Apr 13, 2013

"Franz Schubert" in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2001)

In Robert Winter's book Music for our Time (Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company 1992) the following paragraph appears on p. 358:
FRANZ SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Franz Schubert was the only Viennese Classicist born in Vienna, and except for an extended summer holiday in the west of Austria in 1825, he never ventured beyond the suburbs of that city. His father was a schoolmaster who taught boarding students in the family quarters, an activity that brought little income or social standing. Franz was the eleventh of twelve children, only four of whom survived infancy. He and his brothers all learned to play musical instruments and often came together in the evening to play chamber music. 
The only part of this quote that does not contain a mistake is the title. In 1818 and 1824 Schubert was in Zséliz and in 1819 and 1825 he visited Upper Austria. In 1827 he went to Graz, Gastein and Salzburg. Schubert's father had no "boarding students". Where should he have provided housing for them? He was a regular school-teacher. Not four but five of the Schubert children survived infancy: Ignaz, Ferdinand, Karl, Franz und Theresia (whom Winter is obviously unaware of). Karl Schubert did not join the music making, but became a painter (see Ferdinand Schubert's account from 1839). To round up the affair Schober's caricature of Vogl and Schubert is wrongly attributed to Moritz von Schwind. Although by 1992 Robert Winter had not even read Maurice Brown's old Schubert article in Grove, the editors of The New Grove commissioned him to write the new one. After several years of absence from Schubert research in which he dedicated himself to the development of computer software, Winter faced the opportunity to delve into the literature, preparing to write the article on Schubert that, due to The New Grove's worldwide popularity, must be regarded the most widely read printed publication on Schubert. The result was made available on the internet on www.grovemusic.com prior to the printed version of the encyclopedia which was officially presented on 8 January 2001. According to the international press, the new owners of Macmillan demanded The New Grove's immediate release, a policy which the editors refused for the understandable reason that it was far too premature to guarantee a result that would meet scholarly demands. Stanley Sadie was appointed "Editor emeritus" and replaced by John Tyrrell, who in the meantime has passed on his function to Laura Macy. To put the encyclopedia to print at all costs the last corrections were proofread by a "teenage army of non-musicological graduates" (see: "How music got its Grove Back", The Independent, 30 December 2000). Given the fact that some of the important entries were commissioned long before 1996, even more meticulous correction work could not have provided a less faulty edition. There was ample time to take care of the major mistakes, but unfortunately this time seems to have been wasted.


Avoiding any risk Robert Winter could have chosen an easy way out by just copying everything from Otto Erich Deutsch, a method usually applied these days by many Schubert scholars. But this turned out to be impossible. The zeitgeist and the heated and politically influenced discussion about Schubert's sexuality that had dominated the preceding decade, demanded a heavily revised image of Schubert which was likely to meet the expectations of "new musicology". Therefore Winter did not rely on the Dokumente, but wrote his biography of Schubert in the style of a medley, based on the literature. Although this is by no means an unusual method, the result is a mixture of personal recollection and scholarly impromptu that makes the reader waver continuously between astonishment and amusement. As will be shown, Winter sometimes did not even consult the literature given in his own bibliography. The list of mistakes will be presented quite prosaically, based exclusively on original quotes from Winter's text and any claim of completeness may be premature. My critical point of view is influenced by a statement in a "letter of the editors" on Macmillan's web-page: "The primary objective of a reference work is to give accurate, reliable and up-to-date information."

In the first chapter of Winter's article, titled "Background and childhood" we learn that "[Schubert's father] took up the position of schoolteacher, one that offered little social standing or financial reward; education was an enterprise supported only meagrely by the imperial government." If we keep in mind all the various honours the house owner Franz Theodor received, together with all the efforts Empress Maria Theresia had put in place to improve educational standards in Vienna, we cannot accept Winter's statement (see also Herwig Knaus's excellent book Franz Schubert: vom Vorstadtkind zum Compositeur, Vienna: Löcker 1997). Winter continues to present a strictly personal state of information: "All of the [Schubert] children were born in a one-room apartment in a house called 'Zum roten Krebsen'". This is false. Ignaz and Elisabeth Schubert were not born in this house (see Heinz Schöny's article in Jahrbuch der Heraldisch-Genealogischen Gesellschaft Adler 1974/78, III. Folge, vol. 9, Vienna 1978, p. 15, an important genealogical publication that is missing in Winter's bibliography). Regarding Schubert's studies with Salieri the following information is given as a fact: "During his first two years [at the Stadtkonvikt] he received permission to take regular lessons with Salieri, who urged him to find his models in Italian opera, [...]". Wrong again. As far as we know, Schubert first started studying with Salieri in June 1812. On the occasion of the premiere of the F major mass in 1814 Winter deals with an old imaginary problem that actually has been solved a long time ago: "Near the end of July [1814] he completed his first mass (in F, d105), written for the centenary of the Lichtental church he had attended since a child. Although Schubert's spirituality was never in doubt, his freedom with the text (including the omission of 'Et in unam sanctam catholicam et apostolicam ecclesiam') suggests that the church as an institution was not sacrosanct to him. [...] Schubert conducted the first performance himself in October." We are still waiting for Joseph Haydn being suspected of not believing in Christ being the Son of God and the significance of the Holy Spirit, because in his "Missa in Angustiis" he left out the passage "Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum Filium Dei unigenitum" and in his "Missa sancti Bernardi von Offida" he failed to set to music the words "Qui ex Patre Filioque procedit". In Haydn's "Missa in tempore belli" even the line "Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur" is missing. And yet this composer is still being considered a devoutly Catholic classic. As Erich Benedikt has shown in 1997, in countless masses of Schubert's time large parts of the Credo text are missing and not even Anton Bruckner dealt with this text too meticulously, because the celebrant had to say the complete Credo anyway. But no, the presentation of Schubert as an individual with shaky religious beliefs must forever be continued. For the sake of his morals and dubious private life this seems to be very important. Unfortunately Winter calls the performance of the "Ouverture in Italian Style" the "first public performance" of one of Schubert's works. This applies to the performance of the F major mass D. 105, because in Lichtental parish holy mass was no private event. The premiere of this mass did not take place – as given by Robert Winter – in October 1814, but on 25 September of the same year. Erich Benedikt's article "Notizen zu Schuberts Messen" (Österreichische Musikzeitschrift 1-2, 1997, pp. 64-69), where this issue is resolved, is given in Winter's bibliography. Winter seems never to have read it. Regarding the topic "Therese Grob" (Schubert's beloved), Winter quotes the entry on 8 September 1816 in Schubert's diary ("For a free man marriage is a horrible thought these days.") and closes the chapter "Finding a career" with the following statement: "Although not yet 20, Schubert never spoke of marriage again." "To whom?" is the question that comes to the reader's mind here. In chapter five, "Independence", Winter writes: "At some time that autumn [1816] Schubert refused to return to his father's school, left home and moved to the lodgings of Franz von Schober". But Schubert's note on the autograph of the song D. 509 is no proof that at that time he was actually living with Schober. Schubert's move to the house of his father in August 1817 (Winter writes "In the autumn") was caused – according to Winter – by financial circumstances. The truth is that Schubert had to clear the room for Schober's brother Axel who was expected to return from France. Franz von Schober simply is out of luck in the recent literature: "Schubert was introduced by Josef von Spaun to [...] Franz von Schober (1797-1882). Although his father died when Schober was six, the family remained prosperous enough for him to attend private schools for the nobility [...] in both Germany and Austria. He began law studies in Vienna in 1816 but failed to complete the course". Note Schober's wrong year of birth. (In New Grove's article "Lithographisches Institut" it is also given incorrectly as 1798). According to the death certificate issued by the Torup parish priest Olof Borup, Franz von Schober senior died on 8 February 1802.

