Deutsch's transcription of the above text concerning Mozart's two minor children – note that Franz Xaver was already called "Wolfgang" as an infant – and the existence of a will or a comparable legal document (like a marriage contract) is a fine example of one of his countless palaeographical failures. Deutsch begins the transcription of the first handwritten passage as follows: "2[!] Bübl:[sic] als: Karl 7. Jahr". The word "Bübl" (boys), which was never used by a Sperrskommissär, is of course complete nonsense. The entry reads "Leibl:[iche]" (legitimate [children]). The next entry is garbled by Deutsch in the following way: "Keines,[!] doch ein Heuraths Brief Act = 3 = Aug: 782." This is a true highpoint of ignorance. One could accept the missing semicolon, but any serious scholar, who has ever worked with eighteenth-century Viennese administrative documents, can recognize and transcribe the abbreviation "dd°" (with the small superscript "o" being doubly underlined) which means de dato (i.e. dating from). And the second one of Deutsch's absurd double dashes is simply the double underscore of the superscript abbreviation "t[er]", belonging to the "3" which is the date of Mozart's marriage contract. Mistakes of such grotesque scale in a volume of the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe, which is supposed to represent a final and authoritative edition of the sources, are simply breathtaking. And the situation becomes even more absurd, given the fact that this document had been published several times in a much less flawed (and "Bübl"-less) version, decades before Deutsch dealt with it. Arthur Schurig published part of the Sperrs=Relation in his book Constanze Mozart: Briefe, Aufzeichnungen, Dokumente 1782 bis 1842, (Dresden 1922), and published it a second time in the 2nd edition of his book Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Sein Leben, seine Persönlichkeit, sein Werk, (Leipzig 1923). Albert Leitzmann also published much less flawed excerpts from this document in his collection Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Berichte der Zeitgenossen und Briefe, (Leipzig 1926). The funniest detail is that Deutsch was fully aware of these earlier publications. He refers to them in his commentary at the end of his own transcription where he proudly points out that "contrary to all the earlier editions this one is complete" – which of course it is not.
The story does not end here. For several years now, the Salzburg Mozarteum has been working on a project titled "Briefe und Aufzeichnungen zu W. A. Mozart und seiner Familie aus den Beständen der Stiftung Mozarteum Salzburg". The goal of this project, which is being funded by the Packard Humanities Institute, Los Altos/California, is the online publication of all letters and documents related to the Mozart family, as well as related letters and documents spanning from 1740 (when Leopold Mozart arrived in Salzburg) to 1881 (when the International Mozarteum Foundation was established). The list of hitherto published documents provides a fascinating glimps into the blissfully complacent world of the Mozarteum. The online publication of the documents is marred by several problems and a literal ocean of mistranscriptions awaits the interested reader. Many of these hidden howlers are true gems and the fun they provide almost lets one forget that this kind of dilettantism is draining huge amounts of money away from scholarship that could put generous funding to a much better use. Note, for instance, the poor "Frau Schupfer", appearing in this document, who was recklessly turned into a "Frau Söhupfer", because none of the people in charge know how a small "c" is written in Kurrentschrift.
Frau Schupfer, turned into "Frau Söhupfer", in the transcription of anonymous notes from after 1836 concerning Salzburg citizens who could possibly own Mozart autographs (Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum, Bibliotheca Mozartiana)
The transcriptions that are shown beside the pictures apply a ridiculously unpractical set of "Kürzel" signs (the Mozarteum calls them "Abbreviatur-Schleifen") instead of bracketed completions of the words which sometimes turn the reading of these transcriptions (such as Mozart's letter of 27 March 1770 from Bologna) into a mind-boggling experience. The fact that some transcriptions contain the term "unleserlich" (illegible) is all the more frustrating, considering the small size and the weak resolution of the pictures that make it impossible for the reader to decipher the document on his own.
On 7 December 1787, Joseph II appointed Mozart k.k. Kammermusikus. The decree signed by Johann Thorwart (who in 1782 had been Constanze Weber's witness at her wedding) looks as follows.
Aktenstück, 1787-12-07 (Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum, Bibliotheca Mozartiana)
What kind of transcription of this document does David Woodley Packard get for his money? It turns out that the text of this decree, as presented on the Mozarteum website, is neither new nor is it flawless. The money was new and flawless alright, but the transcription is an exact copy right out of Deutsch's flawed 1961 edition of the Mozart-Dokumente. All the typical symptoms of Deutschian perplexity are still there: the Mozarteum's transcriber (or rather copyist) does not resolve the abbreviations (not even in the print version). Just like Deutsch, he still mistakes the "p." at the end of the headline for an "etc.", and the meaning of "Pr." at the beginning of the closing formula is still a mystery. Needless to say that this document has already been published several times by Jahn, Schurig, Tenschert and Mueller von Asow. Sometimes even in better readings.
See also: Mozart Documents "transcribed" (follow-up)
© Dr. Michael Lorenz 2012. All rights reserved.
Updated: 13 January 2021