When I was speaking with a family member about the Salzburg Salt Mine yesterday I had an insight — that it works well imo as a symbol of what Wolf was supposed to have been all about and how that got twisted around.
Wolf was born in Salzburg, Austria. Everyone knows this. His birth house is something of a shrine. Salzburg is named for the salt mine outside of town. Jesus spoke of the people as the ‘salt of the earth’, meaning the common people. What use is salt, He asked, if it loses its flavor? What does this have to do with Wolf?
When Wolf was a child, beginning to exhibit his extraordinary talents, his father, Leopold, quickly assessed the situation. He also had begotten another prodigy, Wolf’s older sister, Nannerl. He did not want their talents to languish in the outpost of Salzburg. He did not want them to die in anonymity because of the callous indifference and lack of sophistication of the common people of Salzburg. So he decided to take the show on the road and instead court the crown heads of Europe.
The rest is history — we all know that Wolf played with Marie Antoinette at court, that the Mozart family, while given audience to perform, were treated as little more than servants, eating in the quarters of the help and being tossed trinkets instead of being given cold hard cash for their efforts. We know of Leopold’s frustration at not being able to find a secure place for Wolf in one of the courts. This failed effort contributed to the death of Wolf’s mother in Paris, for she had accompanied him when Leopold was no longer allowed by the Archbishop to leave Salzburg.
But how many of us have bothered to question Leopold’s mission? I would certainly hope in this day and age that any parent who exploited their children at a young age and to such a great extent as to even move them overseas for a few years would come under severe scrutiny and have to take responsibility for spoiling their chances for life as an adult.
What could have happened if Wolf had been allowed to have a ‘normal’ childhood? Would people have flocked to Salzburg to hear him perform — at least during the summer months? Might Nannerl have been allowed to find her own successful path in music, instead of having her character stunted by the almost supernatural brilliance of her younger brother?
The Mozart family was part of the salt of the earth. They were not nobility. They were working class people. What if they had stuck to their roots, and plumbed the depths of Gd’s will for them, instead of running around chasing after the whims of royalty? Would Wolf have lived longer? Might he not have ended up being, in effect, mind-controlled by his father?
*M4B=Mozart For Believers