Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Mozart: Austria's Wonder Child

For many years I have been into Classical music, mostly from my years of playing piano, and in those years, I fell in love with the Austrian composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. His lovely operas and serenades are helpful when I am frustrated and fun when I am in a better mood for dancing, (and sometimes even pretending that I am Mozart leading the orchestra.) My all-time favorite serenade is Eine kleine Nachtmusik (A Little Night Music, 1787).

Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theopilius Mozart was born on January 27, 1756, to Leopold and Anna Maria Mozart. He was the youngest of seven with only his older sister, Maria Anna (Nannerl), alive. The town to which Mozart was born in was Salzburg, Austria, which then was part of the Holy Roman Empire.

At the age of three, Mozart began a keen interest in music, after hearing seven-year-old Nannerl playing at the clavier. Years after his death, she said, "He often spent much time at the clavier, picking out thirds, which he was ever striking, and his pleasure showed that it sounded good.... In the fourth year of his age his father, for a game as it were, began to teach him a few minuets and pieces at the clavier.... He could play it faultlessly and with the greatest delicacy, and keeping exactly in time.... At the age of five, he was already composing little pieces, which he played to his father who wrote them down."
About four or five, Mozart began to compose music on his own, sitting at the clavier for hours, and splattering ink over paper and his father's white shirt, (which he used as an apron.) Leopold decided to give the boy lessons, and was surprised how talented the boy was, at times even beyond what he was taught. Mozart was a wonder child for sure.

At eight years of age, Mozart wrote his first symphony, and traveled with his family to show his great talent. They traveled all throughout  Europe, meeting kings, queens, emperors and empresses. He also met the famous composer, Johann Christian Bach. In Bologna, he was accepted as a member of the Accademia Filarmonica, and wrote out from memory the famous Miserere, by Gregorio Allegri, (which was heavily guarded in the Vatican at the time) in Rome. His first opera, Mitridate, re di Ponto, was performed in Milan. 

At about 19, Mozart returned home, he was chosen as an employed court musician for Prince-Archbishop Hieronymus Colloredo, Salzburg's ruler. Mozart was thrilled to work in many genres, such as sonatas, minor operas, and string quartets. In that time, he created his only five violin concertos, one of which critics have said was breathtaking ever since, K. 271. After years there, Mozart soon began to discontent with Salzburg. Finding positions was scarce there, mostly for his low salary, 150 florins a year, and that the theater closed, only used for visiting troupes. Him and his father took two expeditions to find work, which turned out unsuccessful. He then resigned from Salzburg, and traveled to Augsburg, Mannheim, Paris, and Munich. 

In Mannheim, he met the city's famous orchestra, which at the time was Europe's famous orchestra. He also met the beautiful Aloysia Weber. Mozart soon left for Paris, with no job. He soon lost money, and began pawning valuables. After his mother's death, caused by unpaid bills, he went and stayed with Melchior Grimm, the personal secretary for the Duke d'Orleans. His father soon found him a job as court organist and concertmaster in Salzburg. The salary was 450 florins, but Mozart waited. He then decided to move to Strasbourg. He lingered in Mannheim and Munich for a while. He encountered Aloysia again, but she was not interested in him any more.

In March, Mozart was sent for by the Archbishop Colloredo, who was celebrating Joseph II, and his accession to the throne. Mozart was offended from the Archbishop, after being treated more like a servant then letting him perform. Mozart asked to resign, but was denied. Later, he was then given permission to leave, having been "with a kick in the arse". He decided to settle down in Vienna as a composer and freelance performer. The fight between Mozart and the Archbishop was harder, for his father sided against him. His father sent many letters to him, urging him to come back to the Archbishop, but Mozart disagreed. After many waits, he was freed from his father's wishes and the Archbishop.

Mozart's job in Vienna was more then he imagined. He competed against Muzio Clementi on December 24, 1781, in front of the Emperor. He, "had established himself as the finest keyboard player in Vienna". He also became an amazing composer, finishing his Die Entfuhrung aus  dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio).  Mozart had moved in with the Weber family, after his quarrel with the Archbishop. They had moved to Vienna, and were taking in lodgers after Mr. Weber's death. Aloysia had married an actor and artist named Joseph Lange. 

