Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

1756 - 1791

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era.

Born in Salzburg, he showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court, but grew restless and traveled in search of a better position. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his death. The circumstances of his early death have been much mythologized. He was survived by his wife Constanze and two sons.

He composed more than 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonicconcertantechamberoperatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers, and his influence is profound on subsequent Western art music. Ludwig van Beethoven composed his own early works in the shadow of Mozart, and Joseph Haydn wrote that "posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years".

“When I am ..... completely myself, entirely alone... or during the night when I cannot sleep, it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly. Whence and how these ideas come I know not nor can I force them.” 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


 

Key Works

Symphony No. 29 in A, K. 201

1. Allegro moderato, 2/2
2. Andante, 2/4
3. Menuetto: Allegretto -- Trio, 3/4
4. Allegro con spirito, 6/8

Symphony No. 35 in D, K. 385 (Haffner)

1. Allegro con spirito, 4/4
2. Andante, 2/4
3. Menuetto, 3/4
4. Presto, 2/2.

Symphony No. 36 in C, K. 425 (Linz)

1. Adagio, 3/4 — Allegro spiritoso, 4/4
2. Poco adagio, 6/8
3. Menuetto, 3/4
4. Finale (Presto), 2/4.

Symphony No. 38 in D, K. 504 (Prague)

Following the success of The Marriage of Figaro in Prague, Mozart introduced this symphony there in 1787. Unusually formed of only three movements, it opens in a dark, majestic mood, which is immediately dispelled by the arrival of the faster main body of the music.

An expressive slow movement balances the lively finale, in which, to the delight of the first audience, Mozart used a theme he borrowed from The Marriage of Figaro.

1 Adagio - Allegro
2 Andante
3 Finale. Presto

Symphony No. 39 in E flat, K. 543 

1. Adagio, cut time -- Allegro, 3/4
2. Andante con moto, 2/4
3. Menuetto: Trio, 3/4
4. Allegro, 2/4.

Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550

1. Molto allegro, 2/2
2. Andante, 6/8
3. Menuetto. Allegretto -- Trio, 3/4
4. Finale. Allegro assai, 2/2.

Symphony No. 41 in C, K. 551 (Jupiter)

Mozart wrote his last three symphonies without a commission, or any prospect of performance, in the summer of 1788. This, his last, probably received its nickname when Haydn showed it to his British impresario, Salomon, in 1791, and it was subsequently published with the title. As a tribute to Mozart after his death, Haydn quoted the theme from the slow movement in his Symphony No. 98.

FIRST MOVEMENT (ALLEGRO VIVACE 12:25) After a brief opening, there is a pause before Mozart starts again, adding far more subtie touches and varied moods.
SECOND MOVEMENT (ANDANTE CANTABILE 9:35) The peaceful string theme is interrupted by loud chords and surprising harmonic changes, but, in spite of this, melody prevails throughout the movement.

THIRD MOVEMENT (MENUETTO-ALLEGRETTO 5:50) The rather courtly, serious Minuet contrasts with a quirky Trio which, from its very beginning, continually threatens to come to an end. The"Jupiter" is now recognized as one of Mozart's greatest symphonies, but it was never played during his lifetime.

FOURTH MOVEMENT (FINALE 9:00) In one of the most extraordinary symphonic movements ever written, Mozart presents and combines five different themes. In the brilliant, electrifying coda all five are reintroduced and heard together.
1. Allegro vivace, 4/4
2. Andante cantabile, 3/4 in F major
3. Menuetto: Allegretto - Trio, 3/4
4. Molto allegro, 2/2

Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K466

I. Allegro
II. Romance 13:32
III. Allegro Assai 22:18

Piano Concerto No 21 in C major K 467

- Alegro maestoso 00,08
- Andante 13,00 
- Alegro vivace assai 20,38 

Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major 

1. Allegro
2. Adagio
3. Rondeau, Allegro.

Violin Concerto No. 5 in A, K. 219

1. Allegro Aperto - Adagio - Allegro Aperto
2. Adagio
and 3. Rondo - Tempo di Minuetto.

Clarinet Concerto in A, K. 622

Mozart first met Anton Stadler in 1783 and, immediately taken by his virtuosity on the newly invented clarinet, they formed a friendship which inspired the Kegelstatt Trio, the Clarinet Quintet, and this lyrical concerto. Mozart capitalized on the clarinet’s mellifluous tone quality, especially in the operatically inspired slow movement. Conducting the Viennese premiere was Mozart,s final public appearance.
1. Allegro
2. Adagio
3. Rondo: Allegro.

Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major, K. 525 "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" 

One of several divertimenti and serenades written for social occasions, A Little Night Music is scored only for strings and may even have been intended as a quintet. Originally in five movements, a second minuet was later removed from the manuscript.
FIRST MOVEMENT (ALLEGRO 5:45) With its two sharply contrasting themes, the opening of Mozart’s most famous

work is actually an extremely compact sonata principle movement.
SECOND MOVEMENT (ROMANZE 5:45) This effortlessly poised movement is given a mysterious quality by its darker middle section.
THIRD MOVEMENT (MENUETTO 2:00) The infectious rhythmic lilt of the minuet is here offset by the charmingly elegant Trio that follows it.

FOURTH MOVEMENT (RONDO 3:00) Heard five times in this brief movement, the joyfully appealing principal theme never outstays its welcome.
00:00
 - Allegro
08:09 - Romance. Andante
13:52 - Menuetto. Allegretto - Trio
16:19 - Rondo. Allegro

Quintet in A for Clarinet and Strings, K. 581

1. Allegro, 4/4
2. Larghetto, 3/4 in D major
3. Menuetto — Trio I — Trio II, 3/4 (Trio I in A minor)
4. Allegretto con Variazioni, 2/2

Quintet in E-flat for Horn and Strings, K. 407

Quintet in E-flat for Piano and Winds, K. 452

1. Largo - Allegro moderato
2. Larghetto
3. Allegretto

String Quartet No 17 in B-flat (Hunting), K 458

1. Allegro vivace assai
2. Menuetto and Trio. Moderato
3. Adagio, in E-flat major
4. Allegro assai

String Quartet No 19 "Dissonant", K 465

This is one of six quartets that Mozart dedicated in 1785 to Haydn, whose recent Op. 33 quartets had brought the form to a new level of sophistication. Mozart’s equally finely-wrought response seems effortless in its mastery of Haydn’s innovations, but according to the composer was “the fruit of long and laborious endeavour” . This, the last of the set, is named after its surprisingly dissonant introduction, which gives way to work of a graceful charm. ​
0:00 - 1st Movement - Adagio-Allegro
8:32 - 2nd Movement - Andante cantabile in F major
16:14 - 3rd Movement - Menuetto. Allegro. (C major, trio in C minor)
21:38 - 4th Movement - Allegro molto

String Quartet No. 21 in D major, 575

1. Allegretto (0:00)
2. Andante (8:00)
3. Menuetto: Allegretto (12:48)
4. Allegretto (18:53)

Piano Sonata No 8 in A Minor, K 310

Mozart wrote this sonata in Paris at the time of his mother’s death. It is amongst the finest piano works of the early Classical period. One of only three minor key sonatas in his output, its drama is immediate in the orchestral textures of its opening. A restrained slow movement lulls the listener before the dark pathos of the finale.
1. Allegro maestoso, common time
2. Andante cantabile con espressione, F major, 3/4
3. Presto, 2/4

Piano Sonata No 11 in A Major, K 331

1.Andante grazioso – a theme with six variations
2.Menuetto – a minuet and trio
3.Alla Turca – Allegretto

