From a letter to Maria Anna Thekla Mozart. Between 1777 and 1781, while in his twenties, Mozart wrote twelve letters to this cousin—the early ones are often alliterative and obscene—during which time he and his father were seeking out a new post for him; he had been installed at the Salzburg court since the age of thirteen. In 1785 Franz Joseph Haydn said to Mozart’s father, “Your son is the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name.” The Magic Flute premiered on September 30, 1791; less than three months later, Mozart was dead at the age of thirty-five.
Dearest cozz buzz!
I have received reprieved your highly esteemed writing biting, and I have noted doted that my Uncle Garfuncle, my Aunt Slant, and you too, are all well mell. We, too, thank god, are in good fettle kettle. Today I got a letter setter from my Papa Haha safely into my paws claws. I hope you too have gotten rotten my note quote that I wrote to you from Mannheim. So much the better, better the much so! But now for something more sensuble.
So sorry to hear that Herr Abbate Salate has had another stroke choke. But I hope with the help of God fraud the consequences will not be dire mire. You are writing fighting that you’ll keep your criminal promise which you gave me before my departure from Augspurg, and will do it soon moon. Well, I will most certainly find that regretable. You write further, indeed you let it all out, you expose yourself, you let yourself be heard, you give me notice, you declare yourself, you indicate to me, you bring me the news, you announce onto me, you state in broad daylight, you demand, you desire, you wish, you want, you like, you command that I, too, should could send you my portrait. Eh bien, I shall mail fail it for sure. Oui, by the love of my skin, I shit on your nose, so it runs down your chin.
I now wish you a good night, shit in your bed with all your might, sleep with peace on your mind, and try to kiss your own behind; I now go off to never-never land and sleep as much as I can stand. Tomorrow we’ll speak freak sensubly with each other. Things I must you tell a lot of, believe it you hardly can, but hear tomorrow it already will you, be well in the meantime. Oh my ass burns like fire! What on earth is the meaning of this!—maybe muck wants to come out? Yes, yes, muck, I know you, see you, taste you—and—what’s this—is it possible? Ye Gods!—Oh ear of mine, are you deceiving me?
Young man with painted face laughing during Holi festival, Kokata, India, 2007. Photograph by Prasanta Biswas. © Prasanta Biswas, Majority World, UIG, The Bridgeman Art Library.
Now I must relate to you a sad story that happened just this minute. As I’m in the middle of my best writing, I hear a noise in the street. I stop writing—get up, go to the window— and—the noise is gone—I sit down again, start writing once more—I have barely written ten words when I hear the noise again—I rise—but as I rise, I can still hear something but very faint—it smells like something burning—wherever I go it stinks, when I look out the window, the smell goes away, when I turn my head back to the room, the smell comes back—finally my mama says to me: I bet you let one go?—I don’t think so, Mama. Yes, yes, I’m quite certain. I put it to the test, stick my finger in my ass, then put it to my nose, and—ecce provatum est! Mama was right!
Now farewell, I kiss you ten thousand
times and I remain as always your
Old young Sauschwanz
Wolfgang Amadè Rosenkranz.
From us two travelers a thousand
Regards to my uncle and aunt.
To every good friend I send
My greet feet; addio nitwit.
Love true true true until the grave,
If I live that long and do behave.
© 2000, Robert Spaethling. With permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company. This material may not be reproduced, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written approval of the publisher.