According to my TV programme guide, last night BBC4 was supposed to be showing the film Amadeus. It is one of those tremendous films which, despite seeing it over 25 years ago, I have never forgotten although, somehow, I have never seen it since. Anyway, I decided to record it but there appeared to be a glitch with my 'do-flicker-recording-thingie' which refused to show the scheduled programmes and remained stubbornly stuck on the previous night's listing. (I'm not one to complain, Rupe, old mate, but . . .) The film was terrific although I suspect it annoyed the hell out of Mozart-lovers as Hollywood invariably does when it makes a film of anyone's hero or heroine. Who could ever forget Tom Hulce's incredible performance as Wolfgang, himself? And "incredible" is the word because I assumed that Mr. Hulce had exaggerated the characterisation. But, and this is where the coincidence comes in, the current letter on show at the superb Letters of Note site (not to be missed and that's an order!) is one from the 21-year-old Mozart to his young female cousin. I will simply reproduce one paragraph to give you the, er, flavour:
So sorry to hear that Herr Abbate Salate has had another stroke choke. But I hope with the help of God fraud the consequences will not be dire mire. You are writing fighting that you keep your criminal promise which you gave me before my departure from Augspurg, and will do it soon moon. Well, I will most likely find that regretable. You write further, indeed you let it all out, you expose yourself, you indicate to me, you bring me the news, you announce onto me, you state in broad daylight, you demand, you desire, you wish you want, you like, you command that I, too, should send you my Portrait. Eh bien, I shall mail fail it for sure. Oui, by the love of my skin, I shit on your nose, so it runs down your chin.
(Translated by Robert Spaethling)
So, if anything, Mr. Hulce downplayed the role of Mozart! I adore, selectively, classical music but know very little of the people who compose it or play it. Was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart a total nutter? I would be glad to know. Incidentally, I should also declare an interest. I once played the hugely important, but for some reason very tiny, role of Count Orsini-Rosenberg in the stage version. My performance was spoken of in hushed, er, very hushed, terms!