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Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus [baptized Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus] (b Salzburg, 1756; d Vienna, 1791). Austrian composer, keyboard-player, violinist, violist, and conductor. Son of Leopold Mozart, Vice-Kapellmeister to Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, Mozart showed exceptional musical precocity, playing the klavier at 3 and composing at 5. His elder sister Maria Anna (1751–1829) was also a brilliant kbd. player and in 1762 Leopold decided to present his children's talents at various European courts. They first visited Munich and Vienna in 1762. Wolfgang was now able to play the vn. without having had formal teaching. In 1763 a longer journey began, from Munich, Augsburg, Frankfurt, and other cities to Cologne, Brussels, and Paris. They spent a fortnight at Louis XV's court at Versailles. In Apr. 1764 they arrived in London and were received by George III. While in London, Wolfgang studied with Abel, comp. with J. C. Bach, and singing with the castrato Manzuoli. He wrote his first 3 syms. in London. After visits to Holland and Switzerland, the Mozart family returned to Salzburg in Nov. 1766. Further visits to Vienna were made in 1767 and 1768 and Mozart comp. 2 operas, La finta semplice and Bastien und Bastienne. In Dec. 1769, Leopold took Mozart to It. where the boy's genius was everywhere acclaimed. He was taught by Martini and met Nardini, Jommelli, and Burney. In Rome he heard Allegri's Miserere and wrote it out from memory. His opera Mitridate, Rè di Ponto was successfully prod. in Milan in Dec. 1770. Two further visits to It. speedily followed, but the new prince-archbishop of Salzburg was less well-disposed towards the Mozarts and in 1777 Mozart left on a tour with his mother, Leopold not being well enough to go. They visited Munich, Augsburg, Mannheim (where he heard the famous orch.) and arrived in Paris in 1778. Mozart's mother died there in July of that year. No longer a Wunderkind, Mozart had less appeal for the Parisians, who were engrossed in the Gluck-Piccinni controversy. Unable to obtain a court post, Mozart returned to Salzburg where he spent the next 2 years as court and cath. org. amid growing hostility to the archbishop. In 1780 the Elector of Bavaria commissioned an opera from Mozart (Idomeneo), prod. in Munich, Jan. 1781. On Mozart's return to Salzburg he had a final confrontation with the archbishop and resigned. He went to Vienna, where he married Constanze Weber in Aug. 1782, a few days after the first perf. of his opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail. The last 9 years of his life were a juxtaposition of financial troubles with an astonishing outpouring of masterpieces in almost every genre. In 1785 he frequently played the va. in str. qts. with Dittersdorf and Haydn. To the latter, who regarded Mozart as the greatest composer he knew, Mozart dedicated 6 str. qts. in the autumn of 1785, when he also began work on Le nozze di Figaro. He frequently appeared as soloist in his own kbd. concs. Although Figaro was rapturously received in Vienna in 1786, it was taken off after 9 perfs., but was the rage of Prague when prod. there in 1787. During his visit to the Bohemian capital, Mozart's Sym. in D (K504, No.38) received its f.p., thereafter being known as the ‘Prague Sym’. He was subsequently commissioned to write an opera for Prague for the following autumn. The result was Don Giovanni, written in a few months while the 2 str. quintets in C major and G minor and Eine kleine Nachtmusik were also composed. In the same year Leopold Mozart died at Salzburg. The new opera was a success in Prague, but initially failed in Vienna, where it was prod. with some extra numbers in May 1788. A month later Mozart began to compose the first of his 3 last syms., completing them between 26 June and 10 Aug. In 1789, under severe financial pressure, he played a conc. in Dresden on the way to Berlin. He visited Leipzig, playing Bach's org. at St Thomas's. In Berlin King Friedrich Wilhelm II, a cellist, commissioned 6 str. qts. of which only 3 were written. In the autumn Emperor Joseph II of Austria commissioned a new comic opera, Così fan tutte, which was prod. early in 1790. Joseph died shortly afterwards, but Mozart's hope of being appointed by Leopold II Kapellmeister in place of Salieri was not fulfilled. In 1791 he was approached by the actor-manager Schikaneder with a view to composing a fairy-tale opera on a lib. concocted by Schikaneder. Die Zauberflöte was almost completed by July, the month in which Mozart received a commission to compose a Requiem for an anonymous patron (Count F. von Walsegg who wished to pass it off as his own). Mozart deferred work on it to compose an adaptation of Metastasio's La clemenza di Tito for Leopold II's coronation as King of Bohemia in Prague in Sept. This prod. was supervised by Mozart, who returned to Vienna, wrote the cl. conc., cond. the f.p. of Die Zauberflöte, and then resumed work on the Requiem. But his health, which had been deteriorating for some time, now became critical and he died on 5 Dec., leaving the Requiem to be completed by his pupil Süssmayr. He was buried in accordance with the Emperor Joseph II's regulations, with others who had died at the same time, and the location of his grave remains unknown. The circumstances of Mozart's death have given rise to many sensational theories, none proved, and there is much medical speculation on the cause of death.

