As part of his European tour, the young Mozart arrived in Versailles with his father Leopold and his sister Nannerl. Their impressions were mixed.
On 18 November 1763, Leopold Mozart arrived in Paris to present his two child prodigies: Marie-Anne, called Nannerl, aged 12, and above all his son Wolfgang, aged 6. They hoped to perform at the court of Versailles. Baron Friedrich Melchior Grimm, the famous German author, a friend of the Encyclopaedists, was to introduce them.
A private visit was organised in mid-December. Louis XV received them with Mme de Pompadour. Leopold found her beautiful but full of pride. She looked like an empress! He laughed when Wolfgang whispered to him that she looked like Threzel, their cook! After playing for her, Mozart wanted to kiss her. The marquise refused, which annoyed the little boy. Had he not kissed Maria Theresa of Austria? The fact is that the Mozart family came up against the rigidity of the French Court.
The official reception of the family was held at the end of December. Since the 24th they had been staying at the hôtel de Cormier (no. 6 of the present rue due Peintre Lebrun), close to the Château. After playing before the royal family, the Dauphine and Mesdames, the daughters of Louis XV, kissed the children several times, to the great satisfaction of Leopold. He measured the interest they took in them by the number of kisses given. Mme de Pompadour was put in her place!
On 1 January 1764, the family was invited to the king’s table. Wolfgang was seated beside queen Marie Leszczinska, Leopold close to the king and Nannerl between the Dauphin and Mme Adélaïde. The queen, who spoke German, acted as interpreter. At the end of the meal, Louis XV asked to hear Mozart playing the organ. A time was fixed for the next day, but the king was impatient to hear him and he got up and headed for the royal chapel. Everybody followed. The boy hit one prolonged note, then another, followed by a deluge of harmony. The king was stunned!
The Mozart family stayed for 16 days at Versailles. Leopold found the music of the royal chapel both good and bad. He thought the choirs were excellent, but the vocal music was too glacial, too French! They departed with a gift of 1,200 livres from the Menus Plaisirs funds of Louis XV, along with the many other presents that they had received. In March, Mozart dedicated to Mme Victoire, in gratitude, his first two sonatas for harpsichord published in Paris.