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A Resolution of Mozart and Freemasonry: Enlightenment and the Persistence of Counter-

Reformation

By Peter Paul Fuchs, 32

EUCHARIST. On this delicate subject, we shall not speak as theologians.


Submitting in heart and mind to the religion in which we were born, and
the laws under which we live, we shall have nothing to do with
controversyOne half of Europe anathematizes the other on the subject of
the Eucharist; and blood has flowed in torrentsOnce again I repeat that I
have nothing to do with controversy. I believe with a lively faith all that the
Catholic apostolic religion teaches on the subject of the Eucharist without
comprehending a word of it. The question is how to put the greatest
restraint on crimes. [But] this most miraculous preventative of human
atrocities has been most ineffective.

---Voltaire, Entry for Eucharist, Philosophical Dictionary1

It is a striking fact of cultural history that the greatest intellectual of the


Enlightenment and the greatest composer have so little in common. Both Voltaire and
Mozart professed to be Roman Catholics, the composer perhaps more believably, writing
beautiful hymns to the Eucharist very early in life like Litaniae de venerabili altaris
sacramento, K. 125. To the extent that Mozart had a philosophical approach he certainly
was no Voltarian.2 But bringing the matter to that level of intellectual comparison
already unfairly misplaces Mozart in an intellectual realm to which he was ill- fitted. His
letters show him to be intellectually above-average, but perhaps not by much. The simple
fact that in his operas he could, for instance, stretch himself to meet the Enlightenment
philosophical subtleties of a Don Alfonso has led scholars to treat him as if some
complicated intellectual layer lay beneath. This ultimately may have to do with practically
every tasteful persons love of his music, this writer included. We wish to understand this
man who has given us so many hours of joy and consolation. But we are unlikely to do it
if we imagine him therefore with the intellectual equipment to sift issues, which were not
then, nor even really today resolved by scholars. But this is in fact how most studies of the
great man tacitly operate. In this regard, the fact that Mozart was a committed Freemason
just pushes this tendency over the top. The tendency becomes irresistible. When we
combine this with the fact that the historiography of Masonry is problematic, we have an
opaque circle which shows why Mozart the man, and more specifically Mozart the
composer cum- Master Mason have been so misunderstood.

Freemasonry was a product of the Enlightenment. Though that much is


undoubtedly true, the tendency to impute to the Masonic Lodge largely Deistic or
skeptical views is not. Deists and skeptics were welcomed into the Lodge, but largely as a
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result of the Masonic desire to develop Brotherhood between men holding different
creedal position. This was a radical enough desire, and surely one grounded in the
Enlightenment demotion of religion from its position as sole arbiter. But there is no reason
to assume, as Nicholas Till seems to, that Freemasonry was heavily dabbling in a realm
where a secular religion of morality could trace its intellectual progenitors to those who
wished a society of atheists.3 There is no doubt that the Lodge welcomed a wider variety
of men than contemporaneous religious organizations, but these previous assumptions are
simply historically false.

This helps us focus on Mozarts attraction to the Masonic Lodge. We can only take
Mozart at his word that he was a believing Catholic in some sense. But again in the
context of Freemasonry this is not shown simply by the fact, as Till assumes, that Mozart
joined the Catholic Lodge Zur Wohltatigkeit. It would simply be a foundational
misunderstanding of Freemasonry to imagine that any Lodge could have served as a
centre forreformistCatholicism.4 Any theories developed on this foundation will be
weak, if not utterly wrong. This is a contradiction in terms for the logic of Freemasonry
itself. Since the Craft was founded to de-centralize religious positions it is highly unlikely
that this was ever the case, even if the Lodge in question was filled with reformist
Catholics. The wobbly assumption that many scholars make in this area is linked to the
desire to find a place to put a welter of oddball Enlightenment phenomena, and
Freemasonry is the putative curio- cabinet for such curiosities. The phenomenon of an
authentic reformist movement in the most unreforming organization of its day, the Roman
Catholic Church, to say the least certainly qualifies as odd in this way. This misplaces the
emphasis for broader cultural analysis, which should begin with Mozarts very obvious
commitment to conservative Catholicism, regardless of his strong Masonic affiliation. We
need only to mention his great Masses as evidence, and his comments in his letters will fill
in the few spaces that might be left between these towering ecclesiastical works.

But we should note a strange fact of Mozart historiography and performance


history as well. Mozarts Masses are vastly under-served both in historiography and
performance, and this is not by accident. While strangely his entire personality is often
seen from the point of view of his operas. This makes assessing his religious views
intrinsically problematic. It also makes assessing the ultimate meaning of Freemasonry for
him nearly impossible to appreciate. Of course we should first note that none of this is an
impediment to understanding the greatness of his music in the context of strictly musical
evolution. On one level Mozart stands as one of the preeminent developers of musical
language per se. This above all explains his Olympian position, if you will, in the musical
pantheon. One could do no better than to take Charles Rosens contentions on this matter
in The Classical Style as lodestar. But his operas naturally present the great opportunity to
see him in a more specific cultural climate, and this seems to unfortunately almost
inexorably have tended to skew our vision on this matter.

For reasons not altogether clear scholars have assumed that Mozarts operas are
proof of his completely Enlightenment aesthetic approach. Let me pre-empt
misunderstanding with the avowal of Mozarts basic consonance with many ideas of his
age. But if we consider that he was mostly not writing the texts of the librettos, but at most
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in collaboration, we have to make the commonsense assumption that these great works do
not prove in themselves any great appropriation of Enlightenment philosophy by this great
musician. They may be proof of his consummate power of musical or perhaps theatrical
conceptualization, but not for philosophy or intellectual discernment generally. Yet if we
take Tills massively researched book as an example, the operas seduce one into imputing
just about every aspect of the Aufklrung to this man. Merely to show how this involves us
in a bizarre world of intellectual somersaults, let us note how Till repeatedly invokes
Engels as an analyst on one page, and then Burke on another, as if poor Mozart should
resolve in his own self massive human conceptual puzzles not solved after centuries. But
the very fact that a fine researcher like Till could be thus be seduced into these antinomies
of interpretation is in itself a sort of proof that there is much more to this story.

There is really no reason to assume that Mozart had any great insight into the
contradictions of his age. Though he had a growing personal wisdom as to human
relationships, apparent in the operas, conceptual matters are a world apart. Ironically, Till
himself has nicely described the path by which we are more likely to get a clearer read on
Mozarts true state-of-mind:

For most of the eighteenth century Vienna had been considered the capital
of an obscurantist backwater. It was viewed as the bastion of the Counter-
Reformation north of the Alps, socially and economically primitive, and
long-ridden by that favorite target of Enlightenment demonology, the
Jesuits5

This whole matter is freighted with the heavy historical weight of the suppression
of the Jesuits themselves, which will be addressed later in our investigation. At this point
what matters is that the Austrian world in which Mozart lived most of his life was still
heavily controlled by the assumptions of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. It is at this
point that a sleight-of-hand often enters the investigation. Because Mozart was a
Freemason, and because his operas embody some Enlightenment tropes, it has been
assumed that his personal philosophyagain, assuming he had such a well-developed
thing--would be expressed in his aesthetics in opposition to the Counter-Reformation
assumptions of his culture. Till does this subtly and impressively by sketching here and
there the sense of a more liberal Catholicism Muratorian Catholicism6 -- which
Mozart and his father might have had allegiance to. But to say the obvious prima facie, in
the general societal context of the massive conservative influence of the Church,
especially in aesthetics, this tiny trend is rivulet compared with the sea. Within the ocean
of that ultra-traditional religiosity we have the staggeringly huge testimony of his output
of Masses, which embody the heady glories of the Counter-Reformation in tension with
Classical elements so perfectly and overwhelmingly.

Surely the dispassionate way to parse this matter is by principally not assuming
that Mozart had a very well developed personal philosophy at all. There is in fact almost
no evidence of it. He had views, opinions, prejudices, sexual attractions and repulsions,
just like any other person of that day or any other. In musical matters he of course had
exquisitely attuned tastes and something approaching an aesthetic philosophy. But even
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there it takes the form of incremental likes and dislikes. He laments anything too
exaggerated in music and bemoans that, the golden mean of truth is no longer known or
appreciated.7 But somehow Mozarts membership in the Lodge is a supposed to signal
that we should impute something more to him, a philosophy which would encompass the
age. And it fills books and books, and it is quite wrong. It would be closer to the truth to
simply impute to Mozart the long-standing, traditional view of many Catholics in Europe.
Namely, holding tenaciously to the religion of ones birth for not very good reasons, but
for strong emotional ties. Scholars have inverted this matter towards this man, and mostly
because of he joined the Masonic Lodge. There is scant reason to assume that he resolved
any of the tensions of his conservative Counter-Reformation assumptions, with his own
anti-clericalism, Masonic rectitude, or whiffs of Enlightenment conceptual fashions. So
we can start with the simpler and uncontroversial assumption, that Mozart was inexorably
involved in the limitations of his Austrian Catholic world. In fact Mozarts world was
likely so constrained that even those aspects of scientific rationalism, which might have
affected him as part of the Aufklrungs conceptual entourage, were likely dampened with
a more conservative religious sense of the physical world. Austrian culture of the
eighteenth century had remained rooted in the Catholic belief that the material world,
imperfect though it may be, reflected the divine cosmos8 The beauty of Brother
Mozarts commitment to the Craft is not dimmed one bit by the sane recognition that he
was perfectly average in not resolving the grand contradictions of his societal mileau.

This means that Mozarts compositional style would have been stretched between
Counter-Reformation styles and proclivities, meaning principally the religiously didactic
and thus potentially triumphalistic, and Enlightenment classicizing. Somewhere amidst
that elasticity is the more aesthetically slippery rococo, eluding final periodization. It only
reinforces his greatness as a composer to see how his working-out of classical form was
accomplished in this dynamic tension. This tension seems to flummox many scholars,
again principally because they are committed somehow to the notion that this man, who
was a Freemason must have been at bottom some attenuated form of social critic or
historian. In fact musical history itself will often be distorted to make the facts fit this odd
mold. Till sees in Mozarts Mass settings of the Dona Nobis Pacem as fast-paced Allegros
as coming from a time-honored tradition9. Surely this is so only in a very limited sense,
and therefore the general statement incorrect. What he seems to be avoiding is that the
tradition is a rather late specific excrescence of the Counter Reformation, and rather
specifically localized at that. Most of the time-honored tradition for Dona Nobis Pacem
settings is in the opposite direction of plaintive prayerfulness. My point is that if we are
going to accurately situate Mozarts style in reference to tradition then we must use this
specific case as exemplary as seen in the fact that the Dona Nobis Pacem is traditionally
set tomore serene music10 And that Mozarts, Haydns and later Beethovens
adoption of the bright, fast tempo for this section is specifically a particularity of persistent
Counter-Reformation trope. We then have a helpful rubric by this example, an
Enlightenment form only made vivid by a Counter-Reformation meme. The Classical
form meeting the structural demands of Counter-Reformation practice.

Such a specific example shows better than any philosophical animadversions


possibly could, that Mozart was pulled in various directions stylistically and probably
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personally. There is little evidence that he found these tensions troubling, probably
because they are just part of being human in every age. It is only in the rarefied domain of
philosophy that these contradictions are really made explicit and thus troublesome.
Mozarts membership in the Lodge is not a de facto indication that he belongs in that
realm. Thus, we ought to see even the thoroughly Enlightenment aspects of his operas in
the context of his rather conservative, average make-up. Till seems to have an underlying
intuition that this is the proper route when he notes amazingly, for our argument -- that
the comic opera Le Nozze de Figaro should be considered in a manner incorporating the
essentially medieval Catholic view of the Dante in his Divine Comedy11. Counter-
Reformation artistic expression was surely an attempt to save exactly those essentially
medieval elements of Christendom in a form that could effectively battle with the
disarming affects of Protestantism with up-to-date vigor. Thus it armed itself with glory
and pomp. The brightness and cheer of Mozarts music is not the heady liberated sense of
a Voltairian, of common assumption, freed from the constraints of old religion by Reason.
This is the tale told in so many books on Mozart, and collaterally his world is seen Icarus-
like heading for the French Revolution. I believe this approach is quite wrong. Mozarts
Freemasonry cannot be taken as a thoroughgoing personal critique of the perduring
Counter-Reformation ethos of his day-to-day world. His Masonry was certainly radical in
a way that will be explained later. But at this point we must disabuse the general
conception that just because Mozart occasionally interacted with royalty and their
representatives that he should be identified with their politicized ambitions for the arts and
rarified, elite intentions. As an average man in every way but his music he can in
absolutely no way be seen in connection with [t]he cultural leaders of the Austrian
Enlightenment [who] were convinced that its success depended upon being able to drag
Viennese culture away from its roots in baroque, Catholic art.12 [emphasis added] This is
so even if he was fashionably anti-clerical, which as we will se was a conservative theme
in his cultural context.

It is crucial to note a sort of regressive hermeneutical circle operating in the failure


to understand this, and that this ironically in turn forces a misinterpretation some of the
very works where Enlightenment elements are most clearly seen, the operas. Thus Tills
vision of Die Entfhrung is made opaque by the failure to appreciate such elements. He is
forced to down-play both the truly Enlightenment notions of Die Entfhrung, and the
Counter-Reformation ones as well. So the implicit strategy and logic of this argument
should be clear now. We have been limning the understanding, using Tills book as
telling exemplar for a start, that the denial of Mozarts Counter-Reformation ethos is also
related to the inability of a proper understanding of his Enlightenment manifestations. Till
asserts that Mozarts choice of topic was occasioned by the Emperors desire to make war
on the Turks and the corresponding need for propaganda. So in Till view this Turkish
opera was, chosen not as is so often suggested, as an expression of the bourgeois
Enlightenments more liberal vision of universal humanity and tolerance, but as a story
that would serve the emperorscampaign13. War- making based on religion without
doubt hardly counts as an Enlightenment impetus distilled from its great critique of
doctrinal divisions. We can be doubly sure that it is not Masonic either. But this hardly
means that there was not an Enlightenment arc to the whole effort. Again this strangely
seems to be related to the tendency to deny the militaristic, triumphalistic Counter-
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Reformation elements for what they are, and thus to politicize them regressively. Whereas
if we see these elements as one pole of artistic tension, we can appreciate the overarching
Enlightenment theme.

Thus we can see that this work which employs a number of Counter-Reformation
stylistic tropes. It is also an Enlightenment work in the very sense that it allows a dynamic
tension between these Counter-Reformation aspects, and the Enlightenment demotion of
religious exclusivity witnessed by the focus on another culture, even if only as exoticism.
This tension is ironically made clear even by Tills own words when he comments that the
operas greatest moment Martern aller Arten is so elaborate amidst the operas continuum
that no dramaturgical explanation can serve,14 to make it fit. This alone shows a very
great need for a proper interpretive heuristic for this work.

But if we involve the Counter Reformation artistic view in our analysis we can
quickly summon to mind the religious operas of Allessandro Scarlatti where there are
plentiful examples of such elaborate extended arias in the drama as exquisite evidence.
These Scarlatti arias are quite similar to Martern aller Arten, though they show Mozarts
incredible classical improvement of a baroque model. The dramaturgical explanation is
the typical dramatic stasis which is used to heighten the religious fervor of virtue for
instance in Scarlattis La Colpa, Il Pentimento, e La Grazia. In Scarlattis religious
operas the stasis is not just an epiphenomenon of secular opera seria stolidness, but a way
of sharpening the intensity of spiritual emotion, the raison detre of Counter -Reformation
art. This comparison is made most apt by focusing on the rather gruesome words of
Martern aller Arten which would seem to outpace even the bloody Cristos of Spanish
Colonial Baroque for Counter Reformation vividness.

To bolster this specific comparison we can note a general sense of continuity that
has been appreciated by scholars for quite a long time, as a recent scholar tells us referring
to Dents wonderful biography of Scarlatti:

Nearly a century ago an astute critic perceived that there was some deep-
seated continuity stretching between Allesandro Scalatti and Mozart.
Indeed there was and it passed by way of something like a master-to-pupil
relationship, over several generations by way of [Leonardo] Leo and his
Viennese disciple, [Giuseppe] Bonno.15

Given this Counter-Reformation continuity, the fact that the opera evinces such
light-hearted equanimity in the face of the bloody possibilities of warring religious
cultures is itself a proof of its essential Enlightenment cast. In a broad sense it could be
related to Lessings insights in Nathan the Wise. Like the similarly themed early work
Zaide, with a story tracing back to Montesquieu, it makes a liberal point. This is
undoubtedly an Enlightened opera that set out to show that oriental religions were at least
equal to Christianity in moral values.16 Clearly, Till has been forced to turn this matter
on its head. So perhaps likewise we can see in Tills statement that Mozarts adolescent
opera La Finta Giardiniera is more assured than Die Entfhrung 17 as proof that the
unacknowledged stylistic tensions inherent in this work have made hazy his aesthetic
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sense as well. By contrast, we can say with Goethe, Die Entfhrung aus dem Serail
conquered all.18

We must be sure that this interpretive sense jibes with the most potentially
intellectually complicated work, his Masonic opera Die Zauberflte. This work of fantasy
and imagination is also a work of Masonic dignity. The Masonic Lodge has always prized
its privacy, or secrecy, and that continues to this day. But what can be said is that Masonic
ritual, both in its actual form which may be de facto understood outside the Lodge, and its
spirit of ritual performance, which is naturally much less well comprehended, is
remarkable for its ritual sense of dignity and rectitude. Fantastical elements per se are not
be found in the Masonic Lodge. A number of explanations have been offered for these
elements in Mozarts magical work that was more important than any other in assuring the
composers posthumous reputation.19 But let us start for sake of this argument with the last
things first. It is well understood that Mozart had intimations of his mortality. One should
not press the point too far. But we know surely from his letters that he had a strong sense
of his own worth as a composer, and thus considered his position with posterity. With this
in mind we can assume that he understood that this more popular opera was likely to
cement his reputation with posterity with the widest swath of humanity. This is in fact
what happened. The dignity of Masonic ritual is very beautiful in the solemn sense for
participants. But as popular entertainment it would be wanting. Thus, there may be myriad
possible explanations why Mozart chose the fantastical elements he did, but none is as
important as the artistic business- decision that these would make a great vehicle for his
great music with the general audience.

So while in trying to assess this Masonic opera we should surely keep his
commitment to the Craft in mind, we should also see in the looseness and apparent
sloppiness in the librettos changes rather real-world explanations not profound
philosophical conundrums. One biographer has made this point amazingly well by
dwelling on Mozarts life at the time:

Other adventures may have enlivened Mozarts life while he was hard at
work [on Die Zauberflte], hidden from prying eyes in the little wooden
pavilion near Schikaneders theater. A high degree of liberty, the pursuit of
entertainment, and the absence of moralism, ruled in Schikaneders
theatrical realm, to the point that Schikaneder himself was expelled from
Freemasonry for his dissolute life. Even the prudent Herman Albert felt
that during the process of readying The Magic Flute for its first
performance, the twenty-one year old Barbara Gerl, nee Reisinger, the first
Papagena, and the wife of Franz Gerl, the first Sarsastro, may have
managed to [sexually] snare Mozart, or vice-versa. The list does not stop
there however. There are also suggestions that Anna Gottliebthe first
Pamina in The Magic Flute also succeeded in seducing or being seduced
byMozart. His letters from period exude a joyous exultation. He would
be dead only two months later, but he was only thirty-five at the time.20
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The crux is not to dwell on Mozarts personal dalliances, or worse to make the
tedious point he was only human. Clearly this man in one way was unlike most humans
who have ever lived. But in considering a work like Die Zauberflte we are utterly
justified in seeing the complicated symbolism as having somewhat ad hoc character. It is
certainly noteworthy that Masonic scholars have long understood that, it is needless to
point out what a poor thing this story is, even though it, teems with allusions to
Freemasonry.21 And we are certainly justified in rejecting the tendency to search for ever
more recondite explanations. As to the putative great depth of supposed Masonic
reasoning behind the variably Masonic symbols, the pursuit of entertainment, and the
absence of moralism really say it all. Indeed, a literary analyst has connected Mozarts
fanciful use of Masonic symbolism here merely to his long-standing literary style in his
letters, full of puns, drawings, and doggerel.22

I believe this kind of commonsense reasoning has been obscured in dealing with
Die Zauberflte. It is somewhat understandable in this case because the opera offers so
many opportunities for elaborate explanations. So while our net should be a bit wider with
this putatively mystical work, it should not be so by much. We can reject quite confidently
the tendency of some scholars to identify various characters allegorically with certain
Enlightenment characteristics. For as a Masonic source has observed:

All this is so elaborate that it is practically impossible for the allegory to


have been in the mind of the authors in view of the hurried way the Magic
Flute was produced.23

Some recent studies have emphasized the possible influence, in the Masonic
context, of the Egyptian Rite of Count Cagliostro. A recent study of Cagliostro which is
sympathetic to the man and his meaning for Freemasonry assesses the matter with an
elegant, simple deduction. Namely, that as an opera dedicated to Freemasonry with some
Egyptian themes, it can hardly have been based on anything other than Cagliostros
Egyptian Rite.24 The reasons for this may be debatable, though they seem plausible to
me. However, even if Cagliostroesque elements are the inspiration, this does not define
why it is a Masonic opera at all. Cagliostros rituals were a sui generis creation only
tangentially related to actual Masonry worked by actual Freemasons. But what has been
missed is that Cagliostros very strange ambition for combining his Egyptian Rite with
Catholicism may provide an explanation as to why Mozart was drawn to these
Cagliostroesque fantastical elements.

So the dynamic tension between Counter-Reformation artistic elements, possibly


signified by Cagliostroesque Catholic-Egyptian elements and Enlightenment aspirations
makes the case of Die Zauberflte particularly complicated. The bizarre belief of Count
Cagliostro that his Egyptian Rite would be welcomed by the Catholic Church as a
valuable addition to Counter-Reformation Tridentine liturgy makes for an extremely
dynamic tension, and a completely fantastical one. Regardless, I think there is every
reason to believe that Mozart wished to write a Masonic opera in some sense because of
his genuine affection for the Craft. But the simple dignity of Masonic ritual, as we said
above, would not suffice. Thus he was creatively pulled in the direction of the opposite
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pole of his artistically sensibility, the CounterReformation. All the pomp, mystery and
chthonic ritual is really only the Counter-Reformation artistic techniques disguised in
Cagliostroesque Enlightenment clothes.

If we compare the fantastical whole created in this opera with the tenor of his
actual Masonic works this only becomes more clear. From the simple, measured dignity of
the Masonic songs, to the rousing, but reassuringly stolid male-Cantatas, what we have is
anything but fantastical. In fact a simplecharacter was prescribed by a well-known
Masonic musical authority as the principle laid downfor music in Masonic
ceremonies.25 Mozart may have imported Masonic rhythms and other elements into the
opera, but the measured Masonic decorousness of the Cantatas is wholly replaced there by
fantastical pomp. The closest similarity may be in the Masonic Funeral Music. But even
here the sense of grim, sublime solemnity is transmogrified in the opera into a more
bombastic dark effulgence.

It is crucial to see that in structuring things this way Mozart still had a profoundly
Masonic intent in mind. Namely, to symbolize freedom of religion in some manner. The
fantastical symbols and themes are perhaps not so significant in themselves, for their
meaning is variable, and their exact etiology may be never truly known. What is clear is
that they represent a hope or wish for Masonic virtue which means a deep sense of respect
for ones fellow man and his creedal assertions.

When we put this together we can even extend the insight to hazard, to my mind, a
much more reasonable resolution to part of the historical puzzle of the work. As many
commentators have noted the plot of the opera seems to change mid-way. This is most
clearly seen in the change in the personality of the Queen of the Night. On the most basic
level the fact that the Queen changes so might be taken as a prima facie indication that
perhaps the exact plot is not that important. The broader sense of symbol and ritual is
clearly more central. Again, if we take the tension between the elements of Counter-
Reformation and Enlightenment as central we can deduce a simpler explanation. Just as in
Counter-Reformation religious drama there is emphasis laid on displaying various virtues
and sins, so we can see the same operating in Die Zauberflte. The Queen of the Night in
the beginning represents female virtues, motherly love and protective compassion. The
dramatic stasis of her aria is, like Martern aller Arten, similar to the Counter-Reformation
technique for religious opera. The same can be said of her second appearance. Later she
represents the sins of shrewish vengeance and female independence of thought (not a
virtue in contemporaneous terms).

Thus the application of this heuristic helps us see the loose plot devices as
subordinate to a strong schema of Counter Reformation demands. These in turn were
expressed in a variety of Cagliostroesque fantastical tropes, assuming we wish to see
Cagliostro as the originator. The point is that that this collateral assertion is not necessary
to the more basic common sense deduction about the structure of the work as mirroring
Counter Reformation demands. Though clearly Cagliostros star-crossed and perhaps
delusional Catholic ambitions would be a strong support for the Counter-Reformation
spirit of it all.
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In some way the general point may be bolstered by veering away from the
Cagliostro explanation and adopting the suggestion of Thomson that the Enlightenment
views inherent in Marmontels wildly popular The Incas, and as embodied in Naumanns
Swedish Enlightenment opera Cora och Alonzo, had an influence on Mozart.26 The
significance of this possible explanation in terms of ultimate intent is twofold. First, it
would suggest that the Egyptian symbolism is a sort of clothing for a more basic sense,
perhaps even a quasi-historical one from another culture. Thus the story and symbolism
could be both ad hoc in some sense and serious as alluding to another layer, even an
historical one, the Incas. Second, the connection with the Incas presents a striking
Counter-Reformation aspect. The phenomenon of Latin American culture in which the
strong Counter-Reformation Catholicism fervor was expressed simultaneously with
identification with Inca heroes and culture was probably not unknown in Europe if
Marmontels book was so popular. Amazingly there seems to have been a sort of Inca-
chic in the Counter-Reformation environment. Catholics in Latin America perhaps
pioneered a curious synthesis of identification with the in fact defeated, distant culture as a
true culture of the Inca present, from which they, even as Counter-Reformation Catholic
victors, sought affirmation and pedigree.27

So it is probable, by one genesis or another for its symbolism, that Die Zauberflte
manifested a cultural complexity, which literally fanned in a variety of directions. Because
Mozarts wife Constanze destroyed so many of his letters touching on anything potentially
controversial connected with Freemasonry28 we are left ultimately to speculate. I think
there is no doubt that even with this a fundamental Masonic spirit is present beneath the
complexity, and that Goethe was right in observing the kinship between this work and his
Faust that only, the initiated will understand its higher meaning.29 But if it is not directly
discernable from the welter of symbolism, then in what does this initiatic intent consist?
We will incrementally make this clear throughout this argument. To assess it preliminarily
I believe we have to grant the dynamic tension between Counter-Reformation Catholicism
and Enlightenment previously described. This tension itself, in its persistence, may be a
profound psychological explanation for some of the radical political tendencies that
Mozart manifested. Psychologically speaking, those who can resolve such tensions by
conceptual puzzling or at least wrangling with them intellectually are historically not
pushed into radicality. I do not believe that Mozart manifested this sort of intellectual
proclivity. Rather, he was in an average man who there for was pushed to be somewhat
engaged politically.