The extent and range of Mozart's genius are so vast and so bewildering that any concise summing-up of his achievement must risk being trite. He took the mus. small-change of his day, learned from childhood in the courts of Europe, and transformed it into a mint of gold. His sense of form and symmetry seems to have been innate and was allied to an infallible craftsmanship which was partly learnt and partly instinctive. In his operas he not only displayed hitherto unequalled dramatic feeling, but widened the boundaries of the singer's art through contact with some of the greatest vv. of his day and, with his amazing insight into human nature, at once perceptive and detached, he created characters on the stage who may be claimed in their context as the equal of Shakespeare's. His music was supranational, combining It., Fr., Austrian, and Ger. elements. Not by revolutionary deliberation but by the natural superiority of the mus. he wrote, he changed the course of the sym., the pf. conc., the str. qt., the sonata, and much more besides. Perhaps the only element missing from his mus. is the worship of Nature which Beethoven and later 19th-cent. composers were to supply. There are brilliance and gaiety on the surface of Mozart's mus., but underneath a dark vein of melancholy which gives his works (Così fan tutte in particular) an ambivalence which is continually fascinating and provocative. ‘Mozart is music’, a critic said, and most composers since 1791 have agreed. A selective list of prin. works follows. Some of the dates, which are Köchel's, are conjectural:OPERAS: Apollo et Hyacinthus, intermezzo (K38, 1767); Bastien und Bastienne (K50, 1768); La finta semplice (K51, 1769); Mitridate, Rè di Ponto (K87, 1770); Ascanio in Alba (K111, 1771); Il sogno di Scipione (K126, 1771); Lucio Silla (K135, 1772); La finta giardiniera (K196, 1774); Il Rè Pastore (K208, 1775); Zaide (K344, 1779–80); Thamos, König in Ägypten (K345, 1773, rev. 1776 and 1779–80, incid. music); Idomeneo, Rè di Creta (K366, 1780–1); Die Entführung aus dem Serail (K384, 1781–2); L'Oca del Cairo (K422, 1783); Lo sposo deluso (K430, 1783); Der Schauspieldirektor (The Impresario) (K486, 1785–6); Le nozze di Figaro (K492, 1785–6); Don Giovanni (K527, 1787); Così fan tutte (K588, 1789); Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) (K620, 1790–1); La clemenza di Tito (K621, 1791).BALLET MUSIC: Les Petits Riens (K Anh. 10, 1778); for Idomeneo (K367, 1780).SYMPHONIES (numbered according to Breitkopf and Härtel edn.): No.1 in E♭ (K16, 1764); No.4 in D (K19, 1764); No.5 in B♭ (K22, 1765); No.6 in F (K43, 1767); No.7 in D (K45, 1768); No.8 in D (K48, 1768); No.9 in C (K73, 1771); No.10 in G (K74, 1770); No.11 in D (K84, 1770); No.12 in G (K110, 1771); No.13 in F (K112, 1771); No.14 in A (K114, 1771); No.15 in G (K 124, 1772); No.16 in C (K128, 1772); No.17 in G (K129, 1772); No.18 in F (K130, 1772); No.19 in E♭ (K132, 1772); No.20 in D (K133, 1772); No.21 in A (K134, 1772); No.22 in C (K162, 1773); No.23 in D (K181, 1773); No.24 in B♭ (K182, 1773); No.25 in G minor (K183, 1773); No.26 in E♭, ov. for Thamos (K184, 1773); No.27 in G (K199, 1773); No.28 in C (K200, 1773); No.29 in A (K201, 1774); No.30 in D (K202, 1774); No.31 in D (Paris, K297, 1778); No.32 in G, probably ov. to Zaide (K318, 1779); No.33 in B♭ (K319, 1779); No.34 in C (K338, 1780); No.35 in D (Haffner, K385, 1782); No.36 in C (Linz, K425, 1783); No.37 in G (only introduction, rest by M. Haydn) (K444, 1783); No.38 in D (Prague, K504, 1786); No.39 in E♭ (K543, 1788); No.40 in G minor (K550, 1788); No.41 in C (Jupiter, K551, 1788); also various others, some only fragmentary, and some probably of doubtful authenticity.MISC. ORCH.: Cassations: B♭ (K99, 1769); Kontretänze (Country Dances): B♭ (K123, 1770), Set of 6 (K462, 1784), Das Donnerwetter (K534, 1788), La Bataille (K535, 1788), Set of 2 (K565, 1788), Der Sieg vom Helden Koburg (K587, 1789), Set of 2 (K603, 1791), E♭ (K607, 1791), Set of 5 (K609, 1791), G major (K610, 1791); German Dances: Set of 6 (K509, 1787), Set of 6 (K536, 1788), Set of 6 (K567, 1788), Set of 6 (K571, 1789), Set of 12 (K586, 1789), Set of 6 (K600, 1791), Set of 4 (K602, 1791), Set of 3 (K605, 1791), C major (K611, 1791); Divertimenti: No.1 in E♭ (K113, 1771), No.2 in D (K131, 1772), D (K136, 1772), B♭ (K137, 1772), F (K138, 1772), No.3 in E♭ (K166, 1773), No.4 in B♭ (K186, 1773), No.5 in C (K187, ?1773), No.6 in C (K188, 1776), No.7 in D (K205, 1773), No.8 in F (K213, 1775), E♭ (K226, 1775), B♭ (K227, 1775), No.9 in B♭ (K240, 1776), No.10 in F (K247, 1776), No.11 in D (K251, 1776), No.12 in E♭ (K252, 1776), No.13 in F (K253, 1776), No.14 in B♭ (K270, 1777), No.15 in B♭ (K287, 1777), F (K288, 1777), No.16 in E♭ (K289, 1777), No.17 in D (K334), 1779); Serenades: G (K63, 1769), No.1 in D (K100, 1769), No.2 in F (Kontretanz) (K101, ?1776), No.3 in D (K195, 1773), No.4 in D (K203, 1774), No.5 in D (K204, 1775), Serenata notturna, No.6 in D for 2 orch. (K239, 1776), No.7 in D (Haffner, K250, 1776), No.8 in D (Notturno for 4 orch., K286, 1776–7), No.9 in D (Posthorn, K320, 1779), No.10 in B♭ for 13 wind instr. (K361, 1784), No.11 in E♭ for wind (K375, 1781), No.12 in C minor for wind (K388, 1782), No.13 in G for str., Eine kleine Nachtmusik (K525, 1787); Maurerische Trauermusik (Masonic Funeral Music) (K477, 1785); Ein musikalischer Spass (A musical joke) (K522, 1787); Sinfonia Concertante in E♭ for ob., cl., bn., hn. (K297b, 1778, considered doubtful attribution by some scholars); also Marches, Minuets, Gavottes.CONCERTOS: PIANO: No.1 in F (arr. of sonata-movts. by Raupach and Honauer, K37, 1767), No.2 in B♭ (arr. of sonata-movts. by Raupach and Schobert, K39, 1767), No.3 in D (arr. of sonata-movts. by Honauer, Eckart, and ?C. P. E. Bach, K40, 1767), No.4 in G (arr. of sonata-movts. by Honauer and Raupach, K41, 1767), No.5 in D (K175, 1773), No.6 in B♭ (K238, 1776), No.7 in F (K242, 1776), No.8 in C (K246, 1776), No.9 in E♭ (K271, 1777), No.10 in E♭ (K365, ?1779), No.11 in F (K413, 1782–3), No.12 in A (K414, 1782), No.13 in C (K415, 1782–3), No.14 in E♭ (K449, 1784), No.15 in B♭ (K450, 1784), No.16 in D (K451, 1784), No.17 in G (K453, 1784), No.18 in B♭ (K456, 1784), No.19 in F (K459, 1784), No.20 in D minor (K466, 1785), No.21 in C (K467, 1785), No.22 in E♭ (K482, 1785), No.23 in A (K488, 1784–6), No.24 in C minor (K491, 1786), No.25 in C (K503, 1786), No.26 in D, Coronation (K537, 1787–8), No.27 in B♭ (K595, 1788–90); 2 PIANOS: E♭ (K365, 1779); 3 PIANOS: F major (K242, 1776); Concert Rondo in D (K382, 1782), in A (K386, 1782).VIOLIN: No.1 in B♭ (K207, 1773), No.2 in D (K211, 1775), No.3 in G (K216, 1775), No.4 in D (K218, 1775), No.5 in A (K219, 1775, with alternative Adagio in E, K261, 1776), Rondo in C (K373, 1781); 2 VIOLINS: Concertone in C (K190, 1773); VIOLIN & VIOLA: Sinfonia Concertante in E♭ (K364, 1779); BASSOON: B♭ (K191, 1774); CLARINET: A major (K622, 1791); FLUTE: No.1 in G (K313, 1778), No.2 in D transcr. from ob. conc. in C (K314, 1778); Andante in C (K315, 1778); FLUTE & HARP: C major (K299, 1778); HORN & STRINGS: No.1 in D (K412, 1791), No.2 in E♭ (K417, 1783), No.3 in E♭ (K447, 1787), No.4 in E♭ (K495, 1786), No.5 in E♭, fragment (K494a, 1786); Concert Rondo for hn. and orch. in E♭ (K371, 1791); OBOE: C major (K271k, 1777, transcr. for fl. as conc. No.2 in D).CHURCH MUSIC: Kyrie in F (K33, 1766), Missa brevis in G (K49, 1768), in D minor (K65, 1769), in C (K115, 1773), in F (K116, 1771), in F (Mass No.6) (K192, 1774), in D (K194, 1774), in C (Mass No.10) (K220, 1775), in C (K258, 1776), in C (Mass No.13) (K259, 1775 or 1776), in B♭ (K275, 1777); Mass in C, Dominicus (K66, 1769), No.4 in C minor, Waisenhausmesse (K139, 1768), No.7 in C, Missa in honorem Sanctissimae Trinitatis (K167, 1773), in C (K257, 1776), in C, Missa longa (K262, 1775), No.16 in C, Coronation (K317, 1779), in C major, Missa solemnis (K337, 1780), No.18 in C minor, unfinished (K427, 1782–3); Regina Coeli (K127, 1772); Motet, Exsultate, jubilate for sop., orch., and organ (K165, 1773); Dixit Dominus (K193, 1774); Litaniae Lauretanae (K195, 1774); Litaniae de venerabili altaris Sacramento (K243, 1776); Vesperae de Dominica (K321, 1779); Kyrie in D minor (K341, 1780–1); Vesperae Solennes de Confessore (K339, 1780); Motet, Ave verum corpus (K618, 1791); Requiem Mass in D minor (unfinished) (K626, 1791).CHORUS & ORCH.: Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebotes, pt. I of sacred drama (K35, 1767); Grabmusik, Passion cantata (K42, 1767); La Betulia liberata, oratorio (K118, 1771); Davidde Penitente, oratorio, mainly based on Mass in C minor, K427 (K469, 1785); Die Maurerfreude, cantata (K471, 1785); Eine kleine Freimaurer-Kantate (K623, 1791).UNACC. VOICES: God is our Refuge, sacred madrigal (K20, 1765); 5 Riddle Canons (K89a, 1770); numerous Canons comp. between 1782 and 1788, also various secular trios, qts., and chs.SOLO VOICE & ORCH. (mainly concert arias): Per pietà, bell' idol mio, sop. (K78, c.1766); Scena and aria, Misera, dove son? Ah, non son'io che parlo, sop. (K369, 1781); Scena and rondo (extra number for Idomeneo) Non più, tutto ascoltai. Non temer, amato bene, sop. (K490, 1786); Scena and rondo, Ch'io mi scordi di te. Non temer amato bene, sop. with pf. obbl. (K505, 1786); Scena and aria, Bella mia fiamma. Resta, oh caro, sop. (K528, 1787); aria, Un bacio di mano, for Anfossi's Le gelosie fortunate, for bass (K541, 1788); rondo, extra aria for Susanna in Figaro, Al desio di chi t'adora, sop. (K577, 1789); Un moto di gioia, sop., extra number for Susanna in Figaro (K579, 1789); Schon lacht der holde Frühling, sop. for Paisiello's Il Barbiere di Siviglia (K580, 1789); Vado, ma dove?, sop., for Martin's Il burbero di buon core (K583, 1789); Rivolgete a lui lo sguardo, bass, orig. for Così fan tutte (K584, 1789); Per questa bella mano, bass (K612, 1791).STRING QUARTETS: No.1 in G (K80, 1773–5), No.2 in D (K155, 1772), No.3 in G (K156, 1772), No.4 in C (K157, 1772–3), No.5 in F (K158, 1772–3), No.6 in B♭ (K159, 1773), No.7 in E♭ (K160, 1773), No.8 in F (K168, 1773), No.9 in A (K169, 1773), No.10 in C (K170, 1773), No.11 in E♭ (K171, 1773), No.12 in B♭ (K172, 1773), No.13 in D minor (K173, 1773), Nos. 14–19 ‘Haydn Quartets’: No.14 in G (K387, 1782), No.15 in D minor (K421, 1783), No.16 in E♭ (K428, 1783), No.17 in B♭ (Hunt, K458, 1784), No.18 in A (K464, 1785), No.19 in C (Dissonanzen, K465, 1785), No.20 in D (Hoffmeister, K499, 1786), Nos. 21–23 (King of Prussia Quartets’): No.21 in D (K575, 1789), No.22 in B♭ (K589, 1790), No.23 in F (K590, 1790); Adagio and Fugue in C minor, fugue identical with K426 for 2 pf. of 1783 (K546, 1788).STRING QUINTETS: No.1 in B♭ (K174, 1773), No.2 in C minor, arr. of Serenade No.12 for wind, K388 (K406, 1786), No.3 in C (K515, 1787), No.4 in G minor (K516, 1787), No.5 in D (K593, 1790), No.6 in E♭ (K614, 1791).CLARINET QUINTET: A major (K581, 1789); CLARINET TRIO, E♭ for cl., va., pf. (K498, 1786).FLUTE QUARTETS: No.1 in D (K285, 1777), No.2 in G (K285a, 1777), No.3 in C (K285b, 1777), No.4 in A (K298, 1778); FLUTE (or vn.) SONATAS, with hpd.: No.1 in B♭ (K10, 1764), No.2 in G (K11, 1764), No.3 in A (K12, 1764), No.4 in F (K13, 1764), No.5 in C (K14, 1764), No.6 in B♭ (K15, 1764).HORN QUINTET: E♭ (K407, 1782).OBOE QUARTET: F major (K370, 1781).PIANO QUARTETS: No.1 in G minor (K478, 1785), No.2 in E♭ (K493, 1786).PIANO & WIND QUINTET (pf., ob., cl., hn., bn.): E♭ (K452, 1784).PIANO TRIOS: No.1 in B♭ (K254, 1776), No.2 in G (K496, 1786), No.3 in B♭ (K502, 1786), No.4 in E (K542, 1788), No.5 in C (K548, 1788), No.6 in G (K564, 1788); in D minor/major, completed by Stadler (K442, 1783).MISC. CHAMBER WORKS: Adagio and Rondo in C minor for glass armonica, fl., ob., va., vc. (K617, 1791); Adagio for cor anglais and str. (K580a, 1789); Adagio in Canon in F for 2 basset hn. and bn. (K410, 1783); Adagio in F for 2 cl. and 3 basset hns. (K411, 1783); 12 Duets for 2 basset hns. (K487, 1786); Duo for vn. and va., No.1 in G (K423, 1783), No.2 in B♭ (K424, 1783); 5 Divertimenti for 2 cl. and bn. (K229, 1783); Minuet in D, 2 vn., 2 hn., bass (K64, 1769); 7 Minuets with Trio, 2 vn. and bass (K65a, 1769); Adagio in C for glass armonica (K356, 1791).SONATAS: BASSOON & CELLO: B♭ (K292, 1775); PIANO: No.1 in C, No.2 in F, No.3 in B♭, No.4 in E♭, No.5 in G, No.6 in D (K279–284, 1774, No.6, 1775), No.7 in C (K309, 1777), No.8 in A minor (K310, 1778), No.9 in D (K311, 1778), No.10 in C, No.11 in A, No.12 in F, No.13 in B♭ (K330–333, 1778), No.14 in C minor (K457, 1784), No.15 in C (K545, 1788), No.16 in B♭ (K570, 1789), No.17 in D (K576, 1789); VIOLIN & PIANOFORTE: No.1 in C (K6, 1762–4), No.2 in D (K7, 1763–4), No.3 in B♭ (K8, 1763–4), No.4 in G (K9, 1764), Nos. 5–10, K10–15 (see under flute), No.11 in E♭, No.12 in G, No.13 in C, No.14 in D, No.15 in F, No.16 in B♭ (K26–31, 1766), No.17 in C (K296, 1778), No.18 in G, No.19 in E♭, No.20 in C, No.21 in E minor, No.22 in A, No.23 in D (K301–306, 1778), No.24 in F (K376, 1781), No.25 in F (K377, 1781), No.26 in B♭ (K378, 1779), No.27 in G major/minor (K379, 1781), No.28 in E♭ (K380, 1781), No.29 in A (K402, 1782, completed by Stadler), No.30 in C (K403, 1782, unfinished), No.31 in C (K404, 1782, unfinished), No.32 in B♭ (K454, 1784), No.33 in E♭ (K481, 1785), No.34 in A (K526, 1787), No.35 in F (K547, 1788). Also sonata movt. in C minor (K396, 1782, completed by Stadler).STRING TRIOS: B♭, 2 vn. and bass, (K266, 1777), Divertimento in E♭, vn., va., vc. (K563, 1788). Also 6 Fugue arrs. from J. S. and W. F. Bach, with orig. introductions (K404A, 1782).PIANO (4 HANDS): Sonatas: in B♭ (K358, 1774), D (K381, 1772), F (K497, 1786), C (K521, 1787); Fugue in G minor (K401, 1782); Andante and Variations (K501, 1786).2 PIANOS: Fugue in C minor (K426, 1783, arr. for str., with short Adagio as preface, 1788), Sonata in D (K448, 1781).SOLO PIANO (except Sonatas): Minuet and Trio in G, Minuet in F, Allegro in B♭, Minuet in F, Minuet in F (K1–5, 1761–2), 8 Variations on ‘Laat ons juichen’ (air by C. E. Graaff) in G (K24, 1766), 7 Variations on ‘Wilhelmus van Nassouwe’ (K25, 1766), 12 Variations on a Minuet by Fischer (K179, 1774), Andantino in E♭ (K236, 1790), 9 Variations on ‘Lison dormait’ from Dezède's Julie (K264, 1778), 12 Variations on ‘Ah, vous dirai-je, maman’ (K265, 1778), 8 Variations on a March in Grétry's ‘Mariages Samnites’ (K352, 1781), 12 Variations on ‘La Belle Françoise’ (K353, 1778), 12 Variations on ‘Je suis Lindor’ in Beaumarchais's ‘Le Barbier de Séville’ (K354, 1778), Minuet in D (K355, c.1786), Fantasia and Fugue in C (K394, 1782), Capriccio in C (K395, 1778), Fantasia in D minor (K397, 1782), 6 Variations on Paisiello's ‘Salve tu, Domine’ (K398, 1783), Suite in C (K399, 1782), 1st movt. of Sonata in B♭ (K400, 1782), Kleiner Trauermarsch in C minor (K453a, 1784), 10 Variations on Unser dummer Pöbel meint from Gluck's La rencontre imprévue (K455, 1784), Fantasia in C minor (K475, 1785), Rondo in D (K485, 1786), Rondo in F (K.494, 1786), 12 Variations on an Allegretto in B♭ (K500, 1786), Rondo in A minor (K511, 1787), Allegro and Andante (K533, 1788, often used with Rondo, K494, as finale to make ‘Sonata No.18’), Adagio in B minor (K540, 1788), 9 Variations on a Minuet by Duport (K573, 1789), Gigue in G (K574, 1789), 8 Variations on Schack's ‘Ein Weib ist das herrlichste Ding’ (K613, 1791).ORGAN: Sonatas with orch: C major (K263, 1776), C major (K278, 1777), C major (K329, 1779); 14 Sonatas for org. and str., comp. between 1767 and 1780.MECHANICAL ORGAN: Adagio and Allegro in F minor (K594, 1790), Fantasia in F minor (K608, 1791), Andante in F (K616, 1791).SONGS (v. and pf.): Mozart wrote about 40 solo songs and Lieder, of which the best known are: Die Zufriedenheit (K349, 1780), Ah, spiegarti, O Dio (K178, 1772), Oiseaux, si tous les ans (K307, 1777), Komm, liebe Zither (with mandolin) (K351, 1780), An die Hoffnung (K390, 1782), Gesellenreise (K468, 1785), Der Zauberer (K472, 1785), Die betrogene Welt (K474, 1785), Das Veilchen (K476, 1785), Lied der Freiheit (K506, 1786), Die Alte (K517, 1787), Die Verschweigung (K518, 1787), Das Lied der Trennung (K519, 1787), Als Luise (K520, 1787), Abendempfindung (K523, 1787), An Chloe (K524, 1787), Des kleinen Freidrichs Geburtstag (K529, 1787), Das Traumbild (K530, 1787), Die kleine Spinnerin (K531, 1787), Sehnsucht nach dem Frühlinge (K596, 1791), Das Kinderspiel (K598, 1791), Eine kleine deutsche Kantate, ‘Die ihr des unermesslichen Weltalls’ (K619, 1791).ADDITIONAL ACCOMPANIMENTS TO WORKS BY HANDEL: Acis and Galatea (K566, 1788), Messiah (K572, 1789), Alexander's Feast (K591, 1790), Ode for St Cecilia's Day (K592, 1791).

