The first lodge, in what was then the Austrian Empire, was founded in Prague in 1726. Twelve years later on 28 April 1738, Freemasonry was banned throughout the Catholic Church by Pope Clement XII in his Bull In Eminenti.
Francis, Duke of Lorraine
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In 1731, six English Brethren initiated and passed Francis, Duke of Lorraine, at an occasional lodge at the home of the English ambassador to The Hague of the Austrian Netherlands. He was later raised at an emergency lodge in Norfolk, England.
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Francis, Duke of Lorraine married Maria Theresa in 1736, and in 1740 became Emperor and joint ruler of the Austrian Empire of the Hapsburgs. Maria Theresa was strongly opposed to the Craft. In 1764, she issued an Imperial Decree forbidding the practice of Freemasonry. This Decree was ignored.
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In 1765, Francis died and his son, as Joseph II became joint ruler with his mother. Joseph was not a Freemason but had a benign interest in the fraternity.
Maria Theresa died in 1780. On March 26, 1781 Joseph decreed that no spiritual or secular orders were to submit to a foreign authority outside the Empire.
Thus, on April 22, 1784, the Gross Landesloge von Österreich (The Grand Lodge of Austria) was established with 62 lodges.
The Great State Lodge of Austria / Die Große Landesloge von Österreich
On 11 December 1785, under pressure from the clergy, Joseph II issued a decree ordering the consolidation of lodges. The eight lodges in Vienna were to be consolidated into three lodges. All lodges were periodically to submit detailed membership lists for the inspection of the government.
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Joseph II died in 1790 and was succeeded by his brother Leopold II who was pro-Masonic. Leopold ruled for only two years.
His son and heir Francis II were anti-Masonic and believed that all secret societies, including Freemasonry, were working against him. Given this climate, lodges voluntarily closed in 1794 and the Craft was formally suppressed in January 1795. Freemasonry did not return to Austria until 1918.
The Grand Lodge of Vienna / Die Großloge von Wien
November 5, 1918
Stanley Sadie notes in his biography of Mozart (Mozart: The Early Years, 1756-1781) that, “The society was essentially one of liberal intellectuals, concerned less with political ideals that with the philosophical ones of the Enlightenment, including Nature, Reason and the brotherhood of Man.”
This description of the fraternity was reflected in the membership of the Viennese lodges which included nobility, senior army officers, leading businessmen, and intellectuals of the city.
A Masonic lodge meeting thought to portray Mozart’s own lodge 1789, Wienmuseum Vienna
Image linked: wikimedia, located at Wienmuseum Vienna, Austria
Mozart and Freemasonry
Mozart was proposed for membership in Lodge zur Wohltätigkeit (translated either as “Charity” or “Beneficence”) on 5 December 1784. On 14 December, he was initiated as a Lehrlinge (Entered Apprentice), becoming number 20 on the lodge roll. Ten days later he attended Lodge zur wahren Eintracht (True Concord) and, at the request of his mother lodge, was passed to the degree of Geselle (Fellow Craft) in that lodge on 7 January 1785. The Master of Lodge True Concord was Ignaz von Born, a distinguished scientist and writer.
The date of Mozart’s raising to the degree of Master Mason is the subject of some debate. Smyth, Nettl, and others maintain that the actual date is unknown. Main and Chailley state he was raised on April 22, 1785. The divergence of opinions is due to the interpretation of the attendance register of 22 April 1785, of Lodge True Concord.
Mozart and Freemasonry Wikipedia Entry
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Although he lived only thirty-five years, Mozart produced 626 works: 41 symphonies, 15 major church choral works, 27 piano concertos, 130 concertos for other instruments, 23 operas, and some 500 other pieces of music.
A chronological catalogue of his music was compiled by Ludwig von Köchel, whose K. numbers are used to identify Mozart’s works.
There have been several revisions of this catalogue, including a revision in 1937 by Alfred Einstein , a cousin of the famous scientist Albert.
Mozart’s Masonic Music
In Smyth’s paper on Mozart, there are several lists of what are to be considered Mozart’s Masonic music. Some of the works were composed for performance in lodges or were obviously Masonic in nature. Some Mozart scholars include other compositions that were Masonic in spirit, but not written to be performed in a lodge. A conservative estimate yields seven compositions which are Masonic.
Those who are familiar with Mozart’s sublime motet Ave Verum K.148 – written in a single afternoon at Baden while his wife was taking the waters – will know what a master of small forms Mozart was. Here is an example of a most concise beauty: the song to be sung by the brethren O Heiliges Band der Freundschaft Treuer Bruder – To the Holy Band of Friendship and True Brotherhood
A cantata, Die Maurerfreude (Masonic Joy) K.471, with words by Franz Petran, was composed on 20 April 1785 and first performed in Lodge Crowned Hope on 24 April 1785. The cantata was composed for a celebration in honour of Ignaz von Born who was Master of True Concord.
