Aug 29, 2014

Eva Gesine Baur Does Archival Research

In May 2014 the German publishing house C.H. Beck published Eva Gesine Baur's new Mozart biography Mozart Genius und Eros. Although I have recently been commissioned to review this book for a German music journal, I have to address this publication already on my blog, because it is endlessly fascinating as far as the problems in current Mozart literature are concerned.

Baur has learned a lesson from her flawed Schikaneder book and has delved deeply into the Mozart literature. And yet it is not enough. In many cases Baur's accumulated knowledge turns out to be almost worthless, because she is not in a position to evaluate the significance and quality of her secondary sources. She has sucked up huge amounts of information and throws good and bad material together. Her book is proof that knowledge cannot be acquired through reading alone and the topic of Mozart's life is a field where the validity of this paradigm becomes especially apparent. Baur's problem is the problem of most recent publications dealing with Mozart's biography: to write a really good book about the composer, one would have to devote at least ten years into reading and these studies should of course not be limited to Mozart. Since such a long preparation is financially not viable, this book is not being written. And the Mozart scholars who do research in the archives – because they are only interested in exploring the unknown – have no interest (and no means) to write such a book.

I will not deal with the whole smorgasbord of mistakes, misunderstandings and misinformation that is presented in this book, because this would really go beyond the limits of a blogpost. Some of the flaws can be attributed to the secondary literature which was mostly copied uncritically. We see in this book that between literature and scholarship there is an endless desert landscape, where an author has a lot of room to move, without ever coming into contact with the surrounding area. Since Baur provides a 127 page footnote apparatus, the book cannot be regarded as a piece of fiction (or what German journalists call "musikhistorischer Roman"). On the other hand her prose, which uses the historical present tense throughout, is so awkward and wooden, that any possibly claim to literary value can be ruled out. The book is rife with such loveless iciness that the reader wonders whether the author actually liked her topic. The most essential qualities that make a book – even a biography of a historical figure – entertaining and readable are completely missing: humor, humility and a certain relaxed distance from the topic. Baur makes us realize what great writers Wolfgang Hildesheimer and Alfred Einstein really were. In the blurb she is referred to as a musicologist, but nowhere does this show in the book. Mozart's music is dealt with on a disappointingly low, almost journalistic level and the reader is left with the impression that this book was only written, because the author wanted to show off with her new "genius and eros" concept and finally get rid of her acquired knowledge. One can see the author pondering about her approach before she began writing: "Yet another book about Mozart? I need to present the composer in a new light, like nobody has ever done it before. How about »Mozart the trickster and liar«? Let's give it a go!" One of the absolutely best examples of Baur's merciless smarty-pants style of writing is the following passage from p. 77, where she describes Leopold Mozart's and his son's visit to the Sistine Chapel in 1770. We are faced with a truly bizarre mixture of arrogance and ignorance:

Exhausted from the strains of a trip in bad weather, with miserable food and disgusting lodgings, right after their arrival on Holy Thursday Wolfgang is being dragged[sic!] to the Sistine Chapel by his father. There he must listen to Gregorio Allegri's Miserere. An a capella setting of the 50th Psalm which is allowed to be performed only by the Papal Chapel. The singers are strictly forbidden to take the music outside the chapel and copy it. It is said that any violation of this rule is punished by excommunication. This is what makes this insignificant[sic!] piece interesting and provokes Leopold to stage a coup. After having listened to the Miserere twice, his son presents a full score of the piece, a proof of his learnedness. People in the Vatican[sic!] are impressed.
It is of course very funny to visualize Leopold Mozart, dragging his son against his will to the Sistine Chapel (with Mozart exclaiming: "Herr Papa, bitte nicht in die Kapelle!"). But what kind of strange mindset could make an author of a Mozart book come up with such a scenario? Instead of passing embarrassing judgement ("belangloses Stück") on a musical masterpiece, an author who actually loves her topic and has delved deeply enough into the matter, could address the fact that by 1770 three unembellished versions of the Miserere had already become accessible to the public. Following the footsteps of Neal Zaslaw this author could raise the question, as to how extraordinary Mozart's musical feat actually was (owing to long passages of chorale it is overrated). She could avoid the mistake of claiming that the Mozarts' first visit to the Sistine Chapel took place on Holy Thursday, because it already took place one day earlier, on Wednesday April 11th, 1770. She could refer to the memoirs of the poet (and accomplished musician) Franz Grillparzer, who on 8 April 1819 also visited the Sistine Chapel, attended a performance of the Miserere and described this heavenly experience as follows: "The wonderful Miserere by Allegri, performed by the most glorious voices, where with theatrical artistry everybody waits for the moment, when the Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo's masterpieces is about to be covered in darkness, and now from the solely lighted quire the music begins as if descending from heaven." And finally she could avoid the nonsensical claim that Leopold Mozart showed the score around to impress people in the Vatican ("Im Vatikan ist man beeindruckt."). This is exactly what Leopold Mozart was not supposed to do!

Baur has read all my published work on Mozart and she refers to my publications many times. One particular case is especially symptomatic (knowledge cannot be acquired through reading!), because she was unable to understand what I wrote and turned the meaning of a passage in one of my articles into the exact opposite. In a footnote on p. 455 of her book she writes: "Michael Lorenz vermutet, dass Mozart bei diesem Salzburg-Aufenthalt den bedrängten Freund Franz Jakob Freystädtler ermuntert hat, nach Wien umzuziehen («Franz Jakob Freystädtler Neue Forschungsergebnisse», S. 89 Fußnote 28)." This is completely wrong. I never suggested anything like that. Baur failed to actually read what I wrote in the main text of my 1997 article in Acta Mozartiana, where I expressedly pointed out that Freystädtler left Salzburg already in 1782 and that he did not meet with Mozart in 1783 in Salzburg:
[Freystädtlers] "unbestimmter Urlaub" von Salzburg muß schon 1782 begonnen, und sein Aufenthalt in München vier Jahre gedauert haben. Das Gespräch zwischen Freystädtler und Mozart anläßlich der Salzburger Aufführung der c-moll-Messe 1783, das sich Hamann ausmalt, hat ebensowenig stattgefunden wie Freystädtlers Mitwirkung als Organist bei der Aufführung dieser Messe.
What Baur mistook for my text in footnote 28 of my article, is actually a quote (in quotation marks!) from a mistaken presumption that Heinz Wolfgang Hamann in 1962 put foward in an article. This is only one of several examples of Baur misunderstanding the literature. But the best of all her efforts to acquire knowledge (which basically are quite laudible) is the one instance where she actually decided to do some archival research of her own and look at a document from a Vienna archive. 

In a review of Günther G. Bauer's book Mozart. Geld, Ruhm und Ehre, that I published on the Web in 2012, I addressed the fact that Bauer could only estimate the annual income of Mozart's fellow mason and one time creditor Franz Hofdemel, because his prominent collaborators had obviously been unwilling to advance into the far grounds of archival research. Hofdemel acquired a certain notoriety, because in 1789 he lent Mozart money and his wife allegedly took piano lessons from Mozart. On 6 December 1791, in a fit of insanity, Hofdemel attacked his pregnant wife with a razor blade and then committed suicide, an incident which lead to all kinds of completely unfounded speculations concerning a possible love affair between Mozart and Hofdemel's wife. In my review of Bauer's book I wrote: "Das Einkommen Franz Hofdemels als Kanzlist der Obersten Justizstelle, das Bauer nur schätzen kann, ist natürlich Hofdemels Sperrs-Relation (WStLA, Mag. ZG, A2, 3730/1791) zu entnehmen, doch Bauers »wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiter« wollten offensichtlich in diese archivalischen Gründe nicht vordringen." Eva Gesine Baur jumped at the shelfmark of Hofdemel's probate records that I had published (quite superfluously) in my review, because she obviously hoped to shed some light on the question whether Hofdemel's wife had really been Mozart's piano student. Baur decided to do archival research. She ordered scans of Hofdemel's Sperrs-Relation from the Municipal and Provincial Archives of Vienna and used the document for her book which is proved by her proudly referring three times to its shelfmark in her footnotes. What was meant to greatly impress her readers however, lead to an amusingly embarrassing episode which could serve as a valuable lesson for future amateur researchers.

Baur was unable to settle for one correct shelfmark of this document and provides the reader with three different readings. The most original is the following garbled version on p. 521 of her book which was obviously caused by a misreading of a handwritten note (the letters "ZG" [Zivilgericht] having been turned into "26", followed by a wrong number):

Baur could barely read anything in Franz Hofdemel's probate records. A major part of this document was written by the Sperrskommissär Johann Florian Lovin (1727-1797), whose handwriting in the past has eluded quite a number of hopeful amateur researchers, a fact that I already pointed out in my review of a failed research project conducted by the Vienna Mozart Society. In her quest to find a piano in Hofdemel's estate inventory Baur had to rely on the work of Gustav Gugitz, who in 1956 published an article titled "Von W. A. Mozarts kuriosen Schülerinnen" in the Österreichische Musikzeitschrift (republished in 1963 in a compilation titled Mozartiana), where he also dealt with the Hofdemel case and Hofdemel's Sperrs-Relation. Gugitz's information in this article is notoriously flawed and unreliable. For instance he was not even able to correctly identify Baroness Martha Elisabeth, née Schäffer and her husband Hugo von Waldstätten and mixed them up with Maria Barbara, née von Rossi and her husband Joseph Carl von Waldstätten. But how was Baur to know that Gugitz is not to be trusted? Concerning Franz Hofdemel Gugitz writes:
Auch musikalisch scheint er gewesen zu sein, denn in seinem Nachlaß fanden sich zwei Geigen, ein Bassethorn und Musikalien im Werte von 92 fl. 42 kr. Verheiratet war er überdies mit der Tochter eines Brünner Kapellmeisters, mit Magdalena, geb. Pokorny. Ihr erteilte nun Mozart Musikunterricht. Vielleicht sollte damit ein Teil der Schulden abgezahlt werden. Nach der Verlassenschaftsabhandlung ist aber kein Klavier vorhanden gewesen, in was soll also Mozart der Hofdemel Musikunterricht gegeben haben? Geige ist wohl für eine Frau ungewöhnlich, bliebe also nur der Gesang.
He [Hofdemel] seems to have been musical as well, for in his estate, two violins, a basset horn and music, estimated ​​at 92 gulden 42 kreuzer could be found. He was married to the daughter of a capellmeister from Brno, Magdalena, née Pokorny. It was her, who received music lessons from Mozart which were probably supposed to pay off part of the debt. But no piano is listed in the probate records, in what should Mozart therefore have given music lessons to Mrs. Hofdemel? Violin is probably unusual for a woman, that would only leave singing lessons.
Accordingly Baur in her book (p. 499) repeats Gugitz's information (even including the basset horn and the violin lessons):