Piano Fantasia in C Minor, K 475

Requiem in D minor, K 626

The “grey messenger” who commissioned Mozart’s final work was actually an emissary for Count Walsegg-Stuppach, who wished to perform the Requiem in memory of his wife and required anonymity because he wished to pass the work off as his own. Mozart started it in good spirits, but his health began to fail and he became obsessed with the idea that he was writing it for his own death. Death did indeed strike when the work was far from complete. His widow,
needing the outstanding half of the fee to support their family, asked Mozart’s assistant, Franz Xaver Stissmayr, to complete it.
INTROITUS (5:201 The only section which Mozart had fully scored dispenses with horns, flutes, and oboes in order to give the much darker orchestral sonorities which characterize the work’s solemnity.
KYRIE (3:00) Reminiscent of Bach and Handel’s religious music, the Kyrie is an inexorable fugue culminating in a unison chorus.

SEQUENZ (20:10) Divided into six sections, the music explores the terror of divine judgement in the gripping “Dies Irae” , reassures as the solo trombone weaves gracefully around the “Tuba Mirum", and ends in the moving sadness of the "Lacrimosa".
OFFERTORIUM (8:50) The restless “Domine Jesu Christe” is balanced by the otherworldly prayer of the“ Hostias” .
SANCTUS (1:50) This is a majestic setting, ending with a short fugue on “Hosanna”. Here and in the next two movements, Sussmayr had no sketches by Mozart from which to work.
BENEDICTUS (5:20) Reminiscent of operatic quartets, the soloists join in this hymn of praise, which concludes with a fugue for full chorus.
AGNUS DEI (3:40) Using music from the Introitus, Siissmayr’s reworking of it results in a most effective setting.
COMMUNIO (6:10) Once again using 

material from the opening, the music from the Kyrie brings the “Lux Aeterna” to its measured conclusion.

Mass in C major, K 317 (Coronation)

1. Kyrie eleison 00:00
2. Gloria 03:35
3. Credo 07:38
4. Sanctus 11:48
5. Benedictus 16:32
6. Agnus Dei 20:37

Great Mass in C minor, K 427

1. Kyrie 6:52
2. Gloria 2:12
3. Laudamus te 4:52
4. Gratias 1:25
5. Domine 2:51
6. Qui tollis 5:20
7. Quoniam 4:21
8. Jesu Christe - Cum Sancto Spiritu 4:31
9. 3 Credo: Credo in unum Deum 3:25
10. Et incarnatus est 8:16
11. 4 Sanctus 3:34
12. Benedictus 5:34

(Salzburg, January 27, 1756 - Vienna, December 5, 1791)

Austrian composer, pianist, violinist, and violist, music’s supremely gifted creator, whose achievements mark a zenith ofWestern culture. The two main phases of his life were the period of his childhood, youth, and early maturity, from 1756 to 1781, and the decade he spent as a freelance musician in Vienna, from 1781to his death. The first phase saw his emergence as the most astonishing child prodigy in the history of music up to that time, and included a halcyon period as the sensation of Europe.

He traveled abroad in search of opportunity and a position, and spent several years in Salzburg as a desperately unhappy lackey. The second phase, a decade of incomparable glory, brought emancipation and the production  of the concertos, symphonies, chamber works, and operas that represent not only the pinnacle of Classicism but, as the con ductor Charles Dutoit has observed, “the summit of creation.”

“The miracle that God let be born in Salzburg,” as Leopold Mozart more than once referred to his son, was cosmopolitan practically from birth. He received a thorough education from his father, a violin teacher and court musician in Salzburg, embracing not only music but a consider able range of the liberal arts and sciences. Following in the footsteps of his elder sister, Nannerl, he became a keyboard prodigy, performing for the first time when he was five years old; he also became an outstanding violinist. From his seventh to his 23rd year he was away from home more than half the time, displaying his talents on tours of Europe. The longest of these trips, to Munich, Paris, and London, lasted three and a half years, from the time Mozart was seven until shortly before his 11th birthday. While in London he met J. C. Bach and absorbed much from him. The three journeys to Italy he made with his father between 1769 and 1773 gave him a thorough expo sure to Italian church music and allowed him to sample far more opera than could be heard in Salzburg. They also enabled him to assimilate the Italian symphonic style, of which he became a towering master while still in his teens. An extended trip to Mannheim and Paris in 1777-78 brought an opportunity to compose for two of the best ensembles in Europe: the orchestra of Elector Carl Theodor in Mannheim and that of the Concert Spirituel in Paris.

Between trips abroad, Mozart, like his father, worked as a court musician for the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. He was appointed concertmaster of the court orchestra, without pay, at the age of 13. Three years later, following the installation of Hieronymus Colloredo as archbishop, Mozart was confirmed in the post of court concertmaster at an annual salary of 150 gulden, and in 1779 the post of court organist was added to his dossier. Mozart’s time in Salzburg was taken up with masses and other sacred settings, symphonies, serenades, divertimentos, and miscellaneous chamber pieces—the usual run of courtly duties. Though he felt confined in Salzburg and chafed at its provincialism and lack of opera, he nevertheless found outlets for his genius in such extraordinary works as his Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K. 183, an ambitious essay in the Sturm und Drang style, and Symphony No. 29 in A, K. 201, whose courtly elegance, intimate yet intense expression, and supreme craftsmanship set it apart from all the other Salzburg symphonies. During the years 1773-76, he also composed a total of 37 movements for solo violin and orchestra—five violin concertos plus numerous concerted movements for violin embedded in serenades and other works—all for himself to play.
 

Child prodigies grow up eventually, and Mozart did so during the trip to Mannheim and Paris in 1777-78, on which he was accompanied by his mother. In Mannheim, he fell in love with the virtuosic, high- horsepower playing of the court orchestra, as well as with a gifted young singer named Aloysia Weber. Aloysia chose to marry the painter Joseph Lange, however, and Mozart eventually married Aloysia’s younger sister Constanze. In Paris, Mozart’s music, especially his Concerto for Flute and Harp, K. 299, and Symphony in D, K. 297 (Paris),was enthusiastically received. But no job offer resulted, and soon after the symphony’s premiere his mother fell ill and died. Alone for the first time in his life, the 22- year-old composer had not only to cope with a devastating loss but to carefully break the news to his father by mail. On his return to Salzburg, he composed several symphonies, the Posthorn Serenade, 320, a divertimento, a violin sonata, and the Sinfonia concertante in E flat for violin and viola, K. 364, one of the most beautiful string concertos in the literature. Its polished orchestral writing and cosmopolitan idiom (incorporating many of the effects favored in Paris and Mannheim) show Mozart at a new level of stylistic and technical accomplishment. One final proof of his stature remained: the opera seria Idomeneo, Re di Creta, composed for Munich and premiered there in 1781. Its boldness, power, and dramatic authority are the hallmarks of a master.

Mozart’s life entered its second phase on June 8, 1781, the day on which, against his father’s wishes and those of their mutual employer, he left the service of the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg to make his way as a freelance musician in Vienna. With the uncertainty of life in the big city came the freedom to make decisions for himself; he married Constanze in 1782, joined the Freemasons in 1784, and spread his wings as a
musician. His burning desire was to establish himself as an opera composer. Vienna was then the operatic center of the German speaking world, and Mozart was soon engaged in his first project there, the 
Singspiel Die Entfiihrung aus dem Serail (Abduction from the Seraglio). The work’s premiere in 1782 was a notable success. The following year Mozart met Vienna’s new court poet and notorious free spirit, Lorenzo da Ponte. At first he was skeptical: “If he is in league with Salieri,” Mozart wrote his father on May 7, 1783, “I will never get anything out of him. But I would dearly love to show what I can do in an Italian opera.”