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) was an Austrian composer whose mastery of the whole range of contemporary instrumental and vocal forms—including the symphony, concerto, chamber music, and especially the opera—was unrivaled in his own time and perhaps in any other.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on Jan. 27, 1756, in Salzburg. His father, Leopold Mozart, a noted composer and pedagogue and the author of a famous treatise on violin playing, was then in the service of the archbishop of Salzburg. Together with his sister, Nannerl, Wolfgang received such intensive musical training that by the age of 6 he was a budding composer and an accomplished keyboard performer. In 1762 Leopold presented his son as performer at the imperial court in Vienna, and from 1763 to 1766 he escorted both children on a continuous musical tour across Europe, which included long stays in Paris and London as well as visits to many other cities, with appearances before the French and English royal families.

Mozart was the most celebrated child prodigy of this time as a keyboard performer and made a great impression, too, as composer and improviser. In London he won the admiration of so eminent a musician as Johann Christian Bach, and he was exposed from an early age to an unusual variety of musical styles and tastes across the Continent.

Salzburg and Italy, 1766-1773

From his tenth to his seventeenth year Mozart grew in stature as a composer to a degree of maturity equal to that of his most eminent older contemporaries; as he continued to expand his conquest of current musical styles, he outstripped them. He spent the years 1766-1769 at Salzburg writing instrumental works and music for school dramas in German and Latin, and in 1768 he produced his first real operas: the German Singspiel (that is, with spoken dialogue) Bastien und Bastienne and the opera buffa La finta semplice. Artless and naive as La finta semplice is when compared to his later Italian operas, it nevertheless shows a latent sense of character portrayal and fine accuracy of Italian text setting. Despite his reputation as a prodigy, Mozart found no suitable post open to him; and with his father once more as escort Mozart at age 14 (1769) set off for Italy to try to make his way as an opera composer, the field in which he openly declared his ambition to succeed and which offered higher financial rewards than other forms of composition at this time.

In Italy, Mozart was well received: at Milan he obtained a commission for an opera; at Rome he was made a member of an honorary knightly order by the Pope; and at Bologna the Accademia Filarmonica awarded him membership despite a rule normally requiring candidates to be 20 years old. During these years of travel in Italy and returns to Salzburg between journeys, he produced his first large-scale settings of opera seria (that is, court opera on serious subjects): Mitridate (1770), Ascanio in Alba (1771), and Lucio Silla (1772), as well as his first String Quartets. At Salzburg in late 1771 he renewed his writing of Symphonies (Nos. 14-21).

In these operatic works Mozart displays a complete mastery of the varied styles of aria required for the great virtuoso singers of the day (especially large-scale da capo arias), this being the sole authentic requirement of this type of opera. The strong leaning of these works toward the singers' virtuosity rather than toward dramatic content made the opera seria a rapidly dying form by Mozart's time, but in Lucio Silla he nonetheless shows clear evidence of his power of dramatic expression within individual scenes.

Salzburg, 1773-1777

In this period Mozart remained primarily in Salzburg, employed as concertmaster of the archbishop's court musicians. In 1773 a new archbishop took office, Hieronymus Colloredo, who was a newcomer to Salzburg and its provincial ways. Unwilling to countenance the frequent absences of the Mozarts, he declined to promote Leopold to the post of chapel master that he had long coveted. The archbishop showed equally little understanding of young Mozart's special gifts. In turn Mozart abhorred Salzburg, but he could find no better post. In 1775 he went off to Munich, where he produced the opera buffa La finta giardiniera with great success but without tangible consequences. In this period at Salzburg he wrote nine Symphonies (Nos. 22-30), including the excellent No. 29 in A Major; a large number of divertimenti, including the Haffner Serenade; all of his six Concertos for violin, several other concertos, and church music for use at Salzburg.

Mannheim and Paris, 1777-1779

Despite his continued productivity, Mozart was wholly dissatisfied with provincial Austria, and in 1777 he set off for new destinations: Munich, Augsburg, and prolonged stays in Mannheim and Paris. Mannheim was the seat of a famous court orchestra, along with a fine opera house. He wrote a number of attractive works while there (including his three Flute Quartets and five of his Violin Sonatas), but he was not offered a post.

Paris was a vastly larger theater for Mozart's talents (his father urged him to go there, for "from Paris the fame of a man of great talent echoes through the whole world," he wrote his son). But after 9 difficult months in Paris, from March 1778 to January 1779, Mozart returned once more to Salzburg, having been unable to secure a foot-hold and depressed by the entire experience, which had included the death of his mother in the midst of his stay in Paris. Unable to get a commission for an opera (still his chief ambition), he wrote music to order in Paris, again mainly for wind instruments: the Sinfonia Concertante for four solo wind instruments and orchestra, the Concerto for flute and harp, other chamber music, and the ballet music Les Petits riens. In addition, he was compelled to give lessons to make money. In his poignant letters from Paris, Mozart described his life in detail, but he also told his father (letter of July 31, 1778), "You know that I am, so to speak, soaked in music, that I am immersed in it all day long, and that I love to plan works, study, and meditate." This was the way in which the real Mozart saw himself; it far better reflects the actualities of his life than the fictional image of the carefree spirit who dashed off his works without premeditation, an image that was largely invented in the 19th century.