Mozarts choice of the radical philosopher Ziegenhagens text for his Cantata, K.
619 is an undeniable indication of a certain radicality in his temperament. The words bid
men throw off the madmens chains that bind you to banish the strife which divides men
in opposing sects30 Again, we should not fall into the trap of seeing in Mozart more
than an ordinary citizen here. He might have been drawn in this direction, but as is often
the case it could have been as a release -valve for a basically underlying conservatism
which remained part of him. There was in Vienna eventually a great interest in the
ongoing drama of the French Revolution. Yet if we conflate Mozarts interest in these
popular events with a well-developed skeptical or revolutionary philosophy we go wildly
11

astray. To wit: even Mozarts hated, stick-in-the-mud former-employer the Archbishop of


Salzburg had artworks in honor Enlightenment luminaries, Voltaire included. By contrast,
when Voltaire died Mozart had this unnerving comment about this very great man: That
godless arch-rascal Voltaire has pegged-out like a dog, like a beast!31 Truly, he was no
Voltairian. It is amazing therefore those scholars have read specifically Voltairian ideals
into his works.
The reasons for the average confusion are closely related to the confusion in the
views of Emperor Joseph II himself and the effects on general culture. His view towards
Voltaire or Voltairian thought generally do not admit of easy simplification pro or con.
Because of his love-hate infatuation with Frederick the Great, Joseph II had a desire to
introduce some measures that could be identified with the more enlightened Voltairian
thought. This tendency was so great that Maria Theresa was frightened that her Catholic
son would be corrupted by the free-thinking Prussian king who was worse than a
Lutheran, for he was a friend of Voltaire. But he famously snubbed Voltaire by not
visiting him, and later made snide comments. Subsequently, even though he was in favor
of the freedom of the press, he banned Voltaires works, except if they were published in
French!32 Though he was a champion of freedom of religion in a sense, anything outside
of the realm of a minimal piety, be it Deism or something more skeptical, moved him to
hostile proscription. Since Voltarian thought would fall somewhere in that field, we
should note one of Joseph IIs eventual efforts at enforcement: as soon as any person,
man or woman, came out as a Deist or anything else [not minimally pious], he should
without further investigation, be given twenty four lashes with a leather whip on his
buttocks.33 In such an environment it would be futile to expect Mozart to have
represented a consistent position, though this cannot be taken to mean a default positive
position towards Voltairian thought in any way.

Whatever radical notions Mozart may have entertained would likely hardly look
radical by other Eighteenth Century standards.34 His membership in the Lodge is not
indicative of anything really in this regard, for the odd authentic radical in the Lodge
cannot be taken as descriptive of the whole. Certainly, tremendous radicality cannot be
imputed to Freemasonry at this point, regardless of the paranoia of the later Josephine
reform crackdown efforts. In this regard, it is telling that Mozarts admired fellow
Mason the famed poet Blumauer, whom some call a radical, had what would seem to be
ultimately rather conservative desiderata, likely indicative of the attitude in the Lodge as a
whole:

He believed that Habsburg Masons wished to cooperate with the emperor


to end religious prejudice and fanaticism and in Masonic terms explained
that religious toleration permitted Joseph to cement the blocks of his
empire firmly. 35

Such can hardly be seen as radical desires, even though they represent somewhat
critical ones towards religion. What is crucial to understand is that is that they were not as
critical as other movements which truly were radical like the Illuminati. This whole
question is made very opaque by the tendency of scholars to conflate Freemasonry with
the brief Illuminati movement for which there is no factual support. It is quite shocking to
12

see even a scholar like Thomson engaging in this, which makes it all the more crucial that
we tread critically in this area to recover a more reasonable view of Mozart s political
inclinations.

What is a more reasonable assertion about Mozart is that in some ill-defined way
he was a Rousseauist. A number of scholars are wont to view him under this aegis36 and it
has some support in the underlying assumptions of his operas: the higher nobility of
simple people and emotions. This view has the added advantage of helping us
contextualize his nasty comment about Voltaire. In this sense Mozart may have been
simply participating the Europe-wide antagonism of political ideas in the years leading up
to and during the French Revolution. The quarrel between the devotees and admirers of
Rousseau and the worshippers of Voltaire was very harsh37 But surely the vitriol against
Voltaire speaks to something more, namely a standard societal conservative religiosity
which meant that in Austria there would have been fewer fervently thoroughgoing
Rousseauists.

This important interpretive matter has been vexed by the misinterpretation of


Freemasonry in relation to trends like Rousseuaism and the fuzziness about the exact
nature of both to political trends at the time. Rousseauism was more religiously inclined
than Voltarianism,38 but neither so much as Freemasonry. This is a point usually not well
understood. Jacques Chailley, one of the foremost musicologists and interpreters of
Masonry in Mozarts music, strikes a more knowing chord when he says that simply that
Freemasonry was resolutely religious.39 Naturally with this proper understanding he also
expresses skepticism about any connection between Mozart and the Illuminati or their
ideas.40 In fact, much of the anti-clericalism and discomfiture with ultramontane thinking
that Mozart evidenced has been incorrectly attributed to Freemasonry directly. Instead it is
a simple characteristic of Febronian thinking at the time in Austria. This tendency was
based in the thinking of Johan Nicolas von Hontheim who adopted the pen-name
Febronius. Jesus, he argued, had never intended the Roman bishop to have divine
powersJesus did not give the keys to the Bishop of Rome but to the whole Christian
community.41 Far from being a radical position, it was the conservative position of the
ruling classes:

Closely related to Febronianism was Josephenism an amalgam of liberal


and absolutist ideas that characterized the rule of Joseph IIHe sought to
subordinate the Catholic Church to the states authorityFebronius
advocated a more nationalCatholic Church, a church in tune with an
enlightened, rational religiosity.42

We are so accustomed to connecting these anti-clerical and anti-ultramontane


opinions with radicalism per se. The cultural facts say the opposite. Indeed the proper
understanding of it as conservative in the Germanic context is, as a very famous political
analyst has specifically said, foreign and strange,43 to us with our modern interpretive
schema. But we must accept this historical strangeness, or counter-intuitive deduction, if
we are to liberate our conception of Masonic matters at this period and have chance to
properly gauge Mozart in relation to the Craft. In addition, the variable affections for
13

Voltarian thought by many in Austria, from the Emperor to those below, substantially
complicates the understanding of anti-Romanist doctrines like Febronianism which were
nationalist, but also theoretically seem to have an affinity with thought of the sage of
Fernay. In this respect the misunderstanding of Mozarts music as representing a
Voltairian enlightenment spirit of liberation can be seen as just a tiny part of the
contingent misunderstanding of broader nationalist imperatives. One biographer of Joseph
II has very perceptively made this exact point. The ambiguity towards Voltaire can be
seen as a grudging admiration for his high intellectual attainments. Both the ambiguous
censorship of his works and the importation of some of his liberal ideas are ultimately
traceable to the desire to establish an authentic Austrian literary realm44. Namely, one
apart yet worthy from the Francophile sentiments of the King of Prussia. But if Joseph
had hoped that the liberalization of the censorshipwould result in the birth of an
Austrian literary school of first rank, he was to be disappointed.45

On a broader level, an explanation for the large interpretive strangeness of these


phenomena comes from the fact that tendencies of Erastian Catholicism were destroyed by
the Counter-Reformation itself, and specifically the Council of Trent. On a related point
Margaret Jacob tells us that the universalist ideology of Freemasonry with its emphasis
on state over church was coincident among the many Austrian civil servants who were
Masons with, their Erastian and civil religion [which] served as an antidote to the
ultramontane tendencies of the native clergy 46 Indeed, the Erastian conception of
Christianity with its humanistic emphasis on bonae literae and its condemnation of guilt-
ridden monastic thinking and ceremonialism47 is probably the real religious background
of Christians who were also Freemasons. The fact that it is, relatively speaking, harder to
re-construct the Erastian conceptual path historiographically speaks volumes on why it has
been so hard for scholars to properly conceptualize Freemasonry as well.

Likewise, it also follows that a Rousseauist tendency in Mozarts thinking must be


seen in this light. A conceptually unfocussed belief in the reality of the noble savage
idea was a virtually omnipresent reality in certain quarters at this period and easily dove-
tailed with exoticism. As well as his central notion of a social contract which is further
proof of the danger of simplification in this area. In fact some of the conservative
intellectuals Joseph II most favored, developed the theory jura majestatica circa sacra
that the rulers sovereignty over the church was part of the authority which belonged to the
formation of the original contract (Rousseaus Social Contract) [!].48 Surely with
complexities like these easy simplifications about Mozart in relation to Rousseuist
tendencies should be foresworn.

Of course we should not forget that Rousseau was a composer of sorts and a
musical theorist. He traded ideological barbs with famous musicians of his day based on
his theoretical musical obsessions devolving from his noble savage idea. Certainly,
Rousseaus very radical and ultimately atavistic notions on harmony can hardly have been
taken very seriously by a musical genius like Mozart. 49 Perhaps because of this tendency
towards atavism or over-simplification in Rousseauism some earlier interpreters held the
view that Mozarts conception of man was the opposite of Rousseaus. 50 Thus
indicating again I think that such ideological emphases are at best historically problematic
14

when dealing with this man.

We have touched on a heuristic for analyzing his works in terms of Counter-


Reformation Catholicism and Enlightenment, and also thereby having discarded a number
of easy and ultimately false answers that are collateral to the denial of that tension. So we
are in a position to ask what is specifically Masonic about Mozarts music. Chailley
observes something very interesting about the famous Chorale of the Men in Armor in the
Seventh Scene of Act II of Die Zauberflte, which might be helpful. This section of the
opera creates a haunting effect by using a Lutheran chorale. Chailley wonders why the
music has the strange character it does and why Mozart used a chorale of reformed liturgy.
Mozart was a Catholic and a Freemason, but he seems to have had no connection with
reformed religion.51 As an aside let me say that it is surpassingly odd that Chailley does
not mention the influence of Bach on Mozart in this regard. But still in grappling with this
puzzle he hazards a guess which really provides a long-range insight.

Freemasonry officially admittedbelief in God, the Great Architect of


the Universe; but it refused to support any single religion, venerating
equally as books of the Holy Law the Bible, the Koran, the Vedas, and
holy books of other religions. If one considers that this reformed chorale is
a literal translation of a verse from a Hebrew Psalm and is developed by
adaptation to an ancient text of pagan religion (whether or not it is
authentic is unimportant) on the orchestral base of a Kyrie52 by a Salzburg
Catholic Kapellmeister, one will form an idea of the extraordinary attempt
at synthesis which, long before the ecumenism of the second half of the
twentieth century, Mozarts admirable music illustrates, thus representing,
consciously or unconsciously, an idea dear to Freemasonry, the union of
the cults and dogmas beyond their particularisms, in a sort of philosophic
super-religion which Masonry tried to be53

If we replace the rather preposterous sounding super-religion with something


like the more philosophically exact meta-religion,54 then this fascinating observation is
in striking distance of great insight into what really motivated Mozart . Please note that the
view Chailley is suggesting here involves a kind of creative meeting- point, or
intersection, between potentially opposing religious currents. At least they are opposing
under existing societal-religious modes of discernment, which in fact is the point. It is
correct to also to credit this to a Masonic view, but a very highly developed one. In this
lies the rub. For there has been development in Masonic theory, and part of the analytical
problem is that this more explicit sense of intersecting modes of religious expression is not
clearly, explicitly present in any Masonic theorist at this period. This does not mean that it
is not present as an underlying theme of Masonic ritual. The American Masonic theorist
Albert Pike was to develop such thoughts in the Nineteenth Century55. But that this was a
more amorphous sense in Mozarts time is indicated by the fact that Chailley alludes to
his perhaps unconsciously coming to this idea of synthesis of Masonic ideas, which only
received explicit society-wide expression in the twentieth century.

