Mozart, musical manifesto
Mozart’s Sonata for Piano No. 16 in C major, K. 545 ‘Sonata semplice’ I. Allegro, and Abendempfindung are two of his somewhat well-known pieces. In Piano Sonata No. 16, the first movement is written in classic sonata form and is in the key of C major. It is sometimes known by the nickname Sonata facile or Sonata semplice and was described by Mozart himself in his thematic catalogue as “for beginners”. Mozart’s song Abendempfindung (K523) was written on 24 June 1787. We know this because his personal thematic catalogue spanned the years 1784 through 1791. That may sound like quite an exceptional period, but all Mozart’s years were exceptional.
Abendempfindung is focused and constructed entirely around the two voices generated by the soprano register shift at F-sharp, this breaks the C octave into two distinct colors. With no emphasis on both the piano and voice, this register shift would only have one color, and one voice. With this, we lose the counterpoint all together. The song its self is somewhat disjunct and the music leaps into different intervals. The tempo gradually transitions from adagio to allegretto throughout the entire composition. Abendempfindung translates to “evening sensations”.
Consecrate a tear for me, and ah!
Do not be ashamed to cry;
Those tears will be in my diadem
then: the fairest pearls!
In the song, the lyrics speak of “Life’s fairest hours” and how we should not be ashamed or dread the end. He also speaks of friends tears rolling over “our grave” which is speculated to have been for a love interest of Mozart’s at the time.
Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 16 in C is a very straightforward and simple example of Sonata form. The exposition is played through two times. Then there is a brief codetta which is in G major, which is typical of the conclusion of the exposition. This leaves the listener not entirely satisfied with the cadence, which leads very well into the development section. Overall, this example of sonata form is quite short, but shows the correct form for a classic sonata. Classical music tends to emphasize the recurrence of themes, while using modulatory and development sections to slightly vary the harmonic and textural structure in anticipation of another noticeable theme. Therefore this piece fits the correct criteria to be considered “classical music”.
Mozart was considered a child prodigy, when he was only 5 he composed his first minuets. In 1763, led by his father Leopold, Mozart went on tour to Paris and London, visiting many courts and also played for the French and English royal families. He composed his first symphony in 1765 and three years later his first opera, being only 14. Although his career had much promise many became disappointed with his work. Some of his greatest works were not appropriately appreciated until he died at the young age of 35.
Mozart broke from the norm of his era and produced pieces unlike any in their time. But, Mozart found it difficult to find suitable work for a composer with the skills he had, because of his rebellious attitude and disregard for general social rules at times. Teaching, publishing, and in home performances became his sources of income during this time. Mozart met Haydn in 1781 and they became good friends. Haydn was one of the most influential composers of his time and Mozart admired him and was influenced by his music style.
Mozart was well known for the way in which he examined the different uses of the major-minor system and then capitalized on the possibilities. From this came the ideal form, the sonata. Mozart is among the most popular of classical composers and perhaps the greatest musical genius in Western musical history who ever lived. No matter what language or style he composed in, Mozart possessed a particular gift for emphasizing the important and dramatic parts of the text while still preserving the integrity and flow of the language. Throughout this, he also managed to maintain his own unique and distinctive melodic style.
In the early part of Mozart’s career, he was well received by the public. But into the later part of his career, he got too far ahead of his time. He started experimenting with solo themes in his concertos, extra themes in the exposition, and various other innovations. The public, however, still wanted the standard formula and patterns. By now, the public has caught up with Mozart and we can truly appreciate his musical masterpieces and see how they revolutionized the future of music.
Mozart revolutionized classical and even sculpted modern music. With his help we have successfully continued to create operas, symphonies, sonatas, and other sub-genres of the classical world. Without his help we wouldn’t even know Twinkle Twinkle Little Star! His biggest impact was the conjoining of orchestral instruments and the piano, and to help people feel the emotions, thought, and stories he put into his music with things like changing the tempo, volume, and octave of the pieces to help people experience the true meaning behind his works, and to feel the emotions he had felt while he was writing the piece.
It’s important to consider the historiography of how the “Great” composers were canonized. In Mozart’s case, it was a combination of his talent, his popularity, and his sudden death. People started mythologizing and idolizing him almost as soon as he died. It’s very difficult to objectively separate the legend from the music. With that said, many people today are very fond of his work. Also, don’t forget his operas! They’re considered by many to be among the most entertaining, best characterized, and most musically congruent operas in the Western repertoire and entertainment.
In conclusion, the techniques of Mozart can be seen in both of these music choices and relatively any other pieces which he created in his life. He will always be remembered for his ability to evoke an emotional response in his music. He shaped the music of today in practically every genre and style. We can easily say that during his life he set some amazing milestones in musical development and his techniques will be reused and remembered forever.