Olof Burup's death certificate for Franz von Schober's father Franz Xaver von Schober (1759-1802) (A-Wsa, Mag. ZG, A2, 3628/1797)

The schools in Schnepfenthal and Kremsmünster were nor exclusively reserved for the nobility and Schober did not study law in Vienna, but philosophy. On the occasion of dealing with Schubert's activity as music teacher in Zséliz, it becomes apparent that Winter is unaware of the fact that from 1811 on the Austrian monarchy had two different currencies. Schubert's monthly income is given succinctly as "some 75 florin" without the important information that this is Conventionsmünze (Assimilated Coinage). Regarding Schubert's estimated fee in 1821-22 Winter gives an amount of "more than 2000 gulden" without mentioning that this is the less valuable Wiener Währung (Viennese Currency, i.e. 800 gulden in Assimilated Coinage). Winter's subsequent claim that "the annual salary of a minor civil servant – the social layer from which Schubert sprang – was about 400 gulden" only confuses the reader, because this again amounts to a mix-up of two different currencies which had an exchange rate of 1 to 2,5. This important detail is also missing in connection with the fee of 100 gulden Conventionsmünze that Schubert in 1826 received form the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. Following a consequent tactic of confusion the concert revenue in 1828 is again being given in Viennese Currency. Concerning the year 1818 Winter writes: "During that summer Esterházy introduced him to Baron Karl Schönstein (1797-1876), a senior official at the Hungarian ministry of finance who was also a passionate amateur singer". Carl von Schönstein was not born in 1797, but on 27 June 1796 in Ofen. He also was not an employee of the Hungarian ministry of finance, but from 1813 on a practitioner with the county of Pesth and the Hungarian governor. As of 1 April 1816 he was Konzeptspraktikant at the court chamber and on 11 September 1823 was promoted to Hofkonzipist. He retired an official of the Austrian ministry of finance.

Baron Carl von Schönstein's date of birth in his own handwriting in his "Qualifikationstabelle" (table of qualification) at the Austrian Ministry of Finance (OeStA/FHKA SuS Pers Dept.21 2567)

Regarding the arrest of Johann Senn Winter writes: "In mid-March [1820] the other side of Schubert's existence surfaced when he was present at the time his schoolfriend Johann Senn's room was searched by the police". It remains undecided what the paranoia of the Austrian police had to do with Schubert's "other side". Winter also accuses Schubert of dishonesty: "Schubert, who somewhat disingenuously registered himself as the 'school assistant from the Rossau' [...]". In chapter seven, titled "The Professional Composer", in connection with Schubert's residence in 1821 we are again faced with the wrong address "21 Wipplingerstraße" (correct is No. 15), a seemingly ineradicable error that Rudolf Klein already corrected in his 1972 standard work Schubertstätten (which is listed – without any effect – in Winter's bibliography).

According to Winter Schubert lost his innocence in 1823. On which occasion? Of course at a Schubertiad, where else? "A Schubertiad at Schober's in mid-January of 1823 probably brought down the curtain on Schubert's age of innocence." In chapter eight, titled "Crisis", Winter addresses the topic of sexuality which was the reason of a new Schubert article being commissioned in the first place: "it was only in the late 1980s that scholars brought the contradictions in the composer's personality into the open." Once again the well known musings are being presented as facts and as far as this issue is concerned Winter's article proves to be truly out-of-date. His former editor Stanley Sadie was obviously not able to make his influence felt. In the aforementioned article in The Independent Sadie was quoted as follows: "He [Sadie] pours scorn on the sexual fellow-travellers who now claim Schubert as gay. 'The evidence is non-existent, but you can't say that in America without being branded a homophobe.'" Winter mentions Holzapfel's and Bauernfeld's references to Schubert being in love with a girl, but then writes: "On the other hand, it is difficult to explain away Schubert's pronounced preference throughout his life for the company of men. Not a single letter survives from Schubert to a woman, or to Schubert from a woman". This utterly nonsensical statement causes the reader to draw a deep breath while he realizes that Winter actually meant to write "love-letter", but failed to use this word. Although a few pages later Winter openly contradicts himself with the statement "Upon his [Schubert's] return to Vienna he wrote to Frau Pachler [...]", the editors overlooked this mistake. "However congruent with contemporary practices in Viennese society, his [Schubert's] most intimate expressions of sentiment are all directed to men. Even given Josef Kenner's near-puritanical uprightness, it is hard to imagine 'bathed in slime' as applying to orthodox heterosexuality." All the shopworn props are being dragged on the stage again and it becomes obvious that Maynard Solomon knew very well why he mistranslated Joseph Kenner's "Schlamm" (mud) with "Schleim" (slime). Winter joins a discussion that – unbeknownst to him – is already over: "Hence we are left to ponder many ambiguities – for example, whether 'Greek' describes a homosexual or a devotee of ancient Greek culture, or whether 'young peacocks' refers to Schubert's need for young boys or for medicinal food". And regarding the summer of 1826 Winter notes: "When Bauernfeld returned from Gmunden in July he found 'Schubert ailing (he needs 'young peacocks', like Benvenuto Cellini), Schwind morose, Schober idle, as usual'". If the 'young peacocks' refer to adolescent boys rather than a dietetic antidote to syphilis, Schubert's friends would have been no more explicit." What? Young boys again? How on earth can Winter see a correlation between birds and boys, which according to Maynard Solomon is totally objectionable? Just like Solomon and Kristina Muxfeldt before him, Winter has never actually seen the ominous page 61 of the excerpts of Bauernfeld's diary and only knows the "peacock quote" from Carl Glossy's fragmentary edition.