It is in this light that we should view the wide-spread tendency of scholars to see
15

Mozart as follower of esoteric Christianity. Let us note that when one invokes the
complexities of Rosicrucian mystagogy a whole lot can be covered under its wings. There
is some evidence that Mozart had interest in occult Christianity, based on his library.56
But to say the obvious, and with all deference to noble Rosicrucian theory, this was not a
spirituality which had the radical Masonic sense of the intersection and tolerance of
religious viewpoints. Rosicrucianism, like all intrinsic esotericisms, tended to the
increasingly recondite and exclusive. It tended to sublimate or apotheosize competing
viewpoints under an elite understanding.57 By definition, not something practical that
would help a great composer work the rough stone of his diverse compositional idea.

But if my view of Mozarts Masonry, expanding on Chailleys suggestion, is


correct, then the very inchoate sense of it at this period would allow us to see the
Rosicrucian explanation as harmless, but just not very helpful for clarity. It is in this sense
that we should see Tills description of Mozart and Rosicrucian freemasonry58 as a very
multi-layered matter . Till invokes a whole panoply of Cabalistic, alchemical and occult
names. He even ropes in Kant, which is really pushing the ridiculous edge for our admired
composer! But as fascinating as it is, and as believable as it is that Mozart might have
found it fascinating, if he encountered it, another of Tills examples shows the great
weakness of this whole approach. After connecting Rosicrucian Christians with Gnostic
Christian tropes, he suddenly may we say subito piano invokes Mozarts hushed
masterpiece Ave Verum Corpus. Significantly, Till tries to force the delicate profundity of
this Counter-Reformation adorational hymn to the Catholic Blessed Sacrament into being
an evocation of a Rosicrucian-Gnostic alchemical notion.the purification of base
metals.59 By contrast, a Masonic conception embraces the work more realistically.

This misprision, in the course of Tills complicated erudition, only highlights how
muddy the whole topic has become for some scholars outside of Masonic scholarship
circles, where the distinction is made with more sharpness. But what is crystal clear is that
in the specific case of Ave Verum Corpus it is both an indication of Mozarts strong
Catholic ethos generally, and his very deep understanding of the solemnity of Catholic
Eucharistic devotion specifically . I feel this example strongly bolsters the sense that a
more realistic analysis of Mozart is possible only by acknowledging the tension between
his Counter-Reformation tendencies60 and Enlightenment ones.

With this sense of some of the potential waywardness of the Esoteric- Christianity
explanation, we can see the symbolism of Die Zauberflte with greater clarity. Though
Chailley suggested his brilliant thesis tentatively, by contrast he treads rather brashly
through a load of more specific symbolical digressions. His underlying purpose seems to
be to bolster Goethes famous contention about Die Zauberflte, with which he concludes
his entire book: More knowledge is required to understand the value of this libretto than
to mock it.61 Goethe may be right ultimately. Yet touring Mozarts potential interests in
esoteric Christian themes might be helpful in creating a fascinating mystical-occult
Baedekers for the opera. But I believe, in the end, it just results in mostly terrific
sightseeing.

In this regard we should note a seemingly contradictory statement Chailley makes


16

much earlier in his study. He notes simply that, Schikaneder was little disposed toward
the handling of large abstractions.62 Chailley is clearly right on about this suburban
Shauspieldirector. But the same could be said of Mozart as well. But then one must
logically inquire how in the world such manifold speculations about the meanings of the
messy libretto can be justified. For they all involve competence and facility with large
abstractions if they are to be accepted as having a deep significance as opposed to
entertainment power, which of course does not rule out some symbolic chords simply
being struck. By contrast, to give some of the loosely conceived elements of this opera
real meaning would have taken a Shakespearean genius63, as one biographer has noted,
which in literary terms neither Schikaneder nor Mozart certainly could possibly have
approached. Thus I think that Chailley brilliant guess discussed earlier is a much more
clear-headed sense in which to see the Masonic character of the whole affair. The search
for possible esoteric explanations makes for an elegant conceptual journey, for this writer
included, but it may obscure some exciting features of what Mozart actually did
accomplish. Whereas the intersectional Masonic view can be seen as the summation of an
increasing tendency during Mozarts whole compositional career, not just the result of
some relatively recent occult epiphany. This sense really jibes with the requisite hard
personal work-- only in this case for a genius composer --of working the rough stone.

Scholarly coherence also dictates that we note the seeming paradox that limning
this deeper Masonic sense is contingent on de-coupling the libretto from the realm of
serious Masonic symbolism per se or even serious esotericism per se. The spirit under
which the opera was likely written could not be better exemplified that by a detail which
Chailley mentions. In reference to the charming duet Mann und Weib, Weib und Mann
Chailley notes:

Mozart was so conscious of the importance of this duet that at first he had
worked out a much more highly developed and noble version of it than
the one we know. For theatrical reasons Schikaneder, who played the role
of Papageno, had him redo it in a more popular style related to the
character. What we have is that second version64

Mozarts compositional history is replete with occasions where he provided


singers with arias they needed, or made adjustments. But this case is different. Mozart had
strong ego about himself as a composer, which probably cost him many opportunities for
loose-cannon remarks. There is no precedent for tossing out something he had fully
developed The idea that he should cast aside and presumably destroy (!) a highly
developed and noble version of this duet is incredibly telling. It seems a bit crazy that
he should alter his genius to suit the whims of his hardscrabble rake of collaborator. To
my mind, it is a strong indication that Mozart had more diverting things on his mind, like
Wein, Weib und Gesang and not necessarily with his own Weib. Of course he still
managed to produce an incomparable masterpiece. But surely, if esoteric, alchemical
meanings were in the forefront for his attaining the high-level of inspiration that he
brought to his work, then these charming words, above all, Mann und Weib .Reichen
an die Gottheit an would have been the perfect place for a noble Chemical Wedding, a
sacred ritual that would not have been so casually altered. That it was not tells us so much.
17

When we put this understanding together with the knowledge that outside the
Lodge, not until 1857 was the word freemasonry spoken clearly in connection with Die
Zauberflte,65 we have a way of resolving the later historiography of this work with what
we know. Gernot Gruber in his Mozart and Posterity made clear that the fantastical
entertainment aspect of this work was a strong part of why this musical masterpiece was
chiefly responsible for Mozarts posthumous reputation.66 In this regard it makes a certain
sense that Masonry as a convenient catch-all explanation came considerably later, after the
work had been already imitated into clichs. Thus, potential esoteric explanations should
be evaluated with this background, not as the sine qua non or ineluctable starting- point
for this efflorescence of his genius. If the particular symbolism of Die Zauberflte were an
indispensable starting point for anything, for Mozarts genius, or as a reflection of some
valuable development in Masonic history, surely it would have been recognized as such
by Masons. By contrast, an expert on the Austrian Higher Degrees tells us the opposite
about its effect on Masonic posterity when political events allowed the Craft to flourish
again:

The French Revolution also interrupted Masonic activity. When Masonic


work was able to be resume, a false Egyptian orientation was brought in,
which Cagliostro had put forth, and Mozart in Die Zauberflte had made
popular. 67

With this experts help we can see how strange it is that so many scholars treat the
symbolism of Die Zauberflte as if it were some profound, valuable datum of Masonic
insight. Clearly if the effects led to a false Egyptian orientation then it could hardly have
been a Masonic masterpiece in terms of the symbolism itself. Of course the total effect
with the music in a finely staged performance is quite another matter.

This sense of scholarly balance and realism can help us appreciate Mozart
principally for what truly made his art exceptional. This would hardly seem like a
necessary equipoise to strive after, except that Mozarts music has over time come to
viewed by scholars as a virtual equivalent of an historical painting of an Eighteenth
Century Collectors Gallery, with the walls crammed with elaborately framed rococo
canvasses of every type, and Dresden porcelain filling the remaining niches. In recent
times the fashion for authentic performance practice has added another niche to be filled
with interpretive anxiety, but still the drive towards the foppish eccentricity of collector-
obsession is strong. But if the contentions of my argument are correct we have been
illustrating his music incorrectly, and thus de-naturing it. First we should conceptually
isolate the quality of aesthetic grandiosity of the Baroque from the insouciant and
potentially insipid grace of the rococo. We then can come close to the issue of why the
Baroque was unstable yet intense and therefore might have been aesthetic prod for
Mozart. Surely a genius like Mozart had the ability to appropriate the best from both
worlds, but it becomes a matter of emphasis. Therefore, instead of a collectors gallery
with lovely Watteau paintings or exotic landscapes, or even less with Dresden porcelain
figurines, we ought to search for Mozart in the Counter Reformation. In this regard a
great painting by Peter Paul Rubens or Guido Reni much better evokes the intense balance
18

of Mozarts music than a Fragonard ever could. Again this is hardly even a radical gambit,
as comparisons of Mozart with Counter-Reformation painters like Domenichino in
contradistinction to eighteenth century ones were specifically made by nineteenth century
commentators.68

Of course there is really no ultimately serious argument to be made in such


comparisons for any period. For music ultimately never utterly mirrors art per se. My only
point is that the incredible balance that his music evinces should at least be compared to
the art that it most resembles, if we are going to make such comparisons. And such
comparisons seem almost inevitable at this point in history. It is important to clear this up
if we are going to have the conceptual tools to address Mozarts Masonic ethos to
eventually reflect on the rest of his music, which does not have the schemata of librettos
as potential grids. Somewhat ironically, it is in this sense, and not for an understanding of
Mozarts dramatic acts, that Brigid Brophys famous book Mozart the Dramatist is of
interest. Brophy, being a novelist of note, plausibly had some insight into Mozart as a
character which we are all interested in reconstructing from extant literary materials. Of
course, for insight into Freemasonry her book is of no value whatsoever, because she, by
the looks of her bibliography, seems not to have consulted one serious Masonic source.

Still her work needs to be countenanced on the basis of its substantial popularity
among elite interpreters. Her well-known analysis of Die Zauberflte based on Terrrasons
Life of Sethos is a work of vast interpretive fantasy itself. Not because she has no insight
into Terrason, but because she compares it repeatedly to Freemasonry of which she was
apparently willfully fantastically ignorant. Even making florid comparisons between
what she imagines Freemasonry to be and literary analysis of Terrasons work becomes
farcical because she never makes a fundamental aesthetic judgment about how a great
masterpiece could have been inspired by a very odd work. More judicious commentators
manage to correct this, while still making the connection, by noting that, Sethos may
have had few literary merits.69 Thus, a Sethos -inspired libretto would belong, perhaps
not stylistically or conceptually, but certainly qualitatively in something like that vast
Metastasian waste-land that conceptually scattered so many operas of the period. This
value-assessment also makes clear that one is unlikely to find great profundity in a Sethos-
inspired product, symbolic, literary, or Masonic. Thus, it is almost too easy to say that
Brophy, in her analysis , sums up many of the temptations we have alluded to in this
argument. What is amazing is that this is true but that, due to a certain literary shrewdness,
she has moments of great insight as well. For Brophys insight is principally about the
issue of Mozarts work as art in an abstract cultural sense:

Official taste has always been perceptive enough to admit Mozart to the
canon of perpetual remembrance, and popular taste is perfectly correct
when it calls him charmingMozart is charmingindeed, ravishing up
to the very limit of out tolerance of pleasure. Our only quarrel with either
popular or official taste is that neither goes deep enough. Appreciation of
Mozart is a matter of being movedFrom the point of view of the
academies, Mozart is there, and has always been there. It is merely that the
academies do not know quite what to make of him.In Mozarts case the
19

difficulty is [that]his excellence is couched in the idiom of the


eighteenth centurywe are still not wholly at ease with any eighteenth
century work of art. For this there is sufficient reason. The eighteenth
century itself, and in particular its dominant intellectual temper, which was
rationalistic, was not wholly at ease with any work of art. Eighteenth-
century rationalism, being enlightened in every direction but
psychologically, was at a loss when it was confronted with artistic
fictions.70

Brophy is describing a difficulty with Mozart interpretation that has been


extremely hard to narrow down. On the first level it has to do with the above-referenced
incompatibility of his music with much of its contemporaneous visual arts. But as if to
mutually reinforce this, the very ethos of the eighteenth century, as Brophy avers, may
have had some intrinsic philosophical and possibly psychological difficulty with the
intensity of Mozarts work, or with any non-trivializing work of art. Clearly this was a
partial matter because Mozart was recognized by many as preeminent in his day. But not
as much as others, that is the point, to the detriment of opportunities given to him. Indeed,
one can only wonder what our musical repertoire would be like if he had had the charmed
existence that the ennobled and rich Ditters von Dittersdorf enjoyed for most of life until
nearly the end. There is no point in striking a tragic note, but this matter is useful
theoretically as well.

To some extent Mozarts music embodied this inherent tension more than other
purely rococo composers. He may have suffered for this personally, but his greatness is
beyond measure for posterity . But given his tensions in temperament vis--vis his times
we are pushed towards a further insight, that Mozart had to embrace the dynamic tension
with Counter-Reformation to become the great composer that he was. The eighteenth
century discomfiture with art itself, as opposed to reason, made it well-nigh impossible for
a composer of Mozarts intensity to be situated exclusively in the somewhat self-
trivializing eighteenth century cultural-artistic tropes. So it was not just his societal
upbringing but something intrinsic to his genius that drew him to the glories of the
Catholic Counter Reformation aesthetic. This also sheds light on that strong parodic
sense so often commented on in his music. This sense of parody of the rococo, and of the
Counter-Reformation baroque are unique to his genius.71 But in humor is the truth of
course.

