Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Mozart was born on January 27, 1756 in Salzburg, Austria. On the second day of his life, he was baptized and got his name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus (Gottlieb) Mozart. Mozart himself preferred to be called Wolfgang. When he was about three years of age his father saw a great talent in his little son Mozart. So Mozart’s father taught the little boy to play different musical instruments. In London, the boy was the subject of research, and in Holland, during the period when music was prohibited, Mozart was an exception because of his extraordinary talent that priests considered the God’s touch.
In 1762, Mozart's father took his little son and daughter Anna, who was a wonderful and promising performer on the harpsichord, to an artistic journey that took them to Munich, Vienna, Paris, London, and to numerous cities in the Netherlands and Switzerland (Melograni). Wherever he performed, Mozart would arouse surprise and delights from professionals and amateurs alike. In 1763, first Mozart's sonatas for the violin and harpsichord were published in Paris.
From 1766 to 1769 years, while living in Salzburg and Vienna, Mozart studied works by Handel, Stradella, Carissimi, Durante, and other great masters. His opera Imaginary Simpleton was written by the order of Emperor Joseph II. Yet, representatives of the Italian company whowere aware that this work belonged to a 12-year old composer, did not want the boy to play music (Melograni). During Mozart’s stay in Italy from 1770 to 1774, he created a new opera Mithridates, King of Pontus, It was presented in 1771 in Milan and got accepted with great enthusiasm by the public. His second opera, Lucio Sulla debuted with the same success. At the age of 17, Mozart had already written four operas, several religious poems, 13 symphonies, 24 sonatas, and a number of smaller tracks (Melograni). Despite his concerns about financial security, his fruitless trip to Munich, Mannheim and Paris, and tragic loss of the mother, Mozart wrote six sonatas for the clavier, concerto for the flute and harp, and a large Symphony No. 31 nicknamed Paris. That was followed by several religious choirs and 12 ballet pieces. In 1779, Mozart took place of the court organist in Salzburg where he collaborated with Michael Haydn, Joseph Haydn’s younger brother (Barth).
On 26 January 1781 Mozart’s opera Idomeneo enjoyed a great success in Munich. With the Idomeneo began the process of reformation of the lyrical drama style. In this opera, one could still find visible traces of old Italian “opera seria”, but the recitatives, and especially the choir followed a new trend. A big step forward wasmade in the instrumentation as well.
During his stay in Munich, Mozart wrote Offertory Chapel Misericordias Domini - one of the finest examples of the church music of the late 18th century. With his creative force and innovative devices, Mozart was able to write truly amazing operas for the publicity. Opera The Abduction from the Seraglio, which was written in 1782 and received with enthusiasm, soon became popular across Germany, where it was considered the first national German opera (Ross). It was written during the time of the romantic relationship between Mozart and Constanze Weber, who became his wife some time later.
Despite Mozart’s success, his financial situation was not brilliant. Mozart had to give private music lessons, write country dances, waltzes and even pieces for the wall clock played at the parties of Viennese aristocracy. Operas L'oca del Cairo and Lo Sposo Deluso remained unfinished (Melograni). In 1783-1785, Mozart created six famous string quartets that he dedicated to Joseph Haydn, the master of the genre whom he accepted with great respect. In 1786, an unusually productive and tiresome work began that was the main cause of Mozart’s future health problems. For example, the opera The Marriage of Figaro written in 6 weeks in 1786 demonstrated Mozart’s ability to write with incredible speed while also maintaining amazing shape of skills, perfect musical performance, and working with inexhaustible inspiration (Malam).
In Vienna, The Marriage of Figaro passed almost unnoticed, but in Prague it evoked extraordinary delight. As soon as the co-author of Mozart’s Lorenzo da Ponte finished The Marriage of Figaro, they both worked on Don Giovanni that was written for Prague. The great work, which had no analogues in music, was released in 1787 in Prague. It was even more successful than The Marriage of Figaro (Riggs). Much less success opera gained in Vienna, where the publicity usually received Mozart colder than other centers of musical culture. The position obtained by the composer at the court brought him 800 florins, which was a very modest reward. However, Mozart felt he was tied to Vienna and did not want to offend Joseph II, when he was invited to become the head of the chapel of Frederick William II in 1789. So he refused from the position at the Prussian court.