It would be two years before Mozart realized his dream, but during those years he showed Vienna what he could do as a pianist-composer. Between 1784 and 1786 he produced a dozen piano concertos that are among the glories of Western art. Written mostly for the Lenten season, when by decree the theaters were closed, these works contain music of a marvelously the atrical cast. Indeed, each of them is virtually an opera manque, with witty, conversational exchanges between the piano and orchestra, beautiful slow movements patterned after arias of love, and—except in the minor- key works—bubbling opera buffa finales. By the time Mozart approached da Ponte with the idea of collaborating on an operatic setting of Beaumarchais’s Le mariage de Figaro, most likely in the summer of 1785, he had taken the art of emotional characterization to new heights in his concertos. He was ready to write great operas. Da Ponte, keenly aware of his ability, agreed at once.


Commissioned by Emperor Joseph II, Le nozze di Figaro ( The Marriage of Figaro) opened May 1, 1786, at the Burgtheater in Vienna and enjoyed substantial if not uproarious success. But it was a huge hit when it premiered later that year in Prague. On a visit to the Bohemian capital in January of 1787, Mozart was able to attend one performance of Figaro and conduct another, and to lead the premiere of his newly composed Symphony No. 38 in D, K. 504 (henceforth called the Prague), a work of high spirits and exquisite crafts manship. By the time he left for Vienna, he had in his pocket the commission for his next opera, Don Giovanni. Its premiere in Prague, on October 29,1787, would be the high-water mark of his career.
 

It is a myth that in his final years Mozart sank into poverty and died penniless and in despair. While it is true that he was never good at managing his finances and often lived beyond his means, the well- documented financial problems he faced during the years 1788-90 were mainly the result of hard times brought on by war between Austria and Turkey. As his earnings declined he gave top priority to creating works that he could sell on subscription or perform at concerts for his own benefit. The symphonies in E-flat, K. 543, G minor, K. 550, and , 551, completed in six weeks in the summer of 1788, were probably composed for a benefit concert Mozart intended to give that fall. Finding it easier to borrow than tighten his belt, he directed a stream of letters to his Masonic lodge brother Michael Puchberg, asking for loans. Some relief came in December 1788, following the death of Christoph Willibald Gluck, when Mozart was appointed to the post of Imperial and Royal Chamber Composer. The 800 gulden he drew (to create dance music for the fancy court balls given during Carnival) was, he lamented, “too much for the services I give, and too little for what I am capable of.”
 

Just what he was capable of Mozart showed in works like the Clarinet Quintet, K. 581 (1789), written for Anton Stadler, and the opera Cosi fan Tutte (All Women Are Like That), a score utterly perfect in formal terms, rich, nuanced, and emotionally probing. The death of Joseph II in February of 1790 brought a halt to per formances of Cosi  just weeks after its premiere (they were resumed in the spring), but left Mozart with fresh hopes of achieving preferment at court after the accession of the new emperor, Leopold II. Soon enough these hopes were dashed, and the begging letters continued to go out to Puchberg. Mozart’s fortunes improved dramatically in the spring and summer of 1791 with the arrival of commissions for Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) and La clemenza di Tito. The latter, intended for festivities marking the coronation of Leopold II as King of Bohemia, required a rush job and another journey to Prague for its premiere on September 6. Mozart then had to hurry back to Vienna to put the finishing touches on Die Zauberflote and ready it for its premiere on September 30. Once that was out of the way he took up the Clarinet Concerto, K. 622, for Stadler. Meanwhile, another commission, for a Requiem, had also arrived in the summer of 1791 from Count Franz Walsegg-Stuppach, a recently widowed, music-loving nobleman who wanted a suitable memorial for his wife. Mozart tried to shoehorn bits of the Requiem into his work on other pieces, but was unable to complete the task before becoming gravely ill around November 20, most likely with a recurrence of rheumatic fever, which he had first contracted as a child. He succumbed early in the morning of December 5 after having gathered friends at his bedside to sing through the unfinished Requiem.
 

