May 17, 2020

Unknown Stadler Documents (Part 1)

Harald Strebel's book about the legendary clarinetist brothers Anton and Johann Stadler, which, after a very long delay, was published in 2016 by the Hollitzer Wissenschaftsverlag, is one of those works that defy any useful review. Because of its total volume of about 1400 pages, and its numerous and extensive thematic digressions (the author obviously wanted to include every bit of his life's Mozart research), the number of mistakes in this book that any serious review would have to address, would amount to a seperate small book. This kind of procedure – albeit beneficial for interested readers – would yield no reviewer any merit. The damage that the shortcomings of Strebel's book may cause is lessened, however, by the fact that its readership will be very  small indeed. And even if somebody should be willing to dive into two bulky tomes, owing to their completely unsystematic and repetitive contentual structure, he will always have a hard time finding the information he is looking for.

Volume 1 of Harald Strebel's book about Anton Stadler. The silhouette on the cover is a well-known forgery by Josef Kuderna (1886–1952) whose authorship is proved by the inscription below the silhouette in Kuderna's typical fake-historicizing handwriting. Tme and again the Hollitzer Wissenschaftsverlag has shown itself to be so short of material that it will publish almost anything and without any serious proofreading process.

Unfortunately Strebel lacks all necessary expertise related to eighteenth-century handwritten sources, an expertise that can only be acquired through decades of archival research. This lack of experience causes a gross ignorance of the historical vocabulary which is indispensible for the understanding and transcription of archival sources. Unhelpful in dealing with these documents, is Strebel's mercilessly Swiss renunciation of the German letter ß, and his complete ignorance of Latin which leads to a huge number of grammatically wrong transcriptions, such as "quodam decem anni", "a Dominus", "et suae Barbara legitima filiae", "auliae", "ejus loci" (instead of "ejus loco"), "pro tempore" (instead of "pleno titulo"), and "Expeditium" (instead of "expeditum") (Strebel 2016/2, 38, 41, 264, 754). Many of Strebel's flawed transcriptions are extremely entertaining, but there is no use in listing them at this point. This is the author who in 2010 wrote the following in an e-mail: "It is downright depressing how carelessly certain authors deal with the sources". While going through Strebel's hundreds of transcriptions of Stadler documents, I have not yet found a single one that is free of errors. It is not the first time that one is wondering why an author was unable to at least seek the assistance of an expert who would have guided him to unknown sources and cleared his book from a plethora of errors and mistranscriptions. Already in 2006, and again in August of 2010, I offered Strebel my help with his research. But after I had given him a lot of genealogical data and sent him 23 pictures of unknown Stadler sources, at some point his jealous secretiveness and unfounded fear of being exploited got the better of him and he cut off our correspondence. This of course could not keep him from shamelessly using some of my photographs in his book – for example the one of Maria Anna Stadler's 1743 baptismal entry, (Strebel 2016/2, 41) – without giving me credit. Not surprisingly, he also mistranscribed the content of the pictures that he used without permission.

The photograph, taken on 9 September 2010, of the entry concerning the previously unknown baptism of Anton Stadler's sister Maria Anna Stadler on 17 August 1743 in the Vienna court chapel (Hofburg, Tom. BB, 156) which, on 10 September 2010, I sent to Harald Strebel.

The same photograph as it appears in Strebel's book (Strebel 2016/2, 41), published without my permisson and without giving me credit. The theft of the picture is proved by the identical increase of blurring of the script at the very left. The date of this child's death given in the caption is false, because it already died before 1771. Not only had Strebel the impertinence to present this as a "first publication", he also gravely botched the transcription and translation of this Latin entry, turning, for example, the name of the priest Joseph Teilsamb into "Trilsamb".

To avoid a possible misunderstanding: I do not think that every Stadler document is worth publishing. Many of the documents are redundant and of minor relevance. But since Harald Strebel considered every stroke of a pen related to the Stadler families earth-shatteringly relevant, I decided to take this approach ad absurdum in order to show that even the most ambitious claim to completeness in a collection of sources is bound to fail.