Salzburg, 1779-1781

Returning to Salzburg once more, Mozart took up a post as court conductor and violinist. He chafed again at the constraints of local life and his menial role under the archbishop. In Salzburg, as he wrote in a letter, "one hears nothing, there is no theater, no opera." During these years he concentrated on instrumental music (Symphony Nos. 32-34), the Symphonie Concertante for violin and viola, several orchestral divertimenti, and (despite the lack of a theater) an unfinished German opera, later called Zaide.

In 1780 Mozart received a long-awaited commission from Munich for the opera seria Idomeneo, musically one of the greatest of his works despite its unwieldy libretto and one of the great turning points in his musical development as he moved from his peregrinations of the 1770s to his Vienna sojourn in the 1780s. Idomeneo is, effectively, the last and greatest work in the entire tradition of dynastic opera seria, an art form that was decaying at the same time that the great European courts, which had for decades spent their substance on it as entertainment, were themselves beginning to sense the winds of social and political revolution. Mozart's only other work in this genre, the opera seria La clemenza di Tito (1791), was a hurriedly written work composed on demand for a coronation at Prague—and it is significantly not cast in the traditional large dimensions of old-fashioned opera seria, with its long arias, but is cut to two acts like an opera buffa and has many features of the new operatic design Mozart evolved after Idomeneo.

Vienna, 1781-1791

Mozart's years in Vienna, from age 25 to his death at 35, encompass one of the most prodigious developments in so short a span in the history of music. While up to now he had demonstrated a complete and fertile grasp of the techniques of his time, his music had been largely within the range of the higher levels of the common language of the time. But in these 10 years Mozart's music grew rapidly beyond the comprehension of many of his contemporaries; it exhibited both ideas and methods of elaboration that few could follow, and to many the late Mozart seemed a difficult composer. Franz Joseph Haydn's constant praise of him came from his only true peer, and Haydn harped again and again on the problem of Mozart's obtaining a good and secure position, a problem no doubt compounded by the jealousy of Viennese rivals.

Mozart disparaged many of his less gifted contemporaries in scathing terms; Leopold often entreated him to write in a simple and pleasing style ("What is slight can still be great"). Replying to such a plea, Mozart (letter of Dec. 28, 1782, from Vienna) wrote of his own work in a way that might apply to much of his music: "These concertos [K. 413-415] are a happy medium between what is too easy and what is too difficult … there are passages here and there from which only connoisseurs can derive satisfaction; but these passages are written in such a way that the less learned cannot fail to be pleased, though without knowing why."

The major instrumental works of this period encompass all the fields of Mozart's earlier activity and some new ones: six symphonies, including the famous last three: No. 39 in E-flat Major, No. 40 in G Minor, and No. 41 in C Major (the Jupiter-a title unknown to Mozart). He finished these three works within 6 weeks during the summer of 1788, a remarkable feat even for him.

In the field of the string quartet Mozart produced two important groups of works that completely overshadowed any he had written before 1780: in 1785 he published the six Quartets dedicated to Haydn (K. 387, 421, 428, 458, 464, and 465) and in 1786 added the single Hoffmeister Quartet (K. 499). In 1789 he wrote the last three Quartets (K. 575, 589, and 590), dedicated to King Frederick William of Prussia, a noted cellist. The six Quartets dedicated to Haydn undoubtedly owe something to Mozart's study of the earlier work of Haydn, perhaps most to the self-asserted "new and special manner" of Haydn's Op. 33 of 1781, a phrase that may refer to the complete participation in these works of all four instruments in the motivic development. Mozart's works entirely meet the standards set by Haydn up to now, and surpass it.

Other chamber music on the highest level of imagination and craftsmanship from Mozart's Vienna years includes the two Piano Quartets, seven late Violin Sonatas, the last Piano Trios, and the Piano Quintet with winds; and in the last five years of his life, the last String Quintets and the Clarinet Quintet. This decade also saw the composition of the last 17 of Mozart's Piano Concertos, almost all written for his own performance. They represent the high point in the literature of the classical concerto, and in the following generation only Ludwig van Beethoven was able to match them.

A considerable influence upon Mozart's music during this decade was his increasing acquaintance with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frederick Handel, which in Vienna of the 1780s was scarcely known or appreciated. Through the private intermediacy of an enthusiast for Bach and Handel, Baron Gottfried van Swieten, Mozart came to know Bach's Well-tempered Clavier, from which he made arrangements of several fugues for strings with new preludes of his own. He also made arrangements of works by Handel, including Acis and Galatea, the Messiah, and Alexander's Feast.

In a number of late works—especially the Jupiter Symphony, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), and the Requiem—one sees an overt use of contrapuntal procedures, which reflects Mozart's awakened interest in contrapuntal techniques at this period. But in a more subtle sense much of his late work, even where it does not make direct use of fugal textures, reveals a subtlety of contrapuntal organization that doubtless owed something to his deepened experience of the music of Bach and Handel.

Operas of the Vienna Years

Mozart's evolution as an opera composer between 1781 and his death is even more remarkable, perhaps, since the problems of opera were more far-ranging than those of the larger instrumental forms and provided less adequate models. In opera Mozart instinctively set about raising the perfunctory dramatic and musical conventions of his time to the status of genuine art forms. A reform of opera from triviality had been successfully achieved by Christoph Willibald Gluck, but Gluck cannot stand comparison with Mozart in pure musical invention. Although Idomeneo may indeed owe a good deal to Gluck, Mozart was immediately thereafter to turn away entirely from opera seria. Instead he sought German or Italian librettos that would provide stage material adequate to stimulate his powers of dramatic expression and dramatic timing through music.

The first important result was the German Singspiel entitled Die Entführung aus dem Serail (1782; Abduction from the Seraglio). Not only does it have an immense variety of expressive portrayals through its arias, but what is new in the work are its moments of authentic dramatic interaction between characters in ensembles. Following this bent, Mozart turned to Italian opera, and he was fortunate enough to find a librettist of genuine ability, a true literary craftsman, Lorenzo da Ponte. Working with Da Ponte, Mozart produced his three greatest Italian operas: Le nozze di Figaro (1786; The Marriage of Figaro), Don Giovanni (1787, for Prague), and Cosi fan tutte (1790).

Figaro is based on a play by Pierre Caron de Beaumarchais, adapted skillfully by Da Ponte to the requirements of opera. In Figaro the ensembles become even more important than the arias, and the considerable profusion of action in the plot is managed with a skill beyond even the best of Mozart's competitors. Not only is every character convincingly portrayed, but the work shows a blending of dramatic action and musical articulation that is probably unprecedented in opera, at least of these dimensions. In Figaro and other late Mozart operas the singers cannot help enacting the roles conceived by the composer, since the means of characterization and dramatic expression have been built into the arias and ensembles. This principle, grasped by only a few composers in the history of music, was evolved by Mozart in these years, and, like everything he touched, totally mastered as a technique. It is this that gives these works the quality of perfection that opera audiences have attributed to them, together with their absolute mastery of musical design.

In Don Giovanni elements of wit and pathos are blended with the representation of the supernatural onstage, a rare occurrence at this time. In Cosi fan tutte the very idea of "operatic" expression—including the exaggerated venting of sentiment—is itself made the subject of an ironic comedy on fidelity between two pairs of lovers, aided by two manipulators.

In his last opera, The Magic Flute (1791), Mozart turned back to German opera, and he produced a work combining many strands of popular theater but with means of musical expression ranging from quasi-folk song to Italianate coloratura. The plot, put together by the actor and impresario Emanuel Schikaneder, is partly based on a fairy tale but is heavily impregnated with elements of Freemasonry and possibly with contemporary political overtones.

On concluding The Magic Flute, Mozart turned to work on what was to be his last project, the Requiem. This Mass had been commissioned by a benefactor said to have been unknown to Mozart, and he is supposed to have become obsessed with the belief that he was, in effect, writing it for himself. Ill and exhausted, he managed to finish the first two movements and sketches for several more, but the last three sections were entirely lacking when he died. It was completed by his pupil Franz Süssmayer after his death, which came on Dec. 5, 1791. He was given a third-class funeral.

Further Reading

The most important source materials on Mozart available in English are The Letters of Mozart and His Family, Chronologically Arranged, edited by Emily Anderson (3 vols., 1938; 2d ed. 1966); and Otto Erich Deutsch, Mozart: A Documentary Biography (1964). The most comprehensive study in English of Mozart is Alfred Einstein, Mozart: His Character, His Work (1945).

Studies of individual works or groups of works include Edward J. Dent, Mozart's Operas: A Critical Study (1913; 2d ed. 1947); Georges de Saint-Foix, The Symphonies of Mozart (1947); C. M. Girdlestone, Mozart's Piano Concertos (1948); Siegmund Levarie, Mozart's Le Nozze de Figaro: A Critical Analysis (1952); and The Mozart Companion, edited by H. O. Robbins Landon and Donald Mitchell (1956). A wide variety of analysis is in the special Mozart issue of the Musical Quarterly (1956), reprinted as The Creative World of Mozart, edited by Paul Henry Lang (1956). For analyses of his works see Felix Salzer, Structural Hearing (2 vols., 1952; rev. ed. 1962). □

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Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756–1791)

MOZART, WOLFGANG AMADEUS (17561791)

MOZART, WOLFGANG AMADEUS (17561791), Austrian composer, widely considered one of the most gifted figures in the history of Western music. Born in the archbishopric of Salzburg, a territory of the Holy Roman Empire, Mozart by the age of six had already acquired a reputation throughout Europe as a musical prodigy. According to his father, Wolfgang was already composing minuets at the age of four, and he was barely six when he performed on the harpsichord for the Habsburg imperial family in Vienna. Yet Mozart's astonishing precocity as a composer and performer should not obscure the role of his father, Leopold, in nurturing his genius. Leopold, the son of an Augsburg bookbinder, became a musician at the Salzburg court in 1739 and in 1763 secured an appointment as deputy kapellmeister. He was himself an accomplished musician and composer who in 1756, the year of Wolfgang's birth, published what would become a highly influential treatise on violin playing. He was therefore able to provide Wolfgang and his sister, Maria Anna ("Nannerl"; 17511829), with superb musical tutelage. Leopold could be a demanding and irascible father, proud of his son's talents but also possessive and manipulative, and the bitter conflicts that marked his relationship with Wolfgang in later years have made it easy for some biographers to portray Leopold in an unflattering light. But even those scholars inclined to highlight his shortcomings (see, for example, Maynard Solomon's brilliant but controversial biography) acknowledge Leopold's crucial role in fostering the talents and career of his son.

