Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in the family of Leopold Mozart, violinist and composer at the court of Salzburg Archbishop. Brilliant talent allowed Mozart to compose music from the age of four, to master the art of playing clavier, violin and organ very quickly. Father skillfully supervised his son’s studies. In 1762-1771, he was on tours, during which many European courts became acquainted with the musical art of his children - the elder Wolfgang's sister was a talented clavier player, and father sang, conducted, played a variety of instruments and improvised. The family performances excited the public. At the age of 14, Mozart was awarded with the Papal order of Golden Spur, and was elected a member of the Philharmonic Academy in Bologna.

While touring, Wolfgang became acquainted with the music of different countries, mastering genres characteristic of the era. Thus, acquaintance with Johann Christian Bach, who lived in London, brought to life his first symphonies (1764), in Vienna (1768) he received orders to compose the Italian opera-buffa {La finta semplice), and the German Singspiel (Bastien und Bastienne); a year earlier, the school opera (Latin comedy) Apollo et Hyacinthus was staged at the University of Salzburg. Especially fruitful was Mozart’s stay in Italy, where the composer perfected the counterpoint (polyphony) with J. B. Martini (Bologna) and staged the opera-seria Mithridates, king of Pontus (1770), and the opera Lucio Silla in 1771.

The genius young man interested the philanthropists less than the wonder-child and Leopold Mozart failed to obtain employment for him in European Courts. He had to return to Salzburg to serve as the Court accompanist. Mozart's creative aspirations were limited to orders for composing spiritual music, as well as entertaining plays - divertissements, cassations, serenades.

Mozart continued to work in this direction later in Vienna, where his most famous work of the kind was created - Eine kleine Nachtmusik (1787), a kind of miniature symphony full of humor and grace. Mozart wrote concerts for violin and orchestra, as well as clavier and violin sonatas, etc. The high-water mark of the music created during this period was the Symphony in G-Minor No. 25 that reflected the rebellious Werther sentiments characteristic of the era, which were close in spirit to the literary movement “Sturm und Drang”.

While languishing in provincial Salzburg, where he was held by the archbishop's domineering claims, Mozart made unsuccessful attempts to settle in Munich, Mannheim and Paris. His trips to these cities (1777-1779) brought, however, many emotional and artistic impressions, reflected, in particular, in clavier sonatas (A minor, A major with variations and Rondo alla turca), in the Concert Symphony for violin and viola with orchestra, etc. Several opera performances (Somnium Scipionis - 1772, Il re pastore (The Shepherd King), 1775, both in Salzburg; La finta giardiniera - 1775, Munich) did not satisfy Mozart aspirations to regular contacts with the opera house.

The staging of the seria opera Idomeneo, re di Creta ossia Ilia e Idamante (Munich, 1781) revealed the full maturity of Mozart as the artist and personality, his courage and independence in the matters of life and creative work. Arriving from Munich to Vienna, where the archbishop went to the coronation celebrations, Mozart broke with him, refusing to return to Salzburg.

Mozart's excellent Vienna debut was the Singspiel opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail (1782, Burgtheater) The premiere was followed by the marriage to Constance Weber. However, he was not in great request as an opera composer. The Court poet Lorenzo Da Ponte contributed to the staging of operas written on his libretto in the Burgtheater. Two of them became Mozart’s core works, The Marriage of Figaro (1786) and Don Juan (1788), and the opera-buffa Così fan tutte (1790) as well. One-act musical comedy Der Schauspieldirektor (1786) was staged in the Schönbrunn Palace, the main summer residence of the Habsburg rulers.

During the first years in Vienna, Mozart often performs, created concerts for clavier with orchestra for his "academies" (concerts organized by subscription among patrons). The composer’s studies of the works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Friedrich Händel, and Philipp Emanuel Bach were of the exceptional importance for the composer's creative work. His artistic interests were directed to the field of polyphony that imparted his musical conception with seriousness and intensity.

This was very clearly manifested in Fantasia and Sonata in C-Minor (1784–1785), in six string quartets dedicated to Joseph Haydn, with whom Mozart was tightly correlated by great human and creative friendship. The more deeply Mozart's music penetrated the secrets of human existence, the more individual his works became, the less success they enjoyed in Vienna - the position of the Court chamber musician that the musician got in 1787 obliged him to create dances for masquerades only.

The composer found much understanding in Prague, where “The Wedding of Figaro” was staged in 1787, and the premiere of Don Juan written for this city took place. In 1791 Mozart staged one more opera in Prague - La clemenza di Tito. This opera most clearly outlined the role of the tragic theme in the works of Mozart. The Prague Symphony in D-major (1787) and the last three symphonies (No. 39 in E-Flat Major, No. 40 in G-Minor, No. 41 in C-Major – Jupiter(summer of 1788) were marked by the same courage and novelty. They gave an unusually bright and full picture of the ideas and feelings of the era and paved the way to the symphonic style of the 19th century. Only the Symphony in G-minor was performed once in Vienna of the three symphonies composed in 1788. The last immortal works of Mozart's genius were the opera The Magic Flute - a hymn to the light and mind (1791, Theater in Vienna suburb) - and the mournful majestic Requiem, uncompleted by the composer.

The suddenness of Mozart death, whose health was probably undermined by prolonged overstraining of creative energy and especially trying circumstances of his last years, the mysterious circumstances of the Requiem ordering (as it turned out, the anonymous order belonged to a certain Count Franz von Walsegg-Stuppach who intended to pass it off as his own creation), burial in paupers' grave - all this gave rise to the spreading of legends about Mozart poisoning (see, for example, the tragedy of A.S. Pushkin, Mozart and Salieri). Those legends were never confirmed.

The versatility of Mozart’s music allowed it to become the artistic ideal for Pushkin and Glinka, Chopin and Tchaikovsky, Georges Bizet and Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich.

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