Johann Stadler's birth in Bruck an der Leitha

In 1971, in the Mitteilungen der Internationalen Stiftung Mozarteum, the German Kapellmeister Karl Maria Pisarowitz (1901–1979) published a pioneering article about the Stadler brothers. Applying his custom method of research by mail (which is pretty much also Strebel's favorite way of doing research), Pisarowitz was able to examine the entry in the records of Vienna's Piarist Church concerning Anton Stadler's wedding on 12 October 1780. This source, which gives the groom's place of birth as "Pruck an d Leyta", allowed Pisarowitz to locate Anton Stadler's 1753 baptismal entry in the church records of Bruck an der Leitha.

The left half of the entry concerning Anton Stadler's wedding on 12 October 1780 (Maria Treu, Tom. 3, fol. 82). Strebel's transcription of this entry (Strebel 2016/2, 44) contains several mistakes of which only the funniest shall be named. The letters "d. E. W.", which appear twice after the names of the groom's and the bride's mothers, mean "dessen Ehe Wirthin". Strebel nonsensically resolves them as "des Erblichenen Witwe". In his book Strebel plagiarized countless pieces of information from my 2011 article in Acta Mozartiana, including the sources related to Sophia Stadler's midwife exams.

In his 1971 article Pisarowitz stated that "after 1745, for unknown reasons, the Stadler family moved to Bruck an der Leitha where on 28 June 1753 Anton Paul Stadler was born" (Pisarowitz 1971, 30). In 2011, in my article "Mozart's Patenkind", I was able to show that the Stadlers must have moved to Bruck already in 1749, because another son, Anton Joseph, was born there on 14 December 1749. This child already died on 23 December 1749 (Lorenz 2011, 62). Concerning Joseph Stadler's possible motives for relocating his family to the country before December 1749, I described  the situation as quite obvious: Joseph Stadler certainly could not expect to make a better living as a shoemaker in the province. Instead, it is clear that he changed his profession and entered the service of Count Ernst Guido von Harrach as a musician (Lorenz 2011, 62).

That for decades it was thought that Johann Stadler was born in Vienna, had three reasons: 1) Pisarowitz mistook the entry concerning the publications of the banns in May 1783 in the records of the groom's home parish (Schotten 35, fol. 191r) for Johann Stadler's actual marriage entry. Not only is Johann Stadler erroneously addressed in this entry as "Franz Stadler" (which made Pisarowitz claim that Johann "was just called Franz"), his place of birth is also not given. 2) The entry in the minutes of the Tonkünstler-Sozietät concerning Johann Stadler's acceptance into the society on 16 May 1783 only gives his date, but not his place of birth.

The entry in the minutes of the Tonkünstler-Sozietät concerning Johann Stadler's request, presented on 7 May 1783, to join the society (A-Wsa, Private Institutionen, Haydn-Verein, A2/1). This document was written by Karl Friberth. On 30 November 1798 Johann Stadler was expelled from the society for not paying his membership fees.

3) The entry concerning Johann Stadler's death on 2 May 1804 in the municipal death register gives the deceased as "von Wienn gebürtig" ("born in Vienna"), an error that was obviously caused by the fact that Johann Stadler died in Vienna's General Hospital where nobody knew anything about his origin and background.

The entry in the municipal Totenbeschauprotokoll concerning Johann Stadler's death on 2 May 1804 (A-Wsa, Totenbeschreibamt 117/II, S, fol. 39v)

In 2011, I was the first to publish the fact that Johann Nepomuk Stadler was not born in Vienna, but, like his more prominent brother Anton, in the town of Bruck an der Leitha (Lorenz 2011, 62). Since the quality of the picture of Johann Stadler's baptismal entry in Strebel's book – like many other of his illustrations – is very poor, I take the opportunity to publish a high-quality picture of this document.

The entry concerning Johann Nepomuk Stadler's baptism (son of "Josephus Städler Incola") on 6 May 1755 in the parish church of Bruck an der Leitha (Bruck an der Leitha, Tom. F, Taufen fol. 101r). The next baptism was Anna Christina Platzer's on 17 May 1755 ("Erste Pfing[s]ttauf"), a daughter of Johann Stadler's godfather Anton Platzer.

In his book Strebel ignores the fact that I published Johann Stadler's place of birth five years before he did, and, to bolster his fictitious priority, he claims in a footnote that "he already found Johann Stadler's baptismal entry in 2008" (Strebel 2016/1, 31). This, however, is utterly irrelevant because it took Strebel another eight years to publish this information.

