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Mozart: The Archetype of Musical Genius

David Wang

22 May 2008
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David Wang

M. Flemmer

Chamber Orchestra

22 May 2008

Mozart: The Archetype of Musical Genius

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is one of the most revered composers in musical

history, and his music has lived on through the years. Many consider him to be one the

greatest musical personalities to have ever lived, and his over 600 works are highly

acclaimed even today. Born into the hallmarks of the Classical era of music, Mozart

championed the musical industry of the day, and associated himself with many of the

greatest aristocrats and musicians at that time. However, his story is marked by troubles,

hindrances, and isolated success, in a story that few know about, yet those who do

consider these experiences to be huge influences to his style of music. His works, his

style, and his contribution as a whole to the music world is one of incomprehensible end;

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is, without a doubt, one of the greatest masterminds to have

ever entered into the musical spectrum.

Biography

Joannes Chysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart was born in Salzburg, a

part of the Holy Roman Empire, on January 27, 1756, to Leopold and Anna Maria Pertl

Mozart. Leopold Mozart was the deputy Kapellmeister, or music-maker, to the court
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orchestra of the Archbishop of Salzburg, and thus Wolfgang was exposed to music at an

early age. His only sister, Nannerl, said that as she received piano lessons from her father,

“[Wolfgang] often spent much time at the clavier, picking out thirds…and his pleasure

showed it sounded good.” According to his sister, he was composing small pieces of

music by the age of five. His father was proud beyond belief; some of their lessons

brought tears to Leopold’s eyes. (Deutsch, 454-462)

Leopold, astonished by his son’s talents, took him and Nannerl on tour across

Europe to various courts, beginning in 1962 at the Court in Munich. On these tours,

young Mozart met many of the time’s most influential musicians, including the son of

Baroque composer J.S. Bach, Johann Christian Bach, and G.B. Martini. After three trips

to Italy, Mozart began to write his operas, starting in 1770 with Mitridale Ré di Ponto in

Milan. During his travels, Mozart began to experience ill health, contracting diseases

such as smallpox. After returning from Italy, he was employed as the court musician by

the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg.

During his time as court musician, Mozart wrote some of his most influential

masterpieces, including his only five violin concertos and a series of piano concertos.

However, he was not satisfied with the outcomes that his job at Salzburg had produced;

his salary was low and, moreover, he could not write operas, as the closing of the court

theatre in Salzburg left no real venue for Mozart to show out his operas in. Growing

restless, Mozart went on job-hunting tours, but his third one, a tour to Paris in 1777,

resulted in a denial in a desired love with Aloysia Weber and the death of his mother,

Anna Maria.
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Years passed, and in 1781, Mozart’s Prince-Archbishop employer dismissed him

due to Mozart’s restlessness with his position. The insulted composer moved to Vienna,

where he hoped he would be able to achieve success, despite his father, Leopold,

pleading with him to return to Salzburg and apologize to the Prince-Archbishop.

However, Mozart denied his father’s pleas, and continued to compose and perform in

Vienna. He achieved early success in the city, performing primarily as a concert pianist,

and succeeded in impressing Emperor Joseph II. His visit also resulted in his marriage

with Constanze Weber, sister to the woman that rejected Mozart three years prior. The

couple had six children, but only two survived infancy.

Starting in 1788, Mozart began to return to opera writing, composing one his most

major operatic works, Don Giovanni, in 1787. After a well-acclaimed debut in Prague,

Mozart was hired as the chamber composer to Emperor Joseph II, primarily to write

dances for annual balls. However, Mozart was dissatisfied with this job as well; in his

mind, it was “too much for what [he did], and too little for what [he] could do.”

(Soloman, 423-424) Soon after, though, Austria entered the Austro-Turkish War, resulting

in decreased morale and interest in the fine arts, and thus a decline in Mozart’s career.

However, he made do, and produced some of his greatest works in 1791, including The

Magic Flute, his Clarinet Concerto, and his Requiem. However, an illness struck when he

was in Prague, and he died on December 5, 1791.

Musical Style, Major Works, and Associations

Mozart was born into the Classical era of music, and his music is mainly

considered the standard of music at the time: characterized by a sense of clarity, an aura
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of equilibrium, and an essence of smoothness within the notes. (It should also be noted

that while in Vienna, some of Mozart’s compositions, due his study of earlier works, had

a slight Baroque flair to them.) His works also spanned across a variety of forms,

including operas, religious hymns, and, of course, standard classical music, which

spanned across almost every major genre, focusing on symphonies, concertos, and

chamber music.

Mozart’s major works also span across a wide spectrum of music. Perhaps his

greatest achievement, the Requiem Mass in D minor, was an incomplete one, as he died

before he could finish the piece. His revered classical works included his last three violin

concertos (No. 3-5), Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, and his Symphony No. 40 in G

minor. Other famous compositions include his operas Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute,

and The Marriage of Figaro, and his masses, which included the Requiem.

Mozart, during his time, was associated with many other historical figures, both

musical and non-musical, and both face-to-face and through literature. Early on, in 1764,

he met Johann Christian Bach, son of Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach. When

he was in Vienna, Mozart studied the works of J.S. Bach and George Frederic Handel,

both of whom influenced a slight Baroque style in his works at the time. He also met and

worked with fellow Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn, who regarded Mozart with

very high esteem and wrote to Leopold, saying that Mozart was “the greatest composer

known to [him] either in person or by name.” Some historians believe that Mozart also

worked with German composer Ludwig van Beethoven; however, this has not been

proved to be true.
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Aristocratically, Mozart has been on terms with many powerful figures, but

primarily the following: Prince-Archbishop Hieronymus Collerdo, his employer at the

court of Salzburg; Emperor Joseph II, his employer at Vienna; and Baron Gottfried van

Swieten, who initiated the Baroque influence in Vienna.

Conclusion

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a monumental figure is classical music, is a man of

mystery. An aura of unknown surrounds his life, and many people have wondered about

the man, about what was going through his head, about what hardships he faced, and

about what actually happened between him and some of his associates. However,

regardless of any of the crimes we may incriminate him with, regardless of any criticism

we may show towards how he lived his life, one must accept that W.A. Mozart was, and

still is, one of the most influential, talented, charismatic, and genius musical composers

of his time, our time, and our children’s time. His contributions to the musical spectrum

are timeless masterpieces, and thus he has earned himself a title as a hallmark, a

champion, of music in the continuums of history.


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Works Cited

Deutsch, Otto Erich. Mozart: A Documentary Biography. Stanford University

Press, 1966.

Krantz, Allen. “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.” Classical Archives, The. Classical

Archives, LLC. 22 May 2008

< http://www.classicalarchives.com/bios/mozart_bio.html>

Mozart Project, The. Revised 20 July 2007. Steve Boerner, ©1996-2007. 22 May 2008

< http://www.mozartproject.org/>

Soloman, Maynard. Mozart: A Life. Harper Perennial, 1996.

“Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 22 May 2008.

Wikipedia Foundation, Inc. 22, May 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozart>