“I pay no attention whatever to anybodys praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.” (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)(brainyquote.com). This is the very essence of Mozart as he composed to make music that he felt was right and in turn influenced the music world to come. Mozart brought new aspects to things in the music business such as different kinds of operas and the idea of being a free-lance musician, instead of working for the church or the government. This brought about the idea of musicians also being considered artists. Mozart made additions to the classical orchestra and helped to bring great popularity to the Italian and German operas. Even though Mozart has been accused of not actually composing all the pieces he has been credited for, though not proven up to this point, Mozart changed the way music is perceived because of Mozart’s decisions that changed the rules of music and things such as The Mozart effect which has been argued by scientists to affect the human brain.
Mozart has been considered that of a prodigal genius. “. . . I must inform [you] that on 27 January, at 8 p.m., my dear wife was happily delivered of a boy; but the placenta had to be removed. She was therefore astonishingly weak. Now, however (God be praised) both child and mother are well. She sends her regards to you both. The boy is called Joannes Chrisostomos, Wolfgang, Gotlieb.”(Mozart, L. http://www.mozartproject.org/biography/bi_56_60.html) He was born on January 27, 1756 in Salzburg, Austria. Mozart’s interest in music peaked at a very young age when his sister Nannerl said that the three year old Mozart “often spent much time at the clavier, picking out thirds, which he was always striking, and his pleasure showed that it sounded good.” (mozartproject.org). It took Mozart only about half an hour to learn and master his first musical composition which was charted in his sister, Nannerl’s journal by father Leopold, “This piece was learnt by Wolfgangerl on 24 January 1761, 3 days before his 5th birthday, between 9 and 9:30 in the evening.” (mozartproject.org). Not after too long of his learning, the young Mozart composed his first composition which he put in Nannerl’s notebook. His composition only consisted of 6 measures in an andante in C Major. Though the young Mozart possessed great potential as a composer his father, Leopold, decided to direct his aims at his children’s growing progress as pianists. Leopold took his two children to perform on a tour of the courts of Europe. Their first trip did not last long as they travelled to the Munich court but shortly returned to Salzburg. Leopold then set out for a more dynamic tour and the first objective was Vienna. The success of his performance in Vienna caused mass excitement and the young Mozart was invited to perform in major courts of Europe. Leopold wrote. “The nobles send us their invitations four, five, six to eight days in advance, in order not to miss us.” (mozartproject.org). After all of these performances, the young Mozart was still not even at the age of seven. After returning from Vienna they spent some time back home in Salzburg but accepted an invitation to play in Versailles, France and left on June 9th. This trip would then last for over three years. On their trip to Paris they played many public and private events at the major cities they would pass through on their way to Versailles. Around Christmas Eve the family moved to Versailles for two weeks to experience the life of living in the most culturally influenced court of Europe. In the February following the meeting of the king and queen, Mozart struck with an illness but was active in four days and this month published his first compositions though they are thought to have been written by his father Leopold. There next destination was London as it proved to contain great business in the music market. Within days of arriving to England, Mozart was performing in front of the young king and queen. The king was so taken to Mozart that he invited him back to play once again. Leopold became ill and this left Mozart with time to compose his own music in which he constructed his first symphony for all the instruments. They left London in of July 1765. In 1767 they headed back to Vienna and stayed there until 1768 when they then headed back to Salzburg. After a year back in Salzburg, Leopold and Mozart travelled to Italy. Wolfgang was put on display once again by his father where he was recognized for his maturing and rapid growth as a composer. He even was accepted to be a member of the Accademia Filarmonica, a distinguished music institute of the time. When in Milan, Wolfgang wrote one of his first operas, Mitridate, re di Ponto (1770), which had success. The next few visits were for the premieres of two more of his operatic pieces, Ascanio in Alba (1771) and Lucio Silla (1772). Even though his Italian travels didn’t prove up to the expectations of his father he composed one of his more famous pieces, Exsultate, jubilate. After returning to Salzburg in 1773, Wolfgang was appointed to be a court musician. During this time he explored many genres in which some of these pieces are still performed today. Mozart gained a liking for violin concertos and composed five and the last three are now seen as the base of the violin concerto itself. His piano concerto in E flat of 1776 was considered by his critics to be of breakthrough success, but Mozart found himself to be upset with his position in Salzburg and mainly wanted to compose operas, which were of rare occasions of the time. In august of 1777, Wolfgang quit his position in Salzburg and set out to travel along with his mother for work. This trip proved to be unsuccessful in Mozart finding what it was he was looking for and the worst of the trip was that of his mother’s death on July 3rd, 1778. Mozart returned home on January 15, 1779 and took a new position that his father had rallied for him in which he was now the concertmaster, but Mozart still found himself discontent in Salzburg. In the January of 1781 his opera Ideomeneo received some success and he travelled with the archbishop Colloredo when attending the celebrations of Joseph II to the throne. Mozart wanted to perform for the Emperor at Countess Thun’s, but the archbishop prevented him which offended Mozart and once they returned from Vienna Mozart had attempted to resign but this request was refused. After a month he was allowed to resign, but was resigned in an insulting manner. This began Mozart’s travel to Vienna where he decided to settle and be a freelance performer and composer. Once in Vienna, Mozart’s career as a freelance musician began well as he managed to