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, Così 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
The Mozart Album / Lang Lang
Release Date: 09/30/2014   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 308253   Number of Discs: 2
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Bruno Walter Conducts Mozart
Release Date: 03/25/2014   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 7906832   Number of Discs: 6
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The Berliner Philharmoniker Play Mozart
Release Date: 03/25/2014   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 7761522   Number of Discs: 7
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Robert Casadesus Plays Mozart
Release Date: 03/25/2014   Label: Sony (Nax615)  
Catalog: 7808372   Number of Discs: 5
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Mozart: Requiem / Butt, Dunedin Consort
Release Date: 03/25/2014   Label: Linn Records  
Catalog: 449   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Symphony no 35 in D major, K 385 "Haffner"

 

About This Work
By mid-1782 Mozart had been a Vienna resident for more than a year, beginning to prosper from the success of his new singspiel, The Abduction from the Seraglio. Yet Leopold Mozart refused to bless his marriage proposal to Constanze Weber, and thought Read more nothing of disrupting his son's professional life. In the midst of preparations for the first all-Mozart concert in Joseph II's imperial capital, Papa insisted that Wolfgang compose a new work for the ennoblement of Salzburg's mayor, Sigmund Haffner. In other words, a gratis job, unrelated to Wolfgang's new career and income. The wonder is that Mozart obliged posthaste, despite being harried. Between July 20 and August 5 he wrote the new D major serenade-symphony in six movements (not to be confused, however, with an earlier Haffner Serenade, K. 250). During the same fortnight he also made a wind-band arrangement of music from The Abduction ("If I don't do this, someone else will beat me to it and take my profit"), composed the noble C minor Serenade for winds (K. 388/384a), and married Constanze without Leopold's permission.

Six months later, needing a new symphony for further concerts in the Burgtheater, Mozart remembered that Leopold had pestered him for a piece and asked for its return. Papa of course took his mean-spirited time, but finally did send it. Upon receipt Wolfgang wrote that "the music has positively amazed me, for I had forgotten every single note it!" He dropped one of the Serenade's two minuets (subsequently lost) and a concluding march, then added a pair each of flutes and clarinets in movements 1 and 4, and offered K. 385 as a new piece. He conducted the first performance in Vienna's Royal Burgtheater on March 23, 1783. To Papa he wrote that "the theater could not have been more crowded...every box was full. But what pleased me most of all was that His Majesty the Emperor was present and, goodness! -- how delighted he was and how he applauded me!"

Celebratory pomp suffuses the concisely argued, monothematic sonata-form, Allegro con spirito movement without exposition-repeat. Everything relates to the main theme with its two-octave leaps, dum-dum-da-dum-dum rhythm, skirling trills and racing scales.

A sinuous song and trio with translucent textures and operatic ornamentation for the violins makes the G major Andante the longest movement if all repeats are played. The trio silences flutes, clarinets, and trumpets, yet begins with marvelously sonorous wind chords. Low strings carry the melody until violins take over with more trills, birdcalls, and galant-period embellishments, after which the song repeats.

The Menuetto movement -- not four minutes long even with repeats -- is emphatically rhythmic, and countrified rather than courtly in the song sections. Contrastingly, the trio is played legato throughout.

The final Presto is sonata form again, even more concise than in the first movement. Although Mozart wanted it played "as fast as possible," he still meant slower than the capability of most twentieth century instruments. Read less

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