Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Student Post: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Thirty-Five Years of Beautiful Music

Historical Period: Classical
Nationality: Austrian
Born: January 27, 1756 in Salzburg
Died: December 5, 1791 in Vienna
Carl Friedrich Abel, Johann Christian Bach, Ludwig v. Beethoven, Luigi Bocherini, Chritosph Gluck, Franz Josef Haydn, Johann Hummel, Atonio Salieri, Anton and Carl Stamitz.
Major Works: 23 piano concertos, five violin concertos, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro, and some church music, including 20 organ works

What's Happening in the World?

     It is the 1700's; the First Copyright Act has been passed in Britain (1709); in North America there is fighting with the Tuscarora Indians; Jean Jacques Rousseau, the French philosopher, dies (1712); the same year that the Shawnee Indians established themselves in Ohio. In this time period, which is called the Enlightenment, America revolted against Great Britain becoming its own country (1776);  Adam Smith had written about his ideas of capitalism; Jean-Jacques Rousseau had written Emile on the innate goodness of man and how people just need a good education; it was not well-received); John Wesley and George Whitefield were preaching to multitudes in America about the need to be born again. This brought the First Great Awakening in America where many people turned to God. And in the world of music composer Christoph Gluck was reaching the end of his life, Haydn was working hard at writing symphonies, William Billings was composing music for the church and as we have seen much more was going on. Then in the midst of all this, Mozart was born.

The Early Years

      On January 27, 1756, Leopold Mozart and his wife, Anna Maria, were very happy: God had given them a new baby! It was a boy, and he was baptized in the Catholic Church as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Wolfgang Amadeus.

Leopold Mozart was the assistant music director and violinist in the archbishop's chapel in Salzburg. Not only that, but Leopold was a composer too and even wrote a treatise about violin playing. All the music in the air must have influenced young Wolfgang, since at age three he was picking out chords on the keyboard. At age four, he was memorizing short pieces, and at five he improvised little minuets. Soon after, he wrote out his first compositions (with his father's help). Now, keep in mind that Leopold would give little Wolfgang music lessons just about everyday, and they were way more than 30 minutes!

Wolfgang's father was very proud of him, so he decided to take his son and daughter, Nannerl, on a long trip to Munich, Germany, in 1762. This began several years of traveling around Europe, where young Mozart amazed his audiences with his performances, improvisations, and his sight-reading on the clavier, organ, and violin. After Germany, they visited Vienna where young Mozart was quite taken with Princess Marie Antoinette, and he asked her to marry him, but she couldn't because he was only six and a princess can't marry a musician. Next, they went to Paris, and they even got to perform for the king of France, King Louis XV, in Versailles. Afterwards, the Mozart family went to England to play for King George III. It was in England that the Mozart family met Carl Friedrich Abel and Johann Christian Bach. Lastly, they went to Holland, but they had to wait to play in the capital city of Amsterdam, because Mozart and Nannerl were sick. Eventually, they came back to Vienna, where Mozart composed his first operas and two symphonies. After Vienna, Mozart returned to Salzburg, but this time it was to be appointed Konzertmeister to the archbishop of the Catholic Church and began writing church music.

What interesting things do you know about Mozart?

Guest writer: Rachel Holbrook


  1. Cannot even imagine what the music of Heaven will be. :)

  2. Very true, infinitely more delightful : )


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