find multiple performances as a pianist and had won a competition in front of the Emperor and soon “had established himself as the finest keyboard player in Vienna” (magicmozart.com). He then in 1782 completed his first opera as a freelance composer which resulted in great success and was performed throughout Europe which greatly added to Mozart’s reputation as a composer. Within the years of 1782 and 1783 Wolfgang became very interested with the compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel which then had a great influence on his own musical compositions which are seen in fugal passages in Die Zauberflöte (“The Magic Flute”) and the finale of Symphony No. 41. I 1783 Mozart and his wife Constanze visited in Salzburg where Mozart created to be said one of his most liturgical pieces, the Mass in C minor, but were not even completed. Haydn and Mozart met in Vienna and became good friends. Mozart had composed six quartets that were to be dedicated to Haydn. After the pieces were performed Haydn’s response was “I tell you before God, and as an honest man, your son is the greatest composer known to me by person and repute, he has taste and what is more the greatest skill in composition.” (magicmozart.com).For the three years between 1782 and 1785, Mozart would have concerts in which he performed as the soloist. He would perform about three to four piano concertos for each season of the year. Spacing within the theaters was very limited so Mozart would book his performances at places such as a large room in an apartment building or the ballroom of a restaurant. These venues with their larger space helped to add to the popularity and success of his concertos which are still played today as prime examples of the piano concerto. It was written by one of Mozart’s critics that he had created “a harmonious connection between an eager composer-performer and a delighted audience, which was given the opportunity of witnessing the transformation and perfection of a major musical genre” (magicmozart.com). With the money Mozart earned from his concerts and other performances he was able to move into an expensive apartment along with his wife and children. He spent his money on unnecessary items and was not able to save any money that would later help them in Mozart’s later years. Around the end of 1785, Mozart once again went back to composing operas along with the librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte and in 1786 found a successful premiere of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in Vienna. Due to the success of this opera made Mozart once again collaborate with Lorenzo Da Ponte on Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni which premiered in October 1787 in Prague and then found more success in 1788 in Vienna. These two operatic works are prime examples of Mozart’s work and are still popular today, though the complexity of the work made it difficult for listeners and the performers of the time. By the end of 1787 Mozart had finally gained a part time position appointed by the Emperor Joseph II in which he was the “Chamber Composer” (magicmozart.com). This position only required him to compose dances for the annual balls. Mozart felt underappreciated and told his wife, Constanze that his pay was “too much for what I do, too little for what I could do”. (magicmozart.com) Even with Mozart’s feelings he could not refuse the pay as it helped in Mozart’s hard times later in life. The records of the court show that the reason Emperor Joseph II paid Mozart so much was to prevent him from leaving Vienna. In 1787 Ludwig van Beethoven, another great composer of the Classical era, visited Vienna for a couple of weeks in hopes of studying with Mozart. There is no direct accounts recorded that Beethoven and Mozart ever managed to meet or not, but the fact that Beethoven specifically wanted to study under Mozart shows how much of an influence he was on the music world at the time. In 1788, Mozart and his family moved to the suburbs of Alsegrund due to the collapse of the arts in Vienna. This was because there was a war in Austria and the arts had no support from the aristocrats at the time. It is suggested by Maynard Solomon that Mozart had been suffering from depression at the time since his income had decreased even more and he began borrowing money to pay his rent and his output on compositions slowed as well. The major works he had managed to compose were his last three symphonies all written in 1788 and the last opera that he collaborated with Da Ponte, Così fan tutte which premiered in 1790. Due to Mozart’s financial slump he began to make long travels to places such as Leipzig, Dresden, and Berlin in 1789 and then set out once again to Frankfurt, Mannheim, and other cities within Germany during 1790. The problem was that the trips during these times only proved some success and didn’t relieve the family of their financial stupor. In 1791, before Mozart became deathly ill, he had a great time of productivity in which some historians’ view that Mozart had renewed himself during this time. Mozart composed many pieces within his final year including his admired pieces such as his operatic movement of The Magic Flute, a distinguished clarinet concerto, his final piano concerto in B- flat, the final of his last series of string quartet, Ave verum corpus, and his unfinished Requiem. By 1791, Mozart’s financial debt had begun to improve as wealthy patron from Hungary and Amsterdam paid him well for occasional pieces and his role as the Imperial chamber composer also added to his wealth. Some of his works also received great praise and success in the eyes of the public during this time including “The Magic Flute” and his “Little Masonic Cantata”. After Mozart’s premiere of the opera La clemenza di Tito he began to fall ill and was then bedridden on November 20th due to swelling, pain, and vomiting. He was then taken care of by his wife Constanze and the family doctor, Thomas Franx Closset. It was said that even in his time of great illness he was still occupied to finish his Requiem. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart finally died at 1 a.m. on December 5th, 1791 at the young age of 35 years old. The cause of his death has not yet been able to be known for certain, but the one proposed diagnosis that is most widely supported is that of acute rheumatic fever. Even though Mozart was a great prodigy of his time and made great impacts on music, he was still buried in a common grave and was reported that no mourners were present. Though his funeral is not to reflect on that of his standing as a musician as many memorial services and concerts were attended in his honor.