Mozart then gained interest in the third Weber daughter, Constanze. For a while, their courtship was rough, but soon, it smoothed out. Mozart sent word to his father for permission, but it became difficult. They finally married on the 4 of August, 1782, before Mr. Mozart's letter arrived. The Mozarts had only six children, of whom two only survived: 
Raimund Leopold (17 June-19 August, 1783)
Karl Thomas Mozart (21 September 1784 – 31 October 1858) 
Johann Thomas Leopold (18 October – 15 November 1786)
Theresia Constanzia Adelheid Friedericke Maria Anna (27 December 1787 – 29 June 1788)
Anna Maria (died soon after birth, 16 November 1789)
Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart (26 July 1791 – 29 July 1844)

In 1783, Mozart and his family visited Mozart's family in Salzburg. The family was kind to Constanze. Mozart's liturgical piece, one of his greatest compositions, Mass in C Minor, was uncompleted. It was performed in Salzburg, and Constanze sang the solo part.

Around 1784, Mozart met Franz Joseph Hayden in Vienna. They quickly became friends, and sometimes they played string quartets together. Mozart wrote six quartets dedicated to Hayden, K. 387, K. 421, K. 428, K. 458, K. 464, and K. 465. In 1785, Hayden said to Mozart's father, "I tell you before God, and as an honest man, your son is the greatest composer known to me by person and repute, he has taste and what is more the greatest skill in composition."

From 1782 to 1785, Mozart made himself a soloist in his concerts. Solomon writes that he made, "a harmonious connection between an eager composer-performer and a delighted audience, which was given the opportunity of witnessing the transformation and perfection of a major musical genre". 
Mozart enjoyed his new life quickly, and his family did as well. They moved to an apartment of 450 florins a year,owned servants, bought a billiard table for 300, a fortepiano for 900, and sent their son, Karl Thomas to an expensive boarding school. On the 14 of December, 1784, Mozart became a Freemason, and in that time he went to meetings and composed Masonic music.

The next four years, Mozart stopped writing operas, and focused on his career as a piano soloist, and writer of concertos. Around the end of 1785, Mozart stopped with keyboard writing and started his famous operatic collaboration with the librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte. In 1786, the Marriage of Figaro, was a successful premiere in Vienna. Later, he created Don Giovanni. The two are his among his most famous operas. Both were not seen by Mozart's father, who died on May 28, 1787. 
In December 1787, Mozart was appointed by the Emperor, Joseph II, to be his "chamber composer", after the death of the composer, Gluck. He was payed 800 florins a year, and appointed him to only write dances for his in the Redoutensaal. The Emperor's aim was to keep Mozart as much as possible. 

Toward the end of the decade, Mozart's income shrank, and he was hardly seen in public concerts. In 1788, Mozart and his family moved to the suburb of Alsergrund. Mozart began to borrow money from his friend,  Michael Puchburg, a fellow Mason. Many of his friends said he suffered from depression, and his output was slow. His last year was a time of productivity, which was before he was struck with an illness. He created some of his most beloved works: The Magic Flute, the Clarinet Concerto K. 622, his last string quartets, K. 614 in E-flat, and his unfinished Requiem K. 626.
His financial problems soon improved. He no longer needed to borrow money from Puchburg, and started paying off his debts. 

On September 6, 1791, Mozart fell ill on the night of his premier of his opera, La clemenza di Tito.
 His health worsened on November 20, which came with bedridden, suffering from swelling, pain, and
vomiting. Mozart was nursed by his wife and her younger sister until his death on December 5, 1791. He was 35 years old. The New Grove said, "Mozart was interred in a common grave, in accordance with contemporary Viennese custom, at the St. Marx Cemetery outside the city on 7 December. If, as later reports say, no mourners attended, that too is consistent with Viennese burial customs at the time; later Jahn (1856) wrote that SalieriSüssmayrvan Swieten and two other musicians were present. The tale of a storm and snow is false; the day was calm and mild."
Mozart's character was interesting to me. He had a interest inscatological humor. They were seen mostly in his letters and music that he wrote. He also liked singing with his friends. His appearance description is also interesting. He was, described by Michael Kelly,"a remarkably small man, very thin and pale, with a profusion of fine, fair hair of which he was rather vain," and then by his early biographer, Niemetschek wrote, "there was nothing special about [his] physique. [...] He was small and his countenance, except for his large intense eyes, gave no signs of his genius." His face was pitted, from smallpox when he was a child. He enjoyed wearing elegant clothing. Kelly also said about him at a rehearsal: "[He] was on the stage with his crimson pelisse and gold-laced cocked hat, giving the time of the music to the orchestra." His voice was described by his wife that it "was a tenor, rather soft in speaking and delicate in singing, but when anything excited him, or it became necessary to exert it, it was both powerful and energetic".
I hope that you all enjoyed knowing about Mozart as much as I do.

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