Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Biography

Born: Jan 27, 1756; Austria   Died: Dec 5, 1791; Austria   Period: Classical
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was not only one of the greatest composers of the Classical period, but one of the greatest of all time. Surprisingly, he is not identified with radical formal or harmonic innovations, or with the profound kind of symbolism heard in some of Bach's works. Mozart's best music has a natural flow and irresistible charm, and can express humor, joy or sorrow with both conviction and mastery. His operas, especially his later Read more efforts, are brilliant examples of high art, as are many of his piano concertos and later symphonies. Even his lesser compositions and juvenile works feature much attractive and often masterful music.

Mozart was the last of seven children, of whom five did not survive early childhood. By the age of three he was playing the clavichord, and at four he began writing short compositions. Young Wolfgang gave his first public performance at the age of five at Salzburg University, and in January, 1762, he performed on harpsichord for the Elector of Bavaria. There are many astonishing accounts of the young Mozart's precocity and genius. At the age of seven, for instance, he picked up a violin at a musical gathering and sight-read the second part of a work with complete accuracy, despite his never having had a violin lesson.

In the years 1763 - 1766, Mozart, along with his father Leopold, a composer and musician, and sister Nannerl, also a musically talented child, toured London, Paris, and other parts of Europe, giving many successful concerts and performing before royalty. The Mozart family returned to Salzburg in November 1766. The following year young Wolfgang composed his first opera, Apollo et Hyacinthus. Keyboard concertos and other major works were also coming from his pen now.

In 1769, Mozart was appointed Konzertmeister at the Salzburg Court by the Archbishop. Beginning that same year, the Mozarts made three tours of Italy, where the young composer studied Italian opera and produced two successful efforts, Mitridate and Lucio Silla. In 1773, Mozart was back in Austria, where he spent most of the next few years composing. He wrote all his violin concertos between 1774 and 1777, as well as Masses, symphonies, and chamber works.

In 1780, Mozart wrote his opera Idomeneo, which became a sensation in Munich. After a conflict with the Archbishop, Mozart left his Konzertmeister post and settled in Vienna. He received a number of commissions now and took on a well-paying but unimportant Court post. In 1782 Mozart married Constanze Weber and took her to Salzburg the following year to introduce her to his family. 1782 was also the year that saw his opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail staged with great success.

In 1784, Mozart joined the Freemasons, apparently embracing the teachings of that group. He would later write music for certain Masonic lodges. In the early- and mid-1780s, Mozart composed many sonatas and quartets, and often appeared as soloist in the fifteen piano concertos he wrote during this period. Many of his commissions were for operas now, and Mozart met them with a string of masterpieces. Le nozze di Figaro came 1786, Don Giovanni in 1787, Cosě fan tutte in 1790 and Die Zauberflöte in 1791. Mozart made a number of trips in his last years, and while his health had been fragile in previous times, he displayed no serious condition or illness until he developed a fever of unknown origin near the end of 1791. Read less

Mozart: Requiem / Butt, Dunedin Consort
Release Date: 03/25/2014   Label: Linn Records  
Catalog: 449   Number of Discs: 1
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Mozart Opera DVD 3-Pack - Die Zauberflote, Cosi fan Tutte, La Finta Giardiniera
Release Date: 04/07/2014   Label: Kultur Video  
Catalog: 4942   Number of Discs: 3
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Mozart: Horn Concerti / Bryant, Dausgaard, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Release Date: 11/11/2008   Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks  
Catalog: 28460   Number of Discs: 1
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An Amadeus Affair / Anderson & Roe
Release Date: 02/25/2014   Label: Steinway & Sons  
Catalog: 30022   Number of Discs: 1
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Mozart: Adagios & Fugues (After Bach)
Release Date: 04/08/2014   Label: Harmonia Mundi  
Catalog: 902159   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Concerto for Piano no 21 in C major, K 467

 

About This Work
In keeping with the Piano Concerto in D Minor, K. 466, the C Major Concerto was composed for the series of Lenten subscription concerts given by Mozart in 1765. This was an extraordinarily busy and successful period of Mozart's life, as we can gauge Read more from a series of letters sent by his father Leopold to Mozart's sister Nannerl, now married and living with her husband in St. Gilgen. "Every day there are concerts; and the whole time is given up to teaching, music, composing and so forth...It is impossible for me to describe the rush and the bustle." Leopold had arrived on February 11, the day of the first of the concerts and the occasion of the premiere of the D Minor Concerto. Mozart first played the newly completed K. 467 not at one of his subscription concerts (although he must surely have included it in one of the last of those as well), but at his benefit concert at the National Court Theater on March 10, the day after it was entered into his thematic catalog. A handbill for the concert announced that it would include "a new, just finished Forte piano Concerto," in addition to Mozart playing improvisations (for which he was particularly famed) employing "an especially large Forte piano pedal."

The C Major Concerto gives absolutely no sign of being composed in an atmosphere of "rush and bustle"; neither could the contrast with the stormy drama of its immediate predecessor be greater. The first movement, an expansive Allegro of Olympian grandeur and design is followed by an Andante of sublime beauty made famous in more recent times by its use in the film Elvira Madigan. This movement, with its few notes and bare outline, is incidentally a classic example of the manner in which Mozart frequently left himself room to improvise within the context of his own concertos, a technique lately reintroduced by performers such as Malcolm Bilson and Robert Levin. The final movement is an Allegro vivace assai, its evocation of the world of opera buffo typical of many of Mozart's finales, both in concerto and symphony. Like the D Minor Concerto, K. 467 is scored for a large orchestra: flute, pairs of oboes, bassoons, horns and trumpets, timpani and strings.

-- Brian Robins
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