The godparents of five (or more) of Joseph Stadler's children, who were born in Bruck an der Leitha, were the local merchant Anton Platzer and his wife Barbara. Strebel completely disregards these two individuals of whom the first, after all, became Anton Stadler's name giver. Anton Platzer and Barbara Gruber got married on 29 February 1740 in Bruck an der Leitha.

The entry concerning Anton Platzer's and Barbara Gruber's wedding on 29 February 1740 (Bruck an der Leitha, Tom. 6, fol. 110v)

In 1773 Anton Platzer's business was declared bankrupt which on 24 July 1773 was announced in the Wiener Zeitung. The legal procedures concerning this bankruptcy lasted until September 1774 (Wiener Zeitung, 7 September 1774). Anton Platzer died on 18 April 1783, at the age of seventy, in Bruck an der Leitha.

The entry concerning Anton Platzer's death on 18 April 1783 (Bruck an der Leitha, Tom. 9, fol. 28)

In the genealogical chapter of his book Strebel claims that between 1743 and 1763 Joseph and Sophia Stadler had ten children (Strebel 2016/2, 41-44). This number is false. Because Strebel was unable to locate Joseph Stadler's 1771 probate file and only conducted very cursory research in the Bruck an der Leitha church records, he overlooked the existence of two more Stadler children, namely Joseph and Johann Georg Stadler, who seem to have been twins, and were born in 1747 in a still unknown place where their parents seem to have lived between 1745 and 1749. The first of these two children, Joseph Stadler, died in Bruck an der Leitha on 14 March 1752 at the age of five years (Bruck an der Leitha 6, fol. 189r). The second one, Johann Georg Stadler, joined the military which, eventually, he was only able to quit with the financial support of his mother. He was one of Joseph Stadler's four sons (Leopold, Johann Georg, Anton, and Johann) who were still alive at the time of their father's death in 1771. The still unknown Sperrs-Relation of Joseph Stadler will be published in a future installment of this Stadler Documents series.

Johann Stadler's unknown first marriage entry

There are two known sources related to Johann Stadler's wedding in 1783: first, the entry concerning the three publications of the banns on May 11th, 18th, and 25th, 1783, in which the groom is falsely addressed as "Franz Stadler" (Schotten, Tom. 35, fol. 191r), and second, the entry concerning the actual wedding which took place on June 1st, 1783 in the old church of St. Joseph ob der Laimgrube (St. Josef ob der Laimgrube, Tom. 1, 5). These two documents – albeit with flawed transcriptions, such as "bevormundt" instead of "befreundt" – are published in Strebel's book (Strebel 2016/2, 55f.). There is, however, a third source related to this wedding which so far has remained unknown. It is the entry in the earliest marriage register of the Laimgrube parish, the so-called Einschreibbuch der Brautleute von der Pfarrei zum H. Joseph ob der Laimgrube für das Jahr 1783 vom 20ten April bis zum letzten Xber 783.

An unknown source such as this, which has never been digitized, cannot be discovered by corresponding with Viennese parishes via e-mail. The text in this register is the very first version of Johann Stadler's marriage entry in the records of this parish.

The entry in the earliest marriage register of St. Joseph ob der Laimgrube concerning Johann Stadler's wedding (Einschreibbuch der Brautleute von der Pfarrei zum H. Joseph ob der Laimgrube für das Jahr 1783 vom 20ten April bis zum letzten Xber 783, 18).

Der Ehr Wohl edle H. Johan Stadler K.K. Kamer=
musikus, leedig, gebürtig von Bruck an der
Leutha, des Joseph Stadler eines Schuma=
chers lebend sel[ig] und der Sophia ux. einer gebor=
nen Altmanin conditio non constat,
Tochter[sic], ehliger Sohn.

|                      |                  |
11. Maÿ      18 Maÿ         25 Maÿ
Test[imonium] denunc[iationis]
a Scottis in urbe

Großjährig♀ Testim[onium] bapt[ismi] ferat kath.
kein Soldat, wohnhaft in der Stadt
N 1248. über 2 Jahre. laut Zeugniß

♀ 6ta Maji An[no]
1755 baptisatus

Mit der tug[endsamen] Jungf[er] Elisabeth Grittnerin,
gebürtig hier, des Franz Grittner bürgl: Weißger=
bers und der Maria Ana ux[oris] einer ge=
bornen Schecksin einer Schmidstochter, seligg.
ehlige Tochter. Minoren. Sed con=
sensit præs[ens] pater, kathol. nicht befreündt.
wohnhaft an der Wien Nro 42.

