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The Life Of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

One of historys most tragic figures, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart begun his performing career as a child prodigy. He played the piano, harpsichord, organ, and violin beautifully and was taken by his father on a number of concert tours through several European countries. The young performer delighted his noble audiences, who rewarded him, however, with flattery and pretty girls rather than with fees. (Copied straight from the book and should be in quotes.) Mozart was fun loving, sociable, and generous to a fault, but he never learned the art of getting along with others. Fiercely independent, he insisted on managing his own affairs, apparently without great success: though recent scholarship reveals that he earned substantial sums, he was chronically short of money. (Quotation marks?)(Ferris, 2010)

Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a multi-instrumentalist who started playing in public at the age of six. Over the years, Mozart aligned himself with a variety of European venues and patrons, composing hundreds of works that included sonatas, symphonies, masses, concertos, and operas, marked by vivid emotion and sophisticated textures. (Quotation marks?) (Wolfgang Mozart. Biography)

In the summer of 1781, it was rumored that Mozart was contemplating marriage to Fridolin Weber’s daughter, Constanze. Knowing his father would disapprove of the marriage and the interruption in his career, young Mozart quickly wrote his father denying any idea of the marriage. By December, he was asking for his father’s blessing. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart married Constanze on August 4, 1782. Mozart and Constanze had six children, though only two survived infancy, Karl Thomas and Franz Xavier. (Copied from page 3 of website: Wolfgang Mozart. Biography)

Karl Thomas Mozart (1784 – 1858), a skillful pianist, did not perform professionally. He became an Austrian government official and never married. With his death, the direct Mozart lineage ended.

The youngest child, Franz Xavier Wolfgang Mozart (1791 – 1844), was known as Wolfgang Amadeus, Jr. Born only five months before his father’s death, he remembered nothing of him. In a classic case of a father’s fame intimidating a gifted child, the son showed early promise as a composer of depth and originality, but the image of the father he never knew loomed over his career with a stifling effect. (Copied from the indicated source.)(Famous family history)

Mozart’s father Leopold (1719 – 1787) was one of Europe’s leading musical teachers. His influential textbook Versuch Einer Grundlichen Violin Schule, was published in 1756, the year of Mozart’s birth. He was deputy Kapellmeister to the court orchestra of the Archbishop of Salzburg, and a profile and successful composer of instrumental music. Leopold gave up composing of instrumental music. Leopold gave up composing when his son’s outstanding musical talents became evident. They first came to light when Wolfgang was about three years old, and Leopold, proud of Wolfgang’s achievements, gave him intensive musical training, including instruction in clavier, violin, and organ. Leopold was Wolfgang’s only teacher in his earliest years. A note by Leopold in Nannerl’s music book, the Nannerl – Notenbuch records that little Wolfgang had learned several small Andante and Allegro, written in 1761, when he was five years old. (Copied from Indicated source). (Wolfgang. Biography)

Mozart firmly believed that supreme element of opera was music, which the text must always serve; never the other way around. He wrote serious as well as comic operas, and some of his works are a curious combination of styles. The Magic Flute, for example, is a German opera with both serious and comic implications, and Don Giovanni is a serious Italian opera that includes several comic episodes. The Marriage of Figaro is a delightful romp that nevertheless addresses serious political concerns of the emerging middle-class audience of late eighteenth-century Vienna. (Copied from Indicated source). (Ferris, 2010)

Mozart’s operas teem with love and anger, with humor, wit, pathos, and revenge. Yet Mozart’s emotional expression is always under firm control for no matter how unlikely the plots or improbable the resolutions of his operas, he never abandoned classical restraint. Soaring melodies and attractive harmonies, presented in a wide range of orchestral and vocal timbres and effects, provide unfailing entertainment in these masterpieces of Music Theater. Although primarily a secular age, the Classical period was still strongly influenced by the church in some areas of Europe, and many eighteenth-century composers contributed to the repertoire of sacred-Catholic or Protestant-music. (Copied from Indicated source). (Ferris, 2010)

