Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
was only 35 when he died--but what a legacy of marvelous
classical music he left to the world.
Almost unquestionably the most extraordinarily gifted child
in the history of music, he had begun composing serious music by the time he was 4 and 5
Under the tutelage of his composer-violinist father, he showed remarkable talent for the piano
and performed before the Empress Maria Theresa when he was barely six.
By the next year, he
was doing concert tours across Europe--and when he finally reached 13, he had composed
sonatas, concertos, symphonies, religious works, operettas and even an opera.
His remarkable creative powers are unparalleled.
Describing the process he used, he said
that, even though a work were long, he composed it first completely in his head, and then by the
time he was ready to put it on paper, it flowed out quickly and effortlessly.
And it was so
completely composed in his head at this point, that he didn't mind being disturbed or even talking
to someone as his hand rapidly copied down the intricate arrangements in his head.
At 25 he situated himself in Vienna in hopes of getting an official appointment as a
musician in the court, but the remaining 10 years of his life were frustrating and financially
difficult, as he seemed to be repeatedly passed by in favor of other lesser composers. (Whether
this was due to the connivings of his jealous rival-composer, Salieri, as the playwright of
claims, may forever be unknown; still it does offer an explanation for his years of
disappointment--and it certainly makes for an evening of exciting theater!)
An unfortunate marriage to a woman who never fully understood or appreciated his
genius (and a public who insisted that his music was too difficult to understand) made his mature
years even more difficult--and when a publisher advised him to lower his sights and write in a
more popular and entertaining style, he responded that he would rather starve to death and die at
Feeling as if he were "always hovering between hope and anxiety," he managed to
compose such masterpieces (fully recognized today if not then) as
Don Giovanni, The Marriage
The Magic Flute
as well as over 40 symphonies and dozens and dozens of
concertos for almost every instrument.
Feverish and ill, he found himself racing against time as
he tried to finish a "mass for the dead," his own
--and died before completing it.
He was given a pauper's funeral and, since he was buried on a cold and rainy day, what
few friends had gathered, turned back at the cemetery gates and went home, leaving the hearse to
go on to the grave by itself.
Today he's considered to be in a class by himself--admired genius and composer
His form is classical with rococo flourishes occasionally embellishing the surface;
resulting in some of the most exquisite music ever written.
The First Movement of Mozart's