On p. 500 of her book Baur repeats her claim: "Laut Sperrs-Relation befand sich in Franz Hofdemels Nachlass kein Klavier. (WStLA, Mag. ZG, A2, 3730/1791)." ("According to the probate records there was no piano in Franz Hofdemel's estate."). In the main text Baur even goes one better – and her arrogant "I know it all better than generations before me" style of writing in the following passage is symptomatic for the whole book. To grandiosely "eradicate" old errors in Mozart research (which actually have been cleared up ages ago by the likes of O. E. Deutsch and Alfred Einstein) is one of the most tiresome attitudes in recent Mozart literature. On p. 384 this method culminates as follows:

This paragraph might as well be translated as follows:
Generations will fall into the trap [which I was clever enough to avoid!] and make themselves believe that Hofdemel wanted to kill his wife, because she was Mozart's lover and the child in her womb was Mozart's. They will see the fact that Magdalena's son, who is born in May of the following year in Brno and is baptized Johann, as reference to Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. And they will overlook the fact [attention, this is a fact!] that the godfather bore all the forenames under which Magdalena's child was entered into the baptismal register. They will also fail to read [which I was clever enough not to do!] what a neighbor told a newspaper immediately after the crime: that Hofdemel was regularly vomitting blood, knew that he was terminally ill and that after a bad spitting of blood he drew the consequences. And because they fall into the trap [which I again managed to avoid!], they will turn Magdalena Hofdemel into a piano student of Mozart's, in spite of the fact that her husband's estate did not contain a piano. [and by the way, I'm so much smarter than generations of writers before me!]
Let me start with Baur's argument that Franz Hofdemel's posthoumous son got all his forenames from his godfather, a *fact* that (according to Baur) has been overlooked "by generations" which lead to their "falling into a trap". Hofdemel's Sperrs-Relation contains a baptismal certificate of this child that was issued by the parish priest of the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul in Brno in June 1792 as proof that this boy was really his father's legitimate heir. This document, which is part of the file that Baur had had scanned and repeatedly refers to in her book, shows that Baur's argument regarding the child's names is not based on facts, but on fantasy:

I the undersigned testify that in the parish of the Royal Cathedral of the Prince Apostles St. Peter and Paul at No. 27 on the Petersberg in the year one-thousand, seven-hundred and ninety-two on the tenth day of May by the honorable reverend Johann Nepomuck Slowack, first vicar, a child was baptized Johann von Nepomuck, Alexander, Franziskus, a baby boy, legitimately born after the death of his father Franz Hofdemel, clerk at the I.&R. Supreme Department of Justice, of Catholic faith and the mother Mrs. Magdalena, née Pokorni. Whereby as godparents officiated Alexander Fidel Holderer, clerk with the I.&R. Moravian-Silesian Appellation Court, and Mrs. Viktoria Kofler, widow of a merchant. The midwife was Barbara Hilbert, living at Grosse Bäckengasse No. 28. With the sign of the Royal Capital, Brno 12 June 1792. [L.S.] Karl Freÿherr von Tauber Parish priest at the Cathedral
This certificate of course corresponds with the original entry in the baptismal records of the parish of the Brno Cathedral (Moravský zemský archiv Brno, Brno sv. Petr a Pavel [na dómě] 16942, fol. 414):

Contrary to Baur's claim the godfather did not "bear all the forenames under which Magdalena's child was entered into the baptismal register". The names of the godfather were not "Johann Nepomuk Alexander Franz", but "Alexander Fidelis". And the existence of the godmother completely escaped the attention of Dr. Baur, whose inflated expertise suddenly shrinks when measured with the primary sources. The child Johann Nepumuk Hofdemel already died on 13 May 1794 of "Kartharfieber" (Moravský zemský archiv Brno, Brno sv. Petr a Pavel [na dómě] 16959, p. 163). After the boy's death his share of the modest paternal inheritance of 1,350 fl 4 1/2 x was divided between his mother and sister (A-Ws, Mag. ZG, A2 3294/1794).

What about the piano that "is not listed in Hofdemel's probate records"? Hofdemel's Sperrs-Relation contains five different lists of assets: 1) The "Inventur und Schätzung" of all of Hofdemel's belongings, 2) the Catalogus Librorum Hofdemlianorum (the catalogue of Hofdemel's books) in two parts, because of 171 books only 73 were sold at an auction, 3) the "Schätzungs und Lizitationsausweisung" (the results of the auction of Hofdemel's belongings), 4) the "Ausweisung uiber die eingehandelten 6 öffentlichen Fonds Obligationen" (the result of the sale of Hofdemel's public bonds) and 6) the so-called "Theillibell", the exact distribution of Hofdemel's net assets among his two children (a balance that proves that the value of Hofdemel's estate given by Gugitz is completely false). The first list, drawn up by the Sperrskommissär Lovin on 11 January 1792, contains an item that proves Baur's reasoning utterly wrong.

schnallen und Kleinigkeiten                                    1  30
1 Passetl 2 Geigen und Musi=
kallien und Musikanten Stellen                              20.    ––
das wenig=eisen, erden und
höltzerne Kuchelgeschirr                                        2.    ––          
folgende 3 Posten sollen der
Fr: Witwe zugehörig seyn
die sammentl[iche] Hauswäsch        30 f ––
1 harter Schubladkasten 2 Reis
Kouffer                                              10 f ––
1 Fortepiano                                      30:      
                                                          70 f: ––
buckles and trifles
one small bass, 2 violins, music
and music stands
the few pieces of iron, earthen and
wooden kitchenware
the following three items are said
to belong to the widow
the entire linen
one hardwood chest with drawers two travel
one fortepiano
There it is: Magdalena Hofdemel's piano which (according to Baur) "is not listed in her husband's probate records" which (according to Baur) proves that "generations fell into a trap by erroneously believing that she was Mozart's piano student". The existence of the piano of course does not prove that Hofdemel's wife was Mozart's student. Some authors (like Baur, who erroneously claims that Magdalena von Kurzböck was a student of Mozart's) seem unable to accept that there were actually female pianists in Mozart's time, who were acquainted with the composer without taking lessons from him. Especially amusing is the fact that Baur (like Gugitz) still thinks that a "Passetl" is a basset horn, although I have explained the meaning of this word in a review that is listed in Baur's bibliography. But as I said above: knowledge cannot be acquired through reading. To round off her fantasies Baur offers yet another explanation for Hofdemel's suicide (p. 521): "Möglicherweise war Hofdemels Problem Folge von Alkoholmissbrauch. In seinem Nachlass finden sich beachtliche Vorräte." ("Hofdemel's problem may have been the result of alcohol abuse. Considerable supplies can be found in his estate.") It comes as no surprise that these huge amounts of wine do not appear in Hofdemel's Sperrs-Relation. It would surely be fascinating to figure out the origin of Baur's error, but in this case I shall follow Goethe's advice that inscrutable mysteries should rather be revered than explained.

There are of course still some unanswered questions concerning Franz Hofdemel, but who his wife's piano teacher was, is really not the most relevant among them. Where was Hofdemel born? Where and when did he and Magdalena Pokorny (b. 27 June 1766 in Brno) get married? Although his wedding is not registered in the records of the Brno Cathedral, this issue could easily be cleared up with an internet access and the necessary amount of diligence. Baur's musings concerning the possible date of birth of Hofdemel's daughter Theresia (p. 499) are moot, because in the age of the World Wide Web it takes less than five minutes to figure out that this child was born on 6 January 1791 (A-Wd, Tom. 100, fol. 61). Up-to-date research methods seem difficult to master for an author who – as far as basic research is concerned – let herself get too distracted by the protagonists of Socrates's speech at Platon's Symposium.

How are the two different dates of Hofdemel's death in the records to be explained? The Totenbeschauprotokoll has 6 December and yet 10 December 1791 is given on his Sperrs-Relation and in the Wiener Zeitung.

6 December 1791 given as Hofdemel's date of death in the Totenbeschauprotokoll: "Xbris 791 Den 6ten Hofdemel Franz Kanzellist bey der Obrister Justitzstelle, welcher sich selbst, in seiner Wohnung, im Rolleterischen H:[aus] N° 1360 in der Grünangergaße ermordet, und in allg: Krankenhaus gerichtlich b[e]s[chau]t worden, alt 36 Jr: Sartori Chyrurg.[us] Prim.[us". (A-Ws, TBP 95, lit. H, fol. 80r)

"10 Xb: 791" given as Hofdemel's date of death in his Sperrs-Relation. This date is referred to as factual in the whole file.

The announcement of Hofdemel's death "Den 10 December" in the Wiener Zeitung (WZ No. 101/1791, p. 3225)

The autopsy which was conducted at the Allgemeines Krankenhaus took some time, but this does not explain a discrepancy of four days. The entry in the death records was copied from the surgeon's note which proves that the autopsy had already been done. It would also be very interesting to figure out where and under which circumstances Hofdemel was buried. His name of course does not appear in the records concerning the Catholic exequies at St. Stephen's Cathedral.

The "Rohlederisches Haus", Stadt 1360 (built in 1784, today Grünangergasse 10), where in 1791 Franz Hofdemel committed suicide. The owner of the house Friedrich Wilhelm Rohleder was the retired manager of the Theresianum.

