WE are in Naples in 1770. So what has Naples in 1770 got to do with Mozart and the Scots, you ask? Mozart met at least two Scots during his stay there with his father. One of them, Sir William Hamilton, was the British ambassador to Naples and if you need introductions to high society, or want an expert guided tour to Vesuvius, then Sir William is your man.

Of Sir William and Lady Hamilton, whom the Mozarts met in London in 1764-65, musical attention has mostly been given to Lady Hamilton, who was Welsh, and played the harpsichord nervously but well in the presence of the Mozarts in 1770. But what is not usually mentioned is that in the same year Sir William, who was also musical, actually played with the Mozarts, father and son. The evidence for this is in a small but significant painting by Pietro Fabris (fl 1768-78), housed in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which shows Mozart playing a spinet alongside his father at the harpsichord, Sir William, playing viola; Gaetano Pugnani (1731-1798) playing the violin or possibly Emanuele Barbella; and an unidentified musician, possibly playing the oboe, but who is mostly hidden by the connoisseur or conductor of the proceedings, young Kenneth MacKenzie (later Lord Fortrose), another Scot, in whose (probably rented) house the concert party takes place.

Sir William, like many viola players, had “left off the fiddle as Rosamowski and the Vienna Minister quite cut me out, and I have taken to the Tenor”. This admission of musical inferiority does not, however, diminish his significance and perhaps even argues for a sensitivity one wishes were more apparent among amateurs. He had gone so far as to study the violin at Felice Giardini’s academy in 1761 – not a usual course of action for an ambassador and aristocrat in those or any other days: and as a patron his kindly support, in 1779, of the Irish singer and later friend of Mozart, Michael Kelly, was especially important at such an early stage in Kelly’s career.

The Fabris painting displays MacKenzie’s interests – music, antiquities, literature, weaponry, and painting itself. Music is the centrepiece of the scene, the household being in possession of a large harpsichord, the scene being a concert party with distinguished musical guests.

The music historian Burney (properly MacBurney, but his family dropped the Mac when they moved from Scotland to England), was also assisted by Hamilton and MacKenzie, and tells us that MacKenzie played the harpsichord and “is really a lively, sensible and accomplished young nobleman, in person very manly and pleasing he has great talents and taste … after bathing, we have an English breakfast at his Lordship’s [Mackenzie’s] and after breakfast a delightful little concert, which lasts for an hour and a half.”

The companion painting to the one described, shows the other half of the room, and music again features, for Niccolo Jommelli (1714-1774) is shown in mourning on account of the recent death of his wife, but finding enough strength in himself to continue composing, in MacKenzie’s house. At precisely this time, Jommelli’s music was being sung in Scotland by Christian Fullerton, wife of Kellie’s first cousin, The Honourable Henry Erskine.

We know this from her own manuscript of 1771, complete with all the fancy extra bits suggested by her teacher, Tenducci. So the Fabris painting is not to be construed as an image of the musical condescension of the Mozarts in return for the aristocratic condescension of the two Scots; but rather as a natural coming together of lovers of music.

What music are they performing? Alas, there is nothing in the painting to inform us. Mozart, Pugnani, Jommelli, or even Sir William might have been the composer. The piece is, possibly, for oboe quartet, but on such occasions musicians will alter the scoring to match the players available, so we shall never be certain.

WHAT music would have come to mind in their conversation? They would surely have recalled their first meeting in London and any musical connections that would have evoked. In the presence of two leading aristocratic Scots with a taste for music, the name of a third, the Earl of Kellie would naturally crop up. He was one of the most distinguished musical aristocrats from anywhere in Europe. As we saw two weeks ago a concerto by Kellie had been performed in Kassel in 1764.

The work has yet to be traced. So some of Kellie’s music may well have made its way to Naples along with the Shudi-Broadwood harpsichord which was at the Hamilton’s residence – for from 1769 Broadwood’s name was virtually always added to the partners’ instrument. Kellie’s trio sonata no 5 dates from 1769. The minuet is very like the Haydn minuet from Opus 76 No4, and guess when that was written – 1799, that’s when. Thirty years later than the Kelly.

Is there a mystery here? Not really. These works are part of the lingua franca of the time. The only mystery is that, in the vast studies of the period, Kelly has been so largely ignored as one of the significant progenitors of the classical style.

THERE’S something else that Haydn, Oswald, Mozart, Kellie, McGibbon and who knows else shared in common and that was Freemasonry. Way back in the April 28 2017 issue I wrote about Clerk and Oswald and Freemasonry, particularly Oswald’s Masonic Anthem Grant Me Kind Heaven. Published in 1740, it set a standard of subtlety and symbolism that waited 30 years to be matched by Mozart. The article is still there on the website so I won’t repeat it all. But this is different.

Freemasonry was rooted in Scottish culture and it was Le Chevalier Andrew Ramsay, a Jacobite Scot who tutored Bonnie Prince Charlie in Rome, who brought Freemasonry to France where he published mystical treatises in French, and in which country they still claim to follow the Scottish Masonic rite. Another mason was Francis Stephen, Duke of Lorraine who brought Freemasonry from France to Austria, founding the first Lodge in Vienna.

Mozart himself was closely involved with members of a parallel group of social idealists, the Illuminati, amongst whose orders was that of Scottish Knight, or Illuminatus dirigens. The title “Scottish Knight” is not surprising as the Illuminati were closely involved with the Strict Observance masons whose order originated in Scotland and whose grand masters had probably included Bonnie Prince Charlie and Lord Kilmarnock. So the line of succession from Scotland to Mozart’s Vienna is clear enough.

Mozart is known to have visited the “Cave of the Illuminati” at Aigen near his home town of Salzburg. In many respects its symbolism was anticipated by Sir John Clerk of Penicuik in the construction and meaning of the Hurley Tunnel on his estate – illustrated in the article referred to above.

Mozart was the most overtly Masonic of all composers. His opera The Magic Flute is set in a Masonic temple and he wrote a number of works with specific Masonic intentions, never mind the two beautiful Sinfonia Concertantes composed following his mother’s death in Paris.

Both works are Masonic in character. Well, the ideals and the symbolism of Oswald’s anthem are to be found in Mozart’s masonic music and, occasionally, the style. But Mozart’s usual style is much closer to that of Kellie.

As a leading member of the Freemasonic movement, Kellie was bound to share in its seriousness of purpose. His election to the positions of grand master of the English and Scottish Masonic Lodges simultaneously, shows that others also regarded him as being as capable of philosophical reflection as he was of being jocund. Kellie’s own contribution to Masonic music, though not overtly stated as such, is a concert aria Death Is Now My Only Treasure.

It is worthy of Mozart in its dignified beauty. Confrontation with and acceptance of death are fundamental aspects of initiation and continuing understanding and, given the sixth Earl’s generally riotous style of living, may be assumed to reflect an aspect of his character reserved for the more solemn moments of his life in Freemasonic company, paralleling Mozart’s own description of death as “the best and truest friend of mankind”.

Death is now my only treasure,

Death is all the Gods can give,

fate can’t rob me of this pleasure,

None can force the wretch to live.

Fear no more to pine and languish,

Fear no more the rack of life,

Pain and tourture, death and anguish

Death shall end the fev’rish strife.

Death, however, is no respecter of persons, be they philosophically or rakishly inclined, and Kellie’s aria no doubt echoed in his mind when he died in Brussels on October 9 1781 of a “paralytic shock” followed by a “putrid fever”. The consequences, no doubt, of his having tested life’s pleasures to destruction.

Mozart’s Masonic swan-song Lasst uns mit geschlungen Handen (Let us now with joined hands) comes at the end of the very last work he completed, perhaps in collaboration with Johann Holzer.

The tune is now that of the Austrian national anthem. It is a masonic chorus for the closing of the lodge. It shares much with Kellie’s aria, though there is no direct relationship. But there is a relationship of spirit and intention that harks back to ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity developed in the Scottish Enlightenment and spread to France where they ultimately exploded into revolution, and these were ideals which encouraged much that was revolutionary in Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven.

It will be 2020 when we next meet and I am hoping that those ideals which, alas, remain as

revolutionary as ever, will continue to assert themselves against all odds.