Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
In the Concert Grove section of Prospect Park
This statue of the Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose girlish laugh and sophomoric fart jokes tormented Antonio Salieri in the motion picture “Amadeus,” sits in the unappreciated-by-many Concert Grove section of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.
The unremarkable bust — the writer Joseph Lederer amusingly describes the “periwigged Mozart”, in his 1975 sculpture guide, “All Around the Town,” as “stiff and informal” with “the face of a footman” — has all the charm of a foppish school master. Mozart gazes disinterestedly over the heads of viewers, with a slight grimace on his face — looking nothing at all like the actor Tom Hulce.
It’s made of bronze, cast by Bureau Brothers of Philadelphia, and the whole thing is perched atop an 11-foot pedestal of granite. It was sculpted by Augustus Max Johannes Mueller, who I think was from the United States but am not sure, and dedicated on Oct. 23, 1897.
It was another gift of the United German Singers of Brooklyn. These plucky gents won the bust at the National Saengerfest, one of many such victories — the nearby busts of Beethoven and Weber are trophies, too. According to the parks department’s Web site, the group paid an architect $6,000 to design the pedestal.
The installation was accompanied by the typical, for the time, pomp and circumstance. A subhed on The Times’s report the next day trumpeted, “LEADING CITIZENS TAKE PART.” Peer singing societies took part in a grand parade, which began at 2 in the afternoon and was reviewed by Mayor Fred Wurster. The United Singers kicked out a rendition of “Der Tag des Herrn,” after which the Singers’ president, the aptly named S. K. Saenger, gave a presentation and bragged about the renown achieved by his boys. There were a few, further dry remarks offered by a few, further dry speakers, and the whole thing wrapped up with a sing-along of the national anthem.
The bust is inscribed by Mueller thusly, “A.M.J. MUELLER SCULPTOR PHILADELPHIA, 1897.” The front of the pedestal has the inscription:
PRESENTED TO THE CITY OF BROOKLYN BY THE UNITED GERMAN SINGERS OF THE CITY FIRST PRIZE AT THE 18TH NATIONAL SAENGERFEST HELD AT PHILADELPHIA JUNE 23RD 1897
And the back says:
S.K. SAENGER PRESIDENT ARTHUR CLASSEN CONDUCTOR