This role was evident above all in the series of European tours he arranged for Wolfgang between 1763 and 1772, when Leopold journeyed with his son to such major musical capitals as Vienna, Paris, Naples, Milan, Mannheim, and London. These journeys were undertaken with the purpose of landing Wolfgang a position more suitable to his talents than what was then available in Salzburg. Mozart failed to secure a permanent appointment and for most of the period up to 1781 would remain formally in the service of the Salzburg court. But the grand tours of the 1760s and early 1770s did have the effect of exposing the young composer to an exceptionally broad array of musical influences and genres. In this respect the extensive travels of Wolfgang's youth certainly helped foster what would become a key element of his gifts as a composer, namely his universality. Mozart would not only master every musical genre of his day, but leave a lasting imprint on eachsacred music, keyboard and chamber music, concertos and symphonies, operaand although a composer of his talents was certainly more than the sum of his musical influences, the range of styles and genres to which his father helped expose him fostered the conditions under which Wolfgang's genius could flourish.

But the young Mozart's travels also bred a growing dissatisfaction with his patrons at the Salzburg court, where he spent most of the years from 1773 to 1780. Mozart's unhappiness came partly in response to the policies of the new archbishop, Hieronymus Colloredo (in office 17721803), whose reform-minded efforts to lower court expenditures and curtail the use of instrumental music in the Mass further reduced what to Mozart already seemed a dearth of musical opportunities. Growing tension between the two, heightened by the efforts of the Mozart family to find employment elsewhere, culminated in the composer's unceremonious dismissal (in Mozart's words, "with a kick on the ass") by the archbishop's court chamberlain in 1781. Mozart's break with the archbishop later acquired legendary and dramatic force as the romantic embodiment of the clash between unrequited genius and mediocrity.

But the incident also pointed to the growing importance of Vienna, where Mozart now resolved to make his fortune, as a musical and cultural capital. The 1780s, which coincided with the reign of the reformist Joseph II (ruled 17651790), marked the high point of Enlightenment culture in the Habsburg capital. The city's expanding musical and theatrical venues help explain why Mozart could take a step so unusual for a composer of his day, namely that of embarking on a freelance musical career in lieu of one based on court patronage. Legends to the contrary, Mozart enjoyed considerable success in Vienna. The concerts he presented earned him noteworthy sums, due substantially to the popularity of his concertos, while the city's lively stage provided a vehicle for Mozart's operatic ambitions. The Viennese premier of his German Singspiel, Die Entführung aus dem Serail (1782; The abduction from the seraglio), was a major success, as was Le nozze di Figaro (1786; The marriage of Figaro), his first of three collaborative efforts with the Italian librettist Lorenzo da Ponte (17491838). The Viennese reception of Don Giovanni (1788) and Così fan tutte (1790), for which da Ponte also wrote librettos, was more muted, though the former had earlier premiered to an enthusiastic audience in Prague. Die Zauberflöte (1791; The magic flute) masterfully blended North German chorale, Viennese popular comedy, and Italianate coloratura, while its Masonic themes of brotherhood, reason, and justice (Mozart had become a Freemason in 1784) mark the opera as one of the highest expressions of the Viennese Enlightenment. There Mozart's universality is once again evident, not only in the opera's synthesis of diverse musical traditions but also in the transcendence of its moral universe.

Although Mozart's annual income during most of his Viennese years was relatively comfortable and roughly approximated that of a merchant or higher government official, his failure to achieve financial security is legendary. Personal extravagance, aggravated by the need to maintain a style of living proper to his status as a composer, was partly responsible. Later scholars have sometimes blamed Mozart's financial insecurity on his wife Constanze (née Weber), the daughter of a Mannheim court musician, whom Mozart had married in 1782. But charges that Constanze, after "entrapping" Mozart in marriage, drove the pair to financial ruin through her spendthrift ways, appear to be groundless. Evidence suggests that she was a supportive wife and a competent if not shrewd household manager. At least in his later years, what was chiefly responsible for Mozart's precarious finances were deteriorating health, which reduced the income he would otherwise have earned through teaching, performing, and composing. The causes of his death in 1791 remain a subject of speculation, with rheumatic fever the most widely accepted explanation. Serious scholars have dismissed the sensationalist claim, first advanced in the 1820s and later revived in stage (1979) and film (1985) versions of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, that Mozart died of poisoning at the hands of the composer Antonio Salieri (17501825).

See also Music ; Music Criticism ; Opera ; Vienna .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Braunbehrens, Volkmar. Mozart in Vienna, 17811791. Translated by Timothy Bell. New York, 1990.

Gutman, Robert W. Mozart: A Cultural Biography. New York and London, 1999.

Landon, H. C. Robbins. 1791: Mozart's Last Year. London, 1988.

Sadie, Stanley. "(Johann Chrysostom) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart." In The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, edited by Stanley Sadie, vol. 17, pp. 276347. London and New York, 2001.

Solomon, Maynard. Mozart: A Life. New York, 1995.

James Van Horn Melton

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Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Born: January 27, 1756
Salzburg, Austria
Died: December 5, 1791
Vienna, Austria

Austrian composer

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an Austrian composer (a writer of music) whose mastery of the whole range of contemporary (modern) instrumental and vocal formsincluding the symphony, concerto, chamber music, and especially the operawas unchallenged in his own time and perhaps in any other.

Child prodigy

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756, in Salzburg, Austria. His father, Leopold Mozart, a noted composer, instructor, and the author of famous writings on violin playing, was then in the service of the archbishop of Salzburg. Leopold and Anna Maria, his wife, stressed the importance of music to their children. Together with his sister, Nannerl, Wolfgang received such intensive musical training that by the age of six he was a budding composer and an accomplished keyboard performer. In 1762 Leopold presented his son as performer at the imperial court in Vienna, Austria, and from 1763 to 1766 he escorted both children on a continuous musical tour across Europe, which included long stays in Paris, France, and London, England, as well as visits to many other cities, with appearances before the French and English royal families.

Mozart was the most celebrated child prodigy (an unusually gifted child) of this time as a keyboard performer. He also made a great impression as a composer and improviser (one who arranges or creates). In London he won the admiration of musician Johann Christian Bach (17351782), and he was exposed from an early age to an unusual variety of musical styles and tastes across Europe.

Gaining fame

From the age of ten to seventeen, Mozart's reputation as a composer grew to a degree of maturity equal to that of most older established musicians. He spent the years from 1766 to 1769 at Salzburg writing instrumental works and music for school dramas in German and Latin, and in 1768 he produced his first real operas: the German Singspiel (that is, with spoken dialogue) Bastien und Bastienne. Despite his growing reputation, Mozart found no suitable post open to him; and his father once more escorted Mozart, at age fourteen (1769), and set off for Italy to try to make his way as an opera composer.

In Italy, Mozart was well received: in Milan, Italy, he obtained a commission for an opera; in Rome he was made a member of an honorary knightly order by the Pope; and at Bologna, Italy, the Accademia Filarmonica awarded him membership despite a rule normally requiring candidates to be twenty years old. During these years of travel in Italy and returns to Salzburg between journeys, he produced his first large-scale settings of opera seria (that is, court opera on serious subjects): Mitridate (1770), Ascanio in Alba (1771), and Lucio Silla (1772), as well as his first string quartets. At Salzburg in late 1771 he renewed his writing of Symphonies (Nos. 1421).

In Paris and Vienna

Paris was a vastly larger theater for Mozart's talents. His father urged him to go there, for "from Paris the fame of a man of great talent echoes through the whole world," he wrote his son. But after nine difficult months in Paris, from March 1778 to January 1779, Mozart returned once more to Salzburg, having been unable to secure a foothold and depressed by the entire experience, which had included the death of his mother in the midst of his stay in Paris. Unable to get hired for an opera, he wrote music to order in Paris, again mainly for wind instruments: the Sinfonia Concertante for four solo wind instruments and orchestra, the Concerto for flute and harp, other chamber music, and the ballet music Les Petits riens. In addition, he began giving lessons to make money.

Mozart's years in Vienna, from age twenty-five to his death at thirty-five, cover one of the greatest developments in a short span in the history of music. In these ten years Mozart's music grew rapidly beyond the realm of many of his contemporaries; it exhibited both ideas and methods of elaboration that few could follow, and to many the late Mozart seemed a difficult composer.

The major instrumental works of this period bring together all the fields of Mozart's earlier activity and some new ones: six symphonies, including the famous last three: no. 39 in E-flat Major, no. 40 in G Minor, and no. 41 in C Major (the Jupiter a title unknown to Mozart). He finished these three works within six weeks during the summer of 1788, a remarkable feat even for him.

In the field of the string quartet Mozart produced two important groups of works that completely overshadowed any he had written before 1780: in 1785 he published the six Quartets (K. 387, 421, 428, 458, 464, and 465) and in 1786 added the single Hoffmeister Quartet (K. 499). In 1789 he wrote the last three Quartets (K. 575, 589, and 590), dedicated to King Frederick William (16881740) of Prussia, a noted cellist.

Operas of the Vienna years

Mozart's development as an opera composer between 1781 and his death is even more remarkable, perhaps, since the problems of opera were more far-ranging than those of the larger instrumental forms and provided less adequate models. The first important result was the German Singspiel entitled Die Entführung aus dem Serail (1782; Abduction from the Seraglio ). Mozart then turned to Italian opera. Mozart produced his three greatest Italian operas: Le nozze di Figaro (1786; The Marriage of Figaro ), Don Giovanni (1787, for Prague), and Cosi fan tutte (1790). In his last opera, The Magic Flute (1791), Mozart turned back to German opera, and he produced a work combining many strands of popular theater and including musical expressions ranging from folk to opera.

On concluding The Magic Flute, Mozart turned to work on what was to be his last project, the Requiem. This Mass had been commissioned by a benefactor (financial supporter) said to have been unknown to Mozart, and he is supposed to have become obsessed with the belief that he was, in effect, writing it for himself. Ill and exhausted, he managed to finish the first two movements and sketches for several more, but the last three sections were entirely lacking when he died. It was completed by his pupil Franz Süssmayer after his death, which occurred in Vienna, Austria, on December 5, 1791.

For More Information

Deutsch, Otto Erich. Mozart: A Documentary Biography. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1965.

Gutman, Robert W. Mozart: A Cultural Biography. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1999.

Parouty, Michel. Mozart: From Child Prodigy to Tragic Hero. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1993.

Solomon, Maynard. Mozart: A Life. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1995.

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Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (mōt´särt, Ger. vôlf´gäng ämädā´ŏŏs mō´tsärt), 1756–91, Austrian composer, b. Salzburg. Mozart represents one of the great peaks in the history of music. His works, written in almost every conceivable genre, combine luminous beauty of sound with classical grace and technical perfection.