Especially annoying is the fact that Baur seems to think that by repeatedly referring to my work in her book she has gained the right to present some results of my research as her own wisdom. She also seems to assume that by acknowledging the existence of my publications she has inoculated herself against my criticism. What follows are a few examples of Baur presenting information that she has taken right out of one of my articles without giving her source:
  • The information concerning the size of the concert hall in the Trattnerhof on p. 218 was copied from my 2013 blogpost Mozart in the Trattnerhof without providing a source.
  • The information concerning the Trattnerhof on p. 395 was also copied from my 2013 blogpost Mozart in the Trattnerhof which is not referred to in the bibliography on p. 394 or in a footnote.
  • The shelfmark of the 1788 tax register as source for Mozart's rent in the Camesina-Haus is taken from my 2009 article Mozart's Apartment on the Alsergrund. By giving a shelfmark in brackets in the text Baur is dishonestly pretending to have personally consulted this archival source.
  • The information as to how the chapel in the Trattnerhof was converted into a hall (p. 456, fn 5) was lifted unsourced from my 2013 blogpost Mozart in the Trattnerhof.
  • The explanation of Barbara Ployer's family relation to Gottfried Ignaz von Ployer (p. 460, fn 17) is taken from my article "Gottfried Ignaz von Ployers Haus in Döbling. Eine vergessene Mozartstätte", Acta Mozartiana 47, vol. 1-2, (June 2000), which is not given as source.
  • The smart-aleck comment on Helmut Kretschmer's wrong date of Cavalieri's date of birth with the reference to Pisarowitz (p. 468, fn 7) is lifted from my review of Melanie Unseld's book Mozarts Frauen. Begegnungen in Musik und Liebe which was published in the Mozart-Jahrbuch 2007/08. The embarrassing fact of course being that Baur does not know that Kretschmer copied the wrong date from the commentary in Gugitz's 1924 edition of Da Ponte's memoirs (a book that is listed in Baur's bibliography).
  • The explanatory comment on the Deiner issue (p. 475, fn 3) with the information on the "former fruit dealer" Josef Preisinger is lifted from my 2012 review of Günther Bauer's book.
  • The information concerning the different value of the Gulden in Salzburg and Vienna (p. 481, fn 33) is also taken without reference from my review of Günther Bauer's book. That my name appears in the following sentence in connection with another issue cannot hide the fact that Baur is presenting my knowledge as her own.
  • The source for Mozart's lowest possible rental expense of 300 gulden in the house Stadt 245 in 1789 (p. 493, fn 4) is not Brauneis's 2013 article "Mozart: In und vor der Stadt", but my 2009 article Mozart's Apartment on the Alsergrund from which Brauneis plagiarized this information.
  • The explanatory note concerning the two Closset brothers (p. 500, fn 45) is based on research that was published in my review Das Forschungsprojekt "W. A. Mozart und sein Wiener Umfeld". Again Baur is proudly waving a lamp that I have lighted long ago.
  • Ignaz von Seyfried's five forenames (p. 508, fn 5) are copied from my review of Günther Bauer's book. Baur does not feel embarrassed by showing off with the results of my research in the 1776 baptismal records of St. Stephen's Cathedral.
  • Baur's knowledge that "there is no proof that on 4 March 1791 Mozart performed the concerto K. 595" (p. 508, fn 6) is lifted from the same review.
  • The information concerning "the notes of Aloys Fuchs" which give an amount of 100 ducats as Mozart's fee for Die Zauberflöte (p. 511, fn 14) is also lifted from my review. Baur could never name the exact source for "the notes of Aloys Fuchs".
  • The information that beginning in November 1790 Franz Xaver Süßmayr was working as substitute at the Burgtheater and was paid 26 fl for "extra service", a job that he probably got with the help of Salieri (p. 513, fn 29), is taken from my article "Süßmayr und die Lichterputzer: von gefundenen und erfundenen Quellen", in Mozart-Jahrbuch 2006, (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2008), pp. 425-38. Baur does not provide a source and thus is dishonestly presenting my research as her own.
  • That Joseph Bonno (whom Baur mistakenly calls "Giuseppe") like Mozart was buried for 8 fl 56 x, although he had died without debts (p. 523, fn 66), is lifted from my review of Günther Bauer's book. The information that in the late 18th century 99% of the Vienna populace received third-class burials is also copied from this review without providing a source.

Baur's book never underwent a thorough proofreading process which gives rise to the assumption that her publisher already laid off the entire editorial staff some time ago. A simple spell check could have avoided mistakes such as "Portät", "Solo-Sopran-Partieen" and "Haussegung". According to Baur Mozart's Der Schauspieldirektor was premiered on "7 February 1886" and the clarinetist Anton Stadler was born "in 1793". We encounter flawed German phrases such as "um den 25. September 1764 herum" and "Zu der Frau von Mesmers Stiefsohn", and musicologists with botched names make an amusing appearance: "Karl Pfannhaus", "Daniel Ende" and "Hermann Albert". These are just the bloopers caused by sloppiness and lack of decent editing. Keep in mind that I have not even touched the vast number of factual errors that appear on almost every page of this book.

Ernst Hilmar, a musicologist of dubious reputation, but undeniable scholarly merits, once said to me (responding to my critical remarks about his shallow books): "Kritisieren ist leicht. Wann werden Sie einmal etwas vorlegen?" ("Criticizing is easy. When will you present something?" – the term "something" of course referring to a book). This points right at the core of my unpopular point of view: I do not want to "present something". As a matter of fact, I also do not want to see others "present something". I am strictly against the continuous publication of thick, but flawed books that sycophant journalists describe as "meticulously researched" and admirers of the author call "One of the best books about Mozart ever written".

Jul 21, 2014

Anton Kraft's Date of Birth (And his Wine Consumption)

Anton Kraft was the greatest cellist of his time. His significance as a pioneer regarding the technical development of cello playing is only rivalled by his French contemporary Jean-Louis Duport.

 Anton Kraft (US-NYp, Muller Collection 1258107)

To Kraft's exceptional technical skills today's cellists owe passages like the following in the third movement of Haydn's Cello Concerto i n D Major, Hob. VIIb/2:

Anton Kraft was born in the Bohemian town of Rokycany, son of Franz and Magdalena Kraft – but when exactly? The majority of the biographical and musicological literature agrees on 30 December 1749 as Kraft's date of birth, but some authors disagree. In his article in the ÖBL Theophil Antonicek gives the date 30 December 1752, which differs from the information that in 1958 Othmar Wessely published in vol. 7 of the old edition of the MGG. New Grove and the new MGG also give 30 December 1749 as Kraft's date of birth. Wurzbach's source for Kraft's year of birth were Ernst Ludwig Gerber and Gottfried Johann Dlabacz's Allgemeines historisches Künstler-Lexikon für Böhmen und zum Theil für Mähren und Schlesien, published in 1815:

The beginning of Dlabacz's article on Anton Kraft in the Allgemeines historisches Künstler-Lexikon

The English and the German Wikipedia articles currently have 30 December 1752. The Beethoven-Haus also has 1752. Where did the wrong year 1752 originate? It entered the literature from vol. 5 of Robert Eitner's Biographisch-Bibliographisches Quellen-Lexikon. Eitner relied on what he rightly considered to be an excellent source: Carl Ferdinand Pohl's 1871 study Denkschrift aus Anlaß des hundertjährigen Bestehens der Tonkünstler-Societät. In Pohl's list of society members Kraft's name, his biographical dates and the time of his joining of the society (15 December 1791) appear on p. 107:

Pohl's data are incorrect. Kraft was not born in 1752. Pohl drew the false year of birth from the minutes of the society where Krafts career as a member is meticulously recorded. As a matter of fact Kraft had already joined the Tonkünstler-Sozietät in 1783, but was expelled for failing to pay his deposit. When in April 1786 he applied again for membership he had to submit his birth certificate (a procedure Mozart never managed to follow through) and thus his date of birth – according to this certificate – is documented in the society's protocol. The entry in question reads as follows:
8. [1786]
Kraft Anton (gebohren den 30ten Xber 752) Hochfürstl.[ich] Esterhazischer Kammer Violoncellist, welcher a[nn]o 783 zwar in die Societät aufgenommen worden, nachhero aber seine Einlaag zu entrichten unterlassen, suchet wiederum an als Mitglied in die Societät aufgenommen zu werden. Er führet zu Unterstüzung seines Gesuchs an, daß er 1tens durch mehrere Jahre denen Societäts Musiken fleissig beÿgewohnet 2tens daß er einer dauerhaften Gesundheit geniesse und von seinen allzeit bezeigten guten Lebenswandel sich auf jedermans Zeugnüsse gründen könne. 3tens Bittet er denen in Wien domicilirenden (so wie einsmal Schöringer und Hammer) gleich benommen zu werden, da es bekannt ist, daß S[ein]e Durchl:[aucht] Fürst Esterhazy seinen Pallast und Hofstaat hier in Wienn habe, und nur Sommers Zeit gleich anderen Herrschaften sich auf dero Güter befinden. ––
Wieder hinauszugeben und kann in das Gesuch des Supplicanten, da derselbe ein auswärtiger, vermög dem Institut nicht gewilliget werden. Exped:[itum] d[en] 26t April a:c:
Kraft Anton (born on 30 December 1752), chamber cellist of Prince Esterházy, who joined the society in 1783, but later failed to submit his deposit, applies again to be accepted into the society. In support of his application he points out that 1) for several years he has diligently taken part in the society's concerts and 2) he is enjoying stable health and can rely on everybody's testimony concerning his moral conduct. 3) He requests to be treated like members who live in Vienna (like formerly Schöringer and Hammer), because it is known that His Excellency Prince Esterházy has his palace and his court in Vienna and, like other sovereigns, only lives on his estate in summer.––
To be returned. Owing to the society's regulation the supplicant's request cannot be granted, because he is an out-of-towner. Issued on 26 April of the current year [1786].

The entry concerning Anton Kraft's application to rejoin the Tonkünstler-Sozietät in April 1786 (A-Wsa, Private Institutionen, Haydn-Verein, A3/1)

Kraft's situation was similar to Haydn's in 1778, who being an "Auswärtiger" (out-of-towner) residing in Hungary, had to deposit 300 gulden to be accepted as a member (Haydn's application was eventually unsuccessful for other reasons). Carl Schöringer and Franz Xaver Hammer (Marteau), whom Kraft named as precedents, were musicians in Prince Esterházy's orchestra who had been allowed to join the society in 1775 and 1776 respectively in spite of being "Auswärtige". Kraft was only able to rejoin the Tonkünstler-Sozietät in 1791, after he had moved back to Vienna and had become an employee of Count Antal Grassalkovich.

The only possible explanation for the wrong date of Anton Kraft's birth recorded in the minutes of the Tonkünstler-Sozietät is that the date on this birth certificate was false, or the secretary of the society misread the document. It is unlikely that the parish priest had misidentified the year in the church register, because Kraft's entry is closely followed by the headline "Anno Domini 1750".

The entry concerning Anton Kraft's baptism on 30 December 1749 in the church of Saint Mary of the Snows in Rokycany with the headline of the following year 1750 (Státní oblastní archiv v Plzni. Rokycany 04, pag. 270)

Pohl's book contains several wrong dates of birth of members of the society. Sometimes Pohl misread the files (as in the case of Joseph Leitgeb), sometimes the entry in the minutes is already wrong, because either the secretary made a mistake, or the original baptismal certificate was incorrect (like in the case of the Court copyist Wenzel Sukowaty, who according to Pohl was born on 31 July 1746, but actually was born on 31 August of that year).

Now for something completely different. Nikolaus II, Prince Esterházy at some time around 1801 thought of hiring Kraft again, but he did not want to trump the salary that Kraft received from Count Lobkowitz. And yet, in honor of his service for Nikolaus I, Anton Kraft never lost his "Deputat" (payment in kind) from the Esterházys which consisted of firewood, tallow and wine. Kraft died on 28 August 1820 at the age of 70 of exhaustion. He left behind a widow and eight grown up children, of whom the eldest, the cellist Nikolaus Kraft inherited his father's cello, an instrument by Vincenzo Ruggieri (1663-1719) which was valued at 80 gulden.

Anton Kraft bequeathing his cello "verfertigt von Vincenz Rugger detto il Peer" and his musical scores to his son Nikolaus. (A-Wsa, Mag. ZG, A10, 420/1820)

This instrument is probably the cello labelled "Vincenzo Ruger detto il Per. In Cremona 1697" which was last sold in 1987 by the dealer Jacques Français (1923-2004).

