“The classical period produced more instrumental than vocal music, a wealth of serious and comic operas as well as vocal religious music also appeared during this time”(Ferris, 231). One of the best composer of this time was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In this paper I will go through his childhood, his friends and family, and of course his music. Enjoy!!!
The world that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart entered ceremoniously in 1756 was brimming in change. Historians refer to this era as the Age of Enlightenment, one of unparalleled scientific, philosophical, and political ferment.
Within Mozart’s lifetime it set in motion forces that would fundamentally alter life not only in his native, Salzburg, but also around the globe. The Enlightenment was not, to be sure, a democratic
movement. In France, the absolutism of the Sun King, Louis XIV, continued under Louis XV and XVI. But in Austria, Empress Maria Theresa introduced a greater measure of tolerance and freedom among her subjects, laying a foundation for the democratic revolutions that followed.
Wolfgang’s father Leopold came from a family of Augsburg bookbinders. He received a solid Jesuit education, more intellectual than evangelical after a year at the Benedictine University in nearby Salzburg; Leopold stopped attending classes to pursue a career as a musician. “Leopold figured as Mozart’s most important first model. He taught his son the clavier and composition”(Mercardo 763). Wolfgang’s mother Anna-Maria brought as much talent to her 32-year marriage as did Leopold. Though deprived of a formal education, she was highly intelligent and quick-witted— qualities that attracted the sober and reserved Leopold. Only two of their seven children survived infancy. Wolfgang’s musically talented sister Nannerl was five years older. Yet in this painting, the 12-year- old looks like a spinster of seventy—complete with budding double chin. Wolfgang, too, looks far older than his 7 years, and controls the action from his place at its center.
Indeed, Mozart marks the beginning of the Western fascination with the child prodigy. Dressed in the festive outfit given Wolfgang in 1762 by the Empress Maria Theresa, this boy of not quite seven years old looks, for all the world, like a miniature adult who has simply skipped childhood. “Mozart was keenly aware of his exceptional
ability, which had been fostered and rutted in him by his father from a very early age”(Schroter). Other nineteenth-century artists represented Wolfgang—variously said to be anywhere from 11 to 14 as a curly-locked angel. For them, how else could the divine music that poured out of a child-size body be explained? The idealization of Mozart’s genius was complete by the end of the nineteenth century. Mozart composes with his violin in one hand and music has appeared miraculously on his stand in the other. The message is unmistakable:
The temptation to take his two prodigies on the road proved irresistible to Leopold, who assumed sole responsibility for Mozart’s education. Between 1762 and 1766, the Mozarts appeared at almost every major court in Europe. Wolfgang dazzled audiences with his ability to read difficult music at sight and to improvise. In London, as elsewhere, the Mozarts hobnobbed with the leading musicians. Probably the most important of these was Johann Christian Bach, the youngest son of Johann Sebastian. It is no accident that Mozart’s early symphonies, composed in London, are often stylistically indistinguishable from those of J. C. Bach. When Mozart was 13, his prowess as a keyboard player, violinist, improviser, and composer were already legendary. “When Mozart was 21 he wrote “Paris” Symphony, N31 while he was in Paris looking for a
music position. He was thoroughly disenchanted with the French and their music”(Internet). From 1768 to 1775, between stays in Salzburg, he and Leopold made three further forays to Italy and Germany. Wolfgang evolved from a prodigy into a serious composer.
A self-confident Mozart assured his father in 1782 that he would be able to support a wife and family in Vienna, As a result which he called “Clavierland. Of its earlier devastation, the dominant architectural style in Vienna is Baroque, aided in the 1700s by an influx of Italian sculptors, stucco workers, and painters. The dominant architect and architectural historian was Italian-trained Johann Fischer von Erlach(1656-1723), whose densely decorated structures still stand out today.” He planned to achieve this by writing music for the public: operas, symphonies, and concertos featuring himself as pianist. Although public performances were less frequent than today, they were for that reason on a more lavish scale. Of a set of piano concertos, Mozart commented “There are passages here and there from which the connoisseurs alone can derive sattisfaction; but these passages are written in such a way that the less learned cannot fail to be pleased, though without knowing why”(Solomon 293). In spite of intrigues raised against him, Mozart managed to present The Abduction from the Seraglio
in 1782. Of its success, he wrote proudly to his father:“People are crazy about this opera,
and it does me good to hear such applause.” For the first few seasons, Mozart enjoyed an intoxicating popularity among the Viennese. In a series of academies attended by almost 300 supporters and patrons, he unveiled a string of masterful piano concertos. Emboldened by his success, he moved his family to the best part of town. Mozart tried to take advantage of the emerging entrepreneurial opportunities in Vienna. Four of his operas—The Abduction from the Seraglio(1782), The Marriage of Figaro(1786), Don Giovanni(1787), and Così fan tutte(1790) —were premiered or performed in the prestigious Burgtheater. But the Viennese
were not disposed to settle on one composer for long, even one whose talents dwarfed those of all others. Figaro—begun in October 1785, only nine months after the completion of the C-major String Quartet—provides an instructive example. The play by Beaumarchais had been banned shortly after its Parisian premiere in 1784. By 1787, Mozart’s star in Vienna had begun to set. In Peter Shafer’s play Amadeus, Mozart’s failures are attributed to an infantile personality and the intrigues of court composer Antonio Salieri. But there is no evidence that either of these wonderful dramatic conceits were true historically. Indeed, Mozart and Salieri were on cordial terms.