Haydn and Mozart, both Catholics, continued the well-established tradition of writing Masses, oratorios, and other religious compositions for church and for concert performance. Haydn, profoundly moved by Handel’s Messiah, in his last years wrote two beautiful oratorios of his own, The Creation and the Seasons. Both Mozart’s and Hayden’s Masses contain passages for solo voice and for small vocal ensembles, alternating with magnificent choruses all accompanied by organ and orchestra. The solo passages are sometimes quite operatic, but the emphasis in these religious works is on the choral sections. The irrepressible Haydn, criticized for writing religious is on the choral sections. The irrepressible Haydn, criticized for writing religious music that was too “happy,” replied that he did not believe the Lord minded cheerful music. (Copied from Indicated source). (Ferris, 2010)

Mozart’s years in Vienna, from age twenty-five to his death at thirty-five, cover one of the greatest developments in a short span in the history of music. In these ten years Mozart’s music grew rapidly beyond the realm of many of his contemporaries; it exhibited both ideas and methods of elaboration that few could follow, and to many the late Mozart seemed a difficult composer. (Wolfgang. Biography)

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. (Mozart Biography)

In 1769, Mozart was appointed Konzertmeister at the Salzburg Court by the Archbishop. Beginning that same year, the Mozart 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.

Toward the end of the 1780’s Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s fortunes began to grow worse. He was performing less and his income shrank. Austria was a war and both the affluence of the nation and the ability of the aristocracy to support the arts had declined. By mid – 1788, Mozart moved his family from Central Vienna to the suburb of Alsergrund, for what would seem to be a way reducing living costs. But in reality, his family expenses remained high and the new dwelling only provided more room.

Mozart began to borrow money from friends, though he was almost always able to promptly repay when a commission or concert came his way. During this time he wrote his last three symphonies and the last of the three Da Ponte operas, cosi fan tutte, which premiered in 1790. During this time, Mozart ventured long distances from Vienna to Leipzig, Berlin, and Frankfurt, and other German cities hoping to revive his once great success and the family’s financial situation, but he did neither.

1788 – 1789 was low point for Mozart, experiencing in his own words “black thoughts” and deep depression. Historians believe he may have had a cyclothymiacs personality with manic depressive tendencies, which might explain the periods of hysteria coupled with spells of hectic creativity.

Between 1790 and 1791, now in his mid thirties, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart went through a period of great music productivity and personal healing. Some of his most admired works. The opera, The Magic Flute, The final piano concerto in B-flat, the clarinet concerto in A minor, and the unfinished Requiem to name a few were written during the time.

Mozart was beginning to revive much of his public notoriety with repeated performances of his works. His financial situation begun to improve as wealthy patrons in Hungary and Amsterdam pledged annuities in return for occasional compositions. From this turn of fortune, Mozart was able to pay off many of his debts.

However, during this time both Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s mental and physical health was deteriorating. In September, 1791, he was in Prague for the premier of the opera La clemeza di Ti to, which he was commissioned to produce for the coronation of Leopold II as King Bohemia. Mozart recovered briefly to conduct the Prague premier of The Magic Flute. Mozart fell deeper into illness in November and was confined to bed.

Constanze and her sister Sophie came to his side to help nurse him back to health, but Mozart was mentally preoccupied with finishing Requiem, and their efforts were in vain. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died on December 5, 1791 at age 35. The cause of death was uncertain, due to the limits of postmortem diagnosis.

Officially, the record lists the cause as severe miliary fever, referring to a skin rash that looks like millet seeds. It was reported that his funeral drew few mourners and he was buried in a common grave. Because he was buried in an unmarked grave, it has been popular assumed that Mozart was penniless and forgotten when he died. In fact, though he was no longer as fashionable in Vienna as before, he continued to have a well paid job at court and receive substantial commissions from more distant parts of Europe, Prague in particular. He earned about 10,000 florins per year equivalent to at least 42,000 US dollars in 2006. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart death came at a young age, even for the time period. Yet his meteoric rise to fame and accomplishment at a very early age is reminiscent of more contemporary musical artists whose star had burned out way too soon.

Constanze sold