Young Mozart in London
The question of the original genius has led to many studies and debates
among the scientists of all ages. Daines Barrington presented a particularly
vivid picture of the childhood genius to his colleagues at the Royal Society
in London (first read 15 Nov. 1770). He described Mozart’s ability
to improvise operative music, singing and accompanying himself at the
keyboard, to imaginary Italian texts on the subjects of love and betrayal.
He also placed before the boy an unfamiliar duet: without the slightest
hesitation the lad assigns the alto part to his father, sings the soprano
himself, realizes the figured bass and throws in the violin parts as necessary.
This feat involves reading several different clefs simultaneously, the
difficulty of which Barrington attempted to explain to his musically untrained
colleagues by comparing it to the simultaneous reading of several poems,
each possessing its own character, expression, and declamatory rules,
and each written in a different alphabet. Barrington's report illustrates
the fascination that the young boy engendered not only in concert audiences,
but also in the scientific world.
Daines Barrington. "Account of a Very Remarkable
Young Musician" in Miscellanies. London 1781.
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