Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, an 18th-century Austrian classical composer and one of the most famous musicians of all time, came from a family of musicians that included his father and sister. Mozart wrote masses, oratorios, symphonies, concertos, sonatas, and more, but he is best known for his operas. These include Don Giovanni (1787), Così fan tutte (All Women Do So, 1790), and Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute, 1791).


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), Austrian composer, who is considered one of the most brilliant and versatile composers ever. He worked in all musical genres of his era, wrote inspired works in each genre, and produced an extraordinary number of compositions, especially considering his short life. By the time Mozart died at age 35, he had completed 41 symphonies, 27 piano concertos, 23 string quartets, 17 piano sonatas, 7 major operas, and numerous works for voice and other instruments.

As a child prodigy Mozart toured Europe and became widely regarded as a miracle of nature because of his musical gifts as a performer of piano, harpsichord, and organ and as a composer of instrumental and vocal music. His mature masterpieces begin with the Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat Major (Jeunehomme, 1777), one of about a dozen outstanding concertos he wrote for piano. Also successful as an opera composer, Mozart wrote three exceptional Italian operas to texts by Italian librettist Lorenzo da Ponte: Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro, 1786), Don Giovanni (1787), and Così fan tutte (All Women Do So, 1790). They were followed in 1791 by his supreme German opera, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute).

Mozart’s works were catalogued chronologically by Austrian music bibliographer Ludwig von Köchel, who published his catalog in 1862. The numbers he assigned, which are called Köchel numbers and are preceded by the initial K, remain the standard way of referring to works by Mozart. The Jeunehomme Concerto, for example, is K. 271.

Mozart is one of the most universal of composers and one of the greatest geniuses of Western civilization. His output was huge (more than 600 works). Drawing on various national traditions, he brought the classical style to its highest development. This style, which evolved from about 1750 to 1800 when Vienna was the center of European music, is characterized by lively contrasts of themes and by symmetry of forms. In the dramatic genres of opera and concerto, Mozart enjoyed unique success. The richness of musical characterization and the psychological insights of his operatic masterpieces find parallels in much of his purely instrumental music. In the concertos he demonstrates that powerful expressive forces can coexist with serene formal structures.

Although Mozart has been viewed as the quintessential composer of the classical period, early-19th-century critics such as German romantic writer and composer E.T.A. Hoffmann regarded him as an archromantic, much in their own image. (Elements of the supernatural and fantastic figure in Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute, as they do in romanticism.) Mozart’s music also influenced innovative German composers of the romantic period, including Ludwig van Beethoven and Richard Wagner, as well as the 20th-century creator of the twelve-tone chromatic tone system, German composer Arnold Schoenberg. Mozart’s influence stems not just from the graceful beauty of his music, but also from its flexible phrasing, startling contrasts, and unstable chromaticism. At the time of their first performance, many of his works were regarded as difficult, with “too many notes,” as Austrian emperor Joseph II purportedly said. If Mozart’s music embodies something of the elegance and refinement of the privileged aristocratic world before the French Revolution (1789-1799), it also affirms values subversive to that world. He lodged this critique in the depiction of flawed aristocrats in Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni, and in the glorification in The Magic Flute of the ideals of the Freemasons, who were deemed dangerous by Vienna’s aristocracy. Many of his finest instrumental works in their beauty and perfection also acknowledge the darker sides of human experience.


* Salzburg and Germany

* Vienna


* Musical Expressiveness
Instrumental Innovation
Chromaticism and Keys
Stylistic Resourcefulness

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