It is with this more informed understanding that we should read of the relation in
Mozarts music with the High Baroque, as described in Rosens The Classical Style.
Since to my mind Rosens book is the finest description ever of Mozarts era, there is
great value in the inspiration it provides. In addition, Rosens magnificently clear analysis
permits a sobriety in our ultimate assessments of the mans contribution to musical
history, while still embracing its complicated stylistic phenomenology. Because Rosen so
strongly summarized Mozarts and Haydns attainments in the eventual evolution of the
classical style of composition, logic would also seem to dictate a paradoxical element
necessary for the creative ethos in this case, because there remains an inexplicable aspect.
The proof of this logic can be seen in Haydns case. If there were not some paradoxical
20

elements in the ethos, then Haydn, as the equal developer of the classical style, would
have the same relative quality standard in the totality of his compositional output that
Mozart does. When one considers the great quantity of very bland music Haydn wrote,
from diverse concerti to operas, against the much smaller amount Mozart contributed, a
logical and aesthetic disjunct appears. The musical facts speak for themselves. Consistent
analysis then requires asking what accounts for this.72

This also means that knowing what is involved in these attainments has been a
phenomenon, which has cuts both ways for potential musical analysis. Because Mozarts
and Haydns developments in distilling and advancing elements of previous styles were so
overwhelming, this has lead to a rather debatable attempt also to sharply distinguish
periods for stylistic progression based on a reading of their attainments as a grid for the
whole era. While one could certainly make a case for this with the careers of these greatest
of composers, by contrast with the mass of other less- inspired creators such strictures fall
apart, to my ears. Thus in a way Mozarts and Haydns merits have ironically and
unfortunately limited the possible field of stylistic considerations for their own works,
which in turn has lead to some of the misprisions in interpretations we have mentioned.
Thus Rosen sees Mozarts involvement with the High Baroque as merely a feature of
archaism in his music. Rosen then closely cobbles this with imitative parody, as well as
of course high-road intent. An imitation of the High Baroque style, a moribund but not
buried tradition by the 1780s, had the advantage that a reference to the past always has in
religionlike continuing to address God as Thou73

It is striking that a number of the elements of the view I have described seem
present in Rosens incredibly erudite exposition, but are not made explicit, Thus they
seem limited to Mozarts study and use of Baroque techniques. The broader sense of
Counter-Reformation spirit and aesthetic impetus is not so potentially identifiable in
Rosens descriptions. Yet certainly when noting the I-Thou level of religiosity, which
can plausibly be attributed to Counter-Reformation spiritual direction of the Ignatian
variety, Rosen has nonetheless hit the core. If we take this Counter-Reformation instinct
for religious intensity and see it metamorphosed by true artistic genius, we can be more
precise about the ethos that fueled his great music. For Mozarts genius seems to hit the
listener at the center of ones being, which was the goal of Counter-Reformation religious
intensity. And yet, this remains in tension with the opposite pole with parodies of rococo
frivolity. What makes this possible?

We should look to the deepest sense of Freemasonry, as the realm, which allows
for the intersection of diverse creedal or philosophical positions, for the key to resolving
this complicated matter. But there are specific subtleties of interpretation that have
obscured it. In some ways Masonry might be seen as similar to Brophys description of
eighteenth century rationalistic culture and its discomfiture with art. The very reserve and
decorum of Masonic ritual do not leap to mind as a possible inspiration for Mozarts
intensity. But this is because sadly Masonry is typically characterized in scholarly analysis
by a parsing of discrete religio-historical data, and not by in-depth philosophical
investigation. Not allowing much to be found there by restricting the data-field, all sorts
of intellectual fancies are brought in by scholars, which only make it hazy.
21

Thus they miss what is actually very beautiful about Masonic rituals, if they know
of them at all. More importantly, they miss how the philosophy behind these rituals could
have deeply inspired a genius like Mozart. Not because they easily according to some
dove-tail with influences like The Life of Sethos specifically or Rosicrucianism generally .
But because Masonry gave Mozart the ability to function incredibly well in that tension
between Catholic Counter-Reformation and the Enlightenment modes. Not just because he
was raised a Catholic. And not just because he was a man of the Auflklaerung. Rather,
because he could act by the plumb artistically and aesthetically to see a potential
meeting point between these otherwise irreconcilable tendencies. For all these reasons we
can say that in many ways one of the greatest work of Mozarts Masonic understanding
could be said to be the Great Mass in C Minor, K. 427. It is in this work that that
intersection between Baroque Counter-Reformation elements and advanced Classical
developments first reaches an apotheosis.

Of course Mozart began writing his work in 1782, and this means that he had a
developing sense of Masonrys meaning before he officially entered the Lodge in 1784.
He had many friends who were Masons, and there is some indication that his father had
been a member in Salzburg quite a bit earlier. We can plausibly see Mozart already
moving in a Masonic culture, interacting with people who already had gained Light
from the rituals and were sharing that spirit with him. This sense of clarity and light are
what it took to keep the balance to involve such diverse tendencies in one work like the
Great Mass. The specific stylistic complexity of this work has always been recognized.
Indeed, the fact that the C Minor Mass contains Counter-Reformation elements is hardly
even a radical idea. Even an old-fashioned source like Einstein noted that:

Bach is not the only master who stands behind this work, there are also
Handel and the whole of the eighteenth century, there are also the great
Italians such as Allessandro Scarlatti, Caldara, Porpora, and Durante; one
cannot single out particular names because Mozart sums up his century
and transfigures its musical language. 74

So, musically speaking, we can see that Mozarts ability to transfigure his times
in artistic expression both past and present are the probable basis of the what came to
be called the Masonic character of his work. We should not allow the date of his becoming
Entered Apprentice to form a disjunct with earlier works in this regard. His first Masonic
composition O heiliges Band K. 148 is a very early one. Written long before he became
a Freemason, it nevertheless shows ideological connections with Masonry.75 We can
take this early ideological connection as an early, slowly developing attraction to the
Masonic ethos. In addition, he was drawn to Masonic societal circles much earlier than
being officially welcomed into the Lodge. Thus, even though actually receiving the
Degree in a regular Lodge is crucially important, in musical terms it is a bit arbitrary for
an analysis of his Masonic sentiment . It may be for this reason that the usually quirkily
perceptive Wilfred Mellers sees the C Minor Mass as Catholic, though ostensibly so.
Whereas he views the Requiem as Masonic.76 Since Mellers does not delimit clearly
what he means by Masonic, except in hackneyed enlightenment terms, we are left to
22

wonder at the distinction. Though the Requiem and the C minor Mass certainly show
difference in structure, in terms of deep conception they share a basic Masonic sensibility.

The Evolution of Mozarts Masonry and Belief:

If we have reached the point where we can see two of his greatest ecclesiastical
works as Masonic in the intersectional sense, then there is a corresponding question to be
entertained. Mozart may have operated musically in a tension between the Counter-
Reformation and the Enlightenment, but was this just an artistic dynamic? He grew up
Catholic, and one can be sure that the modern shopworn wisdom Once a Catholic always
a Catholic had its eighteenth century version. So the question surfaces, what really were
Mozarts beliefs, as opposed to his artistic operating principles?

Preliminarily, of one thing we can be sure, that there was some change in his views
over time. This conclusion we can draw simply from what we know about the facts of his
life, especially his disappointments, and the tenor of his letters. For instance, we can be
sure the older Mozart was quite different from the one who wrote this to his father:

Now comes something urgent, for which I request an answer. Mamma


and I have discussed the matter and we agree that we do not like the sort
of life the Wendlings lead. Wendling is an honorable and kind man, but
unhappily devoid of all religion, and the whole family is the same. I say
enough when I tell you that his daughter has a most disreputable character
[was the Electors mistress]. Ramm is a good [upright] fellow but a
libertine. I know myself, and I have such a sense of religion that I shall
never do anything which I would not do before the whole world; but I am
alarmed even at the very thought of being in the society of peoplewhose
mode of thinking is so entirely different from mine (and from all good
peoples). Friends who have no religion cannot be long our friends [are
not stable friends].77 [italics added]

Between these youthful certainties and his later relationship with the dissolute
Schikaneder who was cast out of the Lodge, lies a lifetime of hard experiences. One can
reasonably deduce that after many reversals and little treacheries by so-called friends,
Mozart might not so haughtily turned away from an honorable and kind man. This is so
even though his relations with the Wendling family were complicated. Mozart certainly
must have learned, as most do, that such honorable and kind people are not so easy to
come by, and that religion is not a reliable guide to honor or kindness one way or another.
It is also not realistically a guide to stability in people or societies. But clearly even with
all this we will never know for sure about his continued faith, even though Mozart
continued to make statements about God and falling to his knees in prayer.

The question is really only pertinent in two senses. First, that Freemasonry is no
indication that he did not have belief or was necessarily skeptical of belief. But the fact
that the Lodge admitted some skeptics up to a point as well as believers, raises the
question of whether Mozarts beliefs coincided with a skeptical Brother he might have
23

enjoyed and been influenced by. We will never know for sure, barring the discovery of
some unknown letters. The quotation by Voltaire which started our inquiry ought to give
the sense that even a famous old skeptic is capable of rather fideistic sounding sentiments
in the right context. Mozart was not a lover of Voltaires insouciance and tongue-in-cheek
declarations. But the strong feeling of parody in his music have almost irresistibly drawn
countless interpreters to attribute something of this light-handed and biting Voltarian
insouciance to him. Tempting as this is, I think it is entirely mistaken. But that does not
mean that he was a believer at the end of his life in a completely orthodox sense.78

Since this matter cannot be resolved with assurance, I feel justified in positing an
idea more tentatively or speculatively to explain the sense of parody in his music. For
parody might make one think of a sense of mocking towards received beliefs, which as we
have seen was not the case really for Mozart. Clearing up the parodic matter also clarifies
the more basic sense of what the belief -structure undergirding the Masonic sense of his
music, previously described, On one level this should be self-evident. For if he truly had
the intersectional Masonic view, that would mean he held at least a fundamental view of
the goodness of people and the world as being worthy of such a noble and respectful
conception. But it is also possible that the tension with the Counter-Reformation elements
was a real tension existentially for him, and not just artistically. Indeed it is worth noting
that some Masonic sources see Mozart as a passionate Catholic.79 We are probably on
safe ground if we think of a Catholic in the Erastian sense.

But to clarify matters further we cannot proceed without making sure we know
what we are not talking about. Mozarts music may have a greater resonance with
Counter-Reformation visual arts on one level, but there is also something in that intensity
which threatens to break the bounds. Many have read into Don Giovanni an anxiety on
Mozarts part about moral and ethical transgressions. And surely the fire and brimstone of
the Dons fate count as a Counter-Reformation warning in an artistic sense. But this
artistic aspect does not clearly indicate that Mozarts personal sense of religion can be
read into this fire and brimstone. Indeed we should read much more into the aesthetic
tension between the anxieties of Don Giovanni and the not angst-ridden, and decidedly
not parodic works of confident, manly exuberance, his Masonic cantatas. Also we should
keep in mind the tranquil sublime resolution of this tension in the transcendent Masonic
motet80 Ave Verum Corpus, even with its authentic engagement of a Counter-
Reformation devotional meme. It is surely remarkable how distant from the operatic
anxieties of the Don such works appear. In this regard it is interesting to note that a
Masonic source has claimed Ave Verum Corpus as Masonic precisely because it manifests
a more true religious feeling in contradistinction to the more operatic quality of his
other Church music.81 This can be taken to mean that the motet distilled the essence of
religious peace embodied in Masonry, even while doing so using a Counter-Reformation
theme. Only in this case it was freed even from the florid operatic anxieties of the
Counter-Reformation and bestowed a tranquil masterpiece for the ages. How is all this
existentially separated music so high-reaching, and yet still the product of one human
being? It can only be because the Masonic sense of things was deeply involved with
Mozarts feeling of religious peace, as we hear in Ave Verum Corpus. This peace allowed
him great creative freedom.
24

Therefore when we notice that Mozart has this continuity with Counter-
Reformation aesthetics we can reject the notion that the hyper- fervent faith of the
Counter-Reformation was a consolation to him. It is now clear this is not what we are
addressing in his religious world-view. For the Ignatian spirituality of the Counter-
Reformation is the opposite of the existential gemtlichkeit that Mozarts letters
everywhere exhibit. Religion is important to him as a comfort and a reassurance. But the
spiritual striving and strenuousness of Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, which were so
massively influential in the Catholic Counter -Reformation world can confidently be ruled
out as an influence simply by reading his letters.