The cello by "Vincenzo Ruger detto il Per" from 1697 in Sotheby's Fine Musical Instruments Auction Catalog (June 4, 1982)

Soon after her husband's death Marie Kraft applied to Prince Nikolaus II to receive the amount of wine that had been granted to her late husband. But her request was denied.
[Numerus exhibitorum] 3254. [Datum Præsentati. October 1820]
[Auszug des Exhibiti.] Kraft Marie, Wittwe des verstorbenen fürst[lichen] Violoncellisten Anton Kraft, bittet um das durch ihren Gemahl bezogene Wein Deputat.
[Erledigung.] An die Wiener Hofstaats Kellerverrechnung. der Wein des Kraft mit 6 Eimern wird von 28. Aug[ust] l.[aufenden] J.[ahres] abgestellt, u. der Witt[w]e tägl[ich] ein Seitl bewilligt.
den 22. Oct.
[Number of the exhibit] Kraft Marie, widow of the deceased princely violoncellist Anton Kraft requests the payment in wine that her husband received.
[Conclusion] To the wine cellar management of the court in Vienna. As of 28 August the 6 buckets of wine for Kraft are cancelled and the widow is allowed to receive one seidel per day.
22 October [1820]

The entry in the protocol of the Esterházy Zentraldirektion concerning Marie Kraft's request for her late husband's Weindeputat and its rejection (Archiv der Esterházy Privatstiftung, Forchtenstein, Zentraldirektion 3254/1820)

My own experience as cellist has taught me that cellists need a sufficient amount of wine. The annual six Eimer of the better brand called "Offizierswein" that Anton Kraft had received was quite a lot of liquor. One Austrian Eimer was 56,589 liters which means that Anton Kraft received almost 340 liters of wine per year (0,93 l per day). The supply that his widow had to content herself with was much smaller. The seidel she got every day was only 0,35 liters. Marie Kraft died on 20 June 1825 at the age of 75.

Anton Kraft's signature as witness to a wedding on 13 June 1810 (Pfarre St. Augustin, Tom. VIII, fol. 48)

Anton Kraft's seal

Jul 2, 2014

Franz Schubert's Entry in the Viennese Death Records

In a recent blogpost I dealt with the fate of Beethoven's third will and the thievish activities of the Viennese amateur researcher Robert Franz Müller (1864-1933). I also addressed the fact that the entry concerning Beethoven's death in the Vienna Totenbeschauprotokoll has already been stolen before 1922. In a bout of boundless optimism I wrote the following concerning the loss of this document:
We find ourselves wondering how Mozart's and Schubert's entries in Vienna's death registers ever could survive into the 21st century.
I have to correct myself. The Schubert entry has also been stolen and I remember having already noticed this more than ten years ago, but I forgot about it. Similar to the Beethoven entry a whole leaf (folio 80) has been cut from the register and had to be replaced with information taken from the Wiener Zeitung. Of course this replacement is insufficient, because contrary to the official death records the list in the Wiener Zeitung does not give places of birth and the times of death of the deceased.

The replacement of Franz Schubert's entry in the death records of the Vienna City Council (A-Wsa, Totenbeschreibamt, Bd. 163, S, fol. 80)

The typewritten replacement of the stolen page begins with the following statement:
The missing and by itself worthless leaf was cut out by a user in an act of vandalism. The missing data have been completed from the Wiener-Zeitung.
This is followed by the wrong date "18. November 1828" and the substitute list beginning with Schubert's name.

The original text of Franz Schubert's entry in the Totenbeschauprotokoll is not completely lost. The words that are missing in the Wiener Zeitung (concerning the place of birth and the time of death) survive in the following unpublished entry in the Bahrleihbuch of St. Stephen's concerning the composer's burial on 21 November 1828:

The entry concerning Schubert's burial in the Bahrleihbuch of St. Stephen's (A-Wd, BLB 1.11.1828-31.10.1829, fol. 32v)
[Den 21. November (1828)]
Schubert / Franz
Es ist der H[err] Franz Schubert Tonnkünstler / und Compositeur ledig hier gebürtig alt 32 Jahr / den 19. November nachmittags um 3 1/4 Uhr auf / der Neuwieden Nr° 694 Pf.[arre] Sonenhof verschied[en] / und am Nervenfieber beschaut worden
Wurde im Dorffreydhof Währing beerdiget
Bezahlt worden nach 2. Klaß, 5. Rubrik  .  .  .  20 f 27 [kr]
The musician and composer Franz Schubert, unmarried, born here, aged 32 years, died on 19 November at 3:15 p.m. at Neuwieden No. 694 in the Sonnenhof parish [St. Joseph in Margareten] and was inspected of nervous fever.
He was buried in the village cemetery in Währing
Paid for according to the 2nd class, 5th category .  .  20 florins 27 kreuzer
The unpublished entry concerning Schubert's death in the church record's of St. Joseph's in Margareten shows two things: 1) Schubert's body was first supposed to be buried in the Matzleinsdorf cemetery and 2) Schubert only received the anointing of the sick, but not the last rites.

The entry concerning Schubert's death in the records of St. Joseph's: "[Ort, wohin, und Tag, an welchem die Begräbniß geschehen.] den 21tn November in Matzleinsdorfer. [Anmerkungen] Erhielt blos die letzte Oehlung." (St. Josef, Tom 7, fol. 312)

Schubert was not buried on 21 November 1828. The exequies at Margareten, the transport to Währing and the second consecration at St. Gertrud's Church had taken too long. Schubert's body was put into the morgue at the Währing cemetery and buried the following day, on Saturday November 22nd.

It is very unlikely that Robert Franz Müller had access to the original death records. Until 1922 – when the protocols were transferred to the City Archives and the thefts were noticed – these documents were held by the Totenbeschreibamt of the Vienna City Council and were not publicly accessible. Therefore these thefts seem to have been an inside job, perpetrated by one of the city's employees. Although we have to accept the loss of the entries of Beethoven and Schubert, there is still occasion to wonder, because the original entries concerning the deaths of Mozart and Haydn are still extant. And since the original protocols are not handed out to readers anymore (following a suggestion that I filed a few years ago), these two documents seem to be safe.

The entry in the Vienna Totenbeschauprotokoll concerning Mozart's death (A-Wsa, TBP Bd. 96, M, fol. 53v)

The entry in the Vienna Totenbeschauprotokoll concerning Haydn's death (A-Wsa, TBP Bd. 126, H, fol. 42v)

Jun 19, 2014

Haydn and Mozart in the Memoirs of Ludwig-Wilhelm Tepper de Ferguson

In the summer of 1789, on his way home to Warsaw from Strasbourg, where he had spent six years studying at the university, the Polish musician and composer Ludwig-Wilhelm Tepper de Ferguson (1768-1838) visited Vienna. During that stay he visited Joseph Haydn in Eszterháza. In his memoirs he describes the events as follows:
Enfin nous entrâmes dans cet heureux pays d'Autriche. Tout y avait un autre aspect. L'abondance et le bien-être se manifestaient partout; et l'esprit éclairé de Joseph Second, commençait à se répandre sur les campagnes. Nous restâmes trois semaines à Vienne dont le séjour me plut tant, qu'il fallait tout le désir que j'avais de revoir les miens, pour me résoudre à m'en séparer. Je fis un voyage à Esterhazy en Hongrie; pour voir Joseph Haydn, qui y était établi auprès du prince de ce nom, grandpère de celui d'à présent. Ce prince vivait en grand seigneur, ayant une petite cour, un très bon spectacle, et réunissant autour de lui tout ce qu'une grande fortune peut procurer d'agréments et de plaisirs. Lorsqu’un étranger arrivait, on lui envoyait aussitôt un équipage pour voir les jardins et des billets pour le théâtre. Je m'y rendis le soir même, et j'y trouvai Haydn, que je reconnus à l'instant sur les nombreux portraits que j'avais vu de lui. Je l'abordai en lui disant qu’un amateur passionné de la musique et admirateur de ses compositions avait fait ce voyage pour faire sa connaissance personnelle. Il vint souper avec moi: le lendemain matin une voiture du prince nous attendait pour la promenade: je fus prendre Haydn qui me montra les détails du jardin; ensuite il vint diner avec moi et l'après diner je retournai à Vienne. Il me conta en abrégé son histoire, qui était accompagnée de détails tres curieux. Lorsque je lui fis connaitre tout ce que je pensais de ses compositions, et que je lui retraçai le juste enthousiasme qu'elles causaient partout, il me répondit: "Ah! Monsieur: nous avons à Vienne quelqu’un qui nous écrasera tous; c'est un génie universel, auprès duquel je ne suis qu’un enfant." Il parlait de Mozart. Celui-ci vivait encore à cette époque, mais je n'eus pas la satisfaction de le voir, car il était absent. Il rendait, à ce qu'on dit, le même respect à Haydn, qu'il regardait comme son maitre en composition. 
Finally we entered this happy country of Austria. Everything there looked different [from Salzburg]. Abundance and prosperity were manifest everywhere; and the enlightened spirit of Joseph II was beginning to spread across the country. We stayed in Vienna for three weeks, a stay that pleased me so much that I had no desire to see my family and bring myself to depart. I made a trip to Esterhazy in Hungary to see Joseph Haydn who had settled there with the prince of that name, the grandfather of the present one. This prince lived like a great lord, with a small court, a very good theater, surrounding himself with all attractions and pleasures that a great fortune can provide. When a foreigner arrived, he immediately sent a carriage to see the gardens and theater tickets. I went there the same evening and I found Haydn, whom I recognized instantly from the many portraits I had seen of him. I approached him and told him that a passionate lover of music and admirer of his compositions had traveled to make his personal acquaintance. He came to have dinner with me. The next morning a carriage of the prince was awaiting us for the excursion. I took Haydn who showed me the details of the garden; Then he came to dine with me and after dinner I returned to Vienna. He gave me a brief outline of his story which was accompanied by very curious details. When I told him what I thought of his compositions and described to him the real enthusiasm they caused everywhere, he replied: "Ah! Sir: we have someone in Vienna who will crush us all; he is a universal genius, compared to whom I am a child." He spoke of Mozart, who at that time was still alive, but I had not the satisfaction of seeing him, because he was absent. They say that he showed the same respect for Haydn whom he regarded as his teacher in composition.