Early Years

A remarkable prodigy, Mozart was taught to play the harpsichord, violin, and organ by his father, Leopold, and began composing before he was five. When Mozart was six, he and his older sister, Marianne, were presented by their father in concerts at the court of the Empress Maria Theresa in Vienna and in the principal aristocratic households of central Europe, Paris, and London. His progress as a composer was amazing; by the age of 13 he had written concertos, sonatas, symphonies, a German operetta, Bastien und Bastienne (1768), and an Italian opera buffa, La finta semplice (1769). During a tour in Italy (1768–71) he absorbed Italian style, received great acclaim for his concerts in Rome and other major cities, and successfully produced his opera Mitridate, re di Ponto (1770).

In 1771 Mozart was appointed concertmaster to the archbishop of Salzburg. However, he was dissatisfied with his position and the restrictions placed on his work, and after six years he went on tour in search of a better post. He traveled with his mother, visiting numerous cities, including Munich, Mannheim (where he fell in love briefly with the singer Aloysia Weber), and Paris. Despite the successful performance in Paris of his Symphony in D (1778), known as the Paris Symphony, Mozart did not receive much attention there.

Maturity

After resuming his post at Salzburg in 1779, Mozart composed Idomeneo (1781) for the Bavarian court. One of the best examples of 18th-century opera seria, it marks the first opera of Mozart's maturity. In the year of its production he resigned from the archbishop's service and moved to Vienna, where in 1782 he married Constanze Weber, the sister of Aloysia. Financial difficulties beset him almost immediately, since he was unable to secure a suitable position and had to earn his living by teaching and giving public concerts.

In Vienna, Mozart met Haydn, and the two developed a long and warm friendship that benefited the work of each. Mozart's six string quartets (1782–85) dedicated to Haydn are testimony of his influence. Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio, 1782), a singspiel combining songs and German dialogue, brought Mozart some success.

The Viennese court opera was dominated by Italian tradition, and in his next operas Mozart turned to the style of the Italian opera buffa. With the librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte he created the comic masterpiece Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro, 1786), which, after a lukewarm reception in Vienna, became a sensation in Prague. From that city also came the commission that resulted in Don Giovanni (1787). Although it has come to be regarded as one of the most brilliant operas ever written, it was considered rather difficult by his public, which preferred his more frivolous works.

At the death of Gluck (1787), Mozart succeeded him as chamber musician and court composer to Joseph II. His salary was far less than Gluck's had been, however, and his financial troubles persisted to the end of his life. An example of the elegant pieces written for social occasions at this time is the famous serenade for strings, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (1787).

Last Works

In the space of three months in 1788 Mozart composed his last three symphonies—No. 39 in E Flat, No. 40 in G Minor, and No. 41 in C, called the Jupiter Symphony; they all display a complete mastery of classical symphonic form as established by Haydn. In 1789 Mozart traveled to Berlin, where he was presented to King Frederick William II. Mozart's last three string quartets (1789–90) were written for the king, an accomplished cellist. Returning to Vienna, Mozart composed his clarinet quintet (1789); his last opera buffa, Così fan tutte (1790), and his last piano concerto, the Piano Concerto in B Flat (1791).

In Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute, 1791), with libretto by the actor Emmanuel Schikaneder, Mozart returned to the German opera in the singspiel, bringing this form of light musical entertainment to a height of lyrical and symbolic art. Its composition was interrupted by a commission from a wealthy nobleman for a requiem mass and by the composition of La Clemenza di Tito (1791), an opera seria for the coronation of Leopold II as king of Bohemia.

After the production of Die Zauberflöte, Mozart worked feverishly on the requiem, with the foreboding that it would commemorate his own death. He died at the age of 35 without finishing it; the work was completed by his pupil Franz Süssmayr. A thematic catalog of Mozart's works was made by Ludwig von Köchel and published in 1862; an edition revised by Alfred Einstein appearing in 1937. Mozart's works are usually identified by their numbers in this list.

Leopold Mozart

Mozart's father Leopold, 1719–87, besides being the teacher and promoter of his famous son, was a capable composer and author of A Treatise on the Fundamental Problems of Violin Playing (1756; tr. 1951), of interest today as a record of 18th-century musical practice.

Bibliography

See W. A. Mozart's letters, ed. by E. Anderson (tr., 2 vol., 2d ed. 1966), and selected letters, ed. by R. Spaethling (tr., 2000); biographies by O. Jahn (tr. 1891, 3 vol.; repr. 1970), A. Einstein (4th ed. 1959), O. E. Deutsch (2d ed. 1965), E. Blom (rev. ed. 1937, repr. 1985), M. Solomon (1995), P. Gay (1999), R. W. Gutman (2000), J. Rushton (2006), and C. Wolff (on his last four years, 2012); studies on his quartets by T. F. Dunhill (1927), his operas by E. J. Dent (2d ed. 1947, repr. 1970), his symphonies by G. de Saint-Foix (tr. 1947, repr. 1968); C. Rosen, The Classical Style (1971; expanded ed. 1997), J. Liebner, Mozart on the Stage (1972, repr. 1980), H. C. R. Landon, 1791: Mozart's Last Year (1988, repr. 1999), and W. Stafford, The Mozart Myths (1991).

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Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756–91) Austrian composer. A child prodigy on the piano, Mozart was taken by his father, Leopold, on performing tours in Europe (1762–65), during which he composed his first symphonies. In the 1770s, he worked at the Prince Archbishop's court in Salzburg. Masses, symphonies, and his first major piano concerto date from this time. Opera was his primary concern, and in 1780 he composed Idomeneo, which is impressive for its rich orchestral writing and depth of expression. In the 1780s, he moved to Vienna, where he became court composer to the Austrian Emperor in 1787. In this decade, he composed and performed his greatest piano concertos, the last eight of his 41 symphonies and the brilliant comic operas Le Nozze di Figaro (1786), Don Giovanni (1787) and Così fan tutti (1790). In the last year of his life, Mozart wrote the operas Die Zauberflöte and La Clemenza di Tito, the clarinet concerto, and the Requiem (completed by a pupil). In all, he composed more than 600 works, perfecting the classical style and foreshadowing Romanticism.

http://www.mozartproject.org; http://www.classical.net

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Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus

MOZART, WOLFGANG AMADEUS

A principal composer of the classical period and of all time; b. Salzburg, Austria, Jan. 27, 1756 (baptized Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgang Theophilus); d. Vienna, Dec. 5, 1791. Mozart's father, Leopold, had been a respected composer and violinist in the employ of the archi-episcopal court of Salzburg. As a small boy, Mozart already displayed amazing talents as violinist and harpsichordist, even as composer. In 1769 he entered Archbishop Colloredo's service. There, he had frequent opportunities for writing sacred music, yet he resented increasingly the confining environment of a small ecclesiastical state, and this resentment was aggravated by travels to important musical centers throughout Europe. The inevitable break between the archbishop and the young musician occurred in 1781. Mozart then settled in Vienna, always hoping for a desirable court position. As late as 1790 he applied for an appointment to the Austrian court, stating in his application that "from my childhood on I have been familiar with the church style." The desired appointment did not materialize. That Mozart wrote virtually no sacred music after leaving Salzburg is attributed in part to this failure, but also to the curtailment of church music during the age of josephinism.

Mozart was essentially a believing and practicing Catholic, as seems certain from many of his letters (Einstein, Mozart: His Character, His Life, His Work 7781). He saw no conflict between his religious beliefs and Free-masonry in which he became involved in 1784, taking an active part in its affairs and providing a number of compositions for Masonic occasionse.g., Cantatas K. 429, 471, 623; Masonic Funeral Music, K. 477. The "Masonic virtues" of tolerance, brotherly love, steadfastness, and silence also figure in the libretto of The Magic Flute, an opera generally interpreted as a Masonic allegory. Objections against liturgical use of Mozart's sacred compositions have often been voiced, in the 19th century and today, chiefly because of their allegedly "worldly" or "operatic" nature. Such a view can largely be explained by the fact that his operas and his instrumental music have always been more widely known. Many features that simply represent Mozart's own style, and that of his period, when encountered in his sacred works remind some listeners of his secular music. To this day, however, his church music regularly receives liturgical performances in Austria and Southern Germany.

Sacred Works. Both individual Mass movements and complete Masses from Mozart's childhood and adolescence have been preserved, e.g., the Kyrie, K. 33 (1766), and the Missa Brevis, K. 49 (1768). Many early works (e.g., the incomplete Missa Brevis, K. 115) indicate that he had studied the sacred music of Eberlin and Michael haydn, especially their works in strict (contrapuntal) style; yet few of his own compositions are consistently in this style. Strict contrapuntal writing (the stile antico of which Padre Martini was considered a master) represented a challenge to the young composer but was in Mozart's idiom united with other elements, especially the prevailing Italian church stylethe stile moderno, in which one melodic line was prominent, and often quite florid, with orchestral accompaniment.

Masses. The Missa Solemnis, K. 139, a substantial early work, has a large orchestra with timpani and four trumpets. Other important settings include the Missa in honorem SSmae Trinitatis, K. 167, in which there is no vocal solo writing; the Missa Brevis in C, K. 220, in an essentially homophonic style; K. 257, the "Credo Mass" (so-called because of the recurring exclamation "Credo, credo"); the "Coronation Mass," K. 317, written for a small pilgrimage church near Salzburg; and the great but incomplete Mass in C-minor, K. 427 (1783). Some portions of this last, especially the Laudamus te with its florid solo passages in Neapolitan style, have been cited as evidence of the "operatic" quality of his sacred music. Other sections, however, are severely contrapuntal, some in five-or eight-part choral writing. Much of the music is serious, full of dramatic tension, expressing the sacred text with eloquence and sincerity. The unfinished Requiem, K. 626, completed by his pupil Franz Süssmayer, has become his best-known sacred work. During his last years Mozart thought often of death; he seems to have felt that the Requiem, commissioned under rather mysterious circumstances, was to be his own funeral Mass, and the setting is consistently in keeping with the text.

Other Liturgical Music. Among other extended sacred works are two settings of Vesper Psalms and Magnificat, K. 321 and 339, and several litanies, K. 109, 125, 195, 243. His smaller sacred works, especially the motets, show great variety. The Introit Cibavit eos, K. 44 (Bologna 1770), is a study in the stile antico, based on a Gregorian cantus firmus. Other motets, e.g., the Offertory Inter natos mulierum, K. 72, reflect the musical idiom of the young composer's home environment. Motets in the purely soloistic Italian style were written when an occasion called for them. One such, Exsultate, jubilate, K. 165, composed for the castrato Rauzzini, consists of three arias, ending with the well-known Alleluia. His last motet, Ave verum corpus, K. 618 (1791), scored for four voices, strings, and organ, still appeals widely because of its simplicity and sincerity. There are also 17 church or "Epistle" sonatas, short compositions for strings and organ, with wind and timpani parts added in some instances. In the Salzburg cathedral these compositions were traditionally performed between the Epistle and the Gospel (see organ music).

