W A Mozart and Family - Cecil Court, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 30.640 W 000° 07.648
30U E 699325 N 5710527
Quick Description: This blue plaque, to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his family, is attached to a building on the south side of Cecil Court, a pedestrianised street that connects Charing Cross Road and St Martin's Lane.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 6/21/2014 10:56:04 AM
Waymark Code: WMKZDK
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Norfolk12
Views: 0

Long Description:

The blue plaque tells us:

Cecil Court Traders' Association

In a
building on this site
W A Mozart
and his family
lodged with barber John Curzon
April-August 1764
the first London address
on their Grand Tour
of Europe

The Classic FM website tells us:

1764 - his first composition and London living

It was in Paris in 1764 that a momentous event for classical music occurred. A violin sonata was published, in five movements: the first was quick; the second slow; two minuets and then a final fast movement followed. An 8-year-old Mozart had moved from performer to composer. This was his first published music, his Opus 1.

Fresh from this triumph, on 23 April, the family battle bus moved on to London. If you visit London, you will find three plaques showing where Mozart stayed. The first is at 19 Cecil Court, in Leicester Square, where the family first stayed above what was then a barbershop, but since became, fittingly, a music shop. They then moved to 20 Frith Street in the heart of Soho. In those days it was called Thrift Street, and the family lodged with a Mr Thomas Williamson, a corset maker. There is a blue plaque on the wall of the house now, which is very close to another building with enormous musical heritage: Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.

Leopold, who was shrewd not only in the exhibiting of his little geniuses, but also in their marketing, displayed posters to attract the right sort of audience to their concerts. Some of these advertisements were addressed to members of the 'Nobility and Gentry'. Others seem to somehow have the feel of a freak show, as if Leopold were promoting a travelling circus act.

The marketing obviously worked. They were received by George III himself and gave many concerts. Everyone who was anyone from noblemen to royalty was enchanted by Mozart, the boy wonder. Leopold revelled in all the attention and was no doubt also thankful for the hard cash his offspring were generating. The King presented him with music by Wagenseil, Bach, Abel and Handel, and he played them all at first sight. He played the King’s own organ so well that people said his organ playing was better than his piano playing. Next, he accompanied the Queen in a song, and a flute player in a flute and piano piece.

Leopold was also keen to point out that Mozart was learning lots from his time on the road:

"In short, his knowledge when he left home is but a shadow of his knowledge now. It’s beyond belief…"

Life in inner-city Soho obviously did not suit Leopold’s constitution and he became unwell. He decided to move the family out to a place where the air was cleaner and there were green fields. It’s a measure of how much bigger the city of London is now compared to the 18th century, because it was Chelsea that fitted the bill. They stayed at 180 Ebury Street, as a plaque on the wall of the house still bears testament. They arrived on 6 August and, before they left in September, Mozart had passed an important milestone: he had written his first symphony.

By no means do musical experts these days consider Mozart’s Symphony No. I to be a mature work, but it is, nevertheless, a symphony. It’s very easy to forget just how young Mozart was and, right through our Friendly Guide, we have to keep stopping to remind ourselves of his age at various key points. This is one of them. He was, let’s not forget, still only 8 years old.

One reason that London was the scene of this important landmark might be the fact that the city was at that time home to a member of the Bach clan. Johann Christian Bach was the famous Johann Sebastian Bach’s son. He had arrived in England in 1762 at the age of 27 and had never gone back home. His first opera in the capital, Orione, so impressed the powers that be that he was immediately appointed Master of Music to Queen Charlotte. J.C. Bach was introduced to Mozart when he arrived and the two soon became friendly. As Leopold mentioned in passing in a letter home:

"Mozart sends his best wishes from the piano stool, where he is, as I write, playing through Kapellmeister [JC] Bach’s trio."

J.C. Bach went on to write 90 symphonies and no doubt had some hand in persuading the flamboyant 8-year-old Mozart to dive in himself. A musical footnote here: although j.C. Bach was prolific when it came to penning symphonies, it was his older brother C.P.E. Bach who wrote what would later be considered important examples of the genre.

Blue Plaque managing agency: Cecil Court Traders' Association

Individual Recognized: W A Mozart and Family

Physical Address:
Cecil Court
London, United Kingdom

Web Address: [Web Link]

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