Eszterháza Palace (engraving by Ferdinand Landerer, A-Wn, 166.342 - B)

In July 1793 Tepper de Ferguson was in Vienna for the second time. At first he had no intention to stay for more than ten days, but then he changed his schedule:
Je ne comptais m'arrêter à Vienne que huit ou dix jours, et j'étais sur le point d'en partir, quand je vis annoncé dans les affiches du théâtre, la reprise de l’opéra, "La Flute Magique". Le vif désir que j’avais d'entendu ce chef d'œuvre de Mozart, dont retentissait toute l’Europe; me retint une semaine de plus. Il fut, à ma grande satisfaction donné trois jours de suite. La disposition d'esprit où j'étais me fit doublement gouter les beautés de cet ouvrage. Il me mit dans un tel ravissement, que je souhaitais mourir au sortir du théâtre, afin de ne pas perdre une seule des impressions que j'éprouvais. Je me disais comme les napolitains lorsqu'ils parlent de leur capitale: "Vedi il flauto magico e poi mori". 
I had planned to stay in Vienna eight or ten days and I was about to leave, when I saw the restaging of the opera "The Magic Flute" announced on theater posters. The strong desire to hear this masterpiece of Mozart, which resounded throughout Europe, held me back for another week. To my great satisfaction it was given on three consecutive days. The state of mind I was in, made me doubly enjoy the beauties of this work. It put me into such delight that when I left the theater I wanted to die, so as not to lose a single one of the impressions I felt. I said to myself like the Neapolitans do when they say about their city: "See The Magic Flute and then die".

One of four surviving original Zettel of the premiere of Die Zauberflöte which was discovered in 2012 in the parish archive of St. Stephen's in Vienna

The passages from Tepper de Ferguson's memoirs were first published in July 2011 by Olga Baird in her paper "Ludwig Wilhelm Tepper de Ferguson (1768-1838): Viennese years" at the 13th International Congress for Eighteenth Century Studies in Graz.

Jun 16, 2014

Mozart: New Documents

Dexter Edge and David Black are pleased to announce the availability of a new online resource, Mozart: New Documents, a website presenting previously unknown references to Mozart or his music during his lifetime. Many of the new documents have been located through the expanded search opportunities of large-scale digitization projects such as Google Books, while others have been found using traditional methods.

Over 30 documents are available in this initial publication; we expect to add at least 60 more in the coming weeks, and our research continues. For each document we present a facsimile of the original (where available), a transcription, and commentary. Among the highlights of our first installment are previously unknown reports of the premieres of Le Nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte, a previously unknown benefit concert given by Mozart in 1787, and a name-day serenade in Vienna in 1789 that featured the composer's "latest symphonies."

The site is a work in progress, and we welcome comments, corrections, and notifications of other new documents.

Dexter Edge and David Black

Jun 9, 2014

Haydn Singing at Vivaldi's Exequies: An Ineradicable Myth

The following post is based on a paper which in September 2002 I submitted to the conference "Music and Death in the Eighteenth Century" (King’s College London, 8–9 February 2003) and which was rejected by the organizer of this conference.


That on 28 July 1741 the nine-year-old Joseph Haydn sang at Antonio Vivaldi's exequies at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna is one of the most beloved myths of music historiography. Many authors seem to be deeply enamored with the image of two great artists, meeting unknown to each other and somehow "passing the torch" from one creative spirit to the other. And yet this scenario is pure fiction. Caused by a series mistranslations and misunderstandings it became a popular myth and made its way into the biographies of both composers.

I have developed a simple and quick litmus test for the quality of a new Haydn biography: look for Vivaldi's name in the index, go to the page where Vivaldi is referred to (usually near the beginning of the book) and check if young Haydn is described as "having sung at Vivaldi's funeral". And if this is the case the book can be put away immediately. Countless books about Haydn – especially some of those published on the occasion of the 2009 anniversary – did not pass this test, because many authors simply cannot let go of this beloved myth. The most recent item that caused my surprise at the longevity of this story, is Frank Huss's book Joseph Haydn. Das unterschätzte Genie, published in 2013, where on p. 17 the author states: "Likewise Haydn sang in the Requiem which was performed in the course of the funeral service of the composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), who had surprisingly died in Vienna." On p. 823 of the Haydn-Lexikon (Laaber-Verlag 2010) Christin Heitmann writes: "Haydn war zu dieser Zeit Chorknabe an St. Stephan es ist daher zu vermuten, dass er im Chor bei der Beerdigung Vivaldis gesungen hat." The Vivaldi and the Haydn literature are equally flawed concerning this issue. Since every author copies from all the others, scholarship soon ends up in a kind of echo chamber and printed misinformation is spreading relentlessly. As I stated in a lecture on source studies that I gave in October 2005 at the Salzburg University: "Going back to the original sources often leads to a systematic demolition of the secondary literature."

To shed more light on the fascinating genesis of the Haydn-Vivaldi myth we have to go back several decades when the music world first learned where and when Abbate Vivaldi met his maker.

Vivaldi's Funeral

Until 1938 the year and place of Vivaldi's death were unknown. It was generally assumed that Vivaldi had died in Venice around 1743, until the Venetian scholar Rodolfo Gallo (1881-1964) came across the following passage in the Commemoriali of Pietro Gradenigo (1695-1772) in the collection of the Museo Correr (Mss. Gradenigo II, cap. 36):
L'Abbate Antonio Vivaldi eccelentissimo Sonatore di Violino detto il Prete Rosso, stimato compositore de concerti, guadagnò ai suoi giorni cinquantamille ducati, ma per sproporzionata prodigalità mori miserabile in Vienna.
The Abbé Antonio Vivaldi, called the Red Priest, the famous composer of concertos, who is said in his times to have earned 50000 Ducats, but owing to excessive prodigality died a pauper in Vienna.
Gradenigo's reference made it easy to locate the Viennese sources pertaining to Vivaldi's death. In 1938 Rodolfo Gallo was the first to publish the entry in the death records of St. Stephen's Cathedral concerning Vivaldi's funeral on 28th July 1741 and the second, more detailed one in the so-called Bahrleihbuch (protocol of funeral fees) concerning the costs of this ceremony. Surprising as it may seem the original document has never been transcribed completely and without mistakes. The entry in question in the Bahrleihbuch (with folios 177v and 178r merged into one picture) looks as follows:

The entry concerning Antonio Vivaldi's exequies on 28 July 1741 in the Bahrleihbuch of the parish of St. Stephen's Cathedral (A-Wd, Bahrleihbuch 1741, fol. 177v and 178r)

This entry can be translated as follows:
28 July
Conduct Vivaldi
The Hon. Mr. Antonius Vivaldi, secular priest, who died of internal inflammation at the age of 60, was seen by the coroner at the Saddler's House next to the Carinthian Gate and was buried in the graveyard of the civic hospital.
Peal of the small bells .........." 2"36"
Curate ..................................." 3"―
Shroud .................................." 2"15"
Parish picture ......................." 0"30"
Gravesite .............................." 2"―
Bier renter and sexton .........." 1.15"
Sacristan ..............................." –"30
6 bearers with coats .............." 4"30
6 lanterns .............................." 2"―
6 cowlboys ..........................." –"54"
Bier ......................................." –"15"
Pelican                        S[um] "19"45"
Most translations in the literature, like the one in the 1970 English edition of Kolneder's book (note the symptomatically wrong shelfmark "necrology, Vol. 23, fol. 63") and in Karl Heller's Antonio Vivaldi: The Red Priest of Venice (Portland: Amadeus Press 1997) are flawed: a Bahrleicher is not a gravedigger and a Kuttenbub is not a choirboy. It seems that David Marinelli, the translator of Heller's book, copied some of his mistakes directly from Kolneder.

The "Wallerisches Haus" and the "Spitaller Gottsacker"

Vivaldi died on 28 July 1741 of internal inflammation at the house of Agatha Waller, née Freisinger (1674-1751). The spelling of her name as "Wahler" which appears in the literature is based on a mistranscription of the h-like sign before the l, which – as I have explained elsewhere on several occasions – was not an h, but a sign that doubled the following consonant. In 1714 the four-story building at the south end of the Kärntnerstraße was bought by the Prague born saddler Augustin Waller (1678-1730). Waller was able to afford this purchase, because he was the personal master saddler of the widowed Empress Wilhelmine Amalia. Even in 1830 there was still a saddler's workshop located on the ground floor of the building.

The "Wallerisches Haus" at the southwest corner of the Kärntnerstraße opposite the Kärntnertor in 1778. This clip from Huber's map shows that in the 18th century the building had only four storeys.

The groundplan of the fourth floor of the "Wallerisches Haus" which was drawn in March 1826 on the occasion of the addition of a fifth floor (the red color marking the reenforcements of the walls). On the right is the Kärntnerstraße, at the bottom the Sattlergasse towards the city wall. This floor is described in the 1788 tax register as consisting of two apartments of which each consisted of "2 rooms, 2 chambers, 1 kitchen". On the top a small atrium is visible. On the ground floor the big room at the corner of the house was the seating room of an inn. (A-Wsa, Unterkammeramt, A33, 11811/1826)

There is a well-known photograph dating from before 1858 that shows the two top floors of Vivaldi's last residence looking over the old city wall right beside the old Kärntnertor. I refrain from using this photograph which has been published many times in the literature. Instead I present an unknown photograph that has so far completely escaped the attention of Vivaldi scholars. It was taken in 1863 from the roof of the newly built Heinrichshof and, because the city wall and the Kärntnertor had already been torn down, shows the full facade of the house Stadt No. 1038, (the "Wallerisches Haus") where Vivaldi had died 122 years earlier. The fifth floor was added in 1826 and the roof is not the old tiled original. This may well be the last picture ever taken of this building. In the foreground we can see the early stages of the construction of the new K.K. Hof-Oper, in the back the rebuilding of the south tower of St. Stephen's is in progress.

The house Stadt No. 1038 (on the left), where Vivaldi died in 1741. The two houses which today mark the beginning of the narrower part of Kärntnerstraße are not located on the exact same area as the buildings Stadt Nos. 1038 and 1019 that appear on this photograph (A-Wn 114.145C).

The façade of Stadt 1038 towards the Kärntnerstraße with the newly added fifth floor. On the left of the entrance is the door of the inn, on the right the one of the saddler's workshop. (A-Wsa, Unterkammeramt, A33, 11811/1826)

The information in the Vivaldi literature (Talbot 1993, p. 69) that this house was destroyed in 1858 together with the Kärntnertor is false. On Emil Hütter's elliptical watercolor of the Bürgerspitalszinshaus and its surroundings we can see the small atrium, the yellow facade and the round-shaped verdigris copper plated roof which was added in 1826.

A clip from Hütter's 1865 watercolor. The Kärntnertortheater is in the center, on the upper left there is a section of the Bürgerspitalszinshaus with the Komödiengassel and on the far right the green-roofed "Wallerisches Haus" is visible.

Augustin Markus Waller, the saddler who had given the house both its names, died on 1 August 1730 of biliary fever (his funeral cost 37 gulden 32 kreuzer) and after having agreed to a settlement with her sons his widow inherited the building.

