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Mozart Essay, Research Paper

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart is and was a remarkable musician and composer whose legend continues to grow more than two centuries after his death. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria in 1756. Before the age of four, he had exhibited such extraordinary powers of musical memory and ear-sophistication that his father, Leopold, a highly esteemed violinist and composer in his own right, decided to give his son, Wolfgang, harpsichord lessons. From day one of his lessons, the boy’s reputation as a fast learning, modern, talented musician grew fast. At five, he was composing music; at six, he was a keyboard virtuoso, so much so that Leopold took Wolfgang and his sister Maria Anna on a performance tour of Munich and Vienna.

From that time on, young Mozart was constantly performing and writing music. He was the toast of Austria, and gave many concerts of prepared works and improvisation. Wherever he appeared, people were astounded by his gift for music. By his early teens, he had mastered the piano, violin and harpsichord, and was writing keyboard pieces, oratorios,

symphonies and operas. His first major opera, Mitridate, was performed in Milan in 1770. He was 14 and he was being compared to Handel, probably

the most famous classical composer of the day.

At fifteen, Mozart was invited to be the concertmaster in the orchestra of the Archbishop of Salzburg. Things did not go very well. Mozart and the Archbishop constantly argued, and in 1781, Mozart said goodbye to the bishop and hello to Vienna, against his father’s wishes.

Now a grown man, Mozart thrived in Vienna. He was in great demand as a performer and composition teacher, and his first opera, The Abduction from the Seraglio, was a hit in Vienna. But life for him was not easy. He was a poor musician, and money was always tight, especially after his marriage to Constanze Weber. Political fighting at the Vienna court kept him from gaining patronage, and he descended to a life of poverty. His music from the next decade – and it came at a very fast rate – was only sporadically popular, and he eventually fell back on his teaching jobs and on the charity of friends to make ends meet. In 1788 he stopped performing in public, preferring to

compose. But fortune never turned, and when he died in 1791 at the age of thirty-five, he was buried in a pauper’s grave.

To say that Mozart was a composer of unsurpassed genius is scarcely scratching the surface of this man’s remarkable gifts. He wrote music, complete and perfect, down to the last accent and inflection – as fast as he could think, and this astonishing rate of production continues to stupefy scholars today. In his short life, he composed over 600 works, including 21 stage and opera works, 15 Masses, over 50 symphonies, 25 piano concertos, 12 violin concertos, 27 concert arias, 17 piano sonatas, 26 string quartets…the list is endless. And what makes these numbers doubly unfathomable is the peerless craft with which each piece of music was created. Mozart was a master of counterpoint, fugue, and the other traditional compositional devices of his day; more than this, he was perhaps the greatest melody writer the world has ever known. His operas range from comic baubles to tragic masterpieces. His Requiem, composed not long before his own death, stands with Bach’s St. Matthew Passion as the supreme example of vocal music.

In recent years, Mozart’s fame has reached new heights on the popularity of the film Amadeus. What the recent Mozart uproar has created that is good, is increased awareness of his music, which must be counted among the absolute wonders of the world.

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