Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Mozart epitomizes the classical period with its emphasis on beauty, clarity, and balance. One of history's greatest child prodigies, he seems to have arrived at this excellence with very little effort - he composed extremely quickly, virtually without need for revision. But don't be fooled into thinking that his music is all polished surface and innocent, wonderful tunes. There is always a strong sense of drama, and sometimes darkness looms just under the surface.
Sonata 16 in C Major, K. 545
Despite its modest scale and the fact that it wasn't made public during Mozart's life, this Sonata is a flawless and remarkable work of a mature master, who in the same summer wrote his last three symphonies.
Fantasia in D Minor, K. 397
This richly expressive piece is incredibly rewarding to take on for the intermediate pianist - but its interpretation remains a considerable challenge even to the most mature and experienced musician.
Piano Concerto 21 (Elvira Madigan) in C Major, K. 467
Ever since film director Bo Widerberg used the breathtakingly beautiful second movement in his movie about the tragic love affair between a Danish tightrope dancer and a married Swedish army officer, this has been the most popular of Mozart's piano concertos.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s (1756-1791) father Leopold gave up his own composing to give little Wolfgang intensive musical training. At age five, the boy had written his first compositions and could play the piano blindfolded. He made several European journeys along with his father and older sister Nannerl. Back in Salzburg the thirteen year old Mozart was appointed Concert Master at the Salzburg Court by the Archbishop. He made three tours of Italy, developing his interest in opera. In Rome, after hearing Allegri´s Miserere in the Sistine Chapel, he went home to write it out in its entirety from memory. Another tour took Mozart to Mannheim, the town with Europe’s best orchestra, where Mozart fell in love with Aloysia Weber. Their relationship ended when Leopold ordered his son to Paris, where he spent some unhappy months: his mother who had accompanied him there fell ill and died.
Back in Salzburg, Mozart became increasingly rebellious, fell out of favour with the Archbishop and was dismissed, in his own words, "with a kick in the seat of the pants". In 1781 he settled in Vienna. The following year, Wolfgang married Constanze Weber, Aloysias sister, against his father´s wishes. His Viennese career took off quickly: the opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail was a great success and he began a series of concerts at which he premiered his own piano concertos as conductor and soloist. He developed a friendship with Haydn and became more closely acquainted with the music of Bach and Handel. Mozart became a Freemason in 1784, in the same lodge as Haydn, and worked fervently and successfully to convert his father before the latter´s death in 1787.
Toward the end of the decade, Mozart´s career declined; he had to borrow money and move his family to cheaper lodgings in the suburbs. His last year, however, was one of great productivity and personal recovery, and resulted in some of his most admired works: the opera Die Zauberflöte, the final piano concerto, the Clarinet Concerto, and the unfinished Requiem. His financial situation also improved. Contrary to legend, it appears that he was in quite good cheer until he died of uncertain causes towards the end of the year. This event has given rise to endless speculation – but it’s unlikely that he was poisoned and Salieri most probably had nothing to do with it. Mozart was buried in a communal, unmarked, grave according to the 1784 laws in Austria.
Quotes by Mozart
"It is a mistake to think that the practice of my art has become easy to me. I assure you, dear friend, no one has given so much care to the study of composition as I. There is scarcely a famous master in music whose works I have not frequently and diligently studied."
"The golden mean, the truth, is no longer recognized or valued. To win applause one must write stuff so simple that a coachman might sing it, or so incomprehensible that it pleases simply because no sensible man can comprehend it."
"I never lie down at night without reflecting that —- young as I am — I may not live to see another day. Yet no one of all my acquaintances could say that in company I am morose or disgruntled."
"I care very little for Salzburg and not at all for the archbishop: I shit on both of them."
Quotes about Mozart
"I only wish I could impress on every friend of mine, and on great men in particular, the same depth of musical sympathy and profound appreciation of Mozart's inimitable music that I myself feel and enjoy; then nations would vie with each other to possess such a jewel within their frontiers" (Haydn)
"No earthly remains of Mozart survived save a few wretched portraits, no two of which are alike; the fact that all the reproductions of his death-mask, which would have shown him as he really was, have crumbled to bits seems symbolic. It is as though the world-spirit wished to show that here is pure sound, conforming to a weightless cosmos, triumphant over all chaotic earthliness, spirit of the world-spirit." (Alfred Einstein)
"Mozart is the highest, the culminating point that beauty has attained in the sphere of music." (Tchaikovsky)
"He roused my admiration when I was young; he caused me to despair when I reached maturity; he is now the comfort of my old age." (Rossini)