For surely we are not speaking about a Counter-Reformation spirituality per se in


this man. And though his music does not resemble Rococo visual tropes directly, we
might say that it evokes them architectonically. The extremely insightful book by Karsten
Harries The Bavarian Rococo Church provides an observation that might help us resolve
this matter:

Rococo ornamentassumes that a successful building is a hierarchical


order that assigns to each part its proper place and it assumes that society
is such an order, Ornament contributes to the articulation of that order. In
this sense ornament can be said to possess an ethical not merely aesthetic
significance; ethical in sense of helping to establish the ethos of a society,
which assigns to persons and things their proper places.82

This sense of the rococo, with ornament supplying strong architectural support for
a larger order can be heard quite clearly in Mozarts music83. One gets none of the sense of
episodes being strung together, or adventitiously re-ornamented, as in other composers
music from the period. Mozarts music seems to have been conceived conceptually as a
whole, to such a perfection that it strikes the listener as incredible. In this sense it may
resonate broadly, as does the rococo architecture, with that vast cosmic sense of order
embodied in Leibniz philosophy which eddied into popular philosophy by the intellectual
ministrations of Christian Wolff. Indeed, Margaret Jacob has emphasized that Leibniz 84
thought was received as part of the general societal reform efforts in the Habsburg state,
and thus would have been influential on general culture in Austria.

More specifically, for Mozart as a Mason, the philosophy of the symbols of the
Craft contains the strong sense that the Ornaments of the Lodge serve a single unity,
not discrete esoteric contrivance. Even more than church architecture would have
perhaps, all graphic, visual appurtenances of the Lodge are really only important for that
philosophy which brings the entire picture, into a unity.85 This sense of underlying
order is so palpable in Mozarts works. He felt the inherent structure in all the
Enlightenment ornament more keenly than others as something intrinsic, and not just
additive. In this sense Masonic aesthetics of the Eighteenth Century embody this insight
better than anything else. Thus feeling so secure in his understanding, perhaps he also felt
free to parody it. In fact, the parodic rococo moments become explicable ultimately as a
psychological intention of deep obeisance towards that which one is parodying. The
25

Baroque sense of intensity and anxiety,which has inherently disruptive elements, vanish
with the rococo unflappability, and with it the Ignatian spirit of spiritual striving. So while
Mozart might seem far ultimately from the exquisite blandishments of Pater or Lancret,,
he is not far from the Bavarian or Austrian rococo church.86 The distinction is an important
one, for painting delimits often a more specific realm, while architecture expands into a
more thoroughly existential plane.

Of course when aesthetic phenomena are distributed in this way, the specifically
Masonic elements that are present in Mozart music, in the case of works being specifically
written for the Lodge , take on a heightened meaning. The beauty of Masonic artifacts and
regalia from this period set a very dignified standard, as specific props for a sense of
philosophic order, perhaps even more than the graceful glories of rococo architecture. I
think this may help resolve what some have perceived as the oddly stolid character of
Mozarts Masonic works. Let me say, that to my ears they are not perceived in that way.
But perhaps we can hear in their solemnity generally what H.C. Robbins Landon heard in
the Masonic Funeral Music specifically, a deep meditation on the insights of Masonic
ritual on ultimate matters like death, equalizing all on the level. In this personal, practical
sense this Master Mason was a philosopher, for the work, reveals Mozarts total
involvement with the theories and philosophies ofthe first degree of the Craft.87
Indeed, the greatest of these works Laut Verkunde Unsre Freude has been seen by one
analyst as more important as a personal statement than even the Requiem. This not the
Requiem, was his final testament. 88

Yet in comparison with the effortless flow of the piano concertos or the seamless
intensity of the later operas, a case could be made that the Masonic works are different.
They are different because they were intended for a world which heightened the deep
architectonics of the Enlightenment. Thus heightening an aesthetic realm which had a
somewhat problematic relationship with aesthetics to begin with! These works are very
beautiful, but they seem to evoke a moral solemnity which perhaps always will sound odd
against the many examples of Mozarts rococo parodic tropes.

This leads us to the perhaps off-center assumption that Mozart may have been
impelled into a reliance on that tension with the Counter-Reformation by his deep
understanding of the rococo aesthetic edifice, so to speak, as more than just ornament and
grace. But also that this sense was heightened palpably for him by the Ornaments and
Symbols of the Lodge that he had experienced, which gave him a sense of the
architectonics of the by-then rather decadent rococo style. The philosophy behind the
rituals, especially the emphasis on order, allowed him to use the inherent fragility, or
perhaps weakness of rococo style, by highlighting its organizing principle, rather than its
decorative tendencies as others did. Perhaps we can also see that he used the Counter-
Reformation theatricality to shore up the weak spots in ways that others could never have
dreamed of conceiving. Indeed, Mozart intuited the depth of the rococo Enlightenment.
He had a lot of scorn for composers who took it all too light-heartedly and without good
taste and the golden mean.

But looking at his biography one cannot help wondering if he would not have
26

been better off personally if he used his deep understanding to just keep with the bland
measured intensity of rococo art. Haydn is a fine comparison in this way, for he was
equally a great composer. The fact that some of the same tension with Counter-
Reformation tropes exists in some of Haydns music, especially the Masses, may indicate
that the ability to embrace that tension is indicative of the demands of the development of
the musical language per se at the highest levels. But what is striking about Haydn is that
he was capable of reverting, if that is the right word, to a more steady flow of unruffled
rococo insight. One could not get a stronger indication of this than by focusing on the
piano concertos and operas of both composers. These two great composers are worlds
apart in quality with these works in a way that they are not in string quartets or
symphonies. So why was one great composer given to slipping effortlessly between
occasional forays with Counter-Reformation dynamic tension and the realm of
Enlightenment gallantry, and the other more and more compelled to develop his greatness
concentratedly in the tension of that heady creative realm? If Mozart had been more like
Haydn could he have had his own comfortable position at an Esterhazy? Would we be
better or worse off in terms of our deposit of great music?

Of course we will never know the answer to these questions. But posing them
perspicaciously allows us to see there may have been many reasons why Mozart took the
path he did. Being true to ones personal convictions counts for a lot in life, and Mozart
everywhere seems to be personally sincere in the deepest human way in his letters, if a bit
naive. It makes reading of his later paranoia caused by illness in his last year particularly
heartbreaking. But we do no damage to the gratitude and appreciation that Brother Mozart
deserves if we try to speculate a bit further as to why he was so utterly and unswervingly
Masonic in his aesthetic approach.

It has not been commented on enough, I think, that much of Mozarts career took
place during the period when the Jesuits had been suppressed by the Holy See. The extent
to which the Jesuits as a religious and political force created the Counter-Reformation
cannot be overstated. The Jesuit Order virtually controlled the theological speculations of
the Council of Trent. This Council created the whole culture of the Counter -Reformation
and its artistic expression, the Baroque. The identification is so keen between these
phenomena that in recent times there has been a somewhat frank revival amongst
historians of the identification of the style with the religious philosophy in the notion of
the Jesuit Baroque, or simply the Jesuit Style. It is important to note that part of
Mozarts ability to creatively engage the tension with this archaism is that it perhaps
always had that archaic feature even when used in its initial force. One should certainly
stay clear of ideological considerations per se89, but perhaps there are aesthetic reasons for
considering that this Jesuit Baroque style, with its unsubtle propaganda moorings, always
had a put-on quality. As a recent analyst tells us of later Romantic attempts to understand
this phenomenon:

The terms Baroque and Rococo became operative in this period as


well, although they resisted periodization to a certain extent, retaining the
eighteenth century sense of decadence Thus both the political and art
historiographic contexts out of which the term Jesuit Style emerged
27

were complex90

As concerns Mozart and his life and music the relevance of this complexity is not
just in the persistence of the Counter-Reformation generally in Austria, though as we have
seen, such is crucial. Rather it was that this Baroque Counter-Reformation ethos was not
pure, but had a particular decadence attached to it. This would mean that its use could
have been stimulated by a number of factors not necessarily high-brow or spiritual in
nature. In this regard, what has been less noticed is that Mozart lived during a period of
strange Anti-Masonic fervors, which took very bizarre, twists and turns. Though it is
beyond the scope of this investigation, the strange conceptual world of Anti-Masons like
Abbe Barruel becomes relevant to this argument. As detailed in a marvelous study by
Steven Luckert, this perverse realm of lies and half-truths involved trafficking in fantasies
about Freemasonry that literally knew no sane bounds. In fact, by a tangle of odd
assertions the Brotherhood of Freemasons and the Jesuit Order were somehow cathected
to be in a mysterious complot, as Luckert repeatedly puts it.91 The historically
fascinating details of this are not relevant here except point out that they were
exceptionally florid and particular. In this nether-world the Jesuits had allegedly gone
underground and had taken over Freemasonry. One is left with historical the insight, that
life often brings, that people will believe anything.

Indeed beyond the minutiae of pseudo-arguments in complot theories, the


historical milieu created generally by Joseph IIs surveillance- state supports our
contentions about Mozarts probable assumptions. That this is surely not a far-flung
contention is apparent from the historical background in the classic biography by Padover
of Joseph II. Joseph wished to be as harsh as possible with remnants of the Jesuit order
after their suppression, his enlightened view was in contradistinction to his mother who
had fondness for them. But in the meantime this bifurcation of intent created a very
curious psychological atmosphere:

As Josephs power increased, the enlightened group became bolder.


Radical centres were formed in many cities, watching and spying on those
who were generally dubbed aristocrats, secret Jesuits, darklings and
obscurantists. It became dangerous for any man, no matter what his
position to be known as a darkling.92

Of course it quickly becomes clear that in such a paranoid environment an


individual no matter what his position would have to give credence to the reality of such
chimeras as secret Jesuits in order to distinguish himself from the much -suspected and
despised darklings. Realistic skepticism would have had a hard time in such a world,
and we can see the belief in secret Jesuits as a default position conceptually related to
Josephs later paranoid attack on Freemasonry itself, which lamentably could only have
been seen as reinforcing the reality of previous descriptors.

But perhaps a further insight might be the following. In an age before reliable
means of communications and verification, when pamphlets flew anonymously and easily,
it might not have been terribly easy to know what the truth was. Vienna became a
28

paradise for pen-pushers and pamphleteers. They sat in smoky cafes,,, collecting
gossip to put in pamphlets. The whole world was their kingdom, church and state93 I
am not suggesting that there was any truth to any of the dastardly and prejudicial
complot theories, far from it. But it is reasonable that in the everyday world, so to speak,
it might have seemed harder to know or be really sure of. Such ideas might have been hard
to disentangle for a young Mason like Mozart who I am sure met not one clandestine
Jesuit in the Lodge. But he might have met members of the aristocracy who might be
former Jesuits having realistically moved -on in life. Such former Jesuits belonged to
the True Harmony Lodge94, and thus might have been known in Viennese Masonic circles
generally. But that is a far cry from the complot-notion of an active clandestine member of
the Society of Jesus infiltrating the Craft.

There was also the fact that no less than the de facto chief Freemason in Europe,
Frederick the Great, had made the grand public gesture of welcoming the Jesuits into his
realm, and giving them refuge. Surely this might have caused some to wonder if the
Jesuits had some secret connections to Freemasonry. Of course we know from history that
Fredericks decision was entirely dictated by Machiavellian considerations. But this is
because we can read his cunning private statements. Frederick wrote to Voltaire that he
had great difficulty finding teachers, for the enlightened state he was building. Thus
what, Kings have thrown out I am collecting as much as I can. He seems to have
viewed the Jesuits in the lowest possible terms, hardly a group with someone who would
potentially be an equal Brother in the Masonic Lodge. In fact he saw these exiled religious
almost as slaves with no place else to go, which was probably true politically. He wrote of
them like chattel: I preserve the breed and presently Ill sell then back again. I tell them
so I will easily get 300 thalers for you my Father, and 600 for Father Provincial. In
response Voltaire joked that Frederick with his military background was now perfect to
become the General of the Jesuits.95 The irony is of course that while Fredericks
statements sound nasty, historically he was infinitely more kind to these men than the
pious Kings who had given them truly brutal treatment.

Since such knowledge was private there is every reason to believe that an ordinary
citizen like Wolfgang Mozart might have seen Fredericks strange action as a mysterious
predilection. As to broader cultural matters in society, what Mozart the opera -composer
might have known about him publicly was that he was also the author of an opera libretto
Montezuma, which dared to take on an exotic nadir for Christendom. This event was the
beginning point, which resulted in many religious orders becoming very wealthy, but
especially the Jesuits. This Jesuit wealth, epitomized by their vast holdings in the New
World, was one of the principle reasons Europeans rulers wished to confiscate their riches
and dim their power. The Montezuma story was a nexus of dangerous Enlightenment
political themes, both ecclesiastical and exotic, made more potentially threatening by
being actually based on historical events. Unlike earlier opera settings of the Montezuma
story, Fredericks was ideological.96 The ideological radicality of Fredericks vision is
hard to reconstruct at this point because we are heirs to a lot of historiographic revelations
on the period of the Conquest that clarify matters that would have been obscure in the
eighteenth century. With our contemporary sense his work on this opera would seem just
another Enlightenment cultural manifestation. So to get a sense of what at least some of
29

the subsisting assumptions would have been, and how an opera- composer like Mozart
who was interested in portraying the mythic past would have viewed it, we can survey
cultural artifacts. Luckily, in this regard portraiture of Montezuma conveys the received
assumption perhaps better than a thousand words ever could. Moctezuma is shown
downcast and dejected, on the verge of tears or at the point of conversion as a result of an
epiphany [of the Christian God] from on high.97 With this art-historical sense we can see
how daring Fredericks view actually was by contrast, and how his work on this opera
could have been taken as representative of a larger brave vision, which like the
Montezuma story itself might have had some odd twists and turns. Brophy is quite helpful
in understanding this deeper layer as she notes of Fredericks intention in connection
Mozarts use of the exotic sense of threatening otherness:

The tone itself is largely the creation of the exotic vein when that was
used to make propaganda for reason. In the exotic fable, the propagandist
[Frederick] aimed to produce artificially the juxtaposition between
Christian moeurs and outlandish ones which had first shaken reason into
use.98

This means that in some sense Frederick thought that Christian barbarity99 and
native barbarity in tandem were needed in a necessary conflict to force humanity to accept
reasonthe only possible arbiter between them. 100 When we recall that the Jesuits were
the originators of a special type of Propaganda Fidei, we might grant that those hearing of
Fredericks propagandistic daring in tackling such a dangerous issue might have
considered it almost an almost super-human bravery for the time period. In the bizarre
terms of complot-theory, perhaps it could have been construed that Frederick admired and
needed the skills of those Jesuit propagandizers for his Masonic intentions. If Frederick
could take on the exotic, outlandish Montezuma and with that directly confront the
Church and use him to propagandize for Reason, could not he do something even more
outlandish? He would have puissance to handle the exotic banned Jesuits who were so
dangerous that they had been suppressed by their own Church. Almost like a tribe that had
been conquered, which in fact they were only the conqueror was a hyper-Enlightenment
figure, Pombal. Could not this chief Freemason Frederick have had the wherewithal to
somehow clandestinely incorporate even those exotically threatening tribe of Jesuit
propagandizers into the Craft?