No composer in history has achieved the absolute preeminence in the realms of the atrical and symphonic composition that Mozart did (the closest second is Richard Strauss), or contributed a comparable number of masterpieces to those two repertoires. Of the 19 stage works he completed, six are constantly performed today, and several others occasionally; of the nearly 50 symphonies, a dozen; and of the three dozen concertos, two dozen. For Mozart, opera was the most important and, to judge from his own words, most fulfilling of creative endeavors. He was a skilled dramatic composer before he encountered Lorenzo da Ponte, but da Ponte’s plots, elegant verses, imagination, and professionalism clearly inspired Mozart to surpass himself and the rest of the world. The three comic masterpieces he composed in collaboration with da Ponte—Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi fan tutte—are arguably his supreme musical achievements, remarkable in the richness and acuity of their characterization, the sophistication of their orchestration and musical imagery, and the elegance of their formal plans.
 

Mozart’s brilliance is revealed most directly in the high profile he gives to individual characters and situations through constant and astonishingly clever allusion to the styles and topics of 18th-century music, and in his ability to comment on the action through the orchestra—as in the opening number of Don Giovanni, when the servant Leporello dreams of being a cavalier and the orchestra transforms his music from a foot march into a mounted gallop. Less obvious but no less telling is the way Mozart brings the long-range harmonic action of symphonic music to bear on individual numbers and entire scenes, thereby opening up and complicat ing the simple closed forms of Italian opera buffa and energizing the drama. One of the reasons the beginning of Don Giovanni (from the overture through Donna Anna’s “Fuggi, crudele”) has such power is that the entire span is constructed along the lines of a 20-minute symphony in D minor. In similar fashion, the finales of these works (e.g., the Act IV finale to Le nozze di Figaro) are built to unprecedented lengths, prolonging the suspense and excitement.
 

The concertos and symphonies are on the same exalted plane. In his piano concertos Mozart was less interested in display than in achieving integrity and formal perfection; one of the distinctive features of these works is the way the writing for the solo instrument remains substantive even in the most virtuosic passages. As with the operas, the concertos’ scoring is exceptionally refined, the emotional range extraordinary, the play of topics and ideas inspired. The works run a remarkable gamut of expression: some are predominantly festive in tone (the concertos in C, K. 467 and 503, and in E-flat, K. 482), others playful and amorous, or gently poignant (the concertos in A, K. 488, and -flat, K. 595), while the minor-key works convey much darker moods: seething, turbulent, and dramatic in one case (the concerto in D minor, K. 466), funereal and hauntingly desolate in the other (the concerto in C minor, K. 491). The concertos for horn and clarinet are the finest in the literature; the latter, a particularly wonderful late work, inhabits an expressive realm in which fantasy and gentle pathos prevail, and exhibits a unique richness and ambivalence of feeling. As a symphonist Mozart balanced bravura and serious argument with masterly ease. His youthful works are eclectic in the best sense, remarkable for the way they bring together elements of the Italian and German styles, incorporate tricks from Mannheim, and wear the latest fashions from Paris. When he was able to write for a large orchestra, as he was in Paris in 1778, and later in Vienna, he reveled in the sonority and power at his disposal and made especially color ful use of the winds. His final contributions to the genre— the Prague Symphony of 1786 and the three of 1788—are probing and quite personal in their expression.

Each has its own sound—the clarinets dominate in Symphony No. 39 in imparting a luminous quality to the whole, while the absence of trumpets and drums in Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550, shifts the mood from drama toward one of agitation and despair. Among orchestral works of the 18th century only Haydn’s London symphonies merit comparison, though nothing Haydn or anyone since has written quite matches the intense emotional expression and contrapuntal brilliance Mozart achieved in these scores.

 

Mozart’s chamber works—which include a number of outstanding string quartets and quintets, the best pieces written in the 18th century for wind ensemble, assorted divertimentos, cassations, and serenades, and many fine sonatas for one or more instruments—constitute an important tributary to the almost miraculous stream of his production. The six string quartets dedicated to Haydn (composed 1782-85) owe much to Haydn’s example in their scintillat ing play of topic, and may do the master one better in the fluency of their part-writing. But it was in his quintets for two violins, two violas, and cello, particularly the two written during the spring of 1787—in , K. 515, and G minor, K. 516—and the quintet for clarinet and strings written two years later that Mozart reached the pinnacle of his achievement as a chamber composer. One of the most remarkable features of the latter work is the utter transparency of its texture, which allows the clarinet to be absorbed in the harmony at certain points while subtly coloring the sound of the string ensemble.

