Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

COMPOSERS DATEBOOK:  Wolfgang A. Mozart 

Arguably, the greatest composer of all time. Since his death in 1791, the popularity of Mozart keep soaring that even younger musicians continue to translate his music to suit their generation.   


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (January 27, 1756 – December 5, 1791) was born in Salzburg, Austria, to a musician father Leopold Mozart and mother, Anna Pertl. Of the seven children, only Mozart and his older sister (Maria Anna or "Nannerl" as family called her) of the seven children survived infancy. Leopold Mozart was himself a composer and an excellent teacher. He was a court musician of the archbishop's chapel in Salzburg, and the author of a well-known book on violin-playing.
Nannerl and Wolfgang showed early musical promise.  
Taught by his father, Mozart was an infant prodigy. He began to play the harpsichord at the age of three, compose at the age of five, and wrote his first minuet at six. This time Mozart went on his first tour with his family. The family lived like this for years, touring and playing over Europe. Before his ninth birthday, he composed his first symphony, wrote his first oratorio at 11, and the first opera the following year.  
In Mannheim, Germany, he fell in love with a young soprano, Aloysia Weber. His love was not reciprocated. A year later, in 1778, his beloved mother died in Paris. With heartache from the double loss of his mother and first love, he returned to Salzburg. He found work at the court but unhappy with the court restrictions, Mozart left Salzburg for Vienna in 1781, and decided to go solo, a freelance musician.

He married Constanze Weber, Aloysia's younger sister, on August 4, 1782. The same year he also met the older Joseph Haydn, where a lasting friendship developed. Haydn's works had a strong influence on Mozart. In gratitude, he dedicated six string quartets to him, the six Haydn Quartets.
Mozart and his wife Constanze Weber seemingly always lacked money, probably because he also gambled. He didn't have a good health, and his life was filled with difficulties. Yet we rarely see evidence of these hardships in his music, but rather, we hear a lively disposition and graceful spirit, credit to his mother.
The play and film Amadeus certainly advertised Mozart, but immensely misrepresented his life and work. The myth depicting him as simple-minded with a miraculous gift of music is far from the complicated truth.   
Mozart was a comprehensively gifted musician. He belonged to the classical period of the second half of the 18th century, the "Age of Enlightenment", the complex movement involving the revolt of the spirit. Towards the end of his life Mozart turned from formal religion to Freemasonry. This period was also the "Age of Elegance."
While working on his "Requiem," he died, at the age of 35. He died believing even as he wrote it that it would be his own requiem. The opening theme of the "Kyrie" is one used by both Bach and Handel. This is not surprising, as the influence of these Baroque masters, especially the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, was deep and lasting. 
This genius, from age three until he died at thirty-five, scarcely had a day's rest. His thoughts were always occupied with music. No other prodigy has approached Mozart's ability to combine a musical imagination with a total mastery of style and form, a perfect blending of the French elegance, German knowledge and Italian art.  
Arguably, there are masters of the highest caliber like Bach, Beethoven and Schubert, to name a few, but no other has ever composed in the great range of genres at the same time excelled in all of them. A prolific composer, Mozart's major works include 21 piano concertos, 24 string quartets, 35 violin sonatas, 5 violin concertos, concertos for clarinet and other wind instruments, 24 string quartets, chamber music, masses, and more than 45 symphonies. He composed some 20 operas, including the famous The Marriage of Figaro, Cosi fan tutte, The Magic Flute and Don Giovanni.
Suggested Listening: 
Mozart Clarinet Quintet in A, K.581. YouTube, uploaded by Am4d3usMOz4rt. Accessed January 27, 2018. 

Suggested Links:

Great Composers: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. YouTube, uploaded by internsUKmaster. Accessed January 27, 2013.

In Search of Mozart (The Genius of Mozart in 8 videos).  Uploaded by Dario Alba. Accessed January 27, 2019.

That's Mozart to Me!

Why Mozart has become an icon for today.  New York Times. Accessed December 5, 2009. Written by Richard Taruskin, a professor of music at the University of California at Berkeley.



Resources:
Dictionary of Composers and their Music by Eric Gilder, Sphere Reference (1987)
The Encyclopedia of Music by Max Wade-Matthews & Wendy Thompson, HHouse (2002)
The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd Edition, edited by Stanley Sadie (2000)
The Oxford Companion to Music, edited by Alison Latham (2002)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Encyclopaedia Britannica (Online).  Accessed 27 January 2014.


Note: Originally published at Suite101.com (now close), June 11, 2008.   

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