Of course with our hindsight knowledge of Fredericks Machiavellian true-


intentions it seems ridiculous. To the average person, even to the average Mason, it might
have been harder to figure out as a factor of history. Thus it is reasonable to assume some
level of confusion. And for an example of some confusion you could not do better than the
symbol that is sometimes suggested Mozart used for the Jesuits. It has been posited that
the black-robed image of Monostatos in Die Zauberflte is meant to represent him as a
black- robed Jesuit101. If this is true, it hardly speaks to any kind feeling towards the
Society of Jesus. But against this we have Mozarts life-long working out of a virtual
apotheosis of musical structure involving the aesthetics of the Jesuits. As I said earlier, the
principal reason for this ultimately is the development of musical language as Rosen has
made clear. But there is very likely more to it than that. We see this by comparison with
30

the example of Haydn, who developed the language equally as much as Mozart did. Yet
he did it while slipping effortlessly between tendencies, and avoided heavy Counter-
Reformation tendencies in most of his works, and perhaps therefore it never affected his
career.

It may be specifically significant in this regard that Haydn spent much of his career
away from the ferment of the city, in Esterhazy. That also means away from the hustle and
bustle of rumor-mongering and the insecurity it brings. By contrast as a city-dweller
Mozarts final years demonstrates some ability to believe stories based on weird
suspicions or even paranoia. Therefore, I mean absolutely no disrespect to my favorite
composer when I speculate on the following.

Mozart was never a leader in the Masonic world, or anywhere else. It is possible
therefore that is some way he wondered if the Jesuits who had created the religious world
he lived in were still exerting some influence in the world generally, or in the Lodge in
particular . Again, there can be no serious question that he ever encountered a clandestine
Jesuit in the Lodge. But still he clearly had an active imagination. William Stafford who
investigated many of the persistent mysteries of Mozarts behavior in his last years
summed up his state of mind generally by noting that for him life and stories were
interwoven.102 Is it so hard to imagine that therefore Mozart , wanting to make the
biggest impression possible, adopted a tactic of attempted partial aggrandizement? This
comports well with some of his slightly incoherent statements about himself in his letters ,
in relation to his actual position in society. Mozart may have felt pushed to continually
embrace the archaism of the Counter-Reformation as a form of sub-rosa obeisance in
some way. In this sense it might have dove-tailed with some slowly developing aspects of
mental stress or difficulty, which manifested acutely in his last year.

By looking at things this way, we can see his actual joining of the Lodge as even
more crucial to him and his integrity personally. In the rituals of the Lodge he would have
experienced a real evocation of balance and acceptance amidst potentially conflicting
views. This did not take him out of the real world with its questions or rumors, but it gave
him a way of actually transmogrifying all these questions and contradictions into a
coherent whole. Most discerning listeners consider that his music only got better after
1784 when he officially joined the Lodge.103 As someone creatively stretched between past
and present, he can only have suffered somewhat with Joseph IIs paranoid crackdown on
Freemasonry. Because he had experienced the beauty of the Craft, and expressed it in the
deepest sense in his music, he had a lot at stake. As someone who had artistically delved
into humanitys past and humanitys social future, he had some personal wisdom mixed
with some tendencies to believe the worst. What gave him balance was Freemasonry, and
that is why he kept to it. With political pressure and rumor, Masonry was hardly an
uncomplicated affair during this period. But surely we can see in the equipoise it brought
to Mozart something fundamental, even constitutional, about it, which is even present
amidst political currents and reactions. This sense is so well expressed in some song-
poetry included in Andersons Constitutions, a founding document of Masonry
everywhere, so appropriate for a man who wrote his Masonic fantasy of humanitys past
and future shortly before his own life ended:
31

Antiquitys Pride
We have on our Side,
And it maketh Men just in their Stations,
Theres not but whats good
To be understood
By a Free and an Accepted Mason.104