Page 61 of Bauernfeld's diary excerpt. Note the sentence "(Er bedarf junger Pfauen, wie Benv. Cellini!)" was added apart from the main text and obviously refers to the punchline of a lost inside joke (A-Wst, Ja 59497).

Once again – how can anybody come up with these ideas? – a scholar has completely misunderstood Maynard Solomon's statements from 1989: "the prospect of sexual relations between a man and a youth, with its connotations of child molestation and its glimpse of a taboo realm of experience". Anybody who is aware of Solomon's harsh letter to the Österreichische Musikzeitschrift in September 1999 ("I do not believe that the evidence warrants drawing such connotations and I do not associate myself with Kenner's attitude which I describe as 'intolerant and condemnatory'."), can expect Solomon to soon direct his protest towards the editors of New Grove as well. With the statement: "Moreover, the rigid distinction between 'straight' and 'gay', which solidified only at the end of the 19th century, would have been unknown to Schubert." Robert Winter releases us from his world of yesterday. Schubert was certainly unaware of the terms "straight" and "gay", but he surely knew what the word "fornication" meant in common everyday language of Biedermeier Vienna.

In connection with the topic of Schubert's illness a certain "Dr Joseph Bernhardt" enters the encyclopedic stage. A person by that name does not exist in Schubert's life and the first name "Joseph" in this context is a fabrication by George Marek which was copied by Brian Newbould. As I have shown in 2002, Schubert's mysterious physician was the Polish-born Jewish polymath Dr. Jacob Bernhard (1790-1846).

The signature of Dr. Jacob Bernhard, the man, who according to Franz Gräffer, "knew everything in every field of science".

Winter's description of a diet, supposedly prescribed by Dr. Bernhard, "which in Schubert's time simply meant a new (and medically benign) diet. This one consisted of alternating days of pork cutlets and a dish called panada that combined flour, water, breadcrumbs and milk", is Winter's completely incorrect interpretation of Schwind's letter to Schober from 6 March 1824. No connection can be inferred from this document between Schubert's nutrition at that time and a medical treatment. Winter refers to Joseph von Spaun having been absent from Vienna in 1824. This is not correct, because Spaun left Vienna but on 25 May 1825 to accede his post in Lemberg. It is not possible to uncover the origin of every false bit of information presented by Winter. About Franz von Bruchmann he writes: "Bruchmann was also educated at a Piarist school and was associated with the unfortunate Johann Senn. Free of financial worries, he never trained for a profession, becoming a Redemptorist in 1826." When Bruchmann married Juliana von Weyrother on 25 June 1827(!), he had acquired a doctorate in law and was employed as Konzeptspraktikant at the office of the court- and chamber-procurator (the Hof- und Kammerprokuratur). He only became a Redemptorist after his wife's death in 1830. It is not necessary to check the marriage records of St. Stephen's (Tom. 86a, fol. 128) to figure this out; a quick look into O. E. Deutsch's Dokumente will do as well (p. 438 and 605).

The entry concerning Franz Joseph Vinzenz von Bruchmann's education and profession in the 1827 marriage records of St. Stephen's Cathedral (A-Wd, Tom. 86a, fol. 128). Bruchmann's best man was the philosopher Friedrich von Schlegel.

Winter considers Schubert's "abrupt" departure from Zséliz to be in contradiction to the posthumous reports about the composer's love for Caroline von Esterházy. Not a word is said about the fact that Schubert left, because he thought that he had been poisoned. Now follows one of those dictums that we already know too well: "On his return to Vienna Schubert moved briefly – probably for financial reasons – for one last time into the Schubert family home in the Rossau. To be sure, it was the only place he ever lived in that contained a piano; Schubert never bought, leased or borrowed[!] a piano of his own." Winter is obviously unaware of Schwind's 1821 drawing of Schubert's room with a piano. Several works listed in Winter's bibliography contain this illustration.


In one of the following chapters Winter contradicts his own statement regarding Schubert's access to a piano: "In March [1827] Schubert moved in with Schober for the last time, remaining, except for a two-month holiday, at the new house on the Tuchlauben (where he had his own music room) [...]" and in the chapter "Piano music" Winter follows this up with another contradiction: "Although he [Schubert] made little use of the extra low notes available on larger Viennese pianos from 1816 (his borrowed[!] instruments evidently did not include these notes)".

Let me conclude with a few minor inaccuracies that are simply out of place in the Schubert article of "the world's definitive music reference resource" (as The Los Angeles Times described The New Grove on 13 December 2000). Schober did not go to Breslau in August, but in late July 1823. He returned from there not in July 1825, but in June of the same year. Therese Grob's father was not a teacher, but a silk manufacturer. The center of Schubert's Vienna should not be called "the Ring district" and "the inner Ring". The name "Franz Xaver Schlechta" is incomplete and therefore wrong. Winter also denies Anton von Doblhoff the predicate of nobility which instead is given to members of the Sonnleithner family, although only Ignaz and his son Leopold received it in 1828. The instrument Arpeggione was not invented in 1814, but in 1823 (a piece of information to be found in the old edition of Grove). The performance of the A minor quartet D. 804 on 14 March 1824 is not proved, because the written program of this particular concert is not preserved. Johann von Dankesreither was not a relative of Schober. None of Schober's forebears bears this name. The Schubert bibliography presented by Winter is selective and very fragmentary. In the chapter "Catalogs" the youngest entry is Walburga Litschauer's book Neue Dokumente zum Schubert-Kreis from 1986. The periodical Schubert durch die Brille appears only with a few and less significant contributions (obviously Winter does not know any other). The existence of Ernst Hilmar's und Margret Jestremski's 1997 Schubert-Lexikon is kept secret. To find this book in The New Grove, one has to read the article about Hüttenbrenner(!), revised by Ewan West. The list of Schubert's works was copied from the old edition almost without change. Thus newly discovered compositions are absent, such as the Ombre amene and a Canon à tre, both dating from 1816. The "Grazer Fantasie" (D. 605A) however, whose authenticity is being strongly doubted in the standard literature, has been included without any comment.

