed between late July and September 1791 and received its
Ô¬Ārst performance on 6 September, following the coronation. Admission
was free, although restricted to ticket-holders. The Kr¬® nungsjournal f¬® r
Prag reported: ‚Ä˜The house holds a great number of persons, and yet . . .
the demand for tickets was on such an occasion so great, that the supply
came to an end, because of which many natives and visitors, among them
persons of quality, had to go away again.‚Ä™7 Thereafter, however, perfor-
mances were poorly attended ‚Ä“ with the exception of the Ô¬Ānal evening,
which coincided with the premi` re in Vienna of Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te.8 Though
not immediately popular, the number of performances increased from
1795, cannily promoted by Constanze Mozart to the public as a ‚Ä˜last
Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te was born into a very different tradition: Viennese pop-
ular theatre. Despite Maria Theresa‚Ä™s disapproval, the genre had sur-
vived and in the 1780s experienced a revival. This was the Ô¬Ārst ‚Ä“ and
last ‚Ä“ occasion that Mozart composed an opera for a non-court theatre.
The suburban Freihaustheater auf der Wieden opened in 1787. Its audi-
ences were mixed, as was its repertoire; alongside ephemeral popular
fare, works by Goethe and Schiller were staged, including Don Carlos
in 1791. Direction of the Freihaustheater had been assumed in 1789
by Emanuel Schikaneder, Mozart‚Ä™s librettist and creator of the role of
Papageno. Music had always played a role in popular theatre; Haydn had
6 Rice, La clemenza, p. 5.
7 O. E. Deutsch (ed.), Mozart, a Documentary Biography, trans. E. Blom, P. Branscombe
and J. Noble (London: Black, 1965), p. 405.
8 See letter to Constanze Mozart, 7‚Ä“8 October 1791, in W. A. Bauer and O. E. Deutsch
(eds.), Mozart: Briefe und Aufzeichnungen. Gesamtasusgabe (7 vols., Kassel: B¬® renreiter,
Power and patronage in Mozart 329
set Der neue krumme Teufel for Gottfried Prehauser‚Ä™s Hanswurst company
in about 1752. Schikaneder, a composer of sorts, nevertheless placed
greater emphasis upon music than had generally been the case. He was,
moreover, an old friend of Mozart.
Surprisingly little is certain about genesis and composition. Legend
has it that Schikaneder, himself in straitened Ô¬Ānancial circumstances,
came to Mozart to plead with the ailing and impecunious composer for
assistance, while cynically denying our divine genius the sole rights from
performances outside the original theatre. There is no basis to this, and
considerable reason to doubt it. Much remains mysterious: no contract
has survived, and Mozart‚Ä™s thematic catalogue simply dates the work
‚Ä˜im Jullius‚Ä™.9 Intensive research has nevertheless presented no reason to
doubt the tradition that Schikaneder approached Mozart personally at
some time during the spring. Studies of the autograph paper-types have
shown that most of the music was written before the end of July ‚Ä“ not, as
used to be thought, after Mozart‚Ä™s return from Prague.10
Reception was largely rapturous: this, too late, was Mozart-the-
composer‚Ä™s greatest popular success. Salieri attended a performance and
declared it ‚Ä˜worthy to be performed at the greatest festival and before the
greatest monarch‚Ä™.11 The Ô¬Ārst month saw twenty performances. Soon
almost every German city would stage the work. The Prague Nation-
altheater did in October 1792, and a Czech version followed from the
Vlastensk¬ī Divadlo (Patriotic Theatre) company in 1794. This year wit-
nessed De Gamerra furnish a translation, Il Ô¬‚auto magico, performed in
Leipzig, Dresden and Prague (for the carnival) in Guardasoni‚Ä™s travel-
ling production. The world of Italian opera could readily appreciate the
opportunities afforded by Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te‚Ä™s critical and commercial suc-
cess. By 1797, Mozart‚Ä™s Singspiel had reached St Petersburg; its light has
shone ever more brightly since.
Tito is in many respects a typical late opera seria.12 Its text is by Metasta-
sio, albeit in a revised version. As Daniel Heartz notes: ‚Ä˜Massive rewriting
and substitution was the rule, not the exception.‚Ä™13 Metastasio continued
9 Ibid., p. 154.
10 See P. Branscombe, Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991),
11 Letter to Constanze, 14 October 1791, in Briefe, IV.161‚Ä“2.
12 The term was infrequently used at the time; dramma per musica is the usual description
on printed libretti.
13 D. Heartz, ‚Ä˜Mozart and his Italian Contemporaries‚Ä™, in Mozart‚Ä™s Operas, ed. with con-
tributing essays by T. Bauman (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), p. 301.
330 Mark Berry
to be regarded as the author: ‚Ä˜poet‚Ä™ rather than ‚Ä˜librettist‚Ä™, as was the
case in more ‚Ä˜popular‚Ä™ forms. The Caesarian court poet in Vienna, he
had published the Tito text in 1734. First set by Antonio Caldara, Vice-
Kapellmeister, to celebrate Charles VI‚Ä™s birthday that year, we know of
forty subsequent settings prior to Mozart‚Ä™s, notably by Johann Adolf
Hasse (1735, heard by Mozart in Cremona in 1770), the pre-reformist
Gluck (1752) and Josef Mysliveňá ek (1773). The text would continue
to attract composers into the nineteenth century; its Ô¬Ānal composer, in
1839, was Giuseppe Arena in Turin. This celebrated text provided man-
ifold connections with what has been dismissed as an ‚Ä˜outdated‚Ä™ musical
tradition, yet which, Gluck‚Ä™s reforms notwithstanding, stubbornly con-
tinued to thrive, especially in Italy.
Wolfgang Hildesheimer describes Tito as ‚Ä˜probably the last seria in
music history‚Ä™, therefore possessing ‚Ä˜only a museum-piece kind of
beauty‚Ä™.14 This judgement, while plausible a priori, is dated. London
had famously rejected opera seria during the 1730s, prompting Handel‚Ä™s
decisive turn towards oratorio, but this was not typical of Europe. Joseph
II‚Ä™s unwillingness to pay the extravagant sums commanded by the stars
of opera seria had been the exception even in the German-speaking world.
His successor wished to deÔ¬Āne himself in opposition to the predecessor
who had apparently brought the Habsburg lands so close to the precipice,
not least so that some of Joseph‚Ä™s reforms, particularly those relating to
education and religion, might quietly be salvaged. Opera seria, far from
being a throwback, might present a contrast of benevolent tradition. Jean-
Pierre Ponnelle, whose productions did much to reintroduce Tito to the
repertoire, declared it the genre‚Ä™s crowning example.15
However, the situation is not quite so straightforward. Tito incorpo-
rates formal aspects characteristic of comic opera (opera buffa) and French
trag¬īdie lyrique.16 In Caterino Mazzol` ‚Ä™s sometimes drastic revision of the
text, three acts become two and plentiful blank verse is transformed into
musical ensembles, creating a Ô¬Ārst-act Ô¬Ānale on a scale hitherto consid-
ered appropriate only to opera buffa. Rewriting of the text was one thing,
such structural transformation another. ‚Ä˜Small wonder‚Ä™, as one commen-
tator has written, that the work ‚Ä˜took its imperial audience aback. Noth-
ing like this . . . had ever been done to the great poet laureate of the
14 W. Hildesheimer, Mozart, trans. M. Faber (London: Dent, 1982), pp. 308‚Ä“9.
15 Quoted in D. Borchmeyer, Mozart oder die Entdeckung der Liebe Insel (Frankfurt and
Leipzig: Insel Verlag, 2005), p. 220.
16 On problematical aspects of the commonplace distinction between buffa and seria, see
Heartz, ‚Ä˜Mozart and his Italian Contemporaries‚Ä™, pp. 299‚Ä“300.
Power and patronage in Mozart 331
century.‚Ä™17 Originality was not universally considered a virtue; yet, in this
respect, Romantically inclined writers such as Hildesheimer allow ‚Ä˜a kind
of genius‚Ä™, lauding Mozart‚Ä™s opening up ‚Ä˜the static tableau of these scenes
and the hollow rhetoric of these puppets . . . breathing into it a refreshing
buffo spirit‚Ä™.18 The classical conception of opera seria as spoken theatre
with additional music came into conÔ¬‚ict, both in work and in reception,
with later eighteenth-century aesthetics, which ascribed greater impor-
tance to music.
Returning to the occasion for which the work was written, Leopold‚Ä™s
coronation was important in afÔ¬Ārming both the power of the monarch
and of tradition, and the consent and privileges of the Bohemian Estates.
Having regained control of the Austrian Netherlands, Leopold was not
inclined to repeat Joseph‚Ä™s refusal to recognise traditional privileges and
therefore to be crowned King of Bohemia, as all of his Habsburg pre-
decessors had been. We should nevertheless err to consider Leopold
a supplicant; he had already rejected some of the Estates‚Ä™ constitu-
tional claims, not least those to represent the ‚Ä˜nation‚Ä™ and to determine
Bohemian citizenship. It behoved the Estates to win Leopold‚Ä™s favour,
for no one suspected that he would die the following year, ruling for no
longer than the historical Titus.
Titus Flavius Vespasianus (ÔĚ°ÔĚ¤ 79‚Ä“81) had been acclaimed by many
eighteenth-century writers as a model, proto-Enlightenment ruler. Mon-
tesquieu called him ‚Ä˜the delight of the Romans‚Ä™.19 Gibbon held that,
under the ‚Ä˜mild administration of Titus, the Roman world enjoyed a
transient felicity, and his beloved memory served to protect, above Ô¬Āfteen
years, the vices of his brother Domitian‚Ä™.20 If only the equally short reign
of Leopold-Titus had preceded Joseph-Domitian‚Ä™s ‚Ä˜vices‚Ä™. Even when
Joseph‚Ä™s careful stewardship of public money is echoed, Tito‚Ä™s response
is gracious rather than puritanical. Publio announces the Senate‚Ä™s deci-
sion to erect a temple for worship of the god Tito, to which the emperor
Tito responds: ‚Ä˜Romans, the only object of Tito‚Ä™s desires is your love.‚Ä™
The spoils of recent campaigns would be better spent aiding victims of
Vesuvius‚Ä™s recent eruption.
Yet we should beware positing too strong an opposition between our
Habsburg Titus and Domitian. Adam Wandruszka argued that Tito
17 M. P. McClymonds, ‚Ä˜Mozart‚Ä™s ‚ÄúLa clemenza di Tito‚ÄĚ and Opera Seria in Florence as a
ReÔ¬‚ection of Leopold II‚Ä™s Musical Taste‚Ä™, Mozart-Jahrbuch (1984/5), p. 66.
18 Hildesheimer, Mozart, p. 307.
19 C. L. de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Consid¬īrations sur les causes de la grandeur des
Romains et de leur d¬īcadence, ed. G. Truc (Paris: Garnier-Flammarion, 1954), p. 83.
20 E. Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (2 vols., Chicago: Encyclopaedia
Britannica, 1952), I.30.
332 Mark Berry
gloriÔ¬Āes the Habsburg tradition of Enlightened rule, the idea of clementia
austriaca, although his article says little about the work itself.21 Joseph
and Maria Theresa had identiÔ¬Āed a speciÔ¬Ācally Habsburg clemency with
the retention of underperforming ministers. Drawing upon Seneca‚Ä™s De
clementia, speciÔ¬Ācally intended to persuade Nero of the need for imperial
clemency, the transformation of an argument from utility to one based
upon Christian virtue was not arduous. A broad, traditional conception
of clemency as an imperial virtue encompassed availability to all citizens
and willingness to discard the panoply of empire, to behave as a citi-
zen oneself. Indeed, Tito‚Ä™s words might have sprung more readily from
Joseph‚Ä™s mouth than Leopold‚Ä™s. Tito reafÔ¬Ārms Habsburg tradition against
the excesses of the 1780s, while echoing Joseph‚Ä™s clemency in the tradi-
tional sense. It is not a full-scale rehabilitation of the late emperor ‚Ä“ yet,
the audience, Leopold included, would recall Joseph‚Ä™s positive attributes.
This is the time-honoured tragic realm of conÔ¬‚ict between love and
duty, public and private: ÔĚ°ÔĚ≠ÔĚĮÔĚ≤‚Ā„ÔĚ≤ÔĚĮÔĚ≠ÔĚ°. The classical, subsequently Petrar-
chan, dilemma is resolved by a noble, in this case imperial, character judi-
ciously exercising will over private inclination. Tito‚Ä™s momentary desire
to avenge his betrayal by Sesto and Vitellia yields to the clement duty
to act pro bono publico. Annio tells Vitellia: ‚Ä˜Tito has command over the
world and over himself.‚Ä™ These two forms of power are coincident. Hav-
ing avowed her love for Annio, Servilia agrees to marry Tito, should this
still be his wish. Tito lauds her honesty and instructs that she yield to
the one she loves, occasioning a reminder to subjects of their reciprocal
Ah, would that all those
close to my throne were so sincere;
this vast empire would bring me
happiness instead of torment.
Rulers should be relieved
of the painful task
of distinguishing between
deceit and Ô¬‚attery.
The dotted-rhythm martial Ô¬Āgure, which, from the Overture through
the festal March, has suggested and accompanied various manifestations
of Tito‚Ä™s power, occurs once again, when he tells of his ‚Ä˜vast empire‚Ä™. This
serves to remind both ruler and ruled of their responsibilities, their good
fortune and their interdependence. The elaborate development section
21 A. Wandruszka, ‚Ä˜Die ‚ÄúClementia Austriaca‚ÄĚ und der aufgekl¬® rte Absolutismus. Zum
politischen und ideellen Hintergrund von ‚ÄúLa clemenza di Tito‚ÄĚ‚Ä™, Osterreichische
Musikzeitschrift 31 (1976), pp. 186‚Ä“93.
Power and patronage in Mozart 333
of the Overture has already presented ‚Ä˜learned‚Ä™ counterpoint and fugue,
which, in eighteenth-century Austrian music from Fux onwards, had
been speciÔ¬Ācally identiÔ¬Āed with the House of Habsburg.22
Tito offers a resounding afÔ¬Ārmation of traditional monarchy against
revolution in France and revolt within the Habsburg monarchy. Even if
the internal situation upon Leopold‚Ä™s accession had seemed worse than
it actually was, it had deÔ¬Ānitely seemed this way ‚Ä“ and continued to do
so in retrospect.23 Mazzol` ‚Ä™s revision emphasises the shame and violence
of revolt, warning potentially fractious subjects that a compact imposes
responsibilities upon both parties. Whereas Metastasio had been ‚Ä˜able to
enliven his opera with some moving talk in favour of revolution‚Ä™, Vitel-
lia‚Ä™s original references to breaking of the fatherland‚Ä™s shackles and the
need for ‚Ä˜our century [to] have its own Brutus‚Ä™, now must be jettisoned.24
Joseph had enlivened the Austrian Netherlands and Hungary more than
enough, while France was producing a surplus of Brutuses. In the trans-
formation from three acts to two, revolt is shifted to a more prominent
position: the Act I Ô¬Ānale. The conspiracy in which Sesto, owing to his
passion for Vitellia, has involved himself has gone too far for either of
them to halt it. Her change of heart is owed to the news that Tito would
now make her empress, Sesto‚Ä™s to consideration of the emperor‚Ä™s virtue
and patronage. ‚Ä˜And whom do you betray? The greatest, the most just,
the most merciful prince in the world, to whom you owe your power and
all that you are.‚Ä™ The Capitol is now, however, ablaze; rebels must answer
for their treachery.
Mozart‚Ä™s portrayal of the chaotic terror of rebellion is masterly. Trum-
pets, drums and string tremolos underline the sudden tonal wrench to C
minor, already preÔ¬Āgured in the dark opening of the recitative in which
Sesto wrestles with his conscience. C minor is the key Haydn would
employ for the Representation of Chaos that opens his Creation, leading
towards the celebrated C major of ‚Ä˜And there was Light‚Ä™. So ultimately
will Mozart‚Ä™s tonal plan, though we must await the Ô¬Ānal scene for the
deÔ¬Ānitive restitution of the C major Overture‚Ä™s festal triumph. We are
still mired in the minor mode of rebellion, and it is the Roman people,
22 See M. Bent and W. Kirkendale, Fugue and Fugato in Rococo and Classical Chamber Music
(Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1979).
23 Blanning, drawing on Pavel Mitrofanov‚Ä™s inaccessible, fragmentary biography of Leopold
(Leopold II avstriiskii: vneshniaia politika (Petrograd, 1916)), argues that the threat of
disintegration was exaggerated. (‚Ä˜An Old but New Biography of Leopold II‚Ä™, in T. C. W.
Blanning and D. Cannadine (eds.), History and Biography: Essays in Honour of Derek
Beales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), p. 62.) See also M. Z. Mayer,
‚Ä˜Leopold II, the Prussian Threat, and the Peace of Sistova, 1790‚Ä“1791‚Ä™, International
History Review 26 (2004), pp. 473‚Ä“514.
24 Rice, La clemenza, pp. 40‚Ä“1.
334 Mark Berry
not the authorities, who provide the true voice of suffering horror. As the
trumpets and drums of previous rejoicing have turned to despair, so has
the populace. The off-stage chorus interjects several times in distanza the
cry ‚Ä˜Ah!‚Ä™ upon diminished-seventh chords, furthering dissolution of the
tonal stability so sturdily represented in earlier pomp and circumstance.
Each cry brings with it another key in which the soloists try and fail to
Ô¬Ānd resolution. After such frenetic activity and dislocation, the strange
Andante with which the Ô¬Ārst act concludes ‚Ä“ most unusual practice for
an eighteenth-century operatic Ô¬Ānale ‚Ä“ sounds all the more funereal. ‚Ä˜O
black betrayal, o day of sorrow!‚Ä™ intones the desolate populace, joined
by the perpetrators, who believe themselves guilty of regicide. Chro-
matic betrayal (‚Ä˜tradimento‚Ä™) bursts forth forte, from chorus, soloists and
orchestra, to the dotted-rhythm of imperial power. A former stronghold
sure has, it seems, been corrupted and transformed into a threat to the
tonal and political peace. The Ô¬Ānale ends in E-Ô¬‚at major; yet, punctured
by chromaticism and darkened by dolorous instrumental colours, it is a
major tonality as sombre and resigned as one might conceive: E-Ô¬‚at Ô¬Ārst
and foremost as the relative major of C minor.
These conÔ¬‚icts are resolved in the Ô¬Ānal scene. Vitellia‚Ä™s rondo, in `
which she resolves to seek the emperor‚Ä™s mercy, leads directly into Tito‚Ä™s
entrance into ‚Ä˜a magniÔ¬Ācent square before a vast amphitheatre‚Ä™. Deliv-
ered from misfortune, he is acclaimed by the Romans as ‚Ä˜the thought
and love of the heavens and gods‚Ä™. This magniÔ¬Ācent chorus has been
the greatest compliment ever paid to the aspirations of Metastasian opera to
idealise the worth and dignity of those who hold temporal power. . . the chorus
and the sovereign it celebrates assume a far-reaching scope of vision that extends
back over the preceding darkness, as if the whole course if Vitellia‚Ä™s agonised
self-searching lay already within Tito‚Ä™s ken ‚Ä“ a benign omniscience that in The
Magic Flute is invested in Sarastro.25
Indeed, Tito, like Sarastro, lays claim to omniscience, even if both
fall short of that divine quality. Rebellion having been suppressed and
Sesto having confessed his guilt, Tito has resolved upon clemency rather
than adhering to the letter of the law, yet this is at Ô¬Ārst known only to
himself and to the audience. Trumpets, drums and the martial rhythm of
imperial power appear for the Ô¬Ārst time in the second act. On the verge
of announcing Sesto‚Ä™s pardon, Tito is confronted with Vitellia, arrived to
confess her guilt. Having despaired that he will ever ‚Ä˜Ô¬Ānd a loyal soul‚Ä™, he
resolves that his mercy must prove more constant than the treachery of
25 T. Bauman, ‚Ä˜At the North Gate: Instrumental Music in Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te‚Ä™, in Heartz,
Mozart‚Ä™s Operas, p. 296.
Power and patronage in Mozart 335
others. ‚Ä˜Let it be known in Rome‚Ä™, Tito resolves, ‚Ä˜that I am the same and
that I know everything, absolve everyone, and forget everything.‚Ä™
This is a public pronouncement of clemency ancient and modern.
Leopold had insisted on Beccaria‚Ä™s presence on the commission for the
revision of Joseph‚Ä™s 1787 draconian Strafgesetzbuch.26 Beccaria, himself
a Habsburg subject, had argued against Tito-style absolution on account
of its arbitrary nature. Clemency was ‚Ä˜the most beautiful prerogative of
the throne . . . the most desirable endowment of sovereignty‚Ä™. So far
so good. ‚Ä˜But one ought to bear in mind that clemency is a virtue of
the lawgiver and not of the laws‚Ä™ executor, that it ought to shine in the
legal code and not in particular judgements.‚Ä™ To pardon was to make
‚Ä˜a public decree of impunity‚Ä™, through ‚Ä˜a private act of unenlightened
kind-heartedness‚Ä™.27 While this constitutes a rational assessment of the
ÔĚ° ÔĚ≠ ÔĚĮ ÔĚ≤ ‚Ā„ ÔĚ≤ÔĚĮ ÔĚ≠ ÔĚ° dilemma, the Enlightenment house boasted many salons,
some less rationalistic than others. These might hold a strong political
interest in asserting that the quality of mercy should not be strained, that
Seneca‚Ä™s justiÔ¬Ācation for leniency regarding punishment of an inferior
was not obsolete.
