We all know that Wolf was born in Salzburg, and grew to hate it. He left for Vienna when he was able, and never returned. However, the story of why Wolf lived such a short life may have a connection to his relationship to Salzburg. How? Let me explain.
When Leopold realized that he had not one (Nannerl) but two child prodigies in his family, he looked around and despaired at what he saw. Salzburg was out-of-the-way, provincial, dull. It grew very cold in the winter. How could a loving Gd possibly give him such amazing children and expect them to grow up and flourish in such a place? He was deeply offended by the shortcomings that Salzburg presented.
Leopold knew that his children represented the royalty of music. Why not then present them to royalty of this world? They were the best, so only the best for them would do. With all the earnest zeal of the children’s greatest mentor, he pushed them onto the world scene. He demanded that the world pay attention to them. He refused to allow them to be ignored and die forgotten in Salzburg. He was adamant that this is what Gd would want.
Unfortunately, as history shows, Leopold’s vision was false. His family became divided, turning on one another. His daughter’s gifts became forgotten as excitement over Wolf’s increased. In a last desperate trip to find Wolf a permanent spot at court, Maria Anna died in Paris. Leopold held Wolf responsible. It was easier to do that than look inward and acknowledge that it was his plan that had brought on destruction of his family. Arrogance and pride held sway, and he never managed to apologize for Wolf for his mistaken vision.
In fact, the truth was right under their noses. Being Catholic, they didn’t spend much time with the Bible. In fact, the probably expected the priests to tell them everything they needed to know about it. Had they looked within, they might have noticed a statement about ‘the salt of the earth’. Salzburg was just that. A town with a great salt mine that produced salt for the entire region. It seems to go down for miles. At the bottom is a lake. A symbol of the depths of human character.
What if Gd wanted the Mozarts to be what they were — common people, ‘salt-of-the-earth’? What if Nannerl and Wolf’s gifts had been allowed to mature in a small-town environment, away from the ridicule and gossip of the courts? What if Wolf had been able to mature emotionally instead of being stuck in the role of an immature and conditioned puppet? Might Leopold have been able not only to assess the height of Wolf’s gifts, but also their depth?