The Mozart effect:
J.S. Jenkins, an MD FRCP, says that after being exposed to Mozart’s music for 10 minutes that there has been an enhancement on spatial- temporal reasoning performance. This has only been reported by several researchers on this topic which rises a strong sense of controversy upon if the Mozart effect is truly a real effect on the human brain. The subjects that have been reported to the effects on their spatial- temporal reasoning have only seen lasting effects of up to 12 minutes. Then there is the limitation on the research itself due to the fact that many of the experiments were only tested with short excerpts of Mozart’s piano sonata K448.
Mozart’s influences on the Classical era:
In Mozart’s instrumental music he always incorporated a sense of drama, which contrasted the moods that were set whether they are lively and playful or if they are solemn and tragic. He constructed his orchestration with notable writing of interweaving lines and imitative procedures, Along with the follow up of a development section containing moderately chromatic harmonies. Mozart wrote many pieces of chamber music including divertimentos and serenades that varied greatly. His most famous chamber work was his Eine Kleine Nachtmusik written in 1787. Mozart really favored string quartets as his last 10 quartets are some of the most renowned pieces of string quartets in the category. Mozart’s Clarinet and strings quintet is one of the most popular still in today’s audience. Mozart was one of the first composers to write for the clarinet which was one of the newer instruments of his time. The clarinet is one of the instruments classified as a color instrument along with instruments such as an oboe as it brings a new sense sound. He also incorporated the clarinet into many of his symphony pieces and created one of the first clarinets concertos. Mozart was one of the most accomplished piano players of his time and he wrote many pieces for his own instrument. His Fantasia in C minor and the Sonata in C minor are some of his most celebrated piano works. Mozart wrote twenty- seven concertos for piano and orchestra which the genre of piano music to one of the top genres of music in the Classical era.
Mozart’s symphonies and orchestras:
Mozart’s symphonies are characterized by his richness of orchestration along in part from his freedom of part writing in which he incorporates a large depth of emotion. The exact number of symphonies that Mozart had written is unsure. Four of the forty- one documented pieces are thought to have not been written by Mozart though. There are still newly discovered pieces and reworked compositions which put the number of symphonies by Mozart to over fifty. There are six pieces that Mozart has been dignified to the point of the works being considered masterpieces which were all composed in the last decade of his short thirty-five year life.
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The genre in which was most central to Mozart’s musical art was the opera. Mozart wrote in three styles of the opera while alive: opera buffa, the Italian comic opera (The Marriage of Figaro and don Giovanni), opera seria, the Italian serious opera (idomeneo), and the light form of a German opera including The Magic Flute. Mozart excelled in creating character in his music along with his creativity in lyrics that carefully blended for the human voice. Mozart developed a quick and aggressive rhythmic theme that rises from low to high registers with great speed that became known as the rocket theme that was first present in his Eine kliene Nachtmusik. Mozart, along with Haydn helped to create a dynamic style of writing that included the participation of all instruments and allowed each timbre, The quality of sound that distinguishes one voice or instrument from another ( the enjoyment of Music A22), to be heard throughout the piece. The use of interchanging imitation of themes of the different musical groups allowed for an effect of an exciting conversation between the respected musical groups. Mozart had his own take on the construction of the classical symphony, also referred to as the sonata- allegro form, in which he had two themes with as great of contrast as possible.
Mozart’s life was that of great excitement and even though was very short in years the things he had accomplished in his life were those greater than many will ever come close to touching in a full lifetime. His composing talents were that of what cannot be seen as less than extraordinary as he himself has over 40 symphonies and orchestras, along with operas, that are all published in his name. His positions reached as composers and orchestrators for royalty and at a very young age toured Europe playing for the most prestigious courts and kings and queens of the continent. Even due to his complexity of his pieces, he has made an impact that researchers have concluded as “The Mozart effect”. He also made contributions to the classical era such as demonstrating the importance of the modern piano and the creation of popularity for certain types of pieces such as the Opera Buffa and Opera Seria. He also managed to separate the job of being a composer or musician away from the church and the state. This freelance musicianship inspired many others after him such as the great musician also in his time, Ludwig van Beethoven. It is hard to find such another musician at his caliber where so many pieces, even after over 200 years, are still celebrated and well known throughout the world. His pieces are seen as the basis of technicality and precision in modern music. Personally, the contributions he has been able to add to the musical life has been able to effect, even unconsciously, by the most celebrated composers and orchestrators of our time. To conclude the evaluation of Mozart’s Life and contributions to music, he has inspired many people, admirers, fans, and musicians alike to pursue such achievements that Mozart has accomplished and to be a freelance musician and be acknowledged on such a wide scale. Without the many contributions Mozart has made in all the composition documented and undocumented, the music world would not be valued at the same standard that they are now set at. Mozart’s life itself was the change in music that helped bring it to a new age.
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