Despite accounts of Mozart’s being invited to the Prussian court, many researchers of Mozart's life argue that the place was not offered to him. They state that Frederick William II just ordered six easy piano sonatas for his daughter and six string quartets for himself. Mozart did not want to admit to the fact that his trip to Prussia was not successful, and pretended that Friedrich Wilhelm II invited him to the office, but showing respect to Joseph II, he refused. The order he received from Prussia produced an image of truth upon his words. However, money that he got as a result of his trip was not enough. They could barely cover the debt of 100 guilders, which were taken by Mozart from his brother Mason Gofmedelya for travel expenses (Melograni).
After Don Giovanni , Mozart composed three most famous symphonies of his: No. 39 in major, No. 40 and No. 41. Those symphonies were written during six weeks in 1788. The last two symphonies are thought to be the most popular (Barth). In 1790, right after the death of Emperor Joseph II , Mozart's financial situation worsened was so desperate that he had to move from Vienna to avoid the harassment of his creditors. The artistic journey was meant to improve his business a little bit.
Mozart's last operas were Cosi Fan Tutte, La Clemenza di Tito and, finally, The Magic Flute, whose huge success spread extremely quickly. The operetta The Abduction from the Seraglio is believed to have been the first step of the German opera’s independent development. In relation to this, Mozart’s operas were the most prominent works. In May 1791, Mozart received an unpaid position of assistant conductor of St. Stephen’s Cathedral hoping to take the place after the death of the ailing conductor Leopold Hoffman. Ironically, the later managed to live longer than Mozart (Riggs).
Mozart worked as a composer for the church. Despite his relatively short life span, the composer created an array of great samples in the area some of them were Misericordias Domini, Ave verum corpus and Mozart’s majestically mournful Requiem. It is worth mentioning that Mozart worked tirelessly on Requiem, written with special love during the last days of his life. The story of writing The Requiem says that shortly before Mozart’s death, a mysterious stranger all dressed in black had visited Mozart and ordered him to write The Requiem (Malam). As established by Mozart’s biographers, the weird person was Count Franz von Valzegg-Shtuppah who decided to present the purchased work as his own. While writing the piece, Mozart had that mysterious stranger wearing a black mask, or a “black man”, incessantly standing before his eyes. Allegedly, the composer began to feel that he was writing that Requiem Mass for himself. The unfinished Requiem was later finished by Mozart’s pupil Franz Xaver Zyusmayer (Melograni). The composition was filled with mournful lyricism and tragic emphasis as it seemed to the listeners.
Mozart died of an unidentified illness on December 5, 1791. His body was found swollen, soft and elastic, as typically happens in case of poisoning. This fact, as well as some other circumstances of the last days of the life of the great composer provided the basis for researchers to defend the version of poisoning as the main cause of his death. Mozart was buried in Vienna, at the cemetery of St. Mark in a common grave, so that the very place of his burial remains unknown. In memory of the great composer on the ninth day after his death a large gathering of people met in Prague where 120 musicians performed The Requiem by Antonio Rosetti (Ross).
The distinctive feature of Mozart is an amazing combination of rigorous, clear forms with deep emotion. Mozart’s unique talent was his ability not just to transform all existing forms and genres of the era, but create works of lasting value. Mozart's music reveals many connections with different national cultures, especially Italian, though Vienna was a place that greatly formed creative personality of the great composer (Ross). Also, Mozart is thought to be the greatest melodist of the world. His melodies combine the features of Austrian and German folk songs with melodiousness of Italian cantilena.
Mozart created a completely different type of musical drama and opera music – the one that comes into a full communion with the development of stage action. As a consequence, there are no clearly positive and negative characters in his operas – all characters are vivid and multifaceted. In his works, Mozart showed the relationship between people, their feelings and aspirations. The most popular operas of his are The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute (Ross). Mozart’s symphonic music is also appreciated greatly.
Mozart became one of the founders of the genre of classical concerts and piano works like sonatas, variations, fantasies. Mozart refused from the harpsichord and clavichord, possessing over weaker piano sound. Mozart's piano style is elegant, crisp and produces well-crafted melodies and accompaniment. The composer created many sacred works: the Mass, a cantata, oratorio, and the famous Requiem. In general, Mozart wrote 68 sacred works, 55 concertos and many other kinds including 50 symphonies, 45 Sonatas and Variations written by the composer for the Violin and Harpsichord, as well as 32 string quartets and an array of other works - a total of 626 pieces (Ross).
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