The young Mozart came to Versailles during a tour of Europe with his father, Leopold, and his sister, Nannerl. His impression of the visit was mixed.
Leopold Mozart arrived in Paris on 18 November 1763 with his two child prodigies: Maria-Anna, known as Nannerl, aged 12, and the young Wolfgang, aged 7. They hoped to perform at the Court of Versailles. They were introduced by Friedrich Melchior Baron von Grimm, a famous German writer who also contributed to encyclopaedias.
A private visit was organised for mid-December, and they were received by Louis XV and Mme de Pompadour. Leopold found the Marquise very beautiful but extremely proud, and felt that she seemed to consider herself an empress. He laughed when Wolfgang whispered to him that she looked like Threzel, their cook. After playing for them, Mozart wanted to give her a kiss but the Marquise refused. The young musician felt offended: had he not kissed Empress Maria Theresa? The rigidity of the French Court shocked the Mozart family.
At the end of the meal Louis XV asked to hear Mozart play the organ. A time was set for the following, day but the impatient king headed directly to the Royal Chapel, and everyone flocked after him. In the chapel the young musician played one extended note, then another, followed by a flood of harmonious music. The king was astounded.
An official reception was held for them in late December. Since the 24th they had been staying not far from the Palace in Hotel du Cormier (no. 6 on the current Rue du Peintre Lebrun). After they had played for the royal family the Dauphine and the Mesdames, Louis XV’s daughters, kissed the children several times, to Leopold’s great satisfaction. He judged the success of his children’s performances by how many kisses they received. It was a lesson to Mme de Pompadour!
On 1 January 1764 the family was invited to attend the King’s Royal Table. Wolfgang stood next to Queen Marie Leszczyńska, Leopold was near the king, and Nannerl was between the Dauphin and Madame Adélaïde. The queen, who spoke German, acted as interpreter. At the end of the meal Louis XV asked to hear Mozart play the organ. A time was set for the following, day but the impatient king headed directly to the Royal Chapel, and everyone flocked after him. In the chapel the young musician played one extended note, then another, followed by a flood of harmonious music. The king was astounded.
The Mozart family stayed for 16 days in Versailles. Leopold found the music of the Royal Chapel both good and not so good. He thought the choirs were excellent but the music too cold, too French. When they left, Louis XV paid them 1,200 Livres through the Menus-Plaisirs, a sum which they received on top of the multiple presents they had already received. As a sign of gratitude, Mozart later dedicated his two first sonatas for the harpsichord, published in March in Paris, to Madame Victoire.
Reign of Louis XV