Seal and signature of Vivaldi's landlady Agatha Waller on her will, written on 14 August 1751 (A-Wsa, AZJ, A1, 10112/18. Jhdt.) Agatha Waller died on 11 December 1751.

Based on information in the Viennese topographical literature some authors have pointed to the fact that Beethovens's lawyer Johann Zizius (1772-1824) and the legendary dancer Fanny Elßler lived in the Haus Stadt No. 1038. But from a musical point of view the far more prominent residents of this particular building were the composer Conradin Kreutzer (who lived there in 1830 with his family and his sister-in-law), the dancer and theater director Louis Duport and – in my opinion more interesting – Therese von Droßdik (née Malfatti), Beethoven's never-to-be bride, who died in this house on 27 April 1851.

After the exequies at the cathedral Vivaldi's body was transported all the way down the Kärntnerstraße to the Kärntnertor again, then across the 85 meters long bridge which spanned the city moat and the Kärntnertorbrücke across the Wien to the cemetery of the Bürgerspital. 

The "Wallerisches Haus" beside the Kärntnertor on the right and the "Spitaller Gottesacker" beside the Karlskirche on the left on Joseph Daniel von Huber's 1778 map of Vienna.

The cemetery of the Bürgerspital with the St. Augustine Chapel (built in 1701). This is not a contemporary drawing, but a 19th-century watercolor copy of the cemetery as it appears on Huber's map. 

 The "Spitaller Gottesacker" on Steinhausen's 1710 map of Vienna before the building of the Karlskirche

The cemetery and the chapel were closed on 1 May 1783. In 1785, after the chapel had been torn down, the houses of the priest and the gravedigger were sold to the military and used as uniform depositories. Because these premises did not meet the demands, they were sold back to the Bürgerspital in 1788. In 1792 the ground was leased to the military command which established a riding area there until in 1807 the area was put up for auction and a number of houses were built there. The memorial plaque for Vivaldi on the east wing of the Vienna University of Technology is slightly misplaced: the Bürgerspital cemetery was located closer to the Karlskirche, on the adjacent area between Argentinierstraße and Karlsgasse.

Vivaldi's Bahrleihbuch Entry in the Literature

Somehow the problems with the publication of the pivotal primary source already began in 1938 with Rodolfo Gallo, who, having never actually seen the original document at the archive in Vienna, published the entry with a wrong name of the book ("Totenbuch"), one transcription error ("Grabstall" instead of Grabstell), an incomplete folio number (only "Fol. 177") and without the word "Pelican" at the end. Furthermore Gallo failed to include any information regarding the general context of this document as well as the currency of the expenses – mistakenly calling them "spese modeste" and noting their sum only as "19:45". He did not provide a usable translation of this entry and because of the words "im Satleri[schen] Haus" he erroneously assumed that Vivaldi had died "nella casa della famiglia Satler".

Gallo's unclear documentation affected the Vivaldi literature for decades. It seems easy to correctly transcribe a short entry concerning an 18th-century funeral, but for scholars who only knew two pages of the Bahrleihbuch this proved to be a too difficult task. In his article "Biographisches um Antonio Vivaldi" (ÖMZ 2/1952) Walter Kolneder more or less copied Gallo's version, adding the mistake "Kartnerthor", because he took the "f" (of "florin") for a "t". Like Gallo Kolneder also ignored the mysterious "Pelican". In his 1965 book Antonio Vivaldi Kolneder added the word "Pelican" (without explaining its meaning), but provided a wrong shelfmark of the Barleihbuch, conflating it with "Tom. 63, p. 23" of the parish's regular death register. Equally flawed is the transcription in Karl Keller's Antonio Vivaldi (Reclam 1991). A case in point is the presentation of the entry in Theophil Antonicek's and Elisabeth Hilscher's 1997 book Vivaldi. There is a wise rule concerning the publication of transcriptions of historical documents: avoid publishing them alongside facsimiles of the original source, because this might backfire. Antonicek and Hilscher provide a transcription of the list of expenses, but not only is their text flawed, two of their numbers are wrong as well and therefore do not add up to 19 gulden 45 kreuzer:

Antonicek/Hilscher: Vivaldi (Graz: Akademische Druck und Verlagsanstalt, 1997, p. 137): The date is wrong and the expenses do not add up to 19 gulden 45 kreuzer.

A truly amazing conglobation of errors is the presentation of the document on p. 252 of Siegbert Rampe's Antonio Vivaldi und seine Zeit (Laaber-Verlag 2010). Rampe looked at the entries pertaining to the two funerals before and after Vivaldi's and (because he could not read them) concluded the following: "The funeral of Lothar[!] Englhart which preceded Vivaldi's only cost 12 kreuzer, Anton[!] May's, the one after Vivaldi's on 28 July cost 1 gulden 27 kreuzer." The truth is: Caspar (not Lothar) Engelhart's son Bernhard was a two-year-old child, Peter May (son of Anton May) was a fifteen-month-old child. The "Pelican" was turned into a "Delican" in Rampe's edition of the entry, a word that makes no sense and is explained nowhere in the book. Because Rampe not only copied the misspelled "Windliechter", but also the list of expenses from Antonicek, it is flawed (the numbers again don't add up to the correct sum):

A section of p. 252 of Rampe's book Antonio Vivaldi und seine Zeit. The date at the top "29. Juli" (copied from Antonicek) is wrong. The comma after "19" is wrong and the quotation mark does not mean gulden, it means kreuzer. Five sequins were not 19,7 ducats. Johann Joseph Fux's burial, which did not take place on 16, but on 15 February 1741, did not cost 170 gulden, but 180 gulden 52 kreuzer (Rampe knows nothing about Fux's burial, except what he extrapolated from Heller's book). The "Spitaler Friedhof" was not located "unweit der Hofburg", the "Kuttenbuben" were not boys and they did not sing "Grablieder". The fact that Vivaldi was buried in the "Armesünder-Gottesacker" had nothing to do with his status as foreigner. Note that Rampe calls the two dead children "die Herren Englhart und May". Together with the typo "Beerdingungen" this jumble is vintage Laaber material.

Enter the "Choirboys"

The honor of having created the myth of choirboys having sung at the "pauper's burial" of Vivaldi belongs to the great Vivaldi scholar Marc Pincherle, who in his 1948 book Vivaldi: Génie du baroque translated – or rather interpreted – the entry in the Bahrleihbuch as follows:
Le livre de caisse de Saint-Etienne (même année, folio 177) indique de façon assez vague qu'il est mort d'une inflammation interne (an inneren Brand bschaut), et fournit le décompte des frais exposés pour ses humbles funérailles: 19 florins 45 kreutzer. Il n'a eu droit qu'au "Kleingleuth" (Kleingeläut) ou sonnerie des cloches pour les pauvres[!], moyennant 2 florins 36, à six porteurs de civière, à six enfants de chœur[!]; un noble homme[!] enterré la veille avait eu le glas à 4 florins 20, huit porteurs, douze enfant de chœur, six musiciens, le reste à l'avenant, à concurrence de 102 florins! (Pincherle 1948, p. 27)
This statement proves that at some point Pincherle must have seen (the by then unpublished) folio 177r of the original 1741 Bahrleihbuch. It also proves that he had only a small notion of what the words in this book really mean. Robbins Landon's misunderstanding, which consequently was to appear all over the Haydn literature, originates from this passage in Pincherle's book. A "Kleingleuth" was not a "pauper's peal of bells". 2 florins 36 kreuzer was a week's salary of a well-paid manservant. The commissioning of a holy mass cost 30 kreuzer in Vienna, a price that did not change for at least two centuries. The six "Kuttenbuben" were not even boys, but blokes in cowls and they surely did not sing. The "nobleman", who according to Pincherle was buried the day before Vivaldi, was actually a noblewoman: the widow Maria Agnes von Feichtenberg, who had died of dropsy on 26 July 1741 at the "Goldener Hirsch" on the Fleischmarkt:

The entry concerning the burial of Maria Agnes von Feichtenberg on 27 July 1741 inside St. Stephen's Cathedral (A-Wd, BLB 1741, fol. 177)

Von Feichtenberg received a "Fürstengleuth" for 4 gulden 20 kreuzer, twelve Kuttenbuben folded their hands at her bier and she had musicians (for six gulden) performing in the church and singing "[Der] grimige todt" which at the Cathedral at that time was the "ordinari" (standard) funeral song whose a capella performance always cost six gulden. That there were exactly six musicians was Pincherle's assumption. As can be seen, the item that made Feichtenberg's burial so expensive was not the "Gleuth", but the tomb in the crypt of the cathedral which cost 50 gulden.

In his book Vivaldi (London: Chappell & Co., 1978) Alan Kendall took the mistaken "choirboys scenario" to an even more suggestive level. Basically echoing Pincherle, Kendall wrote:
Only nineteen florins and forty-five kreutzer were spent on the funeral, and he was only entitled to the Kleingeläut or pauper's[sic!] peal of bells, which only cost two florins and thirty-six kreutzer. He has six pall-bearers and six choirboys[sic!], too, but one sees how mean all of this was when the same records reveal that a nobleman's[sic!] funeral might cost at least one hundred florins. (Kendall 1978, p. 93)
The idea of Vivaldi having died a pauper now really took hold. In  the 1993 edition of his book on Vivaldi in the Dent Master Musicians series Michael Talbot writes:
The expenses, which totalled 19 florins and 45 kreutzers, were kept to the minimum. If Mozart's burial 50 years later was that of a pauper, Vivaldi's deserves that sad epithet equally. (Talbot 1993, p. 69)
In his book Vivaldi: Voice of the Baroque (London: Thames & Hudson, 1993) Robbins Landon expresses a similar judgement: "He was entitled, only to the Kleingeläut, or the pauper's peal of bells, costing two florins and thirty-six kreuzer." In his Vivaldi article in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians Talbot states: "[...] he was given a pauper's burial on the latter day at the Hospital Burial Ground (Spittaler Gottesacker)." (New Grove, Vol. 26, p. 820). In the other prominent music encyclopedia Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart Karl Keller tells us that Vivaldi was buried "mit einfachster Zeremonie" ("with the simplest ceremony") (MGG, Vol. 17, col. 89). None of the authors who wrote books about Vivaldi ever scrutinized the Viennese sources to actually figure out how exequies at the time of Vivaldi's death were performed in Vienna.