A prince‚Ä™s personal justice upheld both understandings of clemency
better than a modern state‚Ä™s indifferent administration. Frederick the
Great had intervened in judicial proceedings to correct what he per-
ceived to be an unjust verdict in the Miller Arnold case. Such inter-
vention seemed less of a ‚Ä˜judicial catastrophe‚Ä™ to contemporaries, at least
outside Berlin, than to subsequent historians, given Frederick‚Ä™s ‚Ä˜strong
suspicions of a socially lopsided jurisprudence‚Ä™.28 To respond to direct
petitions and to grant a personal audience, as Frederick had in this case
and Joseph II had in many others, was far from an outmoded form of
communication between monarch and subject. Modern clemency was at
worst a minor sin whose advantages in a particular case might readily
outweigh ideological objections. A touch of personal monarchy, Hohen-
zollern or Habsburg, tempered suspicion of a bureaucratic machine-state
and reminded subjects of the monarch‚Ä™s benevolent power. Princeps leg-
ibus solutus est. Only Tito ‚Ä“ this ‚Ä˜great, generous soul‚Ä™ ‚Ä“ has the power of
clemency, just as only Frederick could have delivered his celebrated Ô¬Āat
against the insubordination of the Prussian Kammergericht. The prince‚Ä™s
26 A. Wandruszka, Leopold II. Erzherzog von Osterreich, Grossherzog von Toskana, K¬® nig von
Ungarn und B¬® hmen, R¬® mischer Kaiser (2 vols., Vienna and Munich: Verlag Herold,
27 C. Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishments and Other Writings, trans. R. Davies, eds. R.
Bellamy et al. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 111‚Ä“12.
28 D. M. Luebke, ‚Ä˜Frederick the Great and the Celebrated Case of the Miller Arnold
(1770‚Ä“1779): A Reappraisal‚Ä™, Central European History 32 (1999), pp. 380, 401.
336 Mark Berry
majesty is maintained and enhanced; there is more to Enlightened con-
ceptions of law than codiÔ¬Ācation and strict observance thereof.
This Ô¬Ānal ensemble restores the C major tonality of prior rejoicing,
the dark chromaticism of revolutionary chaos replaced by bright and
sturdy diatonic harmony, tonic and dominant so prevalent that even the
Beethoven of the Fifth Symphony‚Ä™s Ô¬Ānale might have blanched. Trum-
pets and drums once again re-present the panoply of imperial power and
rejoicing. Tito shuns praise and honour to declare that, should the day
come ‚Ä˜when the good of Rome is no longer my sole care‚Ä™, the eternal
gods should end his days. SelÔ¬‚essness can serve and increase power ‚Ä“ and
vice versa. This is the great lesson taught in Tito‚Ä™s school for ruler and
Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te is a different beast: a Singspiel and a Zauberoper. What
does this mean in terms of structure? Not much in itself, for these forms
are less clearly deÔ¬Āned than opera seria. By the late eighteenth century,
Singspiel usually entailed a work in the vernacular, combining musical
numbers and spoken dialogue. Mozart, however, simply used the word
Oper to refer to both Die Entf¬® hrung and Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te. The latter‚Ä™s
hybrid character enables it to draw without fear from almost every oper-
atic and instrumental genre; but the miraculous synthesis that emerges
can only be ascribed to Mozart. Wagner, for whom this constituted the
Ô¬Ārst true German opera, remarked admiringly: ‚Ä˜This is folklorish. If it
can be said of us Germans that we have no art, we can at least reply that
we do have a folk tradition; art stands midway between academicism and
folklore, for there have really been no genuine artists since the Greeks.‚Ä™29
The clearest example of this is the simplest form on offer: that of Ô¬Āve
strophic songs, which are nonetheless often varied with great subtlety. It
is no coincidence that two of these songs are sung by the Naturmensch,
Papageno, and that he is a duettist in another. This does not straightfor-
wardly relate to social status, however, since other examples are Sarastro‚Ä™s
‚Ä˜In diesem heil‚Ä™gen Hallen‚Ä™, and his aria with chorus, ‚Ä˜O Isis und Osiris‚Ä™.
Nobility as well as na¬®vet¬ī can reside in simplicity; great art, moreover,
can lie in the appearance of simplicity, often deriving from musical sources
As beÔ¬Āts a Singspiel, Italian-style recitativo secco is avoided, but not
only in favour of spoken dialogue. Some of the work‚Ä™s most ‚Ä˜expressive‚Ä™
29 M. Gregor-Dellin and D. Mack (eds.), Cosima Wagner‚Ä™s Diaries, trans. G. Skelton
(2 vols., London: Collins, 1978‚Ä“80), 8 March 1872.
Power and patronage in Mozart 337
dramma per musica comes through a highly developed style of orchestral
recitative, in which so much of the drama lies in the orchestra that one
is tempted to look forward to Wagner as much as to discern origins
in Gluck‚Ä™s reform operas. The recitative exchange in the Act I Ô¬Ānale
between Tamino and his priestly interlocutor presents a prophetic dialec-
tic in which vocal line and orchestra increasingly inÔ¬‚uence and come
to resemble each other. Even the staid Second Priest‚Ä™s vocal line occa-
sionally blossoms into arioso; for Tamino, the more dynamic charac-
ter, this happens more frequently. Introducing a choral element into this
exchange, Mozart further breaks down those often-tedious boundaries,
omnipresent in earlier opera seria and yet so foreign to the heyday of
Venetian opera, between recitative, aria and chorus. This is not unique
to Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te; yet it is more advanced than in Mozart‚Ä™s coronation
opera, which, for all its radical revision of seria form, could never have
progressed quite so boldly. In restoring opera‚Ä™s Monteverdian dignity and
anticipating its Wagnerian destiny, there can be no question of a primo
musico or prima donna constituting the main attraction.
Adorno suggests why this might be so:
Prior to the emancipation of the subject, art was undoubtedly in a certain sense
more immediately social than it was afterward. Its autonomy, its growing inde-
pendence from society, was a function of the bourgeois consciousness of freedom
that was itself bound up with the social structure. Prior to the emergence of this
consciousness, art certainly stood in opposition to social domination and its mores,
but not with an awareness of its own independence.30
One might cautiously say that Tito is ‚Ä˜old‚Ä™, and Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te is ‚Ä˜new‚Ä™. Tito
stands in opposition to an emerging world of commercial self-interest,
in favour of a modiÔ¬Āed traditionalism. Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te presents what
Adorno viewed as the greater integration of bourgeois art into society,
the ‚Ä˜inÔ¬‚ux of experiences that are no longer forced into a priori genres,
the requirement of constituting form out of these experiences, that is,
from below. This is ‚Äúrealistic‚ÄĚ in purely aesthetic terms, regardless of con-
tent.‚Ä™31 Hence the Romantics believed Beethoven to have burst formal,
schematic forms; this, however, preceded Beethoven, the owl of Minerva
spreading its wings only at dusk. Transitions are more blurred than
has often been recognised, but they do not vanish completely. What has
often been overlooked is that the musico-historical impetus originates
perhaps as much in ‚Ä˜aristocratic‚Ä™ trag¬īdie lyrique ‚Ä“ Gluck and, beyond
30 T. W. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, eds. G. Adorno and R. Tiedemann, trans. R. Hullot-
Kentor (London: Athlone, 1997), p. 225.
31 Ibid., p. 225.
338 Mark Berry
him, Rameau ‚Ä“ as in ‚Ä˜progressive‚Ä™, ‚Ä˜bourgeois‚Ä™ opera buffa.32 Wagner
Mozart is the founder of German declamation ‚Ä“ what Ô¬Āne humanity resounds in
the Priest‚Ä™s replies to Tamino! Think how stiff such high priests are in Gluck. . .
consider this text, which was meant to be a farce, and the theatre for which it was
written, and compare what was written before Mozart‚Ä™s time . . . ‚Ä“ on the one
side the wretched German Singspiel, on the other the ornate Italian opera ‚Ä“ one
is amazed by the soul he managed to breathe into such a text.33
Wagner unsurprisingly found the birth of German declamation in French
tragedy impossible to swallow in 1870, but he was otherwise aware of the
precedents or lack of them for Mozart.
The musico-dramatic emergence of the subject is not universal. Niet-
zsche would write memorably of the ‚Ä˜type of man [who] needs to believe in
an unbiased ‚Äúsubject‚ÄĚ with freedom of choice, because he has an instinct
of self-preservation and self-afÔ¬Ārmation in which every lie is sanctiÔ¬Āed‚Ä™.34
Papageno is not wicked, but lacks the cultivation necessary to attain such
freedom. He will live a contented if unexalted life without it: clemency less
magniÔ¬Ācent than Tito‚Ä™s, yet still clemency, for transgression of Papageno‚Ä™s
vow of silence is treated leniently. The rhetoric of the subject is never-
theless reiterated throughout by Sarastro, his priests and those who will
be converted, to the entire spectrum of morality: from the Queen of the
Night and Monostatos, through Papageno, to Tamino and Pamina. The
Queen is driven by passion: she is ‚Ä˜a proud woman‚Ä™, as Sarastro admon-
ishes Pamina. He repeats this phrase at the beginning of the second act,
elucidating: ‚Ä˜That woman hopes to bewitch through deception and super-
stition, and to destroy the sure foundation of our temple.‚Ä™ Tamino, he
continues, will help strengthen the order and, once initiated, will him-
self reward virtue and punish vice. The celebrated dreimalige Akkord, its
ritual, almost Brucknerian silences as crucial as the chords themselves,
is intoned, reminding us that Freemasonry informs this Enlightenment
Indeed, silence is very important throughout Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te. Theo
Three Boys counsel Tamino, successfully, and Papageno, unsuccess-
fully, to observe it. Mozart told Constanze that the usual numbers were
encored, ‚Ä˜but what gives me most pleasure is the silent approval‚Ä™, indicat-
ing ‚Ä˜how this opera is becoming more and more esteemed‚Ä™. One should
32 During Rameau‚Ä™s lifetime, composers and librettists preferred the term trag¬īdie en
musique. The arrival in Paris of Gluck‚Ä™s operas during the 1770s deÔ¬Ānitively changed
this. See G. Sadler, ‚Ä˜Trag¬ī die en musique‚Ä™, Grove Music Online.
33 Gregor-Dellin and Mack (eds.), Cosima Wagner‚Ä™s Diaries, 29 May 1870.
34 F. Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality, trans. C. Diethe, ed. K. Ansell-Pearson
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p. 29.