Maurerische Trauermusik (Masonic Funeral Music) K.477 was composed in Vienna on 10 November 1785, for a Lodge of Sorrows held by Lodge Crowned Hope a week later. The occasion was the funerals of Brothers Georg August, Duke of Mecklenburg-Streletz and Franz, Count Esterhazy of Galantha.
Eine Kleine Freimaurerkantate (Little Masonic Cantata) K.623 was composed by Mozart in Vienna on 15 November 1791, with the text purportedly by Emanuel Schikaneder. The work was written for the dedication of the temple of Lodge New Crowned Hope. The performance was held on 18 November 1791, which was two days before the onset of his fatal illness. This was the last work completed by Mozart.
The Little Masonic Cantata was published after his death and the score stated that the words were the work of a member of Lodge New Crowned Hope of which Schikaneder was not a member.
Of all of Mozart’s works, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute K.620) is one of the most famous. The libretto was written by Bro. Emanuel Schikaneder who was director of the Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna. It was at that theatre that The Magic Flute was first performed on 30 September 1791.
The two-act opera is a confusing story whose first act starts as fairy tale, continues as a comedy, and ends in philosophic tirades. As Chailley notes, “the second act is occupied entirely by initiatory trials”. These trials, a part of the Entered Apprentice degree of European Freemasonry, evoke the four elements of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire.
The story of The Magic Flute has many sources. Schikaneder apparently drew the basic plot from Liebeskind’s Lulu oder Die Zauberflöte. Many of the ritual elements were from Jean Terasson’s novel Sethos which has an ancient Egyptian setting. Another source for the Egyptian setting was Gebler’s Thamos, König in Agypten.
Schikaneder was a member of Lodge Karl zu den drei Schüsseln (Charles of the Three Keys) in Regensburg, Germany. His “free ways” caused him to be suspended for six months on 4 May 1789. He was not listed on any Viennese lodge roll.
The Magic Flute is accepted as a Masonic opera. But to what extent Masonic symbolism is used in the opera depends upon who is interpreting the symbolism of the opera. Also, it should be remembered that the opera is written using the symbolism of European Masonic ritual which is somewhat different from the English rituals. And, if the theories of one French musicologist, Jacques Chailley, are to be accepted, the opera is really about Adoptive Masonry.
Adoptive Masonry, which admits both men and women, was popular in France in the 18th century. Chailley’s book contains illustrations which demonstrates that five, not three, is the prominent number in Adoptive Masonry. After the abolition of Freemasonry in Austria, some argued that the opera was political, not Masonic.
The symbolism of the opera, which is limited to the first degree, starts with the overture. According to Sadie, “the overture is in the ‘Masonic key’ of E flat major (with three flats). The introduction sounds three chords, two of them twice. This signifies the number three (or possibly the masonic feminine number five)”. The Magic Flute is loaded with threes: three ladies, three boys, three knocks at the door, three priests, three temples (named Wisdom, Nature, and Reason), etc. The frontispiece of the original printed libretto of 1791 shows a blazing star and what looks like a compass and a trowel in an Egyptian setting.
The first act’s Masonic symbolism is limited. Besides the repetition of the number three, there is serpent which is considered a symbol of brotherhood. There is also a reference to a Starblazing Queen.
It is in the second act that Masonic symbolism becomes pronounced. In Scene One, priests are questioning Sarastro about the youth who is accompanying him. The questions are similar to those asked of the Senior Steward in the First Degree. In the same scene Sarastro notes “…the greatness of our arduous craft”.
It is in Scene Two that the trials begin. Of the four trials, only Water and Fire are readily visible. The first trial is a trial by Earth in a room resembling a Chamber of Reflection. According to MacNulty, “European Masons provide an opportunity for thought before joining the Order”. The prospective candidate sits alone in a small room and writes his reasons for wanting to become a Freemason. His reasons for wanting to join the order are reviewed by the Brethren and, if acceptable, then the individual accepted as a candidate.
The next trial is Air which is announced by the arrival of the Three Boys in a flying chariot who present Tamino with a “wind” instrument, the flute, which Chailley says is a sign of Air.
Scene Three clearly shows the trials by Water and by Fire. Much later in Act Two there are two mountains, one with a waterfall and one that spits fire.
In an aria in Scene Twelve, Sarastro sings “…our holy masonry…”
It has been suggested that the primary characters in The Magic Flute represented people in the history of Austrian Freemasonry. Sarastro is Ignaz von Born, the Queen of the Night is Empress Maria Theresa, Tamino is Joseph II, and Pamina represents the people of Austria. These are speculations as Mozart did not leave any information as to whom the characters in the opera may have represented.
Article by: Rev’d Dr Peter Mullen
Rev’d Dr Peter Mullen is a member of Cutlers’ Lodge in the City of London. It is so named after its attachment to the Worshipful Company of Cutlers, to whom he was Chaplain when Rector of St Michael’s, Cornhill.
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