Mozart may never have had the leadership position in the Lodge or in public life
to be able to resolve every question with certainty for himself. But that is not what really
mattered, even if questions remained. Still he would have had a philosophically healthful
framework in which to put all these political, religious and aesthetic contradictions. Truly
in this sense he was just in his Station. Still, it is reasonable to assume that some of
those remaining questions included the problematic persistence of the very cultural,
aesthetic and political framework the Jesuits had created for society, and the odd paradox
that the black-frocked originators themselves had been banished from the very culture
they created. From the hindsight of history it truly seems incredible that any of the Jesuit
complot ideas about Freemasonry were ever entertained, and could have affected people.
But if one considers various contemporary theories it is not beyond comprehension
intellectually when one considers ordinary people. And in most ways Mozart was very
ordinary. Because of his musical excellence we would like to see a corresponding
coherence in intellectual matters that we see so well in his musical sublimity . But we
know that he likely did not reach that level. Indeed, that Mozart did not parse all these
matters with intellectual rigor was finally proved by his Masonic opera. Yet if we are
admonished therefore by a doubting philosopher with the words Finem Lauda, we can
regardless easily heap our praise for his accomplishment on his own terms throughout his
whole life, as well as at the end. That Mozart was a great Mason and a great composer is
ultimately evident from the magnificence of his authentically Masonic contribution to
musical development itself.
1
Voltaire, A Philosophical Dictionary. London: W. Dugdale, 1843, pp. 454-456.
2
Peter Gay, Mozart. New York: Penguin, 2006, p. 84.
3
Nicholas Till, Mozart and the Enlightenment: Truth, Virtue and Beauty in Mozarts Operas. New
York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1992, p. 118-119. Tills whole discussion here is heavily indebted to
Habermas interpretation of Freemasonry, though he does not credit him. This Habermasian view in
itself is not without its problems for understanding the Craft accurately. He does however include him
as one source amongst many in the bibliography.
4
Till, Mozart and the Enlightenment, p. 127. Later, Till says something so ridiculous that to quote it
directly in our text would effectively eliminate him as a reasonable source: Like his Masonic brothers,
Mozart would have espoused a dual set of values. Within the lodge he and his brethren would have
espoused the truth of moral CatholicismOutside they would have continued to affirm the realities of
divine retribution for the masses (p.222) With these statements Till evinces such a thorough
misunderstanding of Freemasonry and also an unreasonableness about Enlightenment quotidian culture
to virtually disqualify him. I have chosen however, to see these statements as aberrations in a, in many
ways, fascinating book.
5
Till, Mozart and the Enlightenment, p.87
6
Till, Mozart and the Enlightenment, see index.
7
Katharine Thomson, The Masonic Thread in Mozart, Lawrence & Wishart, Ltd. 1977, p. 57.
8
Till, p. 167.
9
Till, p. 179.
10
Glenn Stanley, Cambridge Companion to Beethoven, Cambridge University Press, 2000 p. 233.
11
Till, p. 140.
12
Till, p. 131.
13
Till, p. 105.
14
Till, p. 135.
15
Donald Heartz, Haydn, Mozart and the Viennese School, 1749-1780, W.W. Norton & Co, 1995, p.
118.
16
Katharine Thomson, The Masonic Thread in Mozart, p. 46.
17
Till, p. 137.
18
Thomson, p. 73.
19
See Gernot Gruber, Mozart and Posterity. Evanston: Northwestern University Press. , 1994.
20
Piero Melograni, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: A Biography, Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
2006, p. 242.
21
Herbert Bradley, Brother Mozart and Some of His Masonic Friends. Ars Quatuor Coronatorum.
Vol. 26 (1913), p. 252
22
Brigid Brophy, Mozart the Dramatist. Revised Edition. New York: Da Capo Paperbacks, 1988, p.
13.
23
Herbert Bradley, p. 254.
24
Robert Cooper. Cagliostro, The Masonic Magician, Watkins, 2006, p. 97. See also pp. 193-194 for
further support of this idea.
25
Thomson, p. 44, Thomson is referring to Scheibe who authored a well-known collection of Masonic
songs.
26
Thomson, p. 155.
27
See Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Art of Colonial Latin America. London: Phaidon, 2005, p. 75 & p.
113. In describing Colonial portraiture from the period Bailey writes: these pictures emphasized the
link between the historical Inca past and the Christian present, but they also affirmed that there was an
Inca present (emphasis added).
28
Thomson, p. 116.
29
Thomson, p. 155.
30
Thomson, p. 149.
31
Thomson, p. 37.
32
Saul K. Padover. The Revolutionary Emperor: Joseph II of Austria. N/p: Archon Books, 1967. (see
index for Voltaire.) Quote: p. 90.
33
Saul K. Padover, p. 132
34
They may have looked radical to his traumatized wife, or she may have worried others would have
perceived them to be so and thus diminish whatever posthumous benefit she could gain from his
memory and works. Thus the fact that she destroyed letters cannot be realistically argued to support the
notion that the view were actually radical in comparison with other Enlightenment figures.
35
R. William Weisberger, Speculative Freemasonry and the Enlightenment: A Study of the Craft in
London, Paris, Prague, and Vienna. Boulder: East European Monographs, 1993, p. 138. Blumauer
later became the official Censor as well.
36
Thomson, for instance, develops this theme repeatedly (see her index), but note that this would
conflict with her conflation of Freemasonry and the Illuminati.
37
Bernard Fay, Revolution and Freemasonry, 1680-1800. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1935, p. 265.
38
Fay, p. 265, Fay notes that Rousseauists imputed to Voltarians immorality as well.
39
Jacques Chailley. The Magic Flute: Masonic Opera. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 1971, p. 57.
40
Chailley, p. 65.
41
Saul K. Padover, p. 148.
42
Jon Vanden Heuvel, A German Life in the Age of Revolution, Joseph Gorres, 1776-1848.
Washington: Catholic University of America Press., 2001. Excerpting from p. 11, then p. 10.
43
Henry Kissinger, in Foreword to Vanden Heuvel, p. xiv.
44
To say the obvious this is related in Mozarts case on the emphasis placed on German theatre.
45
Paul B. Bernard. Joseph II. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1968, p. 101
46
Margaret Jacob, p. 252.
47
See James Tracy, Erasmsus of the Low Countries. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.
48
Saul K. Padover, p. 127
49
Cynthia Verba, Music and the French Enlightenment: Reconstruction of a Dialogue; 1750-1764.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. This extremely elegant reassembling of the musical
dialogue between Rameau and Rousseau carried on in a variety of sources is remarkable for the
cumulative insight it might give to our argument. When one sees the ultimate bleakness of Rousseaus
harmonic conceptions against Rameaus, and remembers the philosophical connections that might very
well be made as well, it invites great interpretive caution. To say the obvious, Mozart has vastly more
in common with Rameau, who by the way, some say was a Freemason. Seeing the specific musical
manifestation of the noble savage trope is revelatory. Only in a very attenuated form can this heady
political notion have affected a man like Mozart. Verba only mentions Mozart, though, to note that he
set a similar libretto in his Bastien and Bastienne as Rousseau did in his Devin du Village, p. 11.
50
W.J. Turner. Mozart: The Man and His Works. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1979, p. 399.
51
Chailley, p. 277.
52
Based on the St. Henry Mass by Biber, who is most famous for his beautiful Rosary Sonatas for
Violin. One does not get more Catholic than that.
53
Chailley, p. 278.
54
The distinction between super and meta in this context would be that it takes the analysis out of
any hierarchical judgment about the desirability of one world-view being preferable over another in an
abstract sense, and puts it in a moral continuum of analysis by some meta-conceptual schema. This was
the basis of the best examples of Enlightenment thinking on religion. In addition, super has later
Nietzshean connotations which are problematic. Though one should never forget that Nietzsche
dedicated Human, All to Human to Voltaire!
55
See Peter Paul Fuchs, Incense to the Intellect, Heredom.
56
Till, p. 316. Till relates that Mozart had a book called Die Metaphysic in der Connecion mit der
Chemie which he remarks is an obviously alchemical title. It certainly means something that Mozart
had this book, but one must parse what it means correctly. One book does not a profound
understanding of anything make. Of course, that is even assuming that he had read it.
57
It may be that the fact that in Russia Rosicrucianism virtually swallowed-up Masonry itself, and that
there was a strong connection with Swedish Masonry which is the most Christian in the European
context, that has led historians to conflate Rosicrucianism so heavily with Freemasonry. Since
Catherine the Great was such a famous historical character, this has lead historians to use the Russian
example as exemplary. To say the obvious, Austria was not Russia. Also, the Russian Orthodox
Church always had a strong anti-intellectual flavor which would have colored its being used as a foil
for occult elements. Again, the same anti-intellectual sense never existed in the Roman Catholic
Church, and therefore to the extent that it was a foil for occult elements was strongly modified. What is
absolutely clear is that Freemasonry was only variably to be attached to Rosicrucian ideas in the
Austrian context as opposed to the famous Russian example. See Working the Rough Stone.
58
Till, p. 316.
59
Till, p. 307.
60
The emphasis on Eucharistic adoration was an important part of Counter-Reformation Catholicism,
the very idea of which involved a complete rejection of Reformed understandings of the Lords Supper.
One can say with confidence that Eucharistic adoration expresses the very essence of Counter-
Reformation spirituality in its denial of Protestant theology. (See Carter Lindberg. The European
Reformations Wiley-Blackwell, p. 355). Peter Paul Rubens great tapestry cartoon cycle The Triumph
of the Eucharist is a great example of this fact.
61
Chailley, p. 297.
62
Chailley, p. 19.
63
W. J. Turner, p. 400. We should note that sometimes Die Zauberflte has quite wrongly been
compared to A Midsummer Nights Dream in terms of fantasy. The comparison is not really meaningful
at all.
64
Chailley, p. 209.
65
Chailley, p. 48. Chailley says it was mentioned by Leopold von Sonnleithner.
66
See Gernot Gruber, Mozart and Posterity. Evanston: Northwestern University Press. , 1994.
67
Alec Mellor, Loge Rituale Hochgrade: Handbuch der Freimaurei. Graz: Verlag Styria, 1967, p. 372.
Die Franzsische Revolution unterbricht auch die freimauerische Aktivitat. Als die Arbeiten wieder
aufgenommen werden, tritt jene falsche gyptische Orientierung hervor, die Cagliostro eingefuhrt und
die Mozart in Die Zauberflte popular gemacht hat.
68
E.J. Dent. Mozarts Operas: A Critical Study. New York: McBride, Nast, and Co., 1913, p. 74. Dent
is referring to Stendahl here.
69
John Hamill and Robert Gilbert. Freemasonry: A Celebration of the Craft, p. 80.
70
Brigid Brophy. Mozart the Dramatist. Revised Edition. New York: Da Capo Paperback, 1988. p.
20.
71
Prokofiev is of course, his fantastically talented imitator in this regard.
72
We should not be tempted into thinking that traditional religious belief in itself will tell us anything
in this matter whereas stylistic appropriation of aesthetic tropes will. On this matter it is not so
important that Haydn seems always to have been a simpler sort of unskeptical Catholic believer
throughout his life than Mozart. Despite this fact Haydns music evinces a more pragmatic and merely
affirmational tone, which in turn can be said to have produced strengths and weaknesses. Haydns
church music is firmly grounded in the here-and-now and is at its finest where it seeks to express a
positive attitude towards life in all its different aspects. It is far less successful at expressing powerful
and dark emotions [than Mozarts], and it generally stops short of setting foot inside the portals of the
mysteries alluded to by the words of the Mass. (Herman Albert. W.A. Mozart. New Haven: Yale
University Press, p. 355.) On a somewhat related matter, Haydn had only a slight connection with the
Masonic Lodge compared to Mozart. But it is noteworthy that even here his pragmatism probably
shone through. In fact, ironically he was more successful than Mozart in working the potential
patronage that Masonic societies offered. Haydns Paris Symphonies were commissioned by the
concert association of the Loge Olypique in Paris. However, his music did not develop the
philosophical insights of Masonry the way Mozarts did. In this regard, it is a strange fact of musical
history that Haydns Paris Symphonies are probably the greatest works resulting from direct Masonic
patronage, which in fact came from a person with quite tenuous connections to the Lodge compared to
Mozart.
73
Charles Rosen, The Classical Style. W.W. Norton & Co., 1972, p. 367.
74
Alfred Einstein, Mozart, His Character, His Work. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965, p. 348.
75
Arthur Sharp, Mozart s Masonic Music Ars Quatuor Coronatorum. Volume 69 (1957), p. 18.
Sharp notes additionally that O heiliges Band was included in Breitkopf and Hartels Mozarts
Komponisten fur Freimauer. (Ed. 1357.).
76
Wilfred Mellers. Celestial Music: Some Masterpieces of European Religious Music. Boydell and
Brewer, 2002, p. 108.
77
Letter to Leopold Mozart February 4, 1778. I have used the following for this quote, as well as
consulted many other translations in general: Ludwig Nohl. Mozarts Briefe: Nach dem Originalem
herausgegeben. Salzburg: Verlag der Maurischen Buchhandlung, 1865, p. 124; and, the translation by
Lady Grace Wallace, The Letters of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1866,
p. 160.
78
The fact that Mozarts wife and friends had difficulty getting a priest to come to give him last rites
has I think amazingly been taken as an indication that he was known specifically for unbelief. This
shows a denial of the actual history of Roman Catholic Church structure at the period. Until the
nineteenth century in most places, and even later in others, like Mexico, many of the sacraments were
administered with a fee. Priests lives financially were centered on the benefice system, for which
parishioners regular monetary support was crucial. Ecclesiastical income came from semi-feudal dues
such as tithes
(Gerald B. Cragg. The Church and the Age of Reason, 1648-1789. London: Penguin Books, 1970. , p.
11) Thus fees from parishioners were not gratuities, but what made up a living wage. That Mozart was
known to not be able to afford all this would have been a much more important to his reputation as an
irregular church-goer than his Masonry or putative personal philosophy ever could have been. In fact
the extent to which Catholics were routinely denied the sacraments for this reason before modern times
is a mostly untold story for historians.
79
Alec Mellor, p. 122. der ubrigens ein leidenschaftlicher Katholik gewesen ist.
80
Mellers, p. 111. I believe Mellers means Masonic here in something like the intersectional way I
have described and definitely not in the Rosicrucian sense that Till posited.
81
Arthur Sharp, p. 24.
82
Karsten Harries, The Bavarian Rococo Church: Between Faith and Aestheticism. New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1983, p. 246. Quoted in Robert L. Schwartz Metaphors and Action Schemes: Some
Themes in Intellectual History. Bucknell University Press. P. 253.
83
By following Karsten Harries insight here I am aware that it takes a step in a direction that Rosens
The Classical Style does not take. Though Rosen describes the persistence of Rococo features even in
Hummels dull music he sees the development of the classical style mostly as a sort of temporal
evolution in musical language generally in line with stylistic progression: It was the symmetrical
organization of Rococo style from eighteenth century on that made the dramatic concentration of the
later classical style a reality (Rosen, p. 77. ) While this may be true, and I certainly do not wish to
contradict anything that Rosen says ultimately, there is difference in emphasis to be made. Showing
perhaps, fortuitously for the argument I have made here, that being clear about potential comparisons to
the visual arts is important because of its affect on our general aesthetic heuristic, Rosen participates in
this. He makes this statement about the Rococo aesthetic: In rococo interiors, the decoration was used
to hide the structure, to cover over the joints, to enforce a supreme continuity. (p. 107) I think more
philosophical view of Karsten Harries insight is very helpful here. Harries sees the ornament, the
decoration as intrinsic to the sense of order conveyed. I prefer Harries view, though I think Rosens
ultimate contentions about the music are correct. I think Mozart had this deeper structural sense of the
Rococo, but what he also had was the sense of the weakness of it as well. One way or another he was
pushed into his own evolution of the classical style, which was a distillation of past influences. I see his
path involving such a profound grasp of the structure of the rococo, which perhaps always was a weak
structure aesthetically, as to impel him into the dynamic tension with the Counter-Reformation
aesthetics which were stronger if unstable. This may be a form of archaism as Rosen calls it, though
that word seems freighted with other elements not germane to Mozarts use. For the same word
archaism could be applied to the persistence of rococo tropes in Hummel, which Rosen has described
and denigrated. One could then have to speak of a successful archaism, or unsuccessful one, which
defeats the purpose. Instead, I think Mozarts dynamic tension of with the Counter Reformation was a
living, workable phenomenon, whereas the rococo in Hummel is just dead mostly. To me, archaism
seems to connote therefore something in fact that was already not useful.
84
Margaret Jacob, The Radical Enlightenment, p. 53.
85
Kirk MacNulty,A Philosophic Background for Masonic Symbolism, in Freemasonry in Context.
Lanham: Lexington Books, 2004, p. 235.
86
Though it is quite beyond the scope in detail of this paper, there is some indication that late in his life
Mozart, incredible as it seems, was trying to master a more simplistic, late- rococo style of church
music in order to get a job. This gives us a sense that Mozart understood that here was something
different about his approach, for certainly he had quite a lot of experience writing rococo church music
of a sort in his youth. I think these real-world insecurities should be distinguished from the artistic
confidence of his ultimate creative trajectory. For certainly the Great Mass show mastery of
ecclesiastical style in an absolute sense. Though the matter shows just how vexed and personally costly
these stylistic issues were for Mozart. This matter is discussed by Alan Tyson: But if around 1788
Mozart was making transcriptions by an esteemed Viennese Kapellmeister who had worked at St.
Stephens. perhaps he was seeking to master the style of composition that would land him the position
of church composer. Alan Tyson. Mozart: Studies of the Autograph Scores, Cambridge: Harvard
University Press, p. 27.
87
H.C. Robbins Landon, Mozart and the Masons. London: Thames and Hudson, 1982, p. 20.
88
William Stafford. The Mozart Myths: A Critical Reassessment. Stanford: Stanford University Press,
1993, p. 197.
89
The whole question of Casuistry as the supreme art of Jesuit propaganda is quite beyond the scope of
this argument. But it should at least be mentioned that the put-on or artificial quality of Casuistry,
which the Jesuits asserted as a justified necessity of making faith battle-worthy in the Counter-
Reformation environment, could certainly and easily be seen as an inspiration for the exciting yet
perhaps unstable aesthetic of the Baroque.
90
Evonne Anita Levy, Propaganda and the Jesuit Baroque. Berkeley: University of California Press,
2004, p. 29.
91
Steven Luckert. Jesuits, Freemasons, Illuminati, and Jacobins: Conspiracy Theories, Secret
Societies and Politics in late eighteenth century Germany. Unpublished Ph D. Dissertation. SUNY-
Binghamton, 1993. Thanks to the Library of the Grand Lodge of Iowa for making this valuable work
available to me. Luckert went on to become Chief Curator of the Holocaust Museum in Washington.
D.C.
92
Saul K. Padover. The Revolutionary Emperor: Joseph II of Austria. N/p: Archon Books, 1967, p. 45.
93
Saul K. Padover, p. 136.
94
R. Williams Weisberger, Freemasonry as a Source of Jewish Civil Rights in Late Eighteenth
Century Vienna and Philadelphia: A Study in Atlantic History. East European Quarterly, Winter
2000, p. 13?
95
Nancy Mitford. Frederick the Great. New York: Harper & Rowe, 1970, pp. 273-274.
96
Roger Parker. The Oxford Illustrated History of Opera. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994,
p. 63. Let it be said in passing that though one would expect Grauns setting of Fredericks libretto to
be a dull affair, it is not. Judging from the live tape of a Spoleto production, it is just as fine music as
the Vivaldi setting, which is much better known, or the De Majo which is less so. Still there is also no
doubt that Grauns music is exactly the sort that in a less vigorous production could become quickly
enervating.
97
Jaime Cuadriello, Moctezuma in The Arts in Latin America, 1492-1820. Exhibition Catalogue.
Philadelphia Museum of Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, p. 377. This catalogue also shows
that some portraits of Montezuma ended-up in European collections, see p. 376.
98
Brophy, p. 216.
99
Brophy, p. 227.
100
Brophy, p. 217.
101
Chailley, p. 105. Whatever is the case with Monostatos, it is clear that in all interpretations he is the
character no one can figure out. He is the character that is the wrench in every interpretation. That
says something in itself.
102
William Stafford, The Mozart Myths: A Critical Reassessment. Stanford: Stanford University Press,
1991, p. 267.
103
It might be worth recalling here Glenn Goulds rather well-known dislike of the later Mozart and his
preference for more gallant works. . This may have been one of Goulds eccentricities, but is strongly
shows that there is a developmental difference in these later works which musicians themselves can
identify keenly.
104
The Fellowcraft Song by Brother Charles de la Fay. In Andersons Constitutions Facsimile
Reproduction printed for the Quatuor Coronati Lodge. Abingdon: Burgess and Sons, 1976, p. 205.