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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


 

(Compiled September 1998)

 

To say that Mozart was a gifted child would be a grand understatement. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg 1756 and baptized Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, (Theophilus and Amadeus both mean "beloved of God"). He was the son of Leopold Mozart, who was Vice-Kapellmeister to Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. He showed exceptional musical precocity playing the klavier at three and composing at five. He also possessed perfect pitch and could write down music with just one hearing.

His sister Maria Anna (Nannerl) was also a brilliant keyboard player, and in 1762 Leopold decided to present his children’s talents at various European courts. During this tour Wolfgang taught himself to play the violin, took composition classes with J.C. Bach and Abel in London, composed his first three symphonies in 1764, and proposed marriage to Marie Antoinette. She turned him down.

The family returned to Salzburg in 1766, and by 1768 he had composed two operas, La finita semplice and Bastien und Bastienne. On further trips to Italy he was acclaimed and studied with well known composers. At fourteen he heard Allegri’s Miserere at the Sistine Chapel and wrote down the score after one hearing. Mendelssohn did the same thing seventy years later, when he was twenty one. In 1770 his opera Mitridate, Ré di Ponto was successfully produced in Milan.

When his father became too ill to travel, his mother accompanied him on a tour of German states that led to Paris where his mother died in 1778. No longer a child prodigy, Mozart had trouble making his mark in Paris where the musical world was occupied with the controversy between Gluck and Piccinni, (the director of the opera). Unable to find a job he returned to Salzburg where he spent two years as court and cathedral organist. A growing feud with the archbishop culminated in his leaving Salzburg for Vienna where he stayed with the Webers, whom he had met in Mannheim, and went on to marry the middle daughter Constanze in August 1782. Leopold Mozart was not pleased that his son would marry a penniless girl from a dubious family, and relations between him and his son cooled considerably.

From age six young Wolfgang was steadily on the road being exhibited to the courts of Europe, learned musicians and the public. Later in his life, he also traveled extensively so that fourteen of his thirty six years were spent away from home. Probably due to having matured very early as an artist but not having the opportunity to mature as a person, Mozart’s later life was thwarted by his irresponsibility. "For just as this rare being early became a man so far as his art was concerned, he always remained - as the impartial observer must say of him - in almost all matters a child. He never learned to rule himself... He always needed a guiding hand," wrote his first biographer, Friedrich Schlichtergoll in 1793.

Growing up a complicated man he had an unprecedented knack for making enemies and never succeeded in landing a lucrative position which by his talent alone, should have been no trouble. The last nine years of his life produced a vast quantity of great works in stark comparison with his serious financial troubles.

During the composition of his Requiem, Mozart became very ill and died on December 5, 1791. Much speculation has surrounded the circumstances of Mozart’s death, but despite the many theories, none have been proved. He was buried in an unmarked grave.

 

Selected Ballets to Mozart’s Music

 

Music Choreographer Ballet
 Les Petits Riens  Noverre (1778)  Les Petits Riens
   Ashton (1928)  Les Petits Riens
   Bolm (1924)  Elopement
   de Valois (1928)  Hansel and Gretel
Sinfonia Concertanto K364  Balanchine (1947) Symphonie Concertante
Divertimento No. 15 K287 Balanchine (1956)  Divertimento No. 15
Concerto for Flute and Harp K299  Cranko (1966)  Mozart Concerto
Cassation No. 1 in G  Smuin (1968)  Gartenfest
Piano Concerto No. 21 K467  Arpino (1968)  Secret Place
Concerto for Clarinet & Orchestra K226  Lubovitch (1986)  Concerto Six Twenty-Two
The Magic Flute Martins  The Magic Flute
 Requiem Scherzer (1991) Requiem!!
 Eine Kleine Nachtmusik Welch (2004)  Mostly Mozart

 

 

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