Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
“Music, even in situations of the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but should flatter and charm it, and thereby always remain music.” The words of one of the greatest composers of all time, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, can explain more about him and his music than any historian. Arising from the classical period, a man who had an unmatched ear for the sound and form of music. In his lifetime he had accomplished in composing over six hundred works of musical genius. His abilities as a composer and a musician have landed him a spot in the musical hall of fame, and in the hearts of many musicians to come after him.
At a young age his abilities were already showing. In his hometown of Salzburg he had already built a fluent ability for the violin and the keyboard. At the age of 5 he was already performing in front of royalty. Being actively involved as a court musician at the age of 17, he was already showing great promise for a musical future. But not even Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, or his peers, would have been able to predict that one day he would become the most world renowned musician and composer of all time.
On January 27, 1756, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born to Leopold and Anna Marie Pertl Mozart. He was born in Salzburg, which at the time was part of the Holy Roman Empire. His older sister, Maria Anna, took keyboard lesson and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart would watch intently. Although his father was a great teacher, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart seemed to exceed everything he was being taught. At a very young age, he was already composing his own works of music. His father was so blown away by his son’s natural talent, the two became very close. His accomplishments were enough to bring a father to absolute tears.
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Most of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s life was spent traveling with his family where he and his sister would perform as “child prodigies.” In 1762, they performed in front of Prince-elector Maximilian III of Bavaria in Munich. Also, in that same year they performed in front of the Imperial court in Vienna and Prague. This was a long Concert tour spanning about three and a half years long. But none of this went without benefit for young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. During his time of touring, he met many famous musicians and was able to familiarize himself with the compositions and works of many great musicians and composers. But, one of the biggest influential meetings was one with Johann Sebastian Bach, the great composer that pretty much was the Baroque period. The two met in London in 1764 and 1765, a meet at which greatly benefitted Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Finally, in late 1767, the family again returned to Vienna and stayed there until December 1768.
The trip, although very eventful and beneficial for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was not without discomfort, peril, and ease. There travel conditions were quite primitive for their time and they often found themselves waiting. They had to wait patiently for noble invitations and reimbursements from the nobles as well. On top of all that, the family also endured terrible, near fatal illnesses, first with the father, and then following by both children.
After spending time at home in Salzburg, they set off again on a trip. This time, only Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and his father Leopold, took part in this trip, leaving his mother and sister at home. They set off for Italy in 1769. Leopold, in conglomeration with their earlier journeys, wanted to show off his sons abilities as a musician and a rapidly maturing composer to the world. In Bologna, he was accepted as a member of the famous Accademia Filarmonica. When he went to Rome, he was given a chance to hear Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere. Only hearing it once, he was able to write it out from memory, only having to correct a few small errors that he made.
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In Milan, the first opera that he wrote was Mitridate, re di Ponto in 1770, which of course was performed with incredible success. This great success lead to many other opera commissions. He and his father returned many time for compositions and performances of operas like Ascanio in Alba in 1771, and Lucio Silla in 1772. Leopold had great hopes that these trips and visits would result in a professional appointment in Italy for his son, but sadly, these great hopes were never fulfilled. But, all was not at all lost, because towards the end of their hopeful journey, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote the first of his great works, one that is well known and still widely performed today, the solo cantata Exsultate, jubilate, K.165.
The rest of his life was filled with the compositions of many great works and operas. He traveled much in his lifetime, meeting influential people, and eventually marrying Constanze, daughter of Fridolin Weber. Until his death on December 5, 1791, he lived his life fully having only been 35 at the time of his death.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s musical style is considered the archetype of the classical style. At that time, the European music style was dominated by the style gallant, which was a reaction to the highly evolved intricacy of the Baroque style. His talents once again brought out the complex patterns of the baroque style. He wrote in every major genre, including opera, symphony, the solo concert, chamber music, which includes string quartet and and string quintet, and the piano sonata. Although the forms were far from new, he changed them and made them much more sophisticated and emotional. He wrote a large amount of religious music, including large scale masses. But along with that, he also wrote many dances.
All of the central traits of the classical style are in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s music, which may contribute to his large fame in the classical period. Mozart highly exploited the chromatic harmony to a high degree that was very rare at the time of his compositions. And he did this with much talent and accuracy.
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Mozart learned most of skills from others, and developed a brilliant and mature style that showed the beauty in music and the emotion it can make people feel. His influence on musicians to come are still being shown today. Although the musical style has gone through some large changes, his influence is still present in all of them. It is said that even Beethoven wrote his music in the shadow of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But there will never be another Mozart. To quote Joseph Haydn, “posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years.”