Power and patronage in Mozart 339
not exaggerate, but this might represent a harbinger of Romantic, even
bourgeois, attitudes towards how one ought to behave. It contrasts with
Mozart‚Ä™s report from the same letter of tremendous applause during the
Ô¬Ānal Prague performance of Tito.35 The mystical importance of silence
in Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te suggests that it is the only Mozart opera truly to
exhibit signs of German Romanticism. One might argue for a prece-
dent in the instruction to Gluck‚Ä™s Orpheus not to speak in Hades; this
is not, however, absolute silence, but a character‚Ä™s silence, relying upon
the extended communicative power of music. Both forms are impor-
tant in Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te. Poetry, incorporating but not limited to reason,
would be mankind‚Ä™s tutor, drawing sustenance from mystical currents
of eighteenth-century culture. Mesmerism had informed the comedy
of Cos` fan tutte. Now the hermetic, esoteric mysteries of Rosicrucian-
ism, an order of celebrated secrecy, might move Enlightenment beyond
mere logical deduction to discovery of hidden meanings comprehensi-
ble only to initiates. Alchemy could be spiritual as well as physical; the
goal of Tamino‚Ä™s trials of puriÔ¬Ācation is spiritual perfection, even divine
The Queen and her cronies fall physically and tonally through a C
minor chromatic sequence: ‚Ä˜Our power is shattered; we are all plunged
into eternal night!‚Ä™ Mozart‚Ä™s music then turns decisively to the tonic of E-
Ô¬‚at as Sarastro guides us into the Ô¬Ānal chorus, declaring: ‚Ä˜The sun‚Ä™s rays
chase away the night; the hypocrite‚Ä™s devious power is vanquished.‚Ä™ So far
this seems to represent a straightforward victory of Light over Darkness;
in a sense, it is. However, the chorus sings of strength (St¬® rke) victori-
ous, crowning with its ‚Ä˜eternal crown‚Ä™ not the power of reason, whether
Verstand or Vernunft, but Sch¬® nheit und Weisheit: ‚Ä˜Beauty and Wisdom‚Ä™.
Reason has not vanished; it is aufgehoben. The words ‚Ä˜Weisheit . . .
Sch¬® nheit . . . St¬® rke‚Ä™, occur in the St John Masonic ritual, and form the
central triangle of the Thirty-third Degree of the Masons‚Ä™ so-called Scot-
tish Ritual, of partly Rosicrucian inspiration, its motto Ordo ab Chao.36 To
construct order out of chaos is now more of an artistic deed than Enlight-
ened Absolutism would have held. Tito is no artist or magician; Sarastro
is, if far from a perfect example. An unidentiÔ¬Āed writer, perhaps Hegel or
Schelling, wrote in 1796 or 1797 that the idea uniting all others should
be beauty. ‚Ä˜The highest act of reason is an aesthetic act since it comprises
all ideas . . . truth and goodness are fraternally united only in beauty.‚Ä™
Poetry would thereby ‚Ä˜gain a higher dignity . . . again become . . . the
35 7‚Ä“8 October 1791, in Briefe, IV.157.
36 H. C. R. Landon, 1791: Mozart‚Ä™s Last Year (London: Thames and Hudson, 1990),
340 Mark Berry
teacher of humanity‚Ä™. Not only the ‚Ä˜great multitude‚Ä™ needed a ‚Ä˜religion of
the senses‚Ä™, but the philosopher too.37
Sarastro must therefore learn from his mistakes and from the example
of others, that he might create order out of his own chaos. His role in
acquiring Pamina appears murky: taken for her own ‚Ä˜protection‚Ä™, she is
not free to leave, and it is hinted that he may have had amorous intent.
Pamina and Tamino ‚Ä“ a prince, but crucially, in an echo of traditional
clemency, ein Mensch ‚Ä“ therefore purify not only themselves, but also
Sarastro; their love is divinely ordained and thus trumps any alternative
Sarastro might have entertained. This is Enlightened in that it would
purify the mythical realm, but proto-Romantic in its conception of love.
Schleiermacher would soon argue that love, not the rational self-interest
of Enlightenment utilitarianism, was the most powerful engine of human
activity. The individual must constantly look to the rest of mankind, not
least in order to ‚Ä˜maintain consciousness of his selfhood‚Ä™. ‚Ä˜Without love,‚Ä™
Schleiermacher claimed, ‚Ä˜the dreadful disproportion between giving and
receiving will soon unhinge the mind in its Ô¬Ārst efforts at self-realisation,
driving it from its proper course.‚Ä™38 The raison d‚Ä™¬ītat of Tito renouncing
his beloved Berenice in favour of Rome appertains, by contrast, to another
age. Tamino‚Ä™s loss of Pamina is temporary, a stage in his trials; it is never
their purpose. Thomas Bauman accurately observes that Mozart‚Ä™s music
renders Tamino a much more reÔ¬‚ective character than Schikaneder‚Ä™s
libretto would otherwise suggest.39 From his Portrait Aria onwards,
Tamino is no cipher, but a character of great nobility and integrity, who
will attain greater heights through initiation into the order‚Ä™s mysteries.
In Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te, the agency of historical subjects is stronger than in
Tito‚Ä™s opera. Nevertheless, there remains a striking similarity, for Tito as
well as Sarastro may be seen, to quote Paul Nettl, to embody the ‚Ä˜all-
forgiving . . . principles of Masonic tolerance‚Ä™. While the impetus for
its more extended equivalent in Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te came more directly from
composer and librettist, it is worth remembering that ‚Ä˜those who had the
last word concerning the choice of the subject might also have been moti-
vated by these same thoughts: the Counts Thun, Canal, Pachta‚Ä™ et al.,
were all Freemasons, ‚Ä˜who, through their vows, were obliged to propa-
gate humanitarian ideals whenever possible‚Ä™.40 Such men also comprised
a good number of the Ô¬Ārst audience.
37 Anon., ‚Ä˜The Oldest Systematic Programme of German Idealism‚Ä™, in The Early Political
Writings of the German Romantics, trans. F. C. Beiser (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1996), pp. 4‚Ä“5.
38 F. D. E. Schleiermacher, ‚Ä˜Monologues‚Ä™, in Beiser (ed.), Early Political Writings, p. 179.
39 Bauman, ‚Ä˜At the North Gate‚Ä™, p. 281.
40 P. Nettl, Mozart in B¬® hmen (Prague: Verlag Neumann, 1938), pp. 184‚Ä“5.
Power and patronage in Mozart 341
The authorities‚Ä™ attitude towards the Craft was uncertain. Although
Francis I had been a Mason, Maria Theresa ‚Ä“ who may have had some-
thing of the Queen of the Night about her ‚Ä“ repressed the movement
after his death. Joseph II instituted a more liberal regime for the Ô¬Ārst Ô¬Āve
years of his sole rule, but his 1785 Masonic Patent rationalised the num-
ber of lodges and imposed severe limits on membership. This led many,
though not Mozart, to resign from the order. One who did was Ignaz
von Born, master of Haydn‚Ä™s lodge, ‚Ä˜Zur wahren Eintracht‚Ä™, and dedica-
tee of Mozart‚Ä™s cantata, Die Maurerfreude, KV 471. Born has often been
claimed as a model for Sarastro. Leopold kept his cards close to his chest,
while many of his advisors were actively hostile. Confusion persisted until
Francis II closed down the lodges in 1794‚Ä“5.
If we should beware too emphatic a Masonic interpretation of Tito,
there are nevertheless clear correspondences between Tito‚Ä™s Act I aria, in
which he asks, ‚Ä˜If I am deprived of showing mercy, what is left to me?‚Ä™ and
Sarastro‚Ä™s Act II ‚Ä˜Within these sacred halls, revenge has no place‚Ä™. Both
of these ‚Ä˜mercy‚Ä™ or ‚Ä˜forgiveness‚Ä™ arias are in F major, in moderately slow
quadruple time (Andante and Larghetto), and the harmonic contours of
their opening bars are identical. Given that Tito is a tenor and Sarastro
a bass, the vocal lines are surprisingly similar too. Where Tito‚Ä™s form
of address is monarchical, Sarastro‚Ä™s is fraternal: ‚Ä˜Within these sacred
walls, where man [Mensch] loves man, no traitor can lurk, for enemies
are forgiven. He who does not delight in this teaching is undeserving of
the name of Man.‚Ä™ This difference should not surprise, however, given the
divergence of dramatic context and audience, and Sarastro‚Ä™s brotherhood
remains unashamedly autocratic. Tito also wishes that no traitor should
lurk in his kingdom, that men should forgive their enemies; this is secured
by clement example, engendering moral improvement in Sesto and even
in Vitellia. Just exercise of power and the constitution of a just society
evoke a strikingly similar response in both works.
Sarastro and Tito are both lauded in their respective Ô¬Ārst-act Ô¬Ānales
for their dispensation of justice. Both show forgiveness, although ambigu-
ously in Sarastro‚Ä™s case, when one considers his treatment of Monostatos.
(Perhaps different rules apply to Moors.) According to the contemporary
Charakter und Eigenschaften eines echten Freimaurers, an initiate ‚Ä˜should
have an honest, true, humanity-loving, tender and feeling heart, be sym-
pathetic to the misfortunes of others‚Ä™, and evince neither hatred nor
vengefulness. This is not exclusively Masonic. One might say the same
about a Christian ‚Ä“ which is often the point. What may subsequently have
been taken as opponents, competitors even, were not necessarily thus
considered by contemporaries, certainly not in Mozart‚Ä™s case. Indeed, the
Ô¬Ārst point of the Charakter und Eigenschaften was that a member should
342 Mark Berry
be ‚Ä˜a freeborn man, raised in the Christian religion, and not under twenty
A signiÔ¬Ācant difference between our two works relates to the social hier-
archy presented through the characters. Stark differentiation was unlikely
to arise in an opera seria dealing with no one of less than noble rank, but
hierarchy is clearly delineated in Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te. Papageno and Papagena
are the humblest characters. Depicted in straightforward, often folk-like
music, they will lead a decent life together. They will never be admitted,
however, to Sarastro‚Ä™s order. Instead, they will Ô¬Ānd domestic bliss with
‚Ä˜Ô¬Ārst a little Papageno . . . then a little Papagena‚Ä™, and so forth. They do
not reappear in the Ô¬Ānal scene, having nothing to do with the initiates‚Ä™
At the other extreme is the Queen of the Night. She is essentially a
seria character, kept apart from ‚Ä˜popular theatre‚Ä™ aspects of the action.
Her music puts one more in mind of Idomeneo‚Ä™s furious Electra than
of any intervening character, with the possible exception of Vitellia. All
three characters are not only seekers after power, but are women who have
some degree of justiÔ¬Ācation to their claims; their lust for power neverthe-
less leads them to abandon reason, to become hysterical. The richness of
the Queen‚Ä™s orchestral recitative is in keeping with seria tradition rather
than formally innovative as a Gluckian development of opera buffa; it
introduces what she is about to sing, the presentation of an emotion or
decision, rather than furthering the action. Yet her arias paint a different
picture. As early as Idomeneo, Mozart had displayed impatience with the
formal imperative of recapitulation; but here, as Erik Smith noted, ‚Ä˜vesti-
gial recapitulation . . . becomes the rule‚Ä™. Even in her second-act aria, the
return of the tonic D minor presents not a repeat of the opening, which in
fact never returns, but a Ô¬Āgure extracted from the second subject.42 Feroc-
ity is not denied but heightened by such economy; there is a dialectical
relationship between restraint beÔ¬Ātting royal dignity, and a constraint that
verges upon Romantic dissolution of formal bonds. One might expect to
Ô¬Ānd formalism more evident in the classicising Tito. However, whereas
both the Queen and Electra are dispensed with immediately prior to their
works‚Ä™ celebratory Ô¬Ānal scenes, Vitellia‚Ä™s rondo leads into the concluding
rejoicing. She has shown contrition, is shown mercy, and participates for
justiÔ¬Āable dramatic reasons. Relative Ô¬‚uidity of genre is highlighted by
the fact that there is a more buffo character to this villainess‚Ä™s music than
to that of her ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te counterpart.
