But with his child prodigy status came questions from a skeptical few. Was he really so young? Was he really that talented? One person eager to test the truth of these doubts was Daines Barrington, a lawyer, antiquary, naturalist and Friend of the Royal Society. In a few visits to the Mozart family lodgings in London Barrington was committed to testing “scientifically” whether this young Mozart was the real deal or not. Barrington’s findings are laid out in the above report to the Royal Society. He brought a manuscript, never before seen by Mozart, which was composed with 5 parts with one part written in an Italian style Contralto clef. As soon as it was put before him on his desk the young Mozart played it perfectly, “in a most masterly manner” wrote Barrington, “as well as in the time and stile which corresponded with the intention of the composer”. Further tests included improvising a love song, a “song of rage”, and completing a series of difficult keyboard lessons. The young Mozart more than impressed and Barrington wrote that the boy’s musical gifts were “amazing and incredible almost as it may appear”. Barrington also gives us a touching insight into the still child-like nature of the boy, when he reveals that a favourite cat was often given preference over playing the harpsichord.
|Leopold, Wolfgang, and Nannerl. Watercolour by Carmontelle, c. 1763–64. Their stop in London was part of a Grand Tour that astonished all of the great courts of Europe.|
View discounted concertos, choral works, and symphonies by Mozart, as well as the Rough Guide to his life and works, here.