My Daughter and Her Father

At home, shortly before 10 o'clock in the morning on February 22nd, 1784 I gave birth to a girl - Maria Josepha. You can easily imagine the terrible gossip because I was not married, and more than that, I was a Mozart. Being an unmarried mother meant a tremendous stigma, and particularly the first time was very hard for me and my parents who, being anything but happy, always stood by me nevertheless. Nowadays a thing scarcely conceivable, but at that time the birth of an illegitimate child got imposed a high fine, and mostly it was the women alone who were affected. We - he and I - too got officially landed with a fine of 72 florin, while my midwife, who hadn't notified the authorities of the birth, got away with a reprimand. It was indeed a sizeable scandal which put much strain on all of us for a long time and changed my life entirely.

My baby was baptized at the Church of Heilig Kreuz the same day. This church was situated right at the lower end of the Jesuiten- and Kohlergasse respectively. Our family was as much at home there as at the Cathedral. Of course, neither could my identity get recorded in the baptismal register, nor the one of the father - he was a canon and I had a famous name. Well, therefore I was fibbing at bit and had written down, "Maria Anna Trazin" and "Ludwig Reiber" (the latter got later sticked over with "Louis de Berbier"). Naturally, the clergy was very well informed about this affair, and soon a "elucidating" marginal note, abolishing my humble incognito, appeared in the baptismal register of both the Church of Heilig Kreuz and the Cathedral, our parish. Yes, quite right, my little girl was baptized virtually twice. Well, is that something?!

Josepha's father was Theodor Franz de Paula Maria Baron von Reibeld, born in Mannheim on March 26th, 1752. He had often told me about his family and his three brothers - he was the second youngest. The two older ones, following their late father, were already heavily involved in the Palatine politics, while the youngest was striving for a military career at the Bavarian Cavalry. I learned of the amazing advancement of his father, Joseph Anton, having died 10 years ago, and who - a farmer's son - as a jurist had performed a meteoric career at the Palatine Court, up to becoming Secret Councillor of State and Chancellor, for which he had been elevated to the peerage at a relatively young age. As reward for successful negotiating for Clemens Wenzeslaus of Saxony, the Prince Bishop of Augsburg, he had received the award of a canonicatus in Augsburg for one of his sons.

Augsburg's old Cathedral, on the very left Baron von Reibeld's residence Already at the age of fourteen, Franz von Reibeld had started his ecclesiastical career at St.Viktor in Mainz, at sixteen and under Clemens Wenzeslaus' patronage, he began studying law at the University of Mainz, gaining the doctorate in Heidelberg in 1772, aged 20. He, too, had brains. Shortly after that he took up the canonicatus and joined the Cathedral Chapter in 1780. Even though he was a personality of high standing in town as a member of the Prince Bishop's Senate, as well as the Diocesan Government, his title and status had not gone to his head. On the contrary, Mr. Doctor of Law was well acquainted with the middle-class world, and especially interested in the schoolsystem within the Cathedral Chapter's territory - and that was a thing I knew to some extent. In the year of our daughter's birth, he assumed office as its head supervisor, as well as head trustee of the orphans coffers. -- The photo shows the eastern choir of the Augsburg Cathedral, and on the left von Reibeld's residence. Between the houses on the right hand side, you entered the Jesuitengasse.

Baron von Reibeld's personal coat of arms Admit, you have imagined him as being a (nearly) cerebral and dry Habit wearer, haven't you? Far from it. Lifelong he was a committed, energetic man. Later, facing the advancing French troops, his life became in fact really adventurous temporarily. Well, anyway, we often met in his residence in the Cathedral's shadow, and had always much to talk and laugh about, of course. Occasionally, he went to Heilig Kreuz in order to listen to one of Wolfgang's masses. Yes indeed, we did like each other a lot, and my goodness, for me he was just a man. It is pointless speculating what might have become of us if he had not devoted himself to especially that principle of life. In any case, much as one would expect under these circumstances, Franz von Reibeld acted generously and decently towards me. For the birth of his little Baroness "to the Left", the 31-year-old showered me with presents and provided well for us in future.

A criticizing, raised index finger from Salzburg was the last thing we needed, and so Uncle Leopold learned of this story luckily only one year later, during one of his yearly visits to Munich's carnival - from the Taverniers, of all people. Well, it had to come to light just some time. He certainly told Wolfgang about it hot of the press. I would rather not hear his comment, had his father, years ago, not spoken ill of me as being a "Pfaffenschnitzl"? At any rate, he is said to have made disparaging comments on my former admirers, Feigele and Schmidt.

Johann Friedrich Schmidt was a mutual friend from Augsburg, who later moved to Vienna and became director of the reading circle at Johann Thomas von Trattner's bookstore. He possibly introduced my cousin to the von Trattners.
Karl Bernhard Feigele, born in Kempten/Allgäu and only one year younger than myself, was a frequent and welcome guest at my uncle's during his study of law, he had begun in Salzburg in 1777, where I had met him in early 1779 for the first time. Already at that time he had fallen in love with me, but kept it a secret due to my special relationship to Wolfgang, until we met again in Munich in 1782 when we became closer. There is one thing I can assure you of, he competed seriously with my cousin - nose-wise!


© copyright 2001-2017 Susanne M. Scholze. All rights reserved.

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