The following December the Tonkünstler-Societät again gave its traditional pair of concerts to raise money for the widows and orphans of deceased musicians. These concerts, which had been founded in 1771, took place during Lent and in the run-up to Christmas. They were lavish events using enormous forces, and it was a point of honour for the participants to give their services free. The concerts were patronized by the Court and the high nobility, and were a highlight of the Viennese calendar:
“No virtuoso who has any love for his neighbour, refuses to give his services, if the society asks him to do so. Besides, in this way he can win the favour both of the Emperor and the public.” (24/03/1781)
In fact Mozart’s first public appearance in Vienna as an adult had taken place at one of these concerts, in April 1781. Mozart’s then employer, the Archbishop of Salzburg, initially forbade him to attend: “He would not permit me to take part. All the nobility of Vienna have made a grievance over it.” (24/03/1781) Although the Archbishop eventually changed his mind, the young genius’ fury at this mean-spirited treatment was one of the causes of the row that eventually led to his dismissal barely a month later.
The concerts took place on the 22nd and 23rd of December, Mozart playing in the first one. The programme included:
- ‘Symphony and chorus by (Joseph) Haydn’: most likely the opening numbers of his oratoria Il ritorno di Tobia.
- Arias by Sacchini, sung by Stefano Mandini and Caterina Cavalieri. Cavielieri had created Constanze in Die Entführung; Mandini would later become the first Count Almaviva in Figaro.
- A piano concerto by Mozart; most likely it was K.415 again.
- A symphony by Leopold Kozeluch.
- A new rondo by Mozart, sung by Adamberger; this was probably Misero! O sogno, 431
- A terzetto by Sarti (Cavalieri, Adamberger, Mandini).
- Choruses by Hasse, Sacchini and Dittersdorf.
On the 23rd Mozart’s place was taken by the violinist, Schlesinger, who played a concerto. Mozart’s rather smug comment about this is not his finest moment:
“…The day before yesterday, Monday, we had another grand concert of the Society (the Wiener Tonkünstlersozietät), when I played a concerto and Adamberger sang a rondo of my composition (Probably K431, Misero! O sogno). The concert was repeated yesterday, but a violinist played a concerto in my place. The day before yesterday the theatre was full. Yesterday it was empty. I should add that it was the violinist’s first performance.” (24/12/1783).