Exequies at St. Stephen's Cathedral Around 1740

For someone, who for about fifteen years has been studying the Bahrleihbücher of St. Stephen's (which survive from 1662 into the 1830s, with lots of gaps in the late years), Vivaldi's entry leaves no room for ambiguity or misunderstandings. It refers to a regular funeral ceremony with a "Kleingleuth", i.e. the peal of the small bell on the west section of the Cathedral's roof. At the time of Vivaldi's death there were four kinds of peals of bells at St. Stephen's (fl stands for florins, x for kreuzer):
  1. "Großgleuth" at 9 fl 41 x (or "ordinari" at 19 fl 22 x)
  2. "Fürstengleuth" at 4 fl 20 x
  3. "Bürgergleuth" at 3 fl 45 x
  4. "Kleingleuth" at 2 fl 36 x
These four classes of "Gleuth" actually referred to four different bells on the cathedral. On rare occasions at a price of 50 gulden the "große Glocke" (the old Pummerin) was pealed, but this was not a separate class, it was an additional luxury. Of course combinations were also possible: after a "Großgleuth" at the beginning of the ceremony there could be an additional "Fürstengleuth" right before the Requiem ("zum Requiem vorgeleuth"). There were bells of many other churches that could be pealed on demand on the occasion of funerals at St. Stephen's: the Magdalene Chapel beside the Cathedral, St. Peter's Church, the Minoritenkirche, the Bürgerspitalskirche, the Ruprechtskirche, "Unser Lieben Frauen Stiegen", St. Nicola, St. Salvator and the "Deutsches Hauß". Furthermore there were bells of chapels in privately owned houses all over the city that could be pealed for funerals, such as the ones in the Freisingerhof, the Gundelhof, the Seitzerhof and the Johanneshof. Many funerals, like those of small children and really poor people, had no peal of bells at all.

 A funeral without a peal of bells: Georg Planckh being buried on 5 May 1740 in the "Spitaller Gottsacker" (A-Wd, BLB 1740, fol. 119r)

There were a number of general rules and customs concerning funerals at the Cathedral that can be figured out by studying the 18th-century Bahrleihbücher of St. Stephen's. The "Kleingleuth" was not part of a pauper's burial. Real pauper's burials were "gratis".

The "gratis" burial of Giulio Cesare Birravri on 30 May 1741 in the cemetery of St. Stephen's (A-Wd, BLB 1741, fol. 131r). This entry proves that poor adult foreigners were also buried in the "St. Ste[phans] Freind Hof", i.e. the cemetery around the Cathedral.

The "Kleingleuth" was the standard procedure for the funeral ceremony of adult citizens. Court officials, civil servants, civil craftsmen and secular priests all received this kind of peal of bells. Karl Heller's claim that "the sum of nineteen florins and forty-five kreutzers would have been sufficient for only the simplest of ceremonies" (Heller 1997, p. 265) is simply false.

The entry concerning the funeral of the "Königlicher Laufer" (Royal footman) Lucrezio Bono on 8 April 1742 which proceeded exactly like Vivaldi's (A-Wd, BLB 1742, fol. 95r). Bono (b. 1683 in Brescia) was the father of the Hofkapellmeister Joseph Bonno (1711-1788). Bonno's first name was not Giuseppe (as given on Wikipedia and in the recent Mozart literature), but expressedly Joseph, because his godfather was Emperor Joseph I. Contrary to the date given in the literature Joseph Bonno was born on 30 January 1711.

The entry concerning the funeral of the secular priest Joseph Russignol on 1 February 1741 in the "Schwarz Spanier" cemetery on the Alsergrund (A-Wd, BLB 1741, fol. 24r). Except for the Kelch (chalice), which was put on the bier, this funeral resembled Vivaldi's.

The entry concerning the funeral of the renowned composer Carlo Agostino Badia on 24 September 1738 (A-Wd, BLB 1738, fol. 254r). Note that owing to the lack of lanterns the funeral of the "Kaÿs: Hof- und Cammer-Musicus" was two gulden cheaper than Vivaldi's, making it seem likely that the lanterns at Vivaldi's funeral were a dispensible luxury. Badia died a wealthy man and his funeral only was so modest, because he had requested this in his will.

The entry concerning the funeral of the court musician (bass singer) Marco Antonio Berti on 9 December 1741 (A-Wd, BLB 1741, fol. 269v). Because Berti was buried in the cemetery around the cathedral, his expenses included the ringing of the cemetery bell and the fee for the gravedigger which added 66 kreuzer to the costs of Vivaldi's ceremony.

The class of peal of bells was not the decisive factor concerning the costs of funeral ceremonies at the cathedral. The most expensive items – apart from the very high costs of tombs in the cathedral's crypt which sometimes came with the additional wage of a master builder – were always the services of qualified people, such as the presence of a high number of additional clergymen (Curaten and Canonici). One Canonicus cost three gulden, a curate two, an accolidus (acolyte) 50 kreuzer. The Kuttenbuben only cost nine kreuzer apiece, the better Minestranten each cost one gulden. High fees had to be paid for musicians (in variable numbers) who actually sang a Miserere and one or several "Motteten". Even more expensive was the participation of instrumentalists (for 15 gulden) who accompanied the singing "mit Sartin" or "Sartindl" (with muted trombones). The most expensive musical service available was the performance of an actual Requiem which required additional musicians for at least 18, or up to 24 gulden. Sometimes the conduct was followed by a group of poor people from various poorhouses, such as the "Nepomuceni Spitall" on the Landstraße or the poorhouse in the Alstergasse, who received alms from the attendants and the clergy. This was an important additional income for the poor and this custom was observed in Vienna into the 19th century (Beethoven's coffin on its way from the Alsergrund to Währing was followed by inmates of the "Versorgungshaus am Alserbach", who got paid for this service). Sometimes the bier was also accompanied by regular people, who are listed as Steuerdiener (tax payers) in the Bahrleihbuch.

A group of poor people, following the bier of Georg Gaber, a law student, who was buried on 23 December 1741 on the "Spitaller Gottsacker": "Mitgang. 12. paar arme Leüth auß Nep:[omuceni] Spitall 12. paar auß d[er] alstergass[en] [Gleuth] Paulaner und Francis:[caner]. Pelican" (A-Wd, BLB 1741, fol. 280r).

What follows are a few examples of expensive 18th-century funerals at St. Stephen's Cathedral:

The entry concerning the exequies of the architect Joseph Emanuel Johann Fischer von Erlach on the evening of 29 June 1742 (A-Wd, BLB 1742, fol. 173v and 174r). Prominent people often received a Nachtbegräbnüß (night funeral). Note the five altars which were put up on the following day and the additional "gleuth" at "[St.] Magdalena, Bürger Spitall" and the "Johannes Hof".

The entry concerning the funeral on 10 January 1726 of Carlo Agostino Badia's first wife, the singer Anna Maria Badia, née Lisi, whom Badia had married on 18 October 1700 (A-Wd, BLB 1726, fol. 7r). Again the grave in the crypt was the most expensive item. The last item are "12 stiell" (12 chairs). Note that the song "[Der] grimmige Todt" could also be accompanied by muted trombones ("mit Sartindln"). When Johann Steinecker transcribed this entry for his 1993 dissertation Die Opern und Serenate von Carlo Agostino Badia (supervised by Theophil Antonicek) he could not figure out the meaning of "grimmiger Todt mit Sartindln" and transcribed this as "gereinigte Tote mit Sartinol", as if "Sartinol" was some kind of strong disinfectant for corpses (this is one of the all-time best curiosities in Viennese historical musicology).

The funeral of Princess Maria Theresia von Auersperg, née von Rappach on 21 January 1741 with "VorLeithen" (a preceeding peal), two peals of the Pummerin ("gar grosse glocken") on two separate days and a double ("ordinari") "grossgleüth". The funeral included no music(!), but the presence of sixteen Canonici and an additional fee of two gulden for the bell ringers (A-Wd, BLB 1741, fol. 16r).

The entry concerning the exequies of the merchant Joseph Jenamy on 12 November 1740 (A-Wd, BLB 1740, fol. 259). The list of expenses includes a "Fürstengleuth" and the already known expensive grave in the crypt. Here we see that the song "Der grimmige Todt" was also performed without trombones and (in addition to the Miserere for six gulden) had to be paid extra. The outside bells included the Magdalenenkapelle, St. Peter's Church and St. George's Chapel in the Freisingerhof. Joseph Jenamy (b. 1686 in Saint Nicolas de Véroce) was a great uncle of Nikolaus Joseph Jenamy (1747-1819), who in 1768 married Louise Victoire Noverre (1749-1812), the dedicatee of Mozart's piano concerto K. 271.

The most expensive funeral in the Bahrleihbuch of 1741 is the one of Johann Caspar Kolb von Kollenburg, "Weÿl[and] der K.K. M[ajestät] Unter Stabelmaister"(deputy staff holder of the late I. & R. majesty Charles VI) which cost 195 gulden and 16 kreuzer (A-Wd, BLB 1741, fol. 10v and 11r). It included a Großgleuth, a tomb in the crypt, a Requiem with Fürstengleuth, 30 Kuttenbuben and five altars.

The mysterious "Pelican" that appears at the end of the expenses for Vivaldi's funeral and which in the Vivaldi literature has hitherto either been ignored, or left uncommented, was a picture of a pelican as a Christian symbol that was put on the bier.

A pelican reviving her young with blood from her own breast (NL-DHmw, 10 B 25, fol. 32r)

Because in the Middle Ages it was assumed that the pelican provides its own blood to its young by wounding its own breast when no other food is available, this bird became a symbol of the Passion of Christ and the Eucharist. There were several pictures that could be put on the bier at St. Stephen's: pictures of St. Sebastian, St. John of Nepomuk, the Good Sheperd, Todtangst (Agony of Christ), the Holy Rosary, the Holy Trinity, one of a Bruderschaft (confraternity), a Dominicaner, a Carmeliter and two (unspecified) "Franciscaner Bilter". But the pelican was by far the most frequently used. Sometimes a devotional scapular was also put on the bier. The custom of displaying these pictures may go back far into the 17th century, but it is documented in a Bahrleihbuch for the first time only in 1682:

The final passage of the entry in the Bahrleihbuch concerning the funeral of Catharina Regina Thenig on 30 December 1682: "Seint mitgangen Kaÿ:[serliche] Spitall:[er] und Franscis: Gleüth beÿ St: Maria Magd: Bildter: Todtangst und Francisc." ("on the bier the pictures of the Agony of Christ and the Franciscans") (A-Wd, BLB 1682, fol. 171v).

The final passage of the entry concerning the funeral of the mason Adam Häringsleben on 12 Januar 1683: "Haben tragen 8 Steür diener seint mitgang Kaÿ:[serliche] Spitäller Francisc: Dominic: und Minorit[en] Gleüth S:[ancta] Maria M[a]gd: S. Georgj S: Petri auf d[er] Pahr Pelican und St. Sebastiani Bildt." ("on the bier the pictures of the pelican and St. Sebastian") (A-Wd, BLB 1683, fol. 3v).

The final note of the entry concerning the funeral of Mathias Napert on 5 May 1740: "Mitgang 12. paar arme Leüth auß Nep[omuceni] Spitall 12. paar auß  d[er] Alstergass[en] Franciscaner, Domin:[icaner] gleüth. Magdalena, Bilder Pelican, Rosen Cr:[antz] guten Hürten." ("pictures: pelican, rosary and Good Sheperd") (A-Wd,  BLB 1740, fol. 118v).

