Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


YESTERDAY IN PART 1, Mozart had royal patrons bringing him fame, though not reliable income. It was a time of revolution for Europeans as well as for American colonials. Where did Mozart stand on all this? 

Today in Part 2, we glean tidbits from David Shavin’s “Mozart and The American Revolutionary Upsurge,” The Schiller Institute, reprinted from Fidelio Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 4, Winter 1992. Shavin’s lengthly article has Mozart’s opera The Abduction from the Seraglio as a recurrent theme, with The Magic Flute noteworthy as well. It also discusses Freemasonry rivalries of the era and offers a less than charitable view about the 1984 movie Amadeus.

Mozart’s Lafayette Link. “In 1778,” Shavin noted, Mozart “was offered the position of court organist at Versailles, with a direct connection to Emperor Joseph’s sister, Marie Antoinette. The French court had just officially thrown its support behind the Americans in their revolt against Britain’s King George III.”

“While in France,” Shavin continued, “Mozart frequented pro-American circles. For ten days he worked, with Johann Christian Bach [the “London Bach” son], at the estate of the de Noaille family, in-laws of the Marquis de Lafayette, who had gone to Philadelphia to fight for the Americans against the British.”

Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette, 1757–1834, French aristocrat and military officer who fought on the colonial side of the American Revolutionary War. Portrait by Charles Willson Peale of Lafayette in his uniform of a major general in the Continental Army.

Lafayette (as it was spelled in America) has been called Le Héros des Deux Mondes, the Hero of Two Worlds. Among other military commands, he was in charge of the blockade that forced the decisive siege of Yorktown. 

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, Yorktown, Virginia, October 19, 1781. This painting by John Trumbull hangs in the rotunda of the United States Capitol.

A Changed World. “On Oct. 19, 1781,” Shavin observed, “the world turned upside down on King George III, the British Empire, and indeed the very principle behind empire—the oligarchical system. The Americans and their French allies won their strategic victory at Yorktown, as Cornwallis surrendered the British Army to George Washington. The discussions, already ongoing in the capitals of Europe about republicanism and colonialism, now rose to a new level of intensity.”

Shavin continued, “After the American victory at Yorktown, Joseph’s realm was deluged with pamphlets on all topics, distributed for public discussion as part of his policy to allow issues to be aired freely. Joseph intervened a final time to force what was to be the controversial opening night of The Abduction.”

An Abduction Flip. Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, The Abduction from the Seraglio, 1782, is a comic opera sung in German. Hero Belmonte, assisted by his servant Pedrillo, attempts to rescue his beloved Konstanze and her maid Blonde from the harem of Pasha Selim.

Shavin noted, “In the ending of the original play upon which the libretto was based… Belmonte is set free by the Turkish Pasha Selim because it is found out at the last instant that Belmonte is the long-lost son of the Pasha—a well-worn dramatic device dear to the oligarchist’s bias.” 

Instead, noted Shavin, “Mozart chooses to compose a much more powerful ending which confronts, rather than strokes, the listener’s prejudices.” The Pasha benevolently frees the foursome because “it is a far greater pleasure to repay injustices with good deeds than evil with evil.” There’s no need for a phony long-lost son.  

“The opera,” Shavin asserted, “shook Vienna and Europe no less than the ‘American thesis’ was shaking the structure of European political relations.”

How Magic the Flute? Die Zauberflote, The Magic Flute, was Mozart’s last opera, making its premiere in Vienna on September 30, 1791. (Mozart was to die in less than three months, at age 35.)

Like Abduction and contrary to operatic traditions, Flute was performed in German, the native language of librettist and Mozart pal Emanuel Schikaneder (who also sang the opera’s Papageno role). Wikipedia says, “The Magic Flute is noted for its prominent Masonic elements, although some scholars hold that the Masonic influence is exaggerated…. The opera is also influenced by Enlightenment philosophy and can be regarded as advocating enlightened absolutism.” 

Masonic rivalries of the era pitted mystical Gnostic factions, interested in alchemy, mesmerism and the like, against more progressive lodges such as the Baron von Gemmingen’s “Beneficence” to which Mozart belonged. 

Shavin’s Dark Questions. “Had the Scottish Rite,” Shavin posited, “taken its revenge against those who tried to impose reason and a Christian concept of love upon the Freemasonry? Could Mozart’s sudden demise in 1791 have been an earlier death sentence by these forces?”

Shavin concluded, “Is the new ritual murder being carried out today against Mozart, by the movie producers of [1984] Amadeus and others, who portray this great moral artist as a foul-mouthed, brainless fop effortlessly churning out divine compositions, being committed at the behest of the heirs of Mozart’s enemies?” ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2021

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: