Composers – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Birth: January 27, 1756
Death: December 5, 1791
Significant Operatic Works
Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio), 1782)
Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), 1786
Don Giovanni (Don Juan), 1787
Cosi fan tutte (So Do They All), 1790, Die Zauberflote (The Majic Flute), 1791
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was one of the most gifted Composers this world has ever known. He is considered to be the single most significantly influential Composers of the Classical Music Period. During his lifetime Wolfgang was viewed as an “avant-garde” and “gallant” Composer, however, regardless of these opinions and considering later doctoral studies of his music, one can clearly state that Mozart’s music demonstrates and includes a profound diversity and infinite variety that has entertained music lovers for more than two-hundred years.
He was born in the picturesque and medieval town of Salzburg Germany, the son of violinist Leopold Mozart, who at the time of Wolfgang’s birth was the vice-Kapellmeister and Court Composer to the Archbishop of Salzburg. Wolfgang was the last born of seven children by Anne Maria, his Mother. Wolfgang was one of two of their offspring that survived infancy. The other was his sister Maria Anna often refered to as “Nannerl”.
On August 4, 1782 Wolfgang married Canstanze (1763-1842) against his fathers wishes. Together they had six children. Four of which died in infancy. Canstanze stayed with Mozart until his heath in 1791. It is said that he died in her arms. She remarried in 1809. Mozart described her as; “…not ugly, but no beauty either”.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a prolific composer who wrote over 600 compositions, including but not limited to; 21 piano Concertos, 17 Masses, 5 Violin Concertos, 24 String Quartets and other chamber music and an incredible collection of 41 of the most incredible Symphonies ever written.
The texture of Mozart’s Symphonies as well as the overall beauty of them lies in his ability to use music as a way to relate human emotion in its infinite variety. To me, one of the strengths visible in Mozart’s music is the beneficial effect from exercising his polyphonic skills which were always full and rich. It is from this perspective that the emotional impact of his music can be understood from a compositional point of view.
One of my favorite Symphonies by Mozart is Symphony No 41 in G minor. It is also known as the “C Major Symphony” or more commonly as “Jupiter“. The Allegro vivace or Movement Number One of this amazing composition is shown in the video below.
The Andante cantabile or the second Movement is below. Cantabile means singable or song-like in nature.
The Minuetto, Allegretto movement is below. It is the third Movement of this incredible composition.
The Fourth and final Movement, Molto Allegro is considered superb as it is basically structured in the Sonata form but in a more complex fugal manner. Further, his technical skill is shown in the coda where he was able to employ all five of the major themes of this work, a very complex task indeed. The video below is the coda and it is exquisitely performed below.
Symphony No 40 in G minor, KV550, is in my opinion the quintessence of Mozart’s compositional work. This single work demonstrates so many of Mozart’s musical patterns and phrasing methods that I feel it warrants inclusion into this commentary of his incredible music. Please feel free to listen to the irst movement of this very beautiful performance below.
As one can observe through a listening of the above works that Mozart’s extraordinary musical talents are broad in scope and as one delves deeper into the musical output of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one also learns how his amazing talent is elegantly portrayed throughout his repertoire of music.
He was a tireless Composer and yet, simultaneously, he struggled financially throughout his lifetime. Whether from being under paid in his commissions or simply the mismanagement of his money, nonetheless, he suffered intense financial stress. In addition to sickness, I believe that financial stress may have been a big contributing to his early death in 1791. His actual cause of death is not known definitively.
Many Composers lived into their later years when their most profound and significant musical works were created. Mozart died when he was only thirty five years old. Who knows what he would have produced had he lived as long as some of his contemporaries such as Bach, Beethoven and Haydn whose works blossomed after they reached 40 or fifty years of age. Of course, we will never know what advances he could have made to music in form, structure or technique. He was an excellent melody writer and at the same time he demonstrated superb skills in polyphony and in his harmonic techniques were way ahead of their time, almost in anticipation of those compositional techniques used later in the 19th Century, more than 100 years after his demise.
“Requiem Mass” was left unfinished upon Mozart’s death and it is said that Requiem Mass was later finished by Franz Xaver Sussmayr, one of his students. In recent years, others have refuted Sussmayr’s concluding efforts and have attempted to create other conclusions to the final writing included in the Requiem Mass. It truly is unfortunate that Mozart passed away before completing this work. One can only imagine at this point how he would have finished it. The completed composition includes 14 Movements. It is one of Mozart’s most popular and respected compositions.
In conclusion, Mozart produced in his short lifetime a body of music of over 600 compositions. With melodic uniqueness and excellent harmony his music remains one of the mainstays of modern classical repertory. The contributions he has made to the field and art of music have caused even the most learned music scholars throughout the world to stand in awe of this man’s creations.
His music has and continues to gain in popularity over time and I often wonder, “Who will be the next Mozart? When will he or she show up on the music scene?”
The world waits, even still.
Note: Many thanks to YouTube for hosting these incredible videos and their willingness to keep them available for licensing under their embed policies.
For more information about influential music composers throughout time please visit our featured article Composers – An Overview of Music History.