41 E. Grossegger, Freimaurerei und Theater, 1770‚Ä“1800: Freimaurerdramen an den k.k. priv-
iligierten Theatern in Wien (Vienna: Bohlau, 1981), p. 11.
42 E. Smith, ‚Ä˜The Music‚Ä™, in Branscombe, Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te, p. 115.
Power and patronage in Mozart 343
It is worth dealing here with charges of misogyny. There is certainly
an unreconstructed attitude within Sarastro‚Ä™s order towards women, but
we should not confuse characters‚Ä™ voices with that of the composer. For
instance, the priests‚Ä™ duet at the beginning of Act II both marks a stage
in Tamino‚Ä™s journey ‚Ä“ something to be overcome ‚Ä“ and presents them
as objects of ridicule. Anyone taking at face value the warning ‚Ä˜Guard
yourself from women‚Ä™s tricks; this is the Ô¬Ārst duty of the Order!‚Ä™ would
have been minded to do so anyway. Mozart‚Ä™s frivolous setting suggests
no portentous message, but rather a divertissement prior to the real trials
Tamino must undergo. If the Queen is driven by her passions, Pamina
remains the very model of feminine B¬® rgerlichkeit. It is unreasonable to
expect her to accept Tamino‚Ä™s silence towards her, for unlike Tamino
and Papageno, she is not informed of the nature of her trials. Unlike
Papageno, however, she succeeds, and is admitted on equal terms with
Tamino, which must have given a jolt to Masons in the audience. Born, in
his 1784 essay, Ueber die Mysterien der Aegyptier, had speciÔ¬Ācally excluded
women. Egyptian priests, he argued, had doubted female discretion with
good reason.43 The priests heed Born and Egypt; Mozart does not. A
role for women was not unprecedented: Parisian Freemasons had cre-
ated a subordinate order for women, ‚Ä˜les loges d‚Ä™adoption‚Ä™.44 There was
no precedent, however, for raising Pamina to the level whereat she and
Tamino Ô¬Ānally appear bedecked in priestly robes, subordinate only to
Sarastro. No longer her mother‚Ä™s daughter, she seems set to become
Queen of the Light. Tamino and Pamina together, as man and wife, have
overcome both the deceptions of the feminine world of the Night and the
hidebound traditions of Sarastro‚Ä™s brotherhood. It would be exaggerated
to see those two worlds as equivalent; Pamina renews the latter, whereas
Tamino eschews the former. Nevertheless, the work recognises that, to
paraphrase Lampedusa, for at least some things to stay the same, some
will have to change.
Both Ô¬Ānales restore their works‚Ä™ opening tonalities: C major in Tito and
E-Ô¬‚at major in Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te. Both works also allot a special role to C
minor: the fundamental tonality‚Ä™s tonic minor in the former work, and its
relative minor in the latter. In Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te, C minor has been associated
with darkness and death from the very Ô¬Ārst scene, in which Tamino enters,
pursued by a great serpent. Things are not quite what they seem, however,
for although the Three Ladies slay the serpent with their javelins, they
threaten to send the novice prince along the wrong path, that of darkness
and therefore ultimately of death. As James Stevens Curl explains, the
43 Branscombe, Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te, p. 23.
44 See R. le Forestier, Ma¬łonnerie f¬īminine et loges acad¬īmiques (Milan: Arche, 1979).
c e e
344 Mark Berry
serpent is a symbol of Freemasonry, slain by the ‚Ä˜Three Veiled Ladies
(veiled because Enlightenment cannot reach them)‚Ä™. Tamino is terriÔ¬Āed
of the serpent, the crucial points being that ‚Ä˜his terror is due to ignorance‚Ä™,
and ‚Ä˜the ladies show their true colours right at the start by attacking the
Craft and trying to annex the young man for their cause‚Ä™.45 Another
danger and potential triumph comes early in the Act II Ô¬Ānale, with the
archaic contrapuntal severity of the Bachian C minor chorale prelude for
the Two Armoured Men. Startlingly for Catholic Vienna, though less so
for ecumenical ‚Ä“ or heretical ‚Ä“ Freemasonry, this employs the melody of
a Protestant hymn, a setting of Luther‚Ä™s metrical version of Psalm 12,
‚Ä˜Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein‚Ä™. This closely corresponds to the
Armoured Men‚Ä™s talk of elemental puriÔ¬Ācation:
He who travels along these paths so full of troubles is puriÔ¬Āed by Ô¬Āre, water, air
and earth. If he can overcome his fear of death, he will raise himself heavenwards
from the earth; he will be Enlightened, at this level, to dedicate himself wholly to
the mysteries of Isis.
This is more than a benevolent ruler‚Ä™s clemency. On the one hand,
we see the agency of the Enlightened subject, and on the other, the
abstraction of general principles of benevolence. Tamino and Pamina
succeed in walking, ‚Ä˜by the power of music, in joy through death‚Ä™s dark
night‚Ä™, to reach the ‚Ä˜joyful moment‚Ä™ in which ‚Ä˜the joy of Isis is accorded
to us‚Ä™. They bring us to an interim chorus of triumph in the tonic major,
also a key of Light, although not our Ô¬Ānal destination. Now the cho-
rus from within invites them to enter the Temple itself. Mozart‚Ä™s sym-
bolism of Darkness and Light is clear in the Ô¬Ānal transformative scene-
change from the C minor machinations of the Queen, the Three Ladies
and the renegade Monostatos, to the E-Ô¬‚at celebration of the failure of
their attempt to destroy the Temple of Wisdom. The Masonic tonal-
ity of three Ô¬‚ats represents two sides of the same coin. Enlightenment
surpasses yet incorporates the Enlightenment. One can only attain the
wisdom of beauty, truth and Enlightenment when there remains an
opposing force; for what could Light mean without Darkness? About
as much as culture could mean without power, or power without cul-
ture. Beauty, truth and Enlightenment further the cause of social, cul-
tural and political advancement ‚Ä“ but not for all. Such is the dialectic of
45 J. S. Curl, The Art and Architecture of Freemasonry (London: Batsford, 1991), p. 143.
Power and patronage in Mozart 345
Both works afÔ¬Ārm hierarchy; in this sense, both are ‚Ä˜aristocratic‚Ä™. In the
case of Tito, there remains a paradox, for the work‚Ä™s initial ‚Ä˜courtly audi-
ence rejected or looked indifferently upon . . . [it], whilst the bourgeois
[b¬® rgerlich] public around 1800 emphatically approved‚Ä™.46 The social
structure had not been transformed within a decade, but the audience
differed signiÔ¬Ācantly from that at the coronation premi` re. B¬® rgerlich
approval was owed in no small part to the extent to which opera buffa
had informed the spirit and style of Mozart‚Ä™s coronation opera. London
presented the Ô¬Ārst performance outside Germany and, more surprisingly,
its Ô¬Ārst production of any Mozart opera in 1806. Yet by the 1830s, fash-
ions had changed across Europe; Tito would be revived only occasionally,
as Hildesheimer‚Ä™s museum-piece.
Mozart‚Ä™s da Ponte operas, especially Figaro, evinced a different atti-
tude from both works considered here. Beaumarchais‚Ä™s social criticism
is toned down but still present. The servant‚Ä™s triumph over his master
is explicit, as is that of the wronged wife over her husband, even if one
suspects that the Count will Ô¬Āght another folle journ¬īe. Perhaps this has
led many commentators to view Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te either as standing in this
line, or else as an apolitical fairy-tale, while skirting past Tito as Mozart‚Ä™s
late seria-Cinderella. Yet, while there remains a case for differentiating
between the two in terms of a modiÔ¬Āed opposition between ‚Ä˜aristocratic‚Ä™
and ‚Ä˜bourgeois‚Ä™, this is not it. For instance, having described Tito, oth-
erwise accorded scant attention, as ‚Ä˜a justiÔ¬Ācation and celebration of the
monarchy‚Ä™, Brigid Brophy contrasted Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te as a justiÔ¬Ācation of
‚Ä˜the proletariat‚Ä™. Mozart never sympathised with such a social class, nor
with anything approximating thereto, reporting dismissively of Joseph II‚Ä™s
inclusion of the ‚Ä˜Viennese rabble‚Ä™ (P¬® bel) at a Schonbrunn ball. Such rab-
ble, he wrote, would always remain just that. The social conditioning of
Tamino and Pamina aids their initiation, just as that of Tito has prepared
him to be emperor; likewise, Papageno‚Ä™s lowly birth helps deny him con-
stancy, the cultural accomplishment requisite for admission to the order.
This is neither lamented nor lauded, but presented as the natural state of
affairs. Abuse of position is, hardly surprisingly, abhorred in both works,
but not position itself. The relationship between culture and power is as
pronounced a theme in Mozart‚Ä™s Singspiel as in his Ô¬Ānal opera seria.
46 Borchmeyer, Mozart, pp. 221‚Ä“2.
47 B. Brophy, Mozart the Dramatist: The Value of his Operas to Him, to His Age and to Us,
revised edn (London: Libris, 1988), p. 231.
48 Letter to Leopold Mozart, 5 December 1781, in Briefe, III.178.
346 Mark Berry
The inÔ¬‚uential Leipzig professor of poetry and philosophy Johann
Christoph Gottsched, instructed that the poet must Ô¬Ārst decide upon the
moral claim to be advanced by his work. Everything else ‚Ä“ plot, characters
and so forth ‚Ä“ followed from this central thesis.49 It is not unduly fanciful
to see this aesthetic applying to, perhaps even inÔ¬‚uencing, both operas.
The message of Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te is Enlightened and Romantic. Light‚Ä™s
victory over Darkness presents a strong rather than a weak defence of
hierarchy, as consonant with Pope as with Novalis. Whereas Tito is very
much of the eighteenth century, standing towards the end of an ‚Ä˜aristo-
cratic‚Ä™ line, Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te is ultimately more the work of its time, in that
it looks back and looks forward. The former work is classicistic, the latter
so timely, so rare, that it qualiÔ¬Āes as classical.
Blanning, while acknowledging his debt to Habermas, is rightly critical
of his historical understanding.50 When dealing with particular artworks,
it may be more helpful to think in terms closer to Adorno. Not only might
the history be more accurate, but the works themselves may yield some
of their historical secrets. In Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te, the historical subject and
individual freedom seem to constitute reality; if Kant could never prove
the moral law‚Ä™s logical necessity, Mozart appears effortlessly to demon-
strate it. Johann Jacob Breitinger had formulated, in his 1740 Critische
Dichtkunst, a literary theory of the wondrous and its relationship with
both the natural world and the human mind. Imagination was the cru-
cial faculty in literary composition, creative rather than imitative. This
would better enable literature to fulÔ¬Āl its role as a ‚Ä˜school for the reader‚Ä™,
promoting truth and virtue, and punishing vice.51 Wieland suggested,
in his 1789 preface to the third volume of Dschinnistan, that fairy-tales
could bring one as close to the ‚Ä˜palace of Wahrheit‚Ä™ as any other form of
literature.52 Mozart showed that a fairy-tale opera, its libretto indebted
to Wieland‚Ä™s collection, could do better still. It is no coincidence that
Romantics such as E. T. A. Hoffmann considered Mozart almost as much
as Beethoven to be one of them, for Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te shows how art might
vanquish antinomy. ‚Ä˜Mozart‚Ä™, Hoffmann declared, ‚Ä˜calls for the super-
human, the wondrous element.‚Ä™53 ‚Ä˜The operas that most purely satisfy
49 J. C. Gottsched, Versuch einer critischen Dichtkunst (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche
Buchgesellschaft, 1962), p. 161.
50 Blanning, The Culture of Power, pp. 5‚Ä“14.
51 J. A. McCarthy, ‚Ä˜Philosophy and Literature in the German Enlightenment‚Ä™, in N. Saul
(ed.), Philosophy and German Literature, 1700‚Ä“1990 (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 2002), pp. 38‚Ä“9, 44.
52 C. M. Wieland, ‚Ä˜Dschinnistan‚Ä™, in Gesammelte Schriften (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag,
1909‚Ä“ ), part I, vol. XVIII, p. 12.
53 E. T. A. Hoffmann, ‚Ä˜Beethoven‚Ä™s Instrumental Music‚Ä™, trans. O. Strunk, in J. Hermand
and M. Gilbert (eds.), German Essays on Music (New York: Continuum, 1994), p. 61.
Power and patronage in Mozart 347
the requirements of the genre‚Ä™, Adorno would claim, ‚Ä˜almost always cor-
rect myth through music.‚Ä™ Die ZauberÔ¬‚¬® te thus witnessed and exempliÔ¬Āed
opera‚Ä™s participation in Enlightenment ‚Ä˜as a total societal movement‚Ä™.54
If late Beethoven would tragically reveal that what was necessary in terms
of human freedom was or had become impossible, Mozart‚Ä™s Zauberoper
signalled the wondrous moment of its dramatic immanence.
54 T. W. Adorno, ‚Ä˜Bourgeois Opera‚Ä™, in Sound Figures, trans. R. Livingstone (Stanford:
Stanford University Press, 1999), p. 21.
17 Between Louis and Ludwig: from the
culture of French power to the power
of German culture, c. 1789‚Ä“1848
Emma L. Winter
In his award-winning study of old regime culture, The Culture of Power
and the Power of Culture, Tim Blanning shows how the representational
culture that had dominated the European cultural scene for the best part
of a century, was progressively eroded by the rise of the public sphere. In
this essay, I shall attempt to take Blanning‚Ä™s treatment of European culture
beyond the momentous watershed of 1789, by extending it through the
revolutionary and Napoleonic period into the restoration era, which was
brought to a close by the return of revolution to the continent in 1848. To
this end, I want to suggest that if the eighteenth century was dominated
by the culture of French power, then the Ô¬Ārst half of the nineteenth was
dominated by the power of German culture.1
If the culture of French power had been synonymous with the name
Louis XIV and Versailles, the power of German culture was bound to
that of Ludwig I of Bavaria and his capital, Munich.2 Between 1825 and
1848, this ‚Ä˜artist king‚Ä™ transformed Bavaria into the ‚Ä˜kingdom of art‚Ä™.3 As
one contemporary observer explained:
When the art-loving prince ascended the throne in the year 1825, there were no
more signiÔ¬Ācant buildings in Munich than the breweries. The old Bavarian was
born, drank beer and then passed away. Foreigners came to Munich ‚Ä“ whose art
treasures were at that time limited to the designs on its beer tankards ‚Ä“ mostly
by accident or driven by desperate thirst. Then King Ludwig waved his mighty
1 This represents not merely a rephrasing but also an extension of Blanning‚Ä™s formulation,
‚Ä˜when dusk had settled around France‚Ä™s much vaunted cultural hegemony, Germany‚Ä™s
renaissance dawned‚Ä™. See T. C. W. Blanning, The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture:
Old Regime Europe, 1660‚Ä“1789 (Oxford, 2002), p. 256.
2 For Blanning‚Ä™s deÔ¬Ānition of representational culture see ibid., p. 7; for his exposition of
Louis XVI‚Ä™s cultural policy and its realization in the court complex at Versailles, see ibid.,
3 N. Lieb, M¬® nchen. Die Geschichte seiner Kunst (Munich, 1971), p. 284; H. Gollwitzer,
Ludwig von Bayern. K¬® nigtum im Vorm¬® rz. Eine politische Biographie (Munich, 1986),
French power and German culture 349
wand, and with one great magic stroke, a new life emerged in sluggish Bavaria.
Ancient temples for the sacred objects of art rose up from the ground, magniÔ¬Ācent
churches next to them, streets upon streets appeared, statues were placed in public
squares, the call was sent out to painters, scholars and poets.4
Ludwig‚Ä™s reign saw not only the construction of the Neue Residenz, the
decoration of the Hofgarten, the foundation of the Glyptothek, the Alte
Pinakothek and the Neue Pinakothek, the erection of a Catholic cathe-
dral, the Ludwigskirche, on Ludwigstrasse, Munich‚Ä™s new monumental
thoroughfare, but also the city as a whole become the seat of what con-
temporaries called the ‚Ä˜modern German school‚Ä™ ‚Ä“ a school of national and
religious painting that was founded upon the revival of fresco.5 According
to the contemporary art historian Athanase Raczynski:
In no other country and in no other period, has one seen a greater fecundity;
when one remembers that all this that has been done here has been achieved in
ten years, one cannot help but feel astonished and full of admiration.6
It had been the conviction of Jean Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV‚Ä™s
contrňÜ leur g¬īn¬īral, that ‚Ä˜nothing does more to signal the grandeur of princes
than buildings, and all posterity measures them by the yardstick of the
superb palaces which they construct during their lifetime‚Ä™.7 This proved
to be the case for Ludwig ‚Ä“ during the Ô¬Ārst half of his reign at least ‚Ä“
because contemporaries united in praise for the Bavarian king, proclaim-
ing him the greatest monarch of the day. The British writer William
Howitt, for example, who was ‚Ä˜no Ô¬‚atterer of kings‚Ä™, conceded that:
I have never beheld with more admiration and approval the works of any man
than I did those of the King of Bavaria on walking through Munich . . . No king
of modern times has conferred so substantial glory on his capital or such decisive
beneÔ¬Āts on modern art.8
Munich had been transformed into ‚Ä˜not only the Ô¬Ārst city of Germany,
but unquestionably of modern Europe‚Ä™.9
At Ô¬Ārst glance, the culture established by Ludwig in Munich seems
to have much in common with the representational culture of the old
regime; the perseverance of monarchical patronage is, as James Sheehan
4 R. Horn and I. Ruckert, Ludwig I. von Bayern. Der k¬® niglichen M¬® zen (Munich, 1986),
¬® o a
5 J. Strang, Germany in 1831 (London, 1836), p. 364.
6 A. Raczynksi, Histoire de l‚Ä™art moderne en Allemagne (Paris, 1839), II.144.
7 Blanning, The Culture of Power, p. 35.
8 W. Howitt, The Rural and Domestic Life of Germany (London, 1842), p. 312.
9 Ibid., p. 311.
350 Emma L. Winter
has pointed out, a case in point.10 Its ‚Ä˜personalized‚Ä™ character ‚Ä“ Lud-
wigskirche ‚Ä“ is another.11 We might have expected this, too, situated as
Ludwig‚Ä™s reign was in the heart of the restoration era. However, even if
we allow for the fact that Ludwig‚Ä™s art patronage brought him tremen-
dous fame and admiration ‚Ä“ he could not have followed Colbert‚Ä™s advice
any more closely had he tried ‚Ä“ there were nonetheless crucial differences
between the cultures of the old regime and the restoration.
In contrast to Louis‚Ä™s cultural policy, self-aggrandizement was not the
purpose of Ludwig‚Ä™s art patronage, nor was his personal glory its goal.12
Instead, the king strove, explained the Austrian playwright Franz Grill-
parzer, ‚Ä˜with an unshakeable consistency that shrinks from neither sacri-
Ô¬Āce nor effort‚Ä™ after one ‚Ä˜great goal: to promote art‚Ä™.13 Ludwig‚Ä™s love of art
was so heartfelt, that according to the artist Friedrich Pecht, he ‚Ä˜jumped
for joy in the street‚Ä™ when one of his art projects was realized.14 Art meant
everything to him; so much in fact that between 1825 and 1848 he spent
over 10.6 million gilders of his personal fortune on it.15 Recalling the
fateful year of 1848, when he was forced to abdicate his throne following
his indiscretions with the infamous Lola Montez, Ludwig maintained:
It was no sacriÔ¬Āce for me to relinquish my crown, the only shadow this cast was
the impossibility to do more for art as I had been able to do before: even when at
last everything has sunk into nothingness, art will remain eternal.16
But this is not to say that Ludwig promoted art as an end in itself; the
notion of art for art‚Ä™s sake was yet to emerge. Ludwig subscribed to
Friedrich Schiller‚Ä™s belief that ‚Ä˜if man is ever to solve that problem of
politics in practice he will have to approach it through the problem of the
aesthetic, because it is only through beauty that man makes his way to
Ludwig sought to confront the multiplicity of political problems that
Bavaria faced through aesthetics. Conceding that given its geographical
size and relative diplomatic unimportance, his kingdom could not play
a prominent political or military role on the international stage, Ludwig
had resolved to use art to attain the status of a great power: ‚Ä˜as Bavaria is
10 J. Sheehan, Museums in the German Art World: From the End of the Old Regime to the Rise
of Modernism (Oxford, 2000), p. 101.
11 Blanning, The Culture of Power, p. 35.
12 Blanning explains that ‚Ä˜purpose of the Versailles complex was the representation and
enforcement of the glory of Louis XIV‚Ä™ at ibid., p. 37.
13 M. Dirrigl, Ludwig I. K¬® nig von Bayern 1825‚Ä“48 (Munich, 1980), p. 204.
14 15 Ibid., p. 167.
Ibid., p. 206.
16 L. Huttl, Ludwig I. K¬® nig und Bauherr (Munich, 1986), p. 106.
17 F. Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man, trans. E. Wilkinson and L. Willoughby
(Oxford, 1967), p. 9.