We do not know the occasion on which Mozart first encountered Joseph Haydn, though it was almost certainly around 1781, possibly at one of the gatherings organized by Baron von Swieten to hear the music of J. S. Bach. At 50, Haydn was twice Mozart’s
age. By now he was also at least twice as well known. Mozart had known Haydn’s music for at least ten years. In Haydn he not only found a composer whose achievements were on a level with his own, but a warm and sympathetic friend in whom he could confide. This contrasted strongly with the strained relationship that Mozart enjoyed with his father. In the autumn of 1791, Mozart’s health became progressively worse, and he was subject to fits of depression and presentiments of death. However, he worked feverishly to complete the Clarinet Concerto, K.622, and the Masonic Cantata and was trying to finish the Requiem. He died on December 5, 1791, and was buried in a pauper’s grave”Viennese society where to blame for Mozart’s lack of recognition, slow demise, and interment in a pauper’s grave”(Braunbehrers). The unfinished Requiem, which Mozart imagined was for himself, is numbered K.626. “His body was gone, but his magnificent music-symphonies, opera, duos, trios, quartet, violon concertos, piano concertos, vocal and choral works praising God, happiness, and all of life-lives forever”(Mirsky144)
Listening example: Mozart 1 symphony (K.16) was written at the age of nine. His symphonic compositions culminate in the “Jupiter” written in 1788 when Mozart was 32. His earlier symphonies seem to give greatest importance to the first movement. In the “Jupiter” Mozart build toward the finale with passages in a fugal style as the grand climax after the minuet (3rd Movement)
Enlightenment: A philosophical movement of the eighteenth century that placed primary faith in the power of mankind to solve chronic problems through the application
of reason and scientific method rather than faith and speculation. The Enlightenment anticipated democratic revolutions, but took place under political monarchies. As a child of the Enlightenment, Mozart considered himself a member of the natural aristocracy but was anything but a democrat.
Violin: The highest and the most glamorous member of the string family, pitched a fifth above the viola. In a string quartet, both of the treble instruments are violins. One who plays the violin (however well or badly) is known as a “violinist.” If you are contemplating taking up a string instrument and fame is your goal, then the violin is your first choice.
Mozart, Leopold: (1719-1787) Father of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Leopold served over four decades as a court musician to five archbishops of Salzburg. In 1756, the year that Wolfgang was born, he published the first edition of his Violin School, which soon brought him international fame. In 1800, more than a dozen years after Leopold’s death, his treatise was still being reprinted. As Wolfgang’s only formal teacher, he exercised a pivotal influence on his son’s development.
Opera: A drama set to music. Opera was the dominant form of Western public music from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries, parallel in importance to our modern cinema.
Baroque: Period in musical history extending from ca. 1600 to 1750. The music of the late Baroque (ca. 1690 to 1750) is best known today. Its major representatives were Johann Sebastian Bach in Germany, Georg Friderich Handel (another German) in
England, Antonio Vivaldi in Italy, and Jean-Philippe Rameau in France. Mozart was born as the late Baroque drew to a close. As an adult, he came to know and admire the music of Bach and Handel.
Piano Concerto: One of the public forms of instrumental music cultivated by Mozart in Vienna. Mozart can, for all practical purposes, be credited with the invention of the Classical piano concerto.
Antonio Salieri: Italian composer (1750-1825) who spent most of his career in Vienna and became one of its most influential musicians. So fond was the emperor, Joseph II, of Salieri that he became known as the “musical pope.” Salieri was first and foremost an opera composer, though a considerably less innovative one than Mozart. Both Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert studied with Salieri.
Joseph Haydn: Austrian composer (1732-1809) whose eighteenth-century fame eclipsed that of Mozart. Unlike Mozart, Haydn was a relatively late bloomer, composing
most of his important music after the age of 35 (at which age Mozart was dead). Haydn played a seminal role in the development of the symphony and the string quartet. His friendship with Mozart from ca. 1781 on was crucial to the musical development of both composers.
The world that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart entered unceremoniously in 1756 was awash in change. Historians refer to this era as the Age of Enlightenment. Indeed, Mozart marks the beginning of the Western fascination with the child prodigy. The idealization of Mozart’s genius was complete by the end of the nineteenth century. Between 1762 and 1766, the Mozarts appeared at almost every major court in Europe. Wolfgang dazzled audiences with his ability to read difficult music at sight and to improvise Four of his operas—The Abduction from the Seraglio(1782), The Marriage of Figaro(1786), Don Giovanni(1787), and Così fan tutte(1790) —were premiered or performed in the prestigious Burgtheater. Then Mozart met Haydn; we do not know the occasion on which Mozart first encountered Joseph Haydn. In Haydn, he not only found a composer whose achievements were on a level with his own, but a warm and sympathetic friend in whom he could confide. In the autumn of 1791, Mozart’s health became progressively worse. He died on December 5, 1791, and was buried in a pauper’s grave.
Why do you think Mozart’s instrumental music has been regarded as “absolute music”?
Why do you think was Mozart is Called a child prodigy?
Cite this Life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. (2018, Sep 29). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/life-of-wolfgang-amadeus-mozart/