"She understands housekeeping"
-Mozart to his father on his bride to-be
Who doesn't recognize the name of the greatest musical genius
ever to bless this world. His musical genius was unparalleled at
his time, and has not been duplicated since. Previously it had been
thought that he had been composing at the age of five, but due to
recent compositions found, it is believed that he began composing
at the age of four! He was repeating keyboard exercises by ear at
the age of three, composing minuets by the age of four, touring
Europe as a violin and piano virtuoso at the age of six, and
producing symphonies at the age of nine, all before he had
celebrated his tenth birthday. His unequaled musical genius has
forced us to deem him the "Wunderkind," a German word meaning "The
Prodigy." If anyone was deserving of that title, it was certainly
him, the one, the greatest, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27th, 1756, in Salzburg, Austria to the name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. But later, his father shortened 'Wolfgangus' to 'Wolfgang'; translated 'Theophilus' to 'Amadeus'(love of God); and dropped off 'Johannes' and 'Chrystomus.' He was born to Leopold Mozart and Anna Maria Pertl. His only surviving sibling was his older sister Maria Anna who also was an exquisite pianist.
His father, Leopold, was originally a philosopher, but after starting a world-renown violin school and upon becoming aware of his sons exceptional talent, he soon became his teacher and "manager." By the time Mozart was six, he and his sister were whisked around Europe, performing and showing off their talents. Wolfgang impressed audiences wherever he went. He would improvise sonatas on his piano as members from the audience would sing. He would age his own twist to old songs, and improvise new songs during performances. In Rome, he broke the sacred rule of writing down the highly guarded score to the nine-voiced "Miserere" after only hearing it twice!
By the age of fifteen, after the prodigy appeal had worn off, he became the Kapellmeister of the Archbishop of Salzburg. As his fame in Salzburg increased, he received more commissions from the Archbishop. During these years he was also allowed to travel abroad freely, and he indulged in this opportunity with journeys to Paris, Italy, and England. He was still a developing composer at this point, and the influences that he had gained from his tours through Europe were evident in his remarkable pieces during this time. He composed his first 15 piano sonatas, a famous flute quartet, five violin concertos, and the opera Idomeneo. But with his the piece, Idomeneo, he finally broke free his life in Salzburg, and was summoned to Munich, and eventually located himself in the greatest musical city in the world, Vienna.
During his time in Salzburg, he lived with the Weber for a short time. At first he was enamored with the 16-year old Aloysia Weber, but he was forced to leave by his father on a concert tour. Many historians feel as though hi father was afraid that a wife would be a distraction to his child's work. However upon return, Mozart was heart-broken to find that Aloysia was taken to be a mistress by the Elector of Salzburg. Nevertheless, eventually Mozart came to like Constranze Weber, one of Aloysia's younger sisters. They were married and moved to Vienna together where Mozart would reach the pinnacle of his composing career in the poverty caused by his own debauchery.
In Vienna, Mozart became the most famous composer of his time. His peer, Joseph Haydn even exclaimed that Mozart was the greatest composer he had ever known or heard of. He composed so perfectly, it is said he never made a correction. As his genius reached its threshold he composed his four greatest operas, the famous Clarinet Quintet and Concerto, many highly-noted symphonies. And a vast amount of chamber music. Soon enough, he was receiving gifts and appreciation from elite members of the Viennese society, even though he would have preferred monetary donations.
Although many have the misperception that he was extremely poor and did not receive much for his compositions, the truth is that not only was he substantially paid, many of his pieces received double the amount a piece by another composer, such as Haydn, would receive. But his financial difficulty was caused by severe expenditures, elegant living conditions and lack of pecuniary control. During the last year of his life, where he was supposedly starving, he earned approximately 100,000 dollars. But he was already in debt, and most likely, much of that was used to pay those fees.
During the last year of his life, aged by the travel of his
youth and the lacking of the present, Mozart died writing he's most
mysterious and auspicious piece, Th Requiem. He died on December
5th, 1791, at the tender age of 35. His death was forthcoming for
he had been sick for weeks. His unfinished composition was later
finished by one of his pupils, Sussmayr. His funeral was attended
by many, contrary to popular belief. However he did die a poor and
hungry man. He died however at the zenith of his career. And not
many can ask for more than that.
Mozart composed many masterpieces. In total, according to the Kochel numbering system, he composed 626 separate works. That number in itself is astronomical. On a side note, of those pieces he never composed a trumpet concerto. He apparently could not stand the sound of a solo trumpet. When he was nine and his father wished to cure his fear of trumpets by blasting a trumpet horn at him, before even a sound was produced, Mozart turned pale and fell to the floor.
His chamber music is truly delectable. It includes an entourage
of quintets and quartets along with numerous piano sonatas and
trios. If you have ever heard a quartet play at a wedding or
reception, you have without a doubt heard his delightful entourage
of divertimenti and serenades. Who can forget the ever-popular Eine
Kleine Nachtmusik which was one of his more famous orchestral
pieces. Later in his life, he discovered the true beauty of the
clarinet and composed a few beautiful clarinet quintets and
concertos. Of his string quartets, his most noted are the set of
six that he dedicated to Haydn. In particular, the D minor Quartet (Kochel 421)
with its contrasting melodies and rich texture is worth listening
to. Another in that set, the Dissonant (Kochel 465), is most
famous for its ingenious first-movement transmuting into a
dance-like finale. His notable quintets include, C Major (Kochel 515) and
G minor (Kochel 516).
And his other all wind ensembles are truly ravishing.
His Famous Compositions
There are many notable pieces in his repertoire. The symphonies
Haffner (no. 35), Linz (no. 36) and Prague (no. 38) and
interesting. However his final three symphonies, although nameless
(no. 39-41), epitomize his brilliance in symphony. His vocal pieces
include the previously mentioned Requiem, Exultate Jubilate, and
the pompous Coronation Mass. The Requiem, in particular, looks deep
into the soul of Mozart and is very mysterious. His famous operas
include Don Giovanni, and moderately untimely piece, The Magic
Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, and Idomeneo. These pieces, in
addition to the aforementioned chamber pieces, display the
brilliance and ingenuity of this true prodigy.
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