It is important to think of Mozart the man not as the childlike genius of Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus (to say nothing of the boob he becomes in Milos Forman’s film version), but as some one with a worldly, mature insight into human nature. He could not have been otherwise and written works like Le nozze di Figaro, Die Zauberflote, the late G minor Symphony, and the Clarinet Concerto. Mozart’s contemporaries recognized that his music was different, and most if not all of them appreciated what set it apart: its harmonic and formal sophistication, the richness of its scoring and texture, its remarkable fantasy and emotional complexity. Yet during the 19th century, and for the first half of the 20th, Mozart was thought of either as the divinely innocent, porcelainized figure whose bust sat on the shelf, or as a modest precursor of the great Romantic composers. We now see him as a more penetrating artist whose music, in addition to having surface beauty, is lit from within by its intense engagement with the emotions. When we hear his music played today, it has an immediacy, clarity, and freshness that are wondrous and exhilarating, along with an ambiguity and ten sion, a fragility and poignancy, that bring us face-to-face with who we are, and at the same time take us outside ourselves to an ecstatic plane where gaiety, melancholy, and what Milan Kundera has called “the unbearable lightness of being” seem to coalesce.

INFLUENCES
 

While always noted for its formal beauty and elegance, Mozart's music was usually dismissed in the century after his death as an historically interesting precursor to Beethoven. Only more recently, as an antidote to Romanticism and Modernity, has he become a byword for musical perfection.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Vienna

Anonymous portrait of the child Mozart, possibly by Pietro Antonio Lorenzoni;
painted in 1763 on commission from Leopold Mozart

The Mozart family c. 1780.
The portrait on the wall is of Mozart's mother.

Portrait of Mozart by his brother-in-law Joseph Lange

Manuscript - Requiem

"Don Giovanni" - overture

Asked to write an opera for Prague after the success of The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart decided on the story of Don Juan. Notable for the vivid musical depiction of characters and emotions, and just as serious in emotion as it is comic in plot, it
is still considered to be among the greatest operas ever composed.
OVERTURE AND ACT ONE (92:00) After the dramatic, brooding overture, Don Giovanni appears, masked and pursued by Donna Anna, whom he has been seducing. Her lather, the Commendatore, insists on a duel, but is killed. She aks her betrothed, Don Ottavio, to swear vengeance. Don Giovanni now tries to seduce another woman, but has to escape when he recognizes her as Donna Elvira, a former mistress. Alone, Leperello lists Don Giovanni’s “catalogue” of conquests. At wedding preparations in a village, Don Giovanni woos Zerlina, the bride, with the aria “ La ci darem rnano” . Elvira, Anna and Ottavio arrive, thus thwarting this  and other seduction plans.
ACT TWO (82:00) Exchanging clothes with Leperello, Don Giovanni tries to seduce Elvira’s maid while Leperello entices Elvira away. Zerlina’s fiance, Masetto, and some peasants appear, all after Don Giovanni’s blood. They, together with the other protagonists, capture Leperello, who has to reveal his identity. Later, Don Giovanni finds him alone in a cemetery. The funerary statue of the Commendatore suddenly starts speaking and the Don flippantly invites it to supper. Meanwhile, Anna sings one of Mozart’s most celebrated arias, “Non mi dir, bell’idol mio”, to Octavio. Finally, at supper, Elvira begs Giovanni to mend his ways, but he refuses. The statue appears and drags him down to hell, leaving the others to ponder the moral of the tale.

"Don Giovanni" - "The Commendatore Scene"

"The Magic Flute" - overture

"The Magic Flute" - Queen of the Night Aria

  • Queen of Night Aria
  • -
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The Marriage of Figaro - overture

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