Style. Many stylistic characteristics of Mozart's sacred works are found also in his secular music. Some Mass movements are in sonata form (suggested especially by the Kyrie-Christe-Kyrie text). Characteristic themes may recur throughout a movement. Melodic structure, the harmonies, and instrumentation found in Mass and Offertory frequently resemble those of symphony and opera. No more than in J. S. bach's age did composers of Mozart's draw rigid distinctions between sacred and secular style, though counterpoint (the "Palestrina style") was considered especially suitable for the church, particularly during Advent and Lent. Mozart's style developed and matured along similar lines in sacred and secular works. Thus, parallel prominence is given to wind instruments and use of chromaticism in Mozart's later sacred works (C-minor Mass, Requiem ) and in symphonies and concertos from the same period. Skillful counterpoint distinguishes many of his later works, especially after 1782, when his acquaintance with Baron Swieten led to renewed interest in the music of Bach and handel. While he impressed his own style characteristics on his sacred music, Mozart did observe many conventions found in liturgical music of his age, among them the use of a figured bass (by then largely obsolete in secular music), and the traditional fugal endings of Gloria (Cum Sancto Spiritu ) and Credo (Et vitam venturi saeculi ).

Bibliography: Werke: Kristisch durchgesehene Gesammtausgabe, 74 v. in 69 (Leipzig 18771905; repr. Ann Arbor 1951). Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke (Kassel 1955), edition of the Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum in Salzburg. The Letters of Mozart and His Family, ed. and tr. e. anderson, 3 v. (London 1938). Literature. o. e. deutsch, Mozart: A Documentary Biography, tr. e. blom et al. (Stanford 1965). a. einstein, Mozart: His Character, His Life, His Work, tr. a. mendel and n. broder (New York 1945). e. blom, Mozart (London 1935). k. g. fellerer, Mozarts Kirchenmusik (Salzburg 1955). k. g. fellerer, The History of Catholic Church Music, tr. f. a. brunner (Baltimore 1961). r. g. pauly, Music in the Classic Period (New York 1965). k. geiringer, "The Church Music," The Mozart Companion, ed. h. c. r. landon andd. mitchell (New York 1956) 361376. l. von kÖchel, Chronologisch-thematisches Verzeichnis Mozarts, ed. f. giegling et al. (6th ed. Wiesbaden 1964), the basis, since 1862, of "K numbers" or "Köchel listing" universally adopted in place of opus numbers (which Mozart rarely used) for identification purposes. f. lippmann, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949) 9:699839. w. hummel, "Mozart Gesellschaften," ibid. 839842, includes Mozarteum. s. durant, "The Chronology of Mozart's La clemenza di Tito Reconsidered," Music and Letters 80 (1999) 560594. c. eisen, "Another Look at the 'Corrupt Passage' in Mozart's G Minor Symphony, K.550: Its Sources, 'Solutions, and Implications for the Composition of the Final Trilogy," Early Music 25 (1997), 373380. f. gonin, "Mozart et le Padre Martini: histoire d'une légende?," Revue de Musicologie 85 (1999) 277295. s. p. keefe, "Dramatic Dialogue in Mozart's Viennese Piano Concertos: A Study of Competition and Cooperation in Three First Movements," The Musical Quarterly 83 (1999) 169204. h. kowar, "Die Zauberflöte: ein tantrisches Ritual?," Studien zur Musikwissenschaft 42 (1993) 167180. m. latcham, "Mozart and the Pianos of Gabriel Anton Walter," Early Music 25 (1997) 382400. r. maunder, and d. rowland, "Mozart's pedal piano," Early Music 23 (1995) 287296. b. simkin, "The Case for Mozart's Affliction with Tourette Syndrome," Journal of the Conductors' Guild 12 (1991) 5064.

[r. g. pauly]

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Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

1756–1791

Composer
Musician

Early Genius.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's father described him as "the miracle which God let be born in Salzburg." Leopold Mozart, a well-educated musician, devoted great energies to nurturing and promoting the talents of his son, whose musical genius manifested itself very early. Playing the harpsichord at the age of four and composing by the time he was five, Wolfgang quickly became a star attraction. His father took him on a three-year European performing tour, with his older sister Maria Anna that began when he was only seven. He excelled as an organist and violinist as well as at the harpsichord, and later would turn to the piano. The tour helped expose Mozart to the musical styles in all parts of Europe, and so aided the development of his own style as a composer. In 1764 at the age of eight, he performed before King Louis XV of France, and traveled with his father to London, where he composed his first symphonies, and published a set of violin sonatas. In London he also met Johann Christian Bach, the youngest son of Johann Sebastian Bach. After the family's return to Salzburg in 1766, Mozart made several trips to Vienna where he met the composer Josef Haydn. His father also took him to Italy in 1770, both to perform and to study. They returned once again to Salzburg, where both father and son held positions at court. Young Mozart continued to compose and develop his reputation as a composer, but increasingly he felt constrained by the provincial atmosphere of Salzburg. He was unsuccessful, though, in winning a major position elsewhere, and so, he continued to make trips from Salzburg. Eventually, his requests for leave from his court position resulted in his dismissal, and in 1777 Mozart left on an extended tour of Germany and France with his mother. His mother died, though, not long after his arrival in Paris, and since Mozart was unsuccessful in securing a position in France, he returned again to Salzburg, where he once again received a contract from the Archbishop's court.

Vienna.

In 1781, after a stormy period in the employment of the archbishop, Mozart moved to Vienna to work independently as a freelance composer and performer. He found success quickly with the opera The Abduction from the Seraglio. The work has a German text and is written in the Singspiel, meaning it includes both arias, duets, and ensemble work together with spoken dialogue. Here Mozart evoked its Turkish setting not only with sets and costumes, but also with exotic-sounding instruments, such as the clarinet, and a range of percussion, and music intended to evoke Turkish styles. At about the same time he married Constanze Weber, and his relationship grew strained with his father, who had approved neither of the young Mozart's move or his marriage. A visit home in 1783 helped improve relations, and upon his return to Vienna Mozart enjoyed some of his greatest successes. He began to collaborate with the librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, a partnership that resulted in The Marriage of Figaro in 1786, Don Giovanni in 1787, and Così fan tutte in 1790. Don Giovanni, often accepted as the greatest musical achievement among the composer's twelve operas, balances the humor of its hero's romantic appeal and wandering eye with the eerie and dramatic spectacle of the statue of a wronged man coming to life and dragging him down to a well-deserved hellish damnation. Così fan tutte seems, on its surface, to be a mere light comedy, featuring devoted ladies whose sweethearts wager over whether they can be lured away to another lover in their absence. The story, with its confusion of identities and humor, accommodated some of Mozart's most charming writing. The conclusion, which muses on human weakness and begs for tolerance of mutual frailty, reveals the real depth of da Ponte's libretto as well as the thought behind Mozart's music. Despite his successes, Mozart had continued to seek financial stability, which he achieved with a court appointment in 1787. Mozart had always rebelled against a common tendency at courts to view musicians and composers as little more than skilled servants. He felt that he and his colleagues should be able to live affluently and to move freely in all kinds of society. His ability to manage money, though, did not keep pace with such pretensions, and so he and Constanze suffered chronically from financial troubles. The steady income of the new court position helped the composer to manage those troubles, although it did not end them.

Last Year and Beyond.

During the last year of Mozart's life, he completed another opera seria, La clemenza di Tito, as well as The Magic Flute. The latter opera is in German and with some spoken dialogue, but the plot has added themes not only from folk tales but also from the ideas of the Freemasons. Mozart had become a member of this society, and wrote a number of pieces for performances at its meetings. The opera's main figures, Tamino and Pamina, win both love and enlightenment amid a colorful and memorable collection of characters and dazzling arias that are graceful, amusing, or frightening as called for by the story line. In 1791 he began work on the famous Requiem Mass, which was commissioned anonymously by Count von Walsegg-Stuppach as a memorial to his wife. Mozart became ill with a fever and died before completing it. As was customary for persons of his station in Vienna at the time, he had a small funeral and was buried in a multiple grave. Constanze had his students and collaborators, Joseph Eybler and Franz Xaver Süssmayr, finish his Requiem. In the years that followed publishers began to put together collections of his works, while Constanze remarried and her second husband wrote a biography of Mozart.

Importance.

Mozart's enormous talents as a composer were more than a match for the continuously changing musical styles of the late eighteenth century. He did not invent new genres or forms, or create an entirely new style of composition. Rather, he used the new styles and forms that had already emerged in European music after 1750, making them his own and molding them into vehicles that were particularly expressive of his genius. His earliest writings relied not only on regional south German and Austrian styles but on Italian ones as well. An interest in counterpoint and careful, technical composition developed fairly early and remained with him. In Vienna, he discovered the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and he studied and arranged some of his compositions. Throughout his brief life he composed music in many different genres, so in each of these some similar developments of his talents and interests are evident. His melodies balance a sense of natural progression with surprise and innovation. His string quartets, especially those produced after his encounters with Haydn, seem to have mastered the ideal of four equal musical voices in dialogue or conversation with one another. His symphonies are demanding of the performers, feature complex development of carefully worked themes, and combine the drama of recent styles with the complexities of counterpoint. His music became more complex over time, and a number of his later works gained a reputation among his contemporaries as being rewarding but difficult and challenging to listen to.

sources

Cliff Eisen, The New Grove Mozart (London: Grove, 2002).

Robert W. Gutman, Mozart: a Cultural Biography (London: Secker & Warburg, 2000).

Konrad Küster, Mozart: a Musical Biography. Trans. Mary Whittall (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996).

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Letters of Mozart and His Family. Ed. and trans. Emily Anderson (London: Macmillan, 1985).

John Rosselli, The Life of Mozart (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

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Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756–1791)

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756–1791)

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756–1791), Austrian composer. Mozart's mastery of the whole range of contemporary instrumental and vocal forms—including the symphony, concerto, chamber music, and especially the opera—was unrivaled in his own time and perhaps in any other.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on Jan. 27, 1756, in Salzburg. His father, Leopold Mozart, a noted composer and pedagogue and the author of a famous treatise on violin playing, was then in the service of the archbishop of Salzburg. Together with his sister, Nannerl, Wolfgang received such intensive musical training that by the age of 6 he was a budding composer and an accomplished keyboard performer. In 1762 Leopold presented his son as performer at the imperial court in Vienna, and from 1763 to 1766 he escorted both children on a continuous musical tour across Europe, which included long stays in Paris and London as well as visits to many other cities, with appearances before the French and English royal families.