In the age of the computer it has become possible to accumulate endless amounts of text which easily turn out to be too much for editors to deal with. Some publishers are not willing to pay the necessarily qualified staff that can handle the mistakes that are likely to be amassed in 29 volumes. Robert Winter's article does not stand out that negatively. In his article about Beethoven Scott Burnham shows that he still considers the English sentence "I will arrange it with you and me that I can live with you" to be an acceptable translation of Beethoven's statement "mit mir und dir rede ich mache daß ich mit dir leben kann". Accidents like this have almost become a rule in today's monstrous encyclopedias. According to The New Grove the great-grandfather of Johann Strauss II moved to Vienna "around 1850" and since the editors consulted an pseudo-expert such as Herbert Krenn, Joseph Lanner is now presented with a wrong date of birth and a wrong date of marriage. A correction of the mistakes is projected only for The New Grove's web-based edition. On 5 January 2001 Macmillan's then chief executive Richard Charkin was quoted in The Guardian as follows: "I very much doubt that the hard copy will ever become obsolete, but I would anticipate a gradual movement in scholarly circles from usage of the book to usage of the online version." The scholarly damage that was done by the Schubert entry of the printed edition will remain irreparable for a long time to come.




This review was first published in the journal Schubert durch die Brille 26 (Tutzing: Hans Schneider, January 2001). The online version of the Schubert article in The New Grove has still not been overhauled.

© Dr. Michael Lorenz 2001.

Updated: 19 February 2017

Apr 8, 2013

A Little Leitgeb Research

Owing to the wonderful pieces Mozart wrote for him, the hornist Joseph Leitgeb (1732-1811) ranks among the most widely known wind players of the classical era. And yet Leitgeb's published biography is rife with gaps and misinformation which are not only caused by a number of misunderstandings and the scarcity of eighteenth-century sources, but possibly also by the fact that horn players not always make the best biographers of long deceased hornists. Here is the late Reginald Morley-Pegge's entry on Leitgeb in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians:


Although I have done more research than anyone else on Joseph Leitgeb, I shall limit my comments on this New Grove entry in this blog post to the most basic and ineradicable errors:

Leitgeb's First Name

Why this musician is still adorned with the name "Ignaz" in New Grove (albeit in brackets), is an absolute mystery. In 1970 the German kapellmeister Karl Maria Pisarowitz began his article "Mozarts Schnorrer Leutgeb. Dessen Primärbiographie" (Mitteilungen der ISM, VIII [1970], vol. 3/4, 21–26) with the following trademark exclamation:
Nein! Jedenfalls hieß er niemals "Ignaz", dieser attraktiv gottbegnadete Waldhornvirtuose, der als "Ignaz Leutgeb (Leitgeb)" irtümlicherweise in die bislange Mozart-Publizistik lebensdatenlos eingehen mußte!
No! In no case was his name ever "Ignaz", this attractively and divinely gifted virtuoso of the natural horn, who had to enter the Mozart literature by mistake as "Ignaz Leutgeb (Leitgeb)" and without biographical dates.
Pisarowitz's article is listed in the bibliography which was updated by Thomas Hiebert, but this had no effect on the actual entry in The New Grove. The notoriously flawed Österreichisches Musiklexikon even calls Leitgeb "Joseph Ignaz". The "Ignaz error" (as I call it) goes all the way back to the music historian Carl Ferdinand Pohl (1819-1887), who in the course of his work on his book on the history of Vienna's Tonkünstler-Societät, (probably in his own notes) mistook the abbreviation "J." (for Joseph) for a capital "I." and came up with the name Ignaz:


The names "Leutgeb" and "Leitgeb" bear no onomastic difference and are completely exchangeable. I prefer to use the second spelling, because that is how Leitgeb himself signed his family name.

Leitgeb's Date of Birth

The actual records of the Widows and Orphans Society show that Leitgeb's wrong first name was not Pohl's only mistake. He also got Leitgeb's date of birth wrong, because he obviously again misread his own notes. Joseph Leitgeb was born on 6 October 1732, two days earlier than the date given by Pohl. When on 30 October 1787 Leitgeb applied for membership in the society he had to submit his birth certificate (a procedure Mozart never managed to follow through). Leitgeb's second wedding had already taken place on 15 January 1786, but his employment in Preßburg had delayed his application which was recorded in the minutes of the society as follows:

25.
Leutgeb Joseph (geb: den 6ten 8ber [1]732) / Waldhornist beÿ (Tit[ulo]) Herrn Fürsten v / Krassalkowitz suchet an in die Societät / aufgenommen zu werden.
Fiat, und kann der Supplicant gegen Erlag / der Stattutenmässigen Schuldig- / keiten auf den 16ten 9ber a:[nni] c:[urrentis] in die / Societät eintretten. Exped[itum] d[en] 5tn 9br a: c:
Leutgeb Joseph (born 6 October 1732) hornist with Count von Grassalkovics applies for membership in the society.
So be it. The supplicant is allowed to join the society on 16 November of this year after the payment of the statutory fees
Pisarowitz did all his pioneering research by mail from his home in Bavaria and never went to Salzburg and Vienna to personally check the sources and verify Pohl's data. As far as archival sources were concerned, he only relied on the flawed and fragmentary information that he received from Heinz Schöny, Rudolf Hackel and Gerhard Croll. Regarding the church records pertaining to Joseph Leitgeb's birth, Pisarowitz was told in 1970 by the Neulerchenfeld parish in Vienna that their 1732 baptismal register "were destroyed in the war in 1945". This was the universally accepted state of knowledge until on 8 October 2009 (Leitgeb's supposed 177th birthday) I visited the Neulerchenfeld parish office and its adorable secretary. She did not really know how far back the surviving church records went and suggested that the earliest books cover the years right after the 1783 parish reform of Joseph II. "What is that small book up there, on top of all the others?" I asked her. And there it was, the supposedly lost parish register, covering (as was the common procedure in 18th-century country villages) all the marriages, baptisms and burials from 1721 until 1741 in one small, unpaginated and unindexed volume.

The title page of the supposedly lost 1721-42 register (Tom.1) of Neulerchenfeld parish.

Here is Joseph Leitgeb's never before published baptismal entry (Pfarre Neulerchenfeld, Tom.1):

den 6 [October 1732] Joseph: P:[ater] Leopold Leütgeb Geiger Rosina Ux[or] Gevatt[er] / Joseph Kornberger Würth.
On October 6t, [the child] Joseph [father] Leopold Leutgeb violinist Rosina [his wife] godfather Joseph Kornberger, an innkeeper.
It is to be noted that at that time Neulerchenfeld was not located in Vienna, but in Lower Austria. Joseph Leitgeb's father Leopold was not just a Geiger (violinist). Just like Joseph Stadler (1719-1771), the father of the clarinet players Anton and Johann Stadler, who, a shoemaker by profession, for a certain time of his life also worked as a musician, Leopold Leitgeb changed his breadwinning according to the demand and in 1740 and 1742 he is referred to in the records as "Tagwerker" (day laborer) and "Eisentandler" (ironmonger).

Leopold Leitgeb, given as "Leopold Leüthgeb eisentändler", as godfather of the day laborer's son Leopold Augustin Hochenetzer on 27 August 1742 (Pfarre Neulerchenfeld, Tom. 1)

It goes without saying that Joseph Leitgeb learned to play the violin from his father. The information given by Werner Rainer in his 1965 biographical article on Adlgasser that "from 1763 on Leitgeb was employed by the Salzburg court as violinist" does not need "to be corrected" (as Pisarowitz claimed in 1970), because it is based on historical facts. Like every other wind player of the Salzburg court chapel Leitgeb was also a proficient violinist who regularly performed on this instrument in case no horn player was needed. His father Leopold seems to have been the "widowed musician Leopold Leitgeb" who died on 4 June 1789 at the age of 93 in the "Langenkeller" (today Burggasse 69), a Viennese poorhouse. Owing to the lack of prpbate records however, the family relationship of this Leopold Leitgeb to the horn player remains yet to be proved.

In 1752 Leitgeb's brother Johann – also a musician – got married in Neulerchenfeld to Theresia Kolmb, daughter of Mathias Kolmb, a "Parchenmacher" (maker of cotton flannel):

The entry concerning the wedding of the Musicus Johann Leitgeb and Theresia Kolmb on 31 Januar 1752. The groom's father is also addressed as "Musicus". (Pfarre Neulerchenfeld, Tom. 1, pag. 56)

In 1760 Leitgeb's younger sister Katharina married Anton Nasel, a locksmith from Ostritz in Saxony:

The entry concerning the wedding of Anton Nasel and Katharina Leitgeb on 19 February 1760. The bride's father Leopold Leitgeb is addressed as "Geiger" (violinist) and lived in the house "Zum Goldenen Schlössel" ("At the Golden Castle", today Gaullachergasse 23). (Pfarre Neulerchenfeld, Tom. 1, pag. 99)

Joseph Haydn's supposed Godparenthood of Leitgeb's First Child

On 2 November 1760, in the church of St. Ulrich in Vienna, Joseph Leitgeb married Barbara Plazzeriani (Placereani), a cheesemaker's daughter from Altlerchenfeld.

A certificate, issued on 1 November 1760 by the Neulerchenfeld parish priest Franz Anton Appeller, concerning the three unchallenged publications of the banns in the groom's parish and the couple's religious examination (A-Wsa, Konfessionelle Behörden, St. Ulrich, A2/3)

The entry concerning the wedding of Joseph Leitgeb and Barbara Plazzeriani on 2 November 1760 at St. Ulrich's Church (St. Ulrich, Tom. 24, fol. 154v). A flawed and incomplete transcription of this document was published in 1970 by Pisarowitz.

According to Pisarowitz, the couple was already pressed for time, because "the bride was already pregnant and either in 1760 or early 1761 gave birth to her first child 'Ernst Leüthgeb' who had evidently been fathered premaritally" ("deren evident vorehelich gezeugter Erstsproß"). This is false and it is no surprise that Pisarowitz's Viennese assistant (probably Heinz Schöny) could not find the baptismal entry in question. Ernst Joseph Leitgeb (named after his godfather, a controller with the Salzburg Obersthofmarschallstab, Ernst Maximilian Köllenberger) was born but in Salzburg on 30 October 1766.

The entry concerning the baptism of Ernst Joseph Leitgeb on 30 October 1766 at Salzburg Cathedral (Archiv der Erzdiözese Salzburg, Dompfarre 9/2, p. 219)

Ernst Leitgeb became a watchmaker, had three sons with his wife Juliana, née Haberreiter in Alt- and Neulerchenfeld and died at a relatively young age. In 1820 his second son Ernest (16 July 1794 - 2 July 1836) was a valet of Ignaz Sonnleithner and after Sonnleithner's death in 1831, worked as a clerk with the Erste österreichische Spar-Casse.

 The signature of Joseph Leitgeb's grandson Ernest Leutgeb (1794-1836), "Kassediener bey der allgemeinen Versorgungsanstalt" (A-Wst, SP Rapular 1818-34)

Between 27 November 1761 and 28 January 1763 Joseph Leitgeb appeared playing horn concertos at the Burgtheater no fewer than fourteen times. According to the chronicle of the dancer Philipp Tobias Gumpenhuber (1708-1770), on 2 July 1762 Leitgeb performed a horn concerto by Michael Haydn which is unfortunately lost (as are two other concertos played by Leitgeb by composers such as Leopold Hofmann and Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf).

The entry in Gumpenhuber's Répertoire concerning Leitgeb's concert at the Burgtheater on 2 July 1762 (A-Wn, Mus.Hs.34580/b Mus, p. 68f.)

The following day, on Saturday, 3 July 1762 Leitgeb's first child Anna Maria Catharina was baptized at St. Ulrich's:

The 1762 baptismal entry of Anna Maria Leitgeb. Note that there is always an idiot with a ballpen (St. Ulrich, Tom. 30, fol. 314v)
den 3:ten
P:[ater] Josephus Leüthgeb, ein / Musicus, in der golden Aull allhier. / M.[ater] Barbara Ux:[or] / Inf:[ans] Anna M[a]r[i]a Catharina / M[atrina]: Fr:[au] M[a]r[i]a Anna Haÿdenin / mar:[itus] H[err] Joseph, Capell M[ei]ster / von Fürst Esterhasÿ, abs:[ens] / R:[everendus] P:[ater] Gerardus / Obst:[etrix] Kammerlingin
The text of this entry has been published twice: by Pisarowitz in 1970 and by Ingrid Fuchs in 2009 in the commentary of the facsimile of Haydn's horn concerto in D major Hob. VIId:3. Pisarowitz led Daniel Heartz to believe that both Joseph Haydn and his wife actually officiated as godparents at the baptism of Leitgeb's first child. Ingrid Fuchs, relying on a new transcription by Hubert Reiterer, misunderstood it in a similar way and also presented Haydn as godfather of this child. This presumption is false. Only Haydn's wife was Anna Maria Leitgeb's godparent. The key to the understanding of this entry does not lie in the text itself, but in general knowledge of eighteenth-century baptismal entries and their sometimes not too obvious meaning. Joseph Haydn was not the godfather for a number of reasons: a) Haydn's name is given only as the attribute of his wife's social status. According to the social rules valid at that time she was nobody except for being the wife of "Count Esterházy's capellmeister". This is also corroborated by the absence of the essential word "et" (and) between hers and her husband's name. The St. Ulrich baptismal records show that the abbreviation "mar:" does not mean "marita", but "maritus" and refers to the godmother's husband whose name and position signifies her social status. This can be nicely demonstrated with the 1732 baptismal entry of Leitgeb's first wife:

The entry concerning the baptism of Maria Barbara Plazeriano on 20 November 1732 at St. Ulrich's. Note that the chimney sweep Christoph Imini was not a godparent and is only given as the "Maritus" (husband) of the godmother, his wife Barbara Imini. The "aplisches hauß" in Altlerchenfeld belonged to a relative of Leitgeb's second wife. (St. Ulrich, Tom. 21, fol. 209r). An incomplete and flawed transcription of this entry was published in 1970 by Pisarowitz.

b) The overwhelming majority of girls in eighteenth-century Vienna had godmothers. c) If Haydn had been joint godparent he would of course have been listed first and his wife would have been reduced to "Maria Anna ux:". Never would his name have appeared after his wife under the plural attribute "Matrini" (i.e. godparents). d) The addition "absens" (turned into the nonsensical "absentibus" by Pisarowitz) was obviously added to indicate that the husband was not the godfather, and finally e) had the Esterházy capellmeister actually been the godfather, one of the child's three names would most likely have been Josepha. Maria Anna Haydn's goddaughter already died on 24 October 1763 of chickenpox (St. Ulrich, Tom. 20, no foliation).

Joseph Leitgeb's earliest documented residence in Vienna: the house St. Ulrich No. 9 "Zur goldenen Eule" ("At the golden Owl", today Neustiftgasse 18) opposite St. Ulrich's church.

The Ferber-Starzer-Connection

Anna Maria Catharina was of course not the last Leitgeb child with an interesting godmother. On 28 October 1771 Rosina Starzer served as godmother to Leitgeb's daughter Rosina. Rosina Starzer was not only the sister of the composer Joseph Starzer (1728-1787), she was the daughter of the horn player Thomas Starzer (b. 14 November 1699, Niederaltaich, d. 17 April 1769, Vienna), who may well have been Leitgeb's teacher. Rosina Starzer herself was the goddaughter of Rosina Ferber (A-Wd, Tom. 69, fol. 224v), the wife of the horn maker Adam Ferber (1700-1749).

The entry concerning Rosina Leitgeb's baptism on 28 October 1771 with "Rosina Starzererin Kay[serliche] Trabantens=Tochter l.[edigen] St.[ands]" serving as godmother (St. Ulrich, Tom. 33, fol. 276v)

The Myth of Leitgeb's Cheese Shop

That "the horn player Leutgeb was a cheesemonger in a suburb of Vienna" is a popular myth that persistently refuses to die ("Blessed are the cheese-makers, for they shall have Mozart horn concertos."). It is based on a number of misunderstandings, aggravated by lack of archival research. Leitgeb's first father in law Biagio Placeriano was born around 1686 in the Friulian village of Montenars (he is related to the Italian author Francesco Placereani). The presence of Placeriano's older brother Antonio (also a cheesemaker) in Vienna is documented as early as 1724, on the occasion of his marriage to Theresia Gull in Liechtental. Biagio seems to have accompanied or followed his brother to Vienna where he also worked as "Welischer Käßmacher" (Italian cheesemaker). A "travelling cheesemaker" named Jakob Placeriano (maybe third brother) died on 1 May 1771 in Vienna. On 3 February 1732 Biagio married Catharina Morelli, the daughter of his landlord in Altlerchenfeld, the bellows maker Nicolaus Morelli. In Morelli's house "Zum heiligen Geist", Altlerchenfeld No. 42 (today Lerchenfelderstraße 160, a building torn down in 1881) Placeriani established a shop where he produced Italian sausages and cheese.

The far outskirts of Altlerchenfeld near Vienna's Linienwall in 1778: on the upper left the house No. 42 where until 1763 Biagio Placeriano's cheese shop was located, on the right No. 32 "Zur Heiligen Dreifaltigkeit", the house Joseph Leitgeb bought in 1777. This little-known Mozart site was destroyed in 1974.

Leitgeb's house "Zur Heiligen Dreifaltigkeit" in 1950 (A-Wsa, Fotosammlung C 7017/2155)

Biagio Placeriano in Vienna's 1748 tax register (A-Wsa, Steueramt B 4/127, fol. 150v)

It is important to note that Placeriano was not a regular cheese maker (a profession classified as "Kässtecher" in 18th-century Vienna), but a so-called "Cerveladmacher" (also "Servaladawürstmacher"), which means that he produced various sorts of Italian cured meat sausages (Salumi) and Italian hard cheese, such as Parmesan. Biagio Placeriano died on 16 October 1763 of lung gangrene.

Seal and signature of Leitgeb's first father-in-law Biagio Placeriano (1686-1763) (A-Wsa, AZJ, 11676/18. Jhdt)

For a short time his widow kept the cheese shop going, but in 1764 sold the "Cerveladmachergerechtigkeit" (the sausage making license) to a certain Johann Rotter (misspelled "Rotta" in the records). Her horn playing son-in-law Joseph had nothing to do with all this. Between March 1763 (after his unsuccessful employment at the Esterházy court) and 14 September 1763 (the date of birth of his son Johann Anton) he had moved to Salzburg and joined the chapel of the archbishop. The transfer of the sausage and cheese shop from Placeriano's widow to Rotter in 1764 is documented in the business tax records of the City of Vienna:

The business tax register of Placeriano's sausage and cheese shop in Altlerchenfeld. The two entries on the left read "seine Wittwe" (his widow) and in 1764 "von hier hinweg Johann Rotta" ("as of here Johann Rotta"). (A-Wsa, Steuerbuch B 8/1, fol. 417r)

Of course the blame for the origin of the "cheese shop myth" lies with Leitgeb himself. On 1 December 1777 Leopold Mozart wrote to his son in Mannheim:
H: Leutgeb, der itzt in einer vorstatt in Wienn ein kleines schneckenhäusl mit einer kässtereÿ gerechtigkeit auf Credit gekauft hat, schrieb an dich und mich, kurz nachdem du abgereiset, und versprach mich zu bezahlen mit gewöhnlicher voraussetzung der Gedult bis er beÿm käs=Handl reicher wird und von dir verlangte er ein Concert.
Mr. Leutgeb, who now has bought on credit a snail's shell with rights to a cheese business in a suburb of Vienna, wrote to us after you left and promised to pay me with the usual implication of patience until he will get richer trading cheese and from you he requested a concerto.
Viennese archival records such as tax registers and the 1788 Steuerfassion however show that Leitgeb never ran a cheese shop. Since it is highly unlikely that he had the expertise and the necessary business prospects to actually become a cheesemonger it seems that this cheesemaking story only served as part of a scheme to elicit money from Leopold Mozart. When in 1777 Leitgeb and his wife bought the house "Zur Heiligen Dreifaltigkeit" ("At the Holy Trinity", built in 1748, today Blindengasse 20) at an auction from the furrier Anton Ditzler, they had to borrow the larger part the money from Ferdinand Aumann, a butcher in Penzing. On 1 July 1778 Leitgeb already had to mortgage the house at a four percent interest rate. In 1783 the mortgage was transferred to a certain Joseph Aufmuth and was only discharged in 1812, after Leitgeb's death. It is very unlikely that Leopold Mozart was ever paid back the money he had lent to his former colleague musician.

Leitgeb and Haydn's Horn Concerto in D, Hob. VIId:3

There has been a long-standing agreement among musicologists that Haydn expressedly wrote his horn concerto for Leitgeb and his 1762 concert series at the Burgtheater. This reasoning is not only based on Haydn's dating with 1762, but also on a number of other circumstances. Daniel Heartz wrote in 1987:
The same year that brought Michael Haydn back to Vienna, that provided Joseph Leutgeb with so many horn concertos, was also, as we have seen, the date of Joseph Haydn's horn concerto in D. The work survives only in Haydn's autograph, dated 1762, and is preserved in the library of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. If Joseph Haydn would have been as conscientious about precise dating as his brother Michael perhaps he would have inscribed a date close to the baptism of Leutgeb's daughter and the performance of the concerto by "Michel Hayde" in the Burgtheater. There is a clue of sorts in the autograph. On its last page the composer confused the order of the instruments, mixing up the oboes and the violins, very untypical of Joseph Haydn, who jotted down, as if laughing at himself, the words "im schlaff geschrieben". This could indicate that he had to write out the work hurriedly, perhaps in addition to all his regular duties.
Haydn's note on the score actually reads "in schlaf geschrieben". The transcription "schlaff" that widely appears in the literature is a typical example of the old double-stroke f being mistaken for a double f. The origin of the (basically nonsensical) German surnames "Hoffmann" from the name "Hofmann" and "Graff" from "Graf" was caused by exactly this misunderstanding. Even some experienced archivists have not yet understood that most 16th-18th-century double fs are actually single ones, because the upper horizonatl line of the "f" was curved downward which makes it appear like a second vertical stroke. Bach's "höchstnöthiger Entwurff" – to give a prominent example – is really an "Entwurf".

The word "Hof" written with an apparent double-stroke single f (with the upper horizontal line bent downward) that is widely mistaken for a double f.

Samples of double-stroke single fs from a 1753 marriage entry in the records of the Schotten parish: it is "Graf", "Grafen von Kuefstein" and "wonhaft". 

This clip from Daniel Gran's 1723 marriage entry reads "Hofmahlers" (Währing, Tom. 2, pag. 29)

Another clip from the same document, reading "Hof und MundtKoch"

 The name "Georg Graf" (from 1748)

"Francisca Dorferin" (1748)

"Rother Apfel" (from 1750)

Haydn's ironical note "in schlaf geschrieben" on top of the last page of the autograph of his horn concerto (A-Wgm)

There is a second inscription on the first page of the score which was obviously not written by the composer. In the critical report of the concerto's 1984 edition of the Haydn-Institut Makoto Ohmiya and Sonja Gerlach write:
Haydns Autograph enthält keinerlei Hinweis auf eine besondere Bestimmung. Doch gibt es auf der ersten Seite, von ungelenker Hand geschrieben, die rätselhafte Aufschrift "leigeb N[?] 6". Es wäre nicht undenkbar, daß das erste Wort einer Verstümmelung des Namens Leutgeb darstellt.
Haydn's autograph contains no reference to a specific assignment. But on the first page, written by a clumsy hand, there is a mysterious entry "leigeb N[?] 6". It would not be unthinkable that the first word is a garbling of the name Leutgeb.
In her commentary to the facsimile edition, weighing on the probability of the concerto having been Haydn's gift for Leitgeb on the occasion of the baptism of his daughter, Ingrid Fuchs writes:
Und noch ein ein weiterer beachtenswerter Hinweis auf den Empfänger bzw. Interpreten des Konzertes ist hier anzuführen: Auf der ersten Seite der autographen Partitur kann man am unteren Rand von etwas ungelenker Hand "leigeb n[ummer?] 6" lesen – möglicherweise eine Verballhornung des Namens Leutgeb, der häufig auch in der Fassung "Leitgeb" überliefert ist und in dieser Form der Angabe "leigeb" noch näher kommt.
There is yet another remarkable clue to be mentioned that points to the recipient, respectively the performer of the concerto: on the first page of the autograph score on the lower margin one can read the slightly clumsy entry "leigeb n[umber?] 6" – possibly a corruption of the name Leutgeb which is frequently also passed on as "Leitgeb" and in this spelling comes even closer to the entry "leigeb".
Fuchs's claim that the entry "leigeb" points to Joseph Leitgeb as recipient and owner of the autograph score is correct. The assumption that it is "possibly a corruption of the name Leutgeb" however, misses a fact that is quite obvious for somebody who is acquainted with Leitgeb's handwriting: the name on the first page of the score is Leitgeb's own autograph signature.

Joseph Leitgeb's signature on the first page of Haydn's horn concerto: "leigeb n[ummer] 6" (A-Wgm)

Leitgeb seems to have owned a whole collection of autograph scores of which Haydn's concerto was "nummer 6". When Leitgeb was hard pressed for cash during the last decade of his life, with the Austrian monarchy approaching the 1811 state bankruptcy, he (or his widow) was obviously forced to sell the valuable autograph to Archduke Rudolph, from whom it came to the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. Several documents from Leitgeb's hand prove unambiguously that he wrote the name on the score of the concerto. A document dating from before Mozart's death bearing Leitgeb's signature is the contract related to his second marriage in January 1786 (A-Ws, Mag. ZG, A2, 5133/1811):


It is immediately obvious that Leitgeb's spelling was not really his forte. The missing g in "breitiam" (Bräutigam, i.e. groom), resembling the missing t in "leigeb", is especially telling. It is not even fully clear what the last word is supposed to mean. If it means "leedig" (unmarried)  it contradicts the date of the contract which was signed two days after the wedding. A better and much more significant example of Leitgeb's handwriting and spelling skills is the postscript to his will which he signed on 1 June 1801. The will proper was – for obvious reasons – not written by the testator. Leitgeb's writing skills show that he was exactly the man who was able to sign his own name with a letter missing.

Leitgeb's autograph postscript on the last page of his will (A-Wsa, Mag. ZG, A10, 144/1811)
ich hab meina tochder ein schrif gemach vön meina / golden uhr die schrif ist for nula und nichtz/ anzusechen die sol mein Frau Ver Kaufen / und daß Gelt soln die trei Könda be Komen / fon Ernst daß sein armenarn – – – – / meine Kleitdung und wöß daß sol mein / son Fridarich leitgeb alß be Komen, aber / nicht aufa mal nur, wen meine Frau / wiel wen sie wiel ale Jahr oder ale / halbe Jahr. / daß ist mein lößtda / wile und meinung / Joseph leitgeb
I wrote a certificate for my daughter regarding my golden watch, this certificate should be regarded as null and void, my wife should sell it and the money should go to the three children of [my son] Ernst, those are poor fools. My clothes and linen should all go to my son Friedrich Leitgeb, but not all at once, only whenever my wife wants, every year or every half year. This is my last will and disposition. Joseph Leitgeb
Leitgeb's bizarre German spelling is actually not an exception, but rather the rule as far as the basic education of eighteenth-century musicians is concerned. Our modern day image of musicians as highly educated and well-read artists has little to do with orchestra musicians of Mozart's time, who although ranking among the greatest virtuosi of their days, by no means were educated and highly cultured individuals. They much more resembled extremely skilled craftsmen, sometimes akin to savants, than what we nowadays consider musical artists. The general lack of education and the very limited writing skills of Viennese orchestra musicians, who in their level of education are comparable to excellent handymen, are the reason for the complete lack of contemporary reports and statements from a musician's perspective on Mozart's music. Viennese orchestra musicians rarely left handwritten personal documents and Leitgeb was no exception. This guy was a one-track specialist of horn playing who certainly excelled in no other skill such as cheese making. Mozart's making fun of him may well have been related to Leitgeb's complete lack of extramusical education. It seems likely that Leitgeb also owned the autograph scores of other concertos he performed at the Burgtheater. The horn concerto he performed in Paris in 1770 which was claimed to be his own composition might well have been Michael Haydn's lost work. After all, similar to Joseph Haydn's wife seven years earlier, Michael Haydn's wife also was the godmother of one of Leitgeb's children: Maria Magdalena Victoria Leitgeb, born on 23 December 1769 in Salzburg, was named after the "Hochfürstliche Concert=Maisterin und Hof=Cantatricin" Maria Magdalena Haydn, née Lipp.
Dieß et Hora Partus et Baptismi. 23. [Decembris] h:[ora] 3: pomer:[idiana] nata, et h: 6 vesp:[era] Baptizata e[st]
Proles. Maria Magdalena Victoria fil:[ia] leg:[itima]
Parentes. D:[ominus] Josephus Leitgeb Hof=Waldhornist : et Maria Barbara Plazerianin coniuges.
Patrini. Anna Maria Magdalena Heÿdin Hochf[ürstliche] Concert=Maisterin und Hof=Cantatricin.
Minister. A:[ltus] R:[everendus] D:[ominus] Wolfgangus Rizenberger Cooperator.

The entry concerning the baptism of Maria Magdalena Victoria Leitgeb on 23 December 1769 at Salzburg Cathedral (Archiv der Erzdiözese Salzburg, Dompfarre 9/2, p. 265)

This blog post presents only a small fraction of my research on Mozart's favorite horn player. A much more detailed publication will have to appear in print.

Joseph Leitgeb's seal on the envelope of his will (A-Wsa, Mag. ZG, A10, 144/1811)

© Dr. Michael Lorenz 2013.

Updated: 17 May 2017



The research for this article was generously funded by Dr. Lucia Schuger (University of Chicago).