French power and German culture 351
far too small for me to become a great prince; nothing else remains but
to become the art patron of Europe‚Ä™.18 Art could simultaneously fulÔ¬Āl
the same function in German power politics. While Bavaria could not
realistically compete with Austria and Prussia in the struggle for mastery
in Germany, Ludwig could establish his capital as ‚Ä˜the spiritual kernel‚Ä™
of the German nation.19 His professed desire was ‚Ä˜to turn Munich into
a city, which shall so redound to Germany‚Ä™s honour, that no one will be
able to say that he knows Germany, if he has not seen Munich‚Ä™.20
Art could also potentially solve the problem of domestic politics. The
Freistaat Bayern was perhaps the greatest beneÔ¬Āciary of the territorial
redistribution that followed the demise of the Holy Roman Empire at
the hands of Napoleon. Bavaria was not only elevated to the status of a
kingdom, but also acquired no less than eighty-Ô¬Āve new territories. Such
expansion came at a price: the imperative to integrate these formerly
sovereign territories, each with their distinct political, legal and religious
traditions and cultures, into an aggrandized state. For Bavaria to consol-
idate, it was essential to forge a sense of state identity. And according to
his councillor, Joseph Freiherr von Hormayr, Ludwig‚Ä™s ‚Ä˜most powerful
arms‚Ä™ lay in:
knowledge and art, in every intellectual predominance, in national education,
especially in the talents, that he collects around his throne, and in public opinion,
which nowadays rules the world far more than arms.21
In the wake of the French Revolution, the ensuing experience of war
and occupation, and the eventual drive for liberation, J. G. Fichte for one
had emphasized the imperative of national education. In his Speeches to
the German Nation of 1808, he had given a central role to the teaching of
Among the individual and special means of raising up the German spirit, a very
powerful tool would be a rousing history of the Germans from this period, which
could serve as a national book for the people.22
The realities of the post-revolutionary political universe required a new
political culture, and one, as Hormayr appreciated, that made a direct
appeal to the public. Given its ‚Ä˜active connection to religion and history,
18 19 Dirrigl, Ludwig I., p. 162.
Horn and Ruckert, Ludwig I., p. 9.
20 21 Gollwitzer, Ludwig von Bayern, p. 750.
Horn and Ruckert, Ludwig I., p. 15.
22 F. Buttner, ‚Ä˜Bildung des Volkes durch Geschichte. Zu den Anf¬® ngen offentlicher
¬® a ¬®
Geschichtsmalerei in Deutschland‚Ä™, in E. Mai, ed., Historienmalerei in Europa (Mainz,
1990), p. 84.
352 Emma L. Winter
and thus to the total spiritual and educational life of the Volk‚Ä™, art could
serve as a potent tool of both Bildung and Bindung.23
Ludwig‚Ä™s public arts policy, in which history and religious paintings
were assigned special priority, was to mend the pre-1789 breach between
dynasty and nation, sovereign and state, court and public, by transplant-
ing ‚Ä˜history out of the memory and into the heart‚Ä™, and thereby fostering
a ‚Ä˜love of the Fatherland‚Ä™.24 At the same time, it was to counteract ‚Ä˜rev-
olutionary innovation‚Ä™, ‚Ä˜impatient experiments‚Ä™, ‚Ä˜blinkered self-interest‚Ä™
and ‚Ä˜hard-mouthed Rechtshaberei‚Ä™.25
This was the crucial difference between restoration and representa-
tional culture; rather than assigning a passive part to its audience as the
latter had done, it ordained an active and participatory role for the pub-
lic.26 To amend an insight of Terry Eagleton‚Ä™s:
The ultimate binding force of the social [and political] order [of the restoration
era], in contrast to the coercive apparatus of absolutism, [was to] be habits, pieties,
sentiments and affections. And this is equivalent to saying that power in such an
order [would] become aestheticized.27
While this aesthetic approach to the challenges of the restoration era
entailed the instrumentalization of art for political purposes, it was not
cynical in conception. It was not intended to dazzle the public into sub-
mission.28 Rather, it was idealist. Ludwig sincerely believed, as Grill-
parzer recognized, that in promoting art for the public, instead of merely
before it as Louis‚Ä™s representational culture had done, he was pursuing ‚Ä˜a
great goal: beauty ‚Ä“ for his Volk ‚Ä“ that would enhance and fulÔ¬Āl life; as an
ideal reality, which solves and saves‚Ä™.29
Ludwig‚Ä™s conception of aesthetic governance was an elaboration, as
well as a combination, of several of the cultural, intellectual and polit-
ical developments of the eighteenth century that Blanning identiÔ¬Āed in
The Culture of Power. Firstly, it drew upon the example of the German
enlightened absolutists. Both Frederick the Great of Prussia and Joseph
II of Austria had been quick ‚Ä“ quicker than their French counterparts ‚Ä“ to
23 J. Freiherr von Hormayr, Die geschichtlichen Fresken in den Arkaden des Hofgartens zu
M¬® nchen (Munich, 1830), p. 12.
24 Ibid., p. 8. On the pre-1789 breach, see Blanning, The Culture of Power, pp. 369‚Ä“71, 373,
25 Hormayr, Die geschichtlichen Fresken, p. 8. The untranslatable term Rechthaberei suggests
the insistent assertion of deÔ¬Ānable or codiÔ¬Āed rights.
26 On the active and participatory character of the culture of the public sphere, see Blanning,
The Culture of Power, p. 8.
27 T. Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic (Oxford, 1990), p. 20.
28 As had been the case with representational culture. See Bishop Bossuet‚Ä™s explanation in
Blanning, The Culture of Power, p. 41.
29 Dirrigl, Ludwig I., p. 203.
French power and German culture 353
appreciate the imperative Ô¬Ārstly, to cast themselves as the Ô¬Ārst servants
of their states, and secondly to expand their conceptions of their states
beyond the limited view of their traditional, negative and coercive police
functions. To this end, they both embraced the positive potential of the
Kulturstaat, in which the ‚Ä˜public good‚Ä™ was pursued by ‚Ä˜both sovereign
and people‚Ä™ and reciprocal duties were fulÔ¬Ālled.30
Secondly, it not only rested upon, but also realized Herder‚Ä™s conception
of the nation. It had been Herder who ‚Ä˜was responsible for making nation-
alism intellectually respectable‚Ä™, bequeathing to Europe an understanding
of nations as communities rooted in a shared language and culture, out of
which a ‚Ä˜patriotic public‚Ä™ could be forged.31 In turn, the promotion of art
for that public rested upon Herder‚Ä™s ‚Ä˜re-location of cultural value‚Ä™.32 To
paraphrase Blanning paraphrasing Goethe, ‚Ä˜Herder taught us to think of
art as the common property of all mankind, not as the private possession
of a few, reÔ¬Āned cultural individuals.‚Ä™33
This last intellectual maxim was given practical expression by the events
of the French Revolution. On 10 August 1793, the anniversary of the
attack on the Tuileries the year before, which brought the collapse of the
constitutional monarchy, the establishment of the Republic and (within a
matter of months) the execution of Louis XVI, the Louvre was renamed
the Palais national des arts and opened as a public institution. It housed
the former royal collection, which had been nationalized alongside reli-
gious works of art that had been secularized in 1789. Similarly, the Royal
Academy, which since its foundation in 1648 had been the artistic arm of
the monarchy, was now dissolved and its biennial exhibition was opened
to all artists and all members of the public.34 Art was no longer the lux-
ury of an elite few, but the bounty of the public; no longer valued for its
sumptuosity, but rather as a source of public ediÔ¬Ācation.35
The possibility of edifying the public through art had been considered
by Kant in The Critique of Judgement of 1790. Kant maintained that when
the aim of art was ‚Ä˜merely enjoyment‚Ä™, it rendered ‚Ä˜the soul dull, the object
in the course of time distasteful, and the mind dissatisÔ¬Āed‚Ä™.36 For Kant,
the appreciation of beauty was both ‚Ä˜an aesthetic and moral act‚Ä™ which
could be attained only ‚Ä˜when sensibility [was] brought into harmony with
moral feeling‚Ä™.37 It could also only be collective, for the experience of
beauty was possible only within a community in which it was ‚Ä˜nourished
and shared‚Ä™.38 By cultivating taste, social identity could be intensiÔ¬Āed, by
30 31 Ibid., pp. 260, 256.
Blanning, The Culture of Power, pp. 230, 441.
32 33 Ibid. 34 On the Royal Academy, see ibid., pp. 48‚Ä“9.
Ibid., p. 259.
35 The former qualities had been characteristic of representational culture, see ibid., p. 7.
36 37 Ibid. 38 Ibid.
Sheehan, Museums, p. 9.
354 Emma L. Winter
increasing the individual‚Ä™s awareness of what he or she shared with his
or her fellow members of an imagined community. It could thus serve as
the means of promoting both ‚Ä˜individual virtue and social cohesion‚Ä™.39
Schiller took this idea further in The Aesthetic Education of Man of 1795.
Writing in revulsion from the degeneration of the French Revolution into
the Terror, Schiller believed that the experience of beauty could heal the
modern spirit and create the cultural harmony upon which true political
liberty was based.40 The aesthetic education of man could bring ‚Ä˜harmony
into society, because it fosters harmony in the individual‚Ä™.41
In the context of humiliation, defeat and occupation by the revolution-
ary and Napoleonic armies, these ideas were imbued with a particularly
German character by the German Romantics. In Heartfelt Effusions of an
Art-loving Friar (1797), Wilhelm Wackenroder articulated the Romantic
notion that religious feeling was essential for the creation of true art. He
celebrated the piety, childlike reverence and simplicity of the medieval and
early Renaissance masters who, he believed, had revealed the word of God
in their paintings.42 Following his visit to the grand exhibition staged in
the Louvre in 1802, in which a number of previously unseen early paint-
ings plundered by Napoleon‚Ä™s armies were on display, Friedrich Schlegel
gave this veneration of the early masters its most vigorous expression.
In the Europa essays of 1803‚Ä“5, Schlegel declared his mission ‚Ä˜to lead
back the taste of modern times, and to form it in some degree on the mod-
els of these old masters‚Ä™.43 The ‚Ä˜true object of art‚Ä™ was ‚Ä˜to lead the mind
upward into a more exalted region and a spiritual world‚Ä™.44 Schlegel urged
modern artists to ‚Ä˜return at once to the beaten track of the old masters‚Ä™.45
By ‚Ä˜drinking more deeply from the well spring of their genius‚Ä™, their own
productions, he believed, could be imbued with the same ‚Ä˜earnest reli-
gious feeling, genuine devotion and immortal faith‚Ä™.46
Wilhelm Waetzoldt has pointed out that Schlegel‚Ä™s thesis amounted to
a ‚Ä˜philosophy of culture‚Ä™, in which religion and nationalism were the two
essential ingredients.47 Friedrich Schelling added monarchical patronage
into the mix, when he proposed that art could best be promoted ‚Ä˜by the
mild authority of a patriarchal ruler‚Ä™.48 On the occasion of the recon-
stitution of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich as a ‚Ä˜national
39 40 Ibid., p. 45. 41 Schiller, Aesthetic Education, p. 215.