The four categories of "Gleuth" existed until March 1751, when an Imperial edict replaced them with four "Classen". The prices of the peals in these classes were reduced to (from 1st to 4th class) seven, four, three and one gulden. These classes could be subdivided into rubrics – mostly for the burials of children – but to delve deeper into the intricacies of this new system would lead too far. The first funeral ceremony at the Cathedral which was accounted according to the new regulation, took place on 3 March 1751:

A clip from the entry concerning the funeral of the baby girl Magdalena Krumbschnabel on 3 March 1751: "Die Erste Begräbnuß nach de[m] Neüe[n] Patent. 2te Class Rubrica Tertia" ("The first burial according to the new edict. Second class third rubric [a child between one and seven years]") (A-Wd, BLB 1751, fol. 38v)

It has been suggested in the literature that Vivaldi may already have died on 26 or 27 July. But after closely comparing the official death records of the Vienna City Council (the Totenbeschauprotokoll) with  the 1741 Bahrleihbuch of St. Stephen's I have come to the conclusion that during the summer people in Vienna were always buried the very same day they died. Especially interesting – although not particularly surprising – is the fact that there are a number of deaths recorded in the Bahrleihbuch that are missing in the Totenbeschauprotokoll. The fact that Vivaldi was buried in a cemetery which was traditionally called "Armesünder-Gottesacker" (i.e. cemetery of the executed) has sometimes been explained with the composer's status as poor foreigner who had no civil rights, because he was not a citizen of the Austrian monarchy. This hypothesis is not tenable. It was a total coincidence that Vivaldi was buried on the Wieden, because the records show that in the 18th century the dead were buried in whatever cemetery at the moment could provide space. Apart from the Cathedral's crypt (where the graves were expensive) the following burial sites were used for people who were consecrated at St. Stephen's at that time – regardless of their age, wealth or nationality: the cemetery of St. Stephen's (surrounding the Cathedral), the "Spitaller Gottesacker" on the Wieden, the cemetery of St. Nikolai ("auf die Landstraß"), the crypt of the convent church of the Trinitarian Order and the "Montserrater Gottesacker"on the Alsergrund ("zu den Schwarzspaniern"), the crypts of St. Michael's Church, the Minorites Church and the Augustinian Church and the monastery church of St. Nikola in the Singerstraße. The fact that Vivaldi was buried in an own grave at a relatively high cost of two gulden makes the fact that his funeral has repeatedly been described as that "of a pauper" even more bizarre.

Back to Haydn

The spark of wishful thinking concerning Vivaldi's funeral jumped to Haydn scholarship when H. C. Robbins Landon published his five-volume standard work Haydn: Chronicle and Works. Robbins Landon of course immediately fell in love with the idea of choirboys in 1741 which were nothing but Kendall's mistranslation of Pincherle's mistranslation of the original word "Kuttenbuben". In the first volume (p. 58) of his Haydn chronicle Robbins Landon went so far as to even quote from Kendall's Vivaldi book:

"It seems almost certain." Does it? In his 1993 book Vivaldi: Voice of the Baroque Robbins Landon (providing a wrong folio number for the Bahrleihbuch entry) again rhapsodized on one of his most beloved bit of trivia:
There were six pall-bearers and six choirboys from the parish church where Vivaldi died, which happened to be St. Stephen's Cathedral. The six members of the Cantorei of St. Stephen's included the young Joseph Haydn, who was thus probably one of the few to witness the demise of this great composer, now a pauper and already forgotten, placed, like Mozart half a century later, in an ignominious and anonymous grave somewhere under the great capital city of the Austrian Monarchy. (Robbins Landon, Vivaldi, p. 166)
From the countless books about Haydn that present Robbins Landon's idea as proven fact I want to point out Hans-Josef Irmen's Joseph Haydn Leben und Werk (Vienna: Böhlau, 2007), where the information that Haydn sang at Vivaldi's funeral is even attributed to Pohl ("and others"[!]): "Pohl u.a. berichten, daß der junge Haydn bei den Exequien für Vivaldi mitgewirkt habe." (Irmen, p. 335). Of course Carl Ferdinand Pohl (1819-1887) reports no such thing in his biography of Haydn. He did not know that Vivaldi died in Vienna.

It is amazing how the probability of this romantic scenario is suddenly destroyed by having seen all the above entries from the 18th-century Bahrleihbücher. From 1715 on the Cantorei of St. Stephen's employed six Capellknaben (choirboys). The documents presented above show that it was a mere coincidence that exactly six Kuttenbuben attended Vivaldi's funeral. And yet this exact number – the number of Capellknaben at the Cantorei – played a major role in the misunderstanding that lead to the metamorphosis of these Kuttenbuben into choirboys.

Capellknaben and Kuttenbuben

Haydn was accepted into the Cantorei of St. Stephen's Cathedral in 1740. Since Kapellmeister Reutter was in a position to only pick the most talented choirboys, Haydn's recruitment was a big privilege and a stroke of luck for the country boy. Haydn lived together with the other choirboys in the building of the Cantorei which was administered by the Kirchenmeisteramt (i.e. the City of Vienna). The administration of the Cathedral and its music was traditionally subordinate to the Vienna City Council, which is the reason that Mozart, when in 1791 he applied for an adjunct postion at the cathedral, submitted his application to the municipal authorities. The so-called Kirchenmeisteramtsrechungen (ledgers of the church administrator of the Vienna City Council) provide detailed information about the organisation of the Cathedral and its employees. They show that the records of expenses for the regular staff ("Außgaab auf ordinarÿ Besoldung", i.e. expenses for ordinary salaries) were strictly separated from the expenses for the musicians of the Cantorei.

The beginning of the list of expenses ("Außgaab. Auf die Cantoreÿ beÿ St. Stephann") for nine months for the Cantorei of St. Stephen's in the 1742 Kirchenmeisteramtsrechnung (A-Wsa, Handschriften, A 41.24, fol. 79r). In 1741 the Kirchenmeister (church administrator) was Claudius Jenamy (1702-1776), a nephew of the merchant Joseph Jenamy who appeared above. Today the 18th-century Kirchenmeisteramtsrechnungen are held by three different archives: the Vienna City Archive, the Vienna Diözesanarchiv and the Domarchiv.

In 1742 the choir at St. Stephen's Cathedral consisted of the following musicians:
Kapellmeister Georg von Reutter
Six Capellknaben
Nine Vocalisten
Extra-Vocalisten (whose number varied according to requirements)
Subcantor Adam Gegenbauer
The organist at that time was Anton Neckh, who in 1736 had succeeded Reutter's son Karl on this post. Georg von Reutter's annual salary consisted of 300 gulden Gebühr (salary), plus 24 gulden Kleÿdergeld (clothing allowance). For the boarding of the six Capellknaben (among them Joseph Haydn) Reutter received an additional sum of 1,200 gulden plus 75 gulden Instructionsgeld (teaching fee). Each of the nine Vocalisten received an annual salary of 130 gulden plus an annual Choraladjutum (choral subsidy) of 26 gulden 60 kreuzer per capita. In addition to that they were also paid one gulden "Rorate Geld" plus (at least in 1742) one gulden forty kreuzer for substituting for dismissed choirboys.

Only two Kuttenbuben were permanently employed at the Cathedral. In 1742 they were assisted by an "Extra Jung" (extra boy). The other Kuttenbuben worked freelance for a fee of nine kreuzer for every funeral which added up to a nice income of about five gulden a month. This relatively high income (and the income of the permanently employed Kuttenbuben) are proof that those "Buben" were not boys at all, but adult men who were majors (above 24 years of age). The term "Kuttenbuben" had originated in the middle ages and was still applied to men dressed in cowls centuries later. The two regular Kuttenbuben were members of the ordinary staff and their salary was filed under the "ordinarÿ Besoldung". Among the employees that are listed together with the Kuttenbuben were the Bahrleiher Johann Leydl, the Capelldiener at the cemetery "vor dem Schottenthor" Bartholome Kießling and the two church servants and "Preinglöckler" (the ringers of the prime bell). In addition to their individual annual salary of sixty gulden each of the two regular Kuttenbuben also received five gulden for their service during the litany for the Court. The "Extra Jung" Geusgruber was paid 50 gulden a year. The two items in the 1742 Kirchenmeisteramtsrechnung pertaining to the salaries of the three Kuttenbuben read as follows:
147:/ Denen 2. Kutten Jungen Dobraletnig und Vogl ihr gebühr von 1. April bis lezten Xber 742. auf 3/4. Jahr lauth N° 147. vergüthet . . . . 90 .––
148:/ Dem Extra Jung Michael Geusgruber sein gebühr von 1. April bis lezten Xbr 742. auf 3/4. Jahr inhalt N:° 148. entrichtet mit . . . . . . . . 37 " 30.
The entries concerning the salaries of the Cathedral's three "Kutten Jungen" Dobraletnig, Vogl and Geusgruber between 1 April and 31 December 1742 (A-Wsa, Handschriften, A 41.24, fol. 77v and 78r)

The overall expenses of the Kirchenmeisteramt in 1742 amounted to 20,255 gulden and half a kreuzer. The surplus in that year was 2,722 gulden and 29 kreuzer.

Claudius Jenamy's seal and signature in the 1742 Kirchenmeisteramtsrechnung of St. Stephen's


  • Vivaldi's funeral ceremony on 28 July 1741 at St. Stephen's corresponded to that of ordinary Viennese citizens. Because the performance of music was not ordered and paid, no music was performed at that ceremony.
  • To have musicians sing at a funeral at St. Stephen's in 1741 one had to pay at least six gulden for the performance of the song "Der grimmig Tod". A perfomance of a motet was even more expensive, especially if it was accompanied "mit Sardin" ("with mute", i.e. with muted trombones).
  • The Kuttenbuben who were present at Vivaldi's exequies did not sing. They just stood at the altar and folded their hands in silence. They were not choirboys of the Cantorei, but members of the ordinary staff of the Cathedral. There was a strict organizational separation between the ordinary employees and the musicians of the Cathedral.
  • Joseph Haydn had nothing to do with Vivaldi's funeral. The mistaken assumption that choirboys were present at this ceremony originated with Marc Pincherle, who in 1948 translated the entry "6 Kuttenbuben" in the original source with "six enfants de chœur". After Alan Kendall in 1978 had turned these "enfants de chœur" into "choirboys", Robbins Landon could not resist the appeal of this scenario and presented Haydn's singing at Vivaldi's exequies as a fact. It is a myth.
Despite repeated statements in the literature that the chances are slim of finding unknown sources concerning Vivaldi's final stay in Vienna, research on this topic is far from finished. It has only just begun.