On 18 November 1763, Leopold Mozart, his wife, and his two children arrived at the first station on the grand European tour which they had started in Salzburg on 9 June of that year. Their support and refuge in the French capital was Baron Friedrich Melchior Grimm (1723-1807), a Regensburg-born diplomat and litterateur who was employed in Paris as secretary to the Duke d’Orléans. Grimm turned out to be Mozart’s staunchest advocate in Paris, not only on the occasion of this first visit but again in 1766, and to a lesser extent in 1778. Together with several friends from the Encyclopédistes, Grimm published a biweekly bulletin Correspondance Littéraire, devoted to cultural and particularly to literary matters, which he sent to a number of the seats of the nobility in Germany and Northern Europe. In this bulletin, Grimm also reported on the spectacular appearances of Salzburg’s wunderkind, Wolfgang Amadé Mozart.
When he arrived in Paris, Leopold Mozart only had a couple of simple piano compositions to show to Grimm; Leopold himself had written them down in a notebook belonging to his daughter Nannerl (1751-1829). But only two months later, the first printed works by Wolfgang would make their appearance. On 1 February 1764, Leopold, bursting with pride, wrote to the wife of his friend Lorenz Hagenauer in Salzburg: “At this very moment, four of Mr. Wolfgang Mozart’s sonatas are being engraved for printing. You can well imagine the excitement which will be occasioned in the world by these sonatas, when people see on the title page that they are the work of a child of seven.” (1) As early as 1 December 1763, or less than two weeks after the family’s arrival, Grimm was filling his bulletin with praise for Wolfgang’s talent in improvisation and composition: “What is truly unbelievable, is to see him play without any music before him for a full hour at a time, and to surrender himself completely to the inspiration of his genius, and to a wealth of enchanting inventions, which he can link together with perfect taste and without any confusion.
The most seasoned Capellmeister could not have any more profound understanding of harmony and the modulations, with which he can travel the most unfrequented routes, always with the greatest correctness. He writes and composes with wondrous ease, without needing a harpsichord to work out his chords.” …..
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