42 W. Wackenroder, Outpourings of an Art-loving Friar, trans. Edwin Mornin (London,
1975), pp. 4, 51‚Ä“2, 100‚Ä“1.
43 F. von Schlegel, The Aesthetic and Miscellaneous Writings, trans. E. J. Millington (London,
1848), p. 64.
44 45 Ibid., p. 51. 46 Ibid.
Ibid., p. 145.
47 W. Waetzoldt, Deutsche Kunsthistoriker von Sandrart bis Rumohr (Berlin, 1965), I.254.
48 Sheehan, Museums, p. 59.
French power and German culture 355
institution‚Ä™ in 1809, he called upon the German princes to ‚Ä˜increase the
beneÔ¬Ācial inÔ¬‚uence of the Ô¬Āne arts on the nation as a whole‚Ä™, by employ-
ing ‚Ä˜this mighty educational instrument‚Ä™ to ‚Ä˜ennoble the people spiritually
and morally‚Ä™.49 It would become signiÔ¬Ācant that the young crown prince
of Bavaria was a member of Schelling‚Ä™s audience.
It was at this time that a group of young German art students at
the Academy in Vienna, led by Franz Pforr and Friedrich Overbeck,
joined together and formed the Brotherhood of St Luke, and in so doing
became art‚Ä™s Ô¬Ārst secessionists. Disenchanted with the cold, universal-
izing, French manner they were expected to replicate, they found pro-
founder inspiration in the writings of the Romantics, whose thesis was
conÔ¬Ārmed by their experience of viewing early paintings in the Belvedere,
which had been opened to the public by Joseph II in 1777.50 On the night
of 10 July 1809, the Lukasbruder promised each other that they would
‚Ä˜renounce every academic manner, live in a fraternal union and together
seek out truth‚Ä™.51
In 1810, they moved to the capital of the Catholic world. Rome had
long been the Mecca for German artists seeking inspiration in its classical
antiquities; this was the Ô¬Ārst time that artists had made the pilgrimage to
study the Christian art of the fourteenth and Ô¬Āfteenth centuries. When
they moved into a deserted monastery, began painting in the manner of
the early masters, and grew their hair long and parted down the middle,
as both Christ and Raphael were believed to have done, they gained the
name the ‚Ä˜Nazarenes‚Ä™.52
By 1814, the character of the Nazarenes had changed. While retaining
their distinctive piety, they had become enthusiastic German national-
ists. This was for three reasons. Firstly, integral to their study of the early
painters was the conviction that they were returning ‚Ä˜to the source‚Ä™ of true
art. It was thus not a retreat from the world but, as Schlegel had main-
tained, a path that could restore art to its former elevated state and then
‚Ä˜progressively onward to a new perfection‚Ä™.53 It was the means to estab-
lish a modern school of painting comparable to that which had existed in
the Middle Ages.
Secondly, by 1814 the patriotic mood of the Wars of Liberation
had reached the German artists in Rome. As Johann David Passavant
49 50 Blanning, The Culture of Power, p. 439.
Ibid., p. 60.
51 Dirrigl, Ludwig I., p. 155.
52 M. Kunze and C. Keisch, eds., Italia und Germania (Berlin, 1976), entry for 1812 in
53 Schlegel, Aesthetic and Miscellaneous, pp. 285, 294.
356 Emma L. Winter
Currently in Germany, a great popular interest has now been aroused in the
Volk . . . and the strivings of many courageous youths have won the day; it is also
the case that these same convictions now reign among many disciples of art.54
The nationalist mood encouraged the Nazarenes in their artistic striving
after a higher goal. They now ‚Ä˜dreamt not only of a new art, [but] also
of a new society: a community based upon an elated sense of the public
good above self-interest‚Ä™.55
To this end, on 31 August 1814, twenty-six German artists, including
all of the Nazarenes, sent a Memorandum from Rome to Metternich in
Austria, Hardenberg in Prussia and Ludwig in Bavaria, requesting that
art be made ‚Ä˜a subject of national importance‚Ä™. The artists expressed
their hope that ‚Ä˜the German princes would extend their support to the
interests of German art‚Ä™ and called for ‚Ä˜commissions for artists . . . for
the beautiÔ¬Ācation of cities and public buildings . . . to reÔ¬Āne and ennoble
Thirdly, by the late autumn of 1814 Peter Cornelius, who had joined
the Nazarenes two years earlier, had formulated the means by which he
hoped to ‚Ä˜awaken the world‚Ä™.57 In a letter addressed to the nationalist
propagandist Joseph Gorres, then leading the nationalist cause against
Napoleon, Cornelius explained:
At last I come to what according to my innermost conviction would, I feel, be
the most powerful, I would say the infallible, means of giving German art a new
direction compatible with the great era of the nation and with its spirit: this would
be nothing less than the revival of fresco painting as it was practised from the great
Giotto to the divine Raphael.58
The return to fresco would restore to painting the ‚Ä˜public function‚Ä™ it had
enjoyed in the service of religion.59 As Passavant explained, ‚Ä˜only where
art serves the gloriÔ¬Ācation of public life, and only where all the strength
of the Volk is aroused, can art be given a true foundation‚Ä™.60 For his part,
Cornelius predicted that with public patronage, ‚Ä˜schools will rise up in
the old spirit, whose true high art will pour forth with effective powers
into the heart of the nation‚Ä™.61
54 J. D. Passavant, Ansichten uber die bildenden K¬® nste und Darstellungen des Ganges derselben
in Toscana. Zur Bestimmung des Geschichtspunktes, aus welchem die neudeutsche Malerschule
zu betrachten ist (Heidelberg, 1820), p. 78.
56 M. Droste, Das Fresko als Idee. Zur Geschichte offentlicher Kunst im 19. Jahrhundert
(Munster, 1980), p. 13.
57 E. Forster, Peter von Cornelius. Ein Gedenkbuch aus seinem Leben und Wirken (Berlin,
58 59 Droste, Das Fresko, p. 100.
Ibid., p. 155.
60 61 Forster, Peter von Cornelius, I.156.
Passavant, Ansichten, p. 36. ¬®
French power and German culture 357
As a new era beckoned, Cornelius began to implement his plan. In
January 1816, he seized upon the desire of the Prussian consul-general
in Rome, Jacob Salomon Bartholdy, to have his residence decorated, and
persuaded him to give the Nazarenes a commission. The signiÔ¬Ācance of
this ‚Ä˜Ô¬Ārst attempt to revive the elevated style of painting‚Ä™ was not lost on
contemporaries: Raczynski described the Bartholdy frescoes as ‚Ä˜the Ô¬Ārst
monument to the renaissance of modern art in Rome‚Ä™, while Ludwig
celebrated them as ‚Ä˜the cradle of new German art‚Ä™.62 Impressed by their
efforts, the Roman marchese Carlo Massimo provided the Nazarenes
with their second commission.
Cornelius professed to having accepted Massimo‚Ä™s commission in 1817
‚Ä˜in order to show from Rome how my Fatherland could make use of
me‚Ä™.63 When Ludwig visited Rome the following year, he was delighted
by Cornelius‚Ä™s promise. The artist offered the means by which the prince
could realize his plan for a spectacular revival of the arts once he suc-
ceeded to the throne. As had been the case with Johann Philipp Franz
of Wurzburg and Balthasar Neumann, there was again the fortunate co-
existence of a patron in search of an artist and an artist in search of a
The two men were drawn to each other for two additional rea-
sons. Firstly, both were enthusiastic German nationalists. Cornelius was
already engaged in his own ‚Ä˜enthusiastic struggle against French tyranny
and frivolity‚Ä™, while according to Raczynski:
No other German has felt more vitally than the crown prince the outrages and
calamities which the French Republic has dumped on Germany . . . They have left
a profound impression on his soul. It is to this sentiment, that the Ô¬Ārst symptoms
of his love for the arts were linked. His love of art has always been in close
connection with that of national glory.65
Secondly, they shared a devotion to Christianity and the belief that the
revival of Christian art would help ‚Ä˜the old belief, the old love, and with
them, the old power of the Father, rise again‚Ä™.66
During his stay in Rome, Ludwig became so enraptured with the
Nazarenes that he celebrated their activities in a poem, in which he
praised their conviction that ‚Ä˜love and enthusiasm for Christianity and
62 A. Raczynski, Histoire de l‚Ä™art moderne en Allemagne (Paris, 1841), III.291, 287; Droste,
Das Fresko, p. 7.
63 K. Andrews, The Nazarenes: A German Brotherhood in Rome (Oxford, 1964), p. 48.
64 Paraphrasing John Steegman, Consort of Taste (London, 1950), p. 31; Blanning, The
Culture of Power, p. 73.
65 Forster, Peter von Cornelius, I.159; Raczynski, Histoire, II.95.
66 H. Ebertsh¬® user, ed., Kunsturteile des 19. Jahrhunderts. Zeugnisse-Manifeste-Kritiken zur
M¬® nchner Malerei (Munich, 1983), p. 30.
358 Emma L. Winter
Fatherland‚Ä™ were ‚Ä˜the most worthy and inspiring source of the artist‚Ä™s
spirit‚Ä™.67 The poem continues, ‚Ä˜only where these exist, can we imitate
the old masters, who celebrated their religion and history in their art:
only then will art become part of our nature, our Ô¬‚esh and blood‚Ä™.68 In
1819, Ludwig invited Cornelius to Munich to decorate the Glyptothek
with frescoes, in the hope that ‚Ä˜just as we have seen German fresco at
Bartholdy‚Ä™s as a child, and at Massimo‚Ä™s as a youth, so we will see it at
Munich, but as a man‚Ä™.69
In 1825, the year Ludwig ascended the Bavarian throne, the goal of
fresco painting was explained in the Munich-based Kunstblatt:
Fresco painting . . . corresponds to the digniÔ¬Āed goal of public self-determination
to which it is dedicated. It is essential for the embellishment of great public
buildings, churches, palaces, assembly halls, town halls, which are lacking essen-
tial decoration . . . With strength, truth and a noble character, the artist must
speak to his audience through the medium of his works; he must glorify and
celebrate the teachings of religion, the fame of the Fatherland, the actions of
noble men, the Ô¬‚owering of poetry and the general spiritual education of the
The following year, Cornelius suggested to Ludwig that he allow the
Hofgarten arcades to be decorated with frescoes of scenes from Bavarian
history ‚Ä˜to pay tribute to the just national pride of Bavaria, to enliven love
of the Fatherland in young people, to show foreigners that we revere the
great actions of our fathers‚Ä™.71 In 1829, the year in which the Hofgarten
frescoes were unveiled to the public, the journal Inland declared ‚Ä˜through
the contemplation of beauty, the Volk will become more able to ennoble
its spirit, its nature, its customs, its morals‚Ä™. This was ‚Ä˜especially when its
histories and its actions are recalled in pictorial representations‚Ä™.72
The Hofgarten frescoes proved to be extremely popular. Inland was
delighted to report that: