donderdag 12 september 2013

Mozart And Housewives

Some time ago I read a book about Mozart. It was not a real biography, but rather a collection of short stories about different events in his life. It had a chapter about his wife, Constance.

As you probably know, Mozart's father was adamantly against their marriage because he disliked the family the girl came from. Apparently, they were bohemians, and the girls also ambitious golddiggers to boot. Mozart, being of age, did not officially need his father's permission to marry, but being a respectful son, he didn't want to take such a serious step without his blessing. Since they lived in different cities at that time, he kept writing letters to his father, trying to persuade him to agree to his marriage with Constance Weber.

In his first letter on the subject, he explains why he needs a wife, by naming the drawbacks of being a bachelor. He is not accustomed to care for his clothes and laundry, and to keep household accounts, so he needs a respectable wife who will be a wise housekeeper, practice economy and create a peaceful home life for him.

In one of his following letters, Mozart describes the domestic virtues of his prospective bride: she has a serious disposition, and doesn't like luxury. She can make her own clothes  and she doesn't need a hairdresser as  every morning she does her own hair. She is an ideal housekeeper who knows how to save money etc etc. 

It's interesting that the book was written in the 50s, in the supposedly unenlightened patriarchal times, and yet the man who wrote it rather indignantly states that such ideas about women are more suitable for a clerk than for a great composer and tries to persuade us that we should not take Mozart's words seriously.

According to him, one can draw the conclusion out of the letter that the composer was searching for a good housekeeper and not for a loving wife, but that was really not the case. While I don't doubt that Mozart loved his wife deeply, I don't see how those two things are mutually exclusive. Just the opposite is true, in my opinion, as one of the quialities of a good wife is also to be a good homemaker. The book unfortunately shows that already in the 1950s homemaking was considered beneath the woman.

It's no wonder that we got feminism in the 1960s.

4 opmerkingen:

  1. a good wife will desire to keep house for her husband because it is a way of showing her love and care for him and for their guests and their children. It is only reasonable that a woman would think it is a privilege to keep house for a man who has become her protector and provider. It is a fair exchange, but both of them will always desire to go beyond what is required of them in order to make life comfortable for each other.

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  2. Thank you for your lovely blog. I often stop by :)

    It sounds to me like Mozart was trying to convey the practical virtues to his father since emotional ones might have easily been brushed aside as being a product of youth, I experience, or even the girls manipulation. Obviously, Mozart looked at her skills as true virtues his father might admire.

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    Reacties
    1. You are welcome!

      Yes, what you are saying is true, and in his other letters Mozart also wrote about his love for the girl. It's just that the author of the book apparently thought that practical virtues are unnecessary for happiness and that women are higher than that. At least, that was my impression while reading the chapter.

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