Mozart was the most celebrated child prodigy of this time as a keyboard performer and made a great impression, too, as composer and improviser. In London he won the admiration of so eminent a musician as Johann Christian Bach, and he was exposed from an early age to an unusual variety of musical styles and tastes across the Continent.


Salzburg and Italy, 1766–1773. From his tenth to his seventeenth year Mozart grew in stature as a composer to a degree of maturity equal to that of his most eminent older contemporaries; as he continued to expand his conquest of current musical styles, he outstripped them. He spent the years 1766–1769 at Salzburg writing instrumental works and music for school dramas in German and Latin, and in 1768 he produced his first real operas: the German Singspiel (that is, with spoken dialogue) Bastien und Bastienne and the opera buffa La finta semplice. Artless and naive as La finta semplice is when compared to his later Italian operas, it nevertheless shows a latent sense of character portrayal and fine accuracy of Italian text setting. Despite his reputation as a prodigy, Mozart found no suitable post open to him; and with his father once more as escort Mozart at age 14 (1769) set off for Italy to try to make his way as an opera composer, the field in which he openly declared his ambition to succeed and which offered higher financial rewards than other forms of composition at this time.

In Italy, Mozart was well received: at Milan he obtained a commission for an opera; at Rome he was made a member of an honorary knightly order by the Pope; and at Bologna the Accademia Filarmonica awarded him membership despite a rule normally requiring candidates to be 20 years old. During these years of travel in Italy and returns to Salzburg between journeys, he produced his first large-scale settings of opera seria (that is, court opera on serious subjects): Mitridate (1770), Ascanio in Alba (1771), and Lucio Silla (1772), as well as his first String Quartets. At Salzburg in late 1771 he renewed his writing of Symphonies (Nos. 14–21).

In these operatic works Mozart displays a complete mastery of the varied styles of aria required for the great virtuoso singers of the day (especially large-scale da capo arias), this being the sole authentic requirement of this type of opera. The strong leaning of these works toward the singers' virtuosity rather than toward dramatic content made the opera seria a rapidly dying form by Mozart's time, but in Lucio Silla he nonetheless shows clear evidence of his power of dramatic expression within individual scenes.


Salzburg, 1773–1777. In this period Mozart remained primarily in Salzburg, employed as concert-master of the archbishop's court musicians. In 1773 a new archbishop took office, Hieronymus Colloredo, who was a newcomer to Salzburg and its provincial ways. Unwilling to countenance the frequent absences of the Mozarts, he declined to promote Leopold to the post of chapel master that he had long coveted. The archbishop showed equally little understanding of young Mozart's special gifts. In turn Mozart abhorred Salzburg, but he could find no better post. In 1775 he went off to Munich, where he produced the opera buffa La finta giardiniera with great success but without tangible consequences. In this period at Salzburg he wrote nine Symphonies (Nos. 22–30), including the excellent No. 29 in A Major; a large number of divertimenti, including the Haffner Serenade; all of his six Concertos for violin, several other concertos, and church music for use at Salzburg.


Mannheim and Paris, 1777–1779. Despite his continued productivity, Mozart was wholly dissatisfied with provincial Austria, and in 1777 he set off for new destinations: Munich, Augsburg, and prolonged stays in Mannheim and Paris. Mannheim was the seat of a famous court orchestra, along with a fine opera house. He wrote a number of attractive works while there (including his three Flute Quartets and five of his Violin Sonatas), but he was not offered a post.

Paris was a vastly larger theater for Mozart's talents (his father urged him to go there, for "from Paris the fame of a man of great talent echoes through the whole world," he wrote his son). But after 9 difficult months in Paris, from March 1778 to January 1779, Mozart returned once more to Salzburg, having been unable to secure a foothold and depressed by the entire experience, which had included the death of his mother in the midst of his stay in Paris. Unable to get a commission for an opera (still his chief ambition), he wrote music to order in Paris, again mainly for wind instruments: the Sinfonia Concertante for four solo wind instruments and orchestra, the Concerto for flute and harp, other chamber music, and the ballet music Les Petits riens. In addition, he was compelled to give lessons to make money. In his poignant letters from Paris, Mozart described his life in detail, but he also told his father (letter of July 31, 1778), "You know that I am, so to speak, soaked in music, that I am immersed in it all day long, and that I love to plan works, study, and meditate." This was the way in which the real Mozart saw himself; it far better reflects the actualities of his life than the fictional image of the carefree spirit who dashed off his works without premeditation, an image that was largely invented in the 19th century.


Salzburg, 1779–1781. Returning to Salzburg once more, Mozart took up a post as court conductor and violinist. He chafed again at the constraints of local life and his menial role under the archbishop. In Salzburg, as he wrote in a letter, "one hears nothing, there is no theater, no opera." During these years he concentrated on instrumental music (Symphony Nos. 32–34), the Symphonie Concertante for violin and viola, several orchestral divertimenti, and (despite the lack of a theater) an unfinished German opera, later called Zaide.

In 1780 Mozart received a long-awaited commission from Munich for the opera seria Idomeneo, musically one of the greatest of his works despite its unwieldy libretto and one of the great turning points in his musical development as he moved from his peregrinations of the 1770s to his Vienna sojourn in the 1780s. Idomeneo is, effectively, the last and greatest work in the entire tradition of dynastic opera seria, an art form that was decaying at the same time that the great European courts, which had for decades spent their substance on it as entertainment, were themselves beginning to sense the winds of social and political revolution. Mozart's only other work in this genre, the opera seria La clemenza di Tito (1791), was a hurriedly written work composed on demand for a coronation at Prague, and it is significantly not cast in the traditional large dimensions of old-fashioned opera seria, with its long arias, but is cut to two acts like an opera buffa and has many features of the new operatic design Mozart evolved after Idomeneo.


Vienna, 1781–1791. Mozart's years in Vienna, from age 25 to his death at 35, encompass one of the most prodigious developments in so short a span in the history of music. While up to now he had demonstrated a complete and fertile grasp of the techniques of his time, his music had been largely within the range of the higher levels of the common language of the time. But in these 10 years Mozart's music grew rapidly beyond the comprehension of many of his contemporaries; it exhibited both ideas and methods of elaboration that few could follow, and to many the late Mozart seemed a difficult composer. Franz Joseph Haydn's constant praise of him came from his only true peer, and Haydn harped again and again on the problem of Mozart's obtaining a good and secure position, a problem no doubt compounded by the jealousy of Viennese rivals.

This decade also saw the composition of the last 17 of Mozart's Piano Concertos, almost all written for his own performance. They represent the high point in the literature of the classical concerto, and in the following generation only Ludwig van Beethoven was able to match them.

A considerable influence upon Mozart's music during this decade was his increasing acquaintance with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frederick Handel, which in Vienna of the 1780s was scarcely known or appreciated. Through the private intermediacy of an enthusiast for Bach and Handel, Baron Gottfried van Swieten, Mozart came to know Bach's Well-tempered Clavier, from which he made arrangements of several fugues for strings with new preludes of his own. He also made arrangements of works by Handel, including Acis and Galatea, the Messiah, and Alexander's Feast.

In a number of late works—especially the Jupiter Symphony, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), and the Requiem—one sees an overt use of contrapuntal procedures, which reflects Mozart's awakened interest in contrapuntal techniques at this period. But in a more subtle sense much of his late work, even where it does not make direct use of fugal textures, reveals a subtlety of contrapuntal organization that doubtless owed something to his deepened experience of the music of Bach and Handel.


Operas of the Vienna Years. Mozart's evolution as an opera composer between 1781 and his death is even more remarkable, perhaps, since the problems of opera were more far-ranging than those of the larger instrumental forms and provided less adequate models. In opera Mozart instinctively set about raising the perfunctory dramatic and musical conventions of his time to the status of genuine art forms. A reform of opera from triviality had been successfully achieved by Christoph Willibald Gluck, but Gluck cannot stand comparison with Mozart in pure musical invention. Although Idomeneo may indeed owe a good deal to Gluck, Mozart was immediately thereafter to turn away entirely from opera seria. Instead he sought German or Italian librettos that would provide stage material adequate to stimulate his powers of dramatic expression and dramatic timing through music.

The first important result was the German Singspiel entitled Die Entführung aus dem Serail (1782; Abduction from the Seraglio). Not only does it have an immense variety of expressive portrayals through its arias, but what is new in the work are its moments of authentic dramatic interaction between characters in ensembles. Following this bent, Mozart turned to Italian opera, and he was fortunate enough to find a librettist of genuine ability, a true literary craftsman, Lorenzo da Ponte. Working with da Ponte, Mozart produced his three greatest Italian operas: Le nozze di Figaro (1786; The Marriage of Figaro), Don Giovanni (1787, for Prague), and Cosi fan tutte (1790).

Figaro is based on a play by Pierre Caron de Beaumarchais, adapted skillfully by da Ponte to the requirements of opera. In Figaro the ensembles become even more important than the arias, and the considerable profusion of action in the plot is managed with a skill beyond even the best of Mozart's competitors. Not only is every character convincingly portrayed, but the work shows a blending of dramatic action and musical articulation that is probably unprecedented in opera, at least of these dimensions. In Figaro and other late Mozart operas the singers cannot help enacting the roles conceived by the composer, since the means of characterization and dramatic expression have been built into the arias and ensembles. This principle, grasped by only a few composers in the history of music, was evolved by Mozart in these years, and, like everything he touched, totally mastered as a technique. It is this that gives these works the quality of perfection that opera audiences have attributed to them, together with their absolute mastery of musical design.

In Don Giovanni elements of wit and pathos are blended with the representation of the supernatural onstage, a rare occurrence at this time. In Cosi fan tutte the very idea of "operatic" expression—including the exaggerated venting of sentiment—is itself made the subject of an ironic comedy on fidelity between two pairs of lovers, aided by two manipulators.

In his last opera, The Magic Flute (1791), Mozart turned back to German opera, and he produced a work combining many strands of popular theater but with means of musical expression ranging from quasi-folk song to Italianate coloratura. The plot, put together by the actor and impresario Emanuel Schikaneder, is partly based on a fairy tale but is heavily impregnated with elements of Freemasonry and possibly with contemporary political overtones.

On concluding The Magic Flute, Mozart turned to work on what was to be his last project, the Requiem. This Mass had been commissioned by a benefactor said to have been unknown to Mozart, and he is supposed to have become obsessed with the belief that he was, in effect, writing it for himself. Ill and exhausted, he managed to finish the first two movements and sketches for several more, but the last three sections were entirely lacking when he died. It was completed by his pupil Franz Süssmayer after his death, which came on Dec. 5, 1791. He was given a third-class funeral.

EWB

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