Testis. Sponsæ Johann Trost Stadt=
       richter in der Neustadt.
Sponsi Joh. Kilian Strack K. Kamer=
       diener wohnhaft im der+ +Stadt Nro 585.

Copulati sunt
1ma Junij a me
parocho vespere
obteata[sic] dispens[ati]one Rev[erendissimi] Con=
[Page No.] 18
The well noble Mr. Johann Stadler, I. & R. chamber musician, unmarried, a native of Bruck an der Leitha, legitimate son of Joseph Stadler, a deceased shoemaker, and his wife Sophia, née Altmann whose condition is unknown, daughter[sic].

[The three publications of the banns took place on]
May 11th, 18 May 18th, and May 25th
[The groom] produced a certificate of proclamation from the Schotten parish in the City.

[The groom is] of legal age.♀ He brought a birth certificate, Catholic
not a soldier, he has been living in the City at No. 1248 for more than 2 years, according to the certificate

♀He was baptised on May 6th, 1755.

With the virtuous maiden Elisabeth Grittner, born here, legitimate daughter of Franz Grittner, a civil tawer, and his wife Maria Anna, née Schecks, already deceased. Underage, but the father is present and consents, Catholic, not related to the groom by blood or marriage. Residing at Laimgrube No. 42.

Witness of the bride: Johann Trost, municipal judge in Wiener Neustadt.
Witness of the groom: Johann Kilian Strack, Imperial chamberlain residing in the City at No. 585.

They were united on June 1st, by me, the parish priest, in the evening after producing a dispense from the most venerable consistory.

The next installment of this Stadler Documents series will deal with Johann Stadler's grandchildren and great-grandchildren whose existence – you guessed it – remained completely unknown to Mr. Strebel.

Lorenz, Michael. 2011. "Mozarts Patenkind". Acta Mozartiana, 58, vol. 1, (June 2011), 57-70.
Pisarowitz, Karl Maria. 1971. „»Müaßt ma nix in übel aufnehma …« Beitragsversuche zu einer Gebrüder-Stadler-Biographie“. Mitteilungen der Internationalen Stiftung Mozarteum 29 (1971), Heft 1-2, 29-33.
Strebel, Harald. 2016. Anton Stadler: Wirken und Lebensumfeld des "Mozart-Klarinettisten". Fakten, Daten und Hypothesen zu seiner Biographie. Vienna: Hollitzer Wissenschaftsverlag.

© Dr. Michael Lorenz 2020. All rights reserved.


  1. Michael, Very interesting documents are presented and much appreciated for your accuracy. The reader will become more interested in this important material if you will concentrate on the Stadler documents and say less about Strebel. We all want to know the most accurate information about Anton Stadler!

    1. Plagiarism is always a bagatelle as long as it happens to somebody else.

  2. Dear Dr. Lorenz, many thanks for this highly interesting post. Contrary to what Al Rice wrote, I believe that your critical views assist us to refrain from Mozart scholarship of insufficient level. I was therefor wondering if you have any intentions to lend us your views on a more recent publication by Hollitzer Wissenschaftsverlag, one about Nannerl.
    Maria Anna Mozart: Facetten einer Künstlerin, Hg. Eva Neumayr (Wien: Hollitzer Verlag, 2019).

  3. I would never tell anybody not to try to read Mr. Strebel's book. One can certainly learn a lot from it. I just wanted to point out that he used a lot of my material without giving me credit, and overlooked a surprisingly high number of sources. I haven't seen the book you ask me about, but after checking the table of content I think that it's yet another redundant compilation of material which has already been published or doesn't present new information. We have to keep in mind, for example, that Eva Rieger's biography of Nannerl Mozart was published in 1990. The last book from Hollitzer I saw was Andrea Schwab's
    Außergewöhnliche Komponistinnen which is a true Hollitzer collection of amazing howlers. From Frau Schwab we learn that Josepha Auernhammer's father was a court violinist and that Marianna von Martines was Metastasio's universal heir (to name only the most memorable curiosities).