In the world of music, when we talk about composers, many people might think of Mozart, a genius who revealed excellent talents since childhood. He is considered the genius of geniuses. He is one of the most famous and influential composers of European classical music. Mozart’s music is so beautiful that it can be compared to the light of the eternal sun. His musical achievements were remarkable and impressive, but his life was so short and tough.
Richard Wagner once said of Mozart that “He seemed to breathe into his instruments the passionate tones of the human voice… and thus raised the capacity of orchestral music for expressing the emotions toa height where it could represent the whole unsatisfied yearning of the heart” (Fisher 13). After Mozart died, he left behind huge music works for the world. These are 41 symphonies, 27 piano concertos, 30 string quartets, and a large legacy of emotional operas (Fisher 13).
Mozart was born on January 27, 1765, in the city of Salzburg, which is near the Alps in northwestern Austria (Sankaranarayanan 70). It had the scenery of the mountains and majestic rivers. It was the homeland of great dances and folk songs. Salzburg was an ancient city, headed by lords and it was the center of religious activities. The soaring churches were everywhere. From an early age, Mozart had been exposed to music, soft folk tunes, traveled many places, and watched many dances and musicals.
The first impressions in the homeland in childhood remained forever in Mozart’s soul, and then later became the vibrant, emotional resin in his entire works. Mozart’s father, Leopold Mozart, was a talented music educator. He was also a solo violinist of the royal orchestra. Mozart’s mother, Maria Pertl, was a gentlewoman. She spent her whole life with her children. His parents had seven children, but five of them died. Only Mozart and his elder sister, Maria Anna survived (Sankaranarayanan 70). Mozart’s sister was a very gifted musician. She played guitar very well and later became a famous music educator.
When Mozart was three years old, he heard sounds correctly and could imitate what he heard on the harpsichord. He could compose music when he was only four years old (Fisher 13). His father soon noticed his genius. He began to teach Mozart the violin and let him learn the piano and organ. Soon Mozart was able to perform comfortably in front of audiences.
At the age of six, Mozart with his father and sister went to Vienna to perform. This place was a European music center that was bustling with the melodies of Haydn and many other famous composers. Mozart and his sister’s performance was applauded by the public in Vienna (Sankaranarayanan 70).
After that successful trip, Mozart’s father took his children abroad to perform. In June 1763, when Mozart was seven years old, his family left for Paris. Along the way, they had to stop several times to perform for the public and their companions. They were praised everywhere they went. In the French capital, Mozart won the Paris listeners’ hearts. Many French people wholeheartedly admired the talented young composer of Austria. For Mozart, this was a rewarding trip. He had been listening to the grand orchestra of the French court, listening to many famous world singers and many famous pianists. New insights had given Mozart many new creative expectations. In a short time, Mozart had finished writing four sonatas for clavier with violin parts. A publisher printed and published these works (Peyser 12).
On April 23, 1764, Mozart’s family left France and went to London. As in France, the English people warmly welcomed them. Mozart was fortunate to meet many famous musicians, including Johann Christian Bach (1735-1788), J.S.Bach’s youngest son. After meeting Bach, Mozart stepped up the composition for the piano with various forms and genres, such as rondo variations and dances. He also started the symphony movement (Peyser 13). Mozart spent some time studying musicals and learning Italian songs to compose musicals later.
Before leaving London, he finished writing the Symphony No. 1, and some chamber music. Leaving England, Mozart came to the Netherlands, where he finished writing several symphonic works, six sonatas for violins and pianos, along with a range of other works (Peyser 14). In November 1766, Mozart’s family returned to Salzburg after a successful journey. Since then Mozart had become a world-famous music genius and composer. In Salzburg, he was welcomed back with respect. The Archbishop, Sigismund von Schrattenbach, was doubtful about the intelligence reports he had heard about Mozart. He requested Mozart to write a cantata, Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebotes, and isolated Mozart for a week to see if the report was true or not (Peyser 14).
From here began a new phase, which was the life of a musician who depends on the Archbishop. In addition to his busy work, Mozart also tried to gain more knowledge of harmony, analyzed the works of other composers, and enhanced his writing techniques. He began writing opera and was appointed to be a concertmaster in the archiepiscopal orchestra (Peyser 16). At the end of 1769, Mozart and his father went to Italy. Mozart’s performances were very successful (Sankaranarayanan 70).
In March 1770, Mozart and his father stopped in Bologna for a few days. They met Martini, a Franciscan monk and also a reputed composer. Martini praised Mozart for letting him try to develop some fugue themes. Mozart quickly completed a great fugue. Mozart’s father asked Martini to let Mozart stay to learn from Martini. Mozart’s talent made Martini decide to test him. Mozart completed his work in a short time. On October 12, 1770, Martini appointed Mozart with a written testimonial describing his performing and compositional skills. (Eisen and Simon 270). That news flew all over Italy. The great opera house of Milan immediately ordered Mozart to compose an opera seria, which was Mitridate Re di Ponto (Peyser 16).
During the time in Italy, Mozart also visited other cities, such as Florence, Naples, and Rome (Rowland, p.91). For Mozart, the trip to Naples inspired parts of his Magic Flute. It had a connection to the Temple of Isis (Rowland 113). At the end of December 1770, in Milan, Mozart’s operas were performed for the first time. He conducted himself. His Mitridate Re di Ponto opera was very popular.
However, the archbishop called him back to Austria. Mozart had to say goodbye to his friends while his musical talent was in full bloom. When Mozart returned to Austria, the old archbishop was dead. His successor was the former Bishop of Gurk, a hardy, dry man who disliked music. There was an unfriendly relationship between him and Mozart. The new archbishop discouraged composition and didn’t allow Mozart to go anywhere. Mozart had to stay for several years as a musician servant, doing odd jobs and following daily instructions (Peyser 18).
Knowing that Mozart’s composure could be developed further, Mozart’s father encouraged him to go to Paris again. In September 1777, Mozart traveled with his mother to Paris. Along the way, he and his mother visited Mannheim, a city of Germany, where there was a tradition of symphonic music and orchestra. There, Mozart’s mother wanted to ensure a position at court for him (Eisen and Simon, p.265). Mozart listened to large, highly technical orchestras. A few months, Mozart finished writing a few sonatas for piano, a concerto for oboe, operas, and many other works.
After five months in Mannheim, Mozart went to Paris. At this time, the public was talking about Gluck’s reform operas. Mozart also wanted to write an opera for the Paris stage, but no one had ever asked him to write. Only the D major Symphony was successful. In a difficult time, his dear mother was seriously ill. After two weeks of illness, on July 3, 1778, she died leaving her son alone in a foreign land (Peyser 24-25).
For Mozart, these were the most painful days. Turning pain into energy, Mozart began to compose. One day he was told by his father’s letter that the conductor of the royal orchestra in his homeland had died, and the archbishop invited him to replace the conductor’s job. Having followed his father’s orders, Mozart left Paris for Salzburg in January 1779.
The archbishop still mistreated Mozart, depriving him of all his freedom. Mozart was deeply depressed, but because of his family’s dependence on the archbishop, he endured. Mozart had to work hard with the servants in the kitchen. However, the worst suffering was not being free to compose and being scorned like a servant. He decided to resign, which was a courageous act of a composer who dared to break with the lord to live freely to create with so many difficulties awaiting (Peyser 28).
The last 10 years of his life was the period when Mozart brought his art to the peak. At that time, Mozart mainly lived in Vienna. He met Haydn and listened to Beethoven’s music. The most important thing was that Mozart was free to write. He fell in love with Weber’s daughter, Constanze, and then married her (Sankaranarayanan 72). A series of mature operas were born, such as The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni.
In 1787, Mozart went back to Vienna. In 1789, he went to Germany and finally returned to Vienna. His last compositions were the operas, The Magic Flute and the Requiem. Mozart had not finished the Requiem before he died on December 5, 1791. His student, Franz Xaver Süssmayr, later continued to finish it. It was an immortal piece of music at the end of his life (Peyser 58).
Mozart’s funeral was simple. Only a few people attended. Mozart’s wife was seriously ill. Nobody had money to take care of the funeral. His body was buried in St. Mark’s Cemetery, and just a few minutes later, the grave was covered in snow (Sankaranarayanan 74). Weeks later, after recovering from illness, Constanze went to the cemetery to visit her husband’s grave, but nobody knew where Mozart was buried.
Mozart was a talented composer, but his life was very arduous. He left a huge fortune of his musical works for the world. Everyone still listens to his music because of its everlasting values. He always tried to advance his music knowledge and worked very hard his whole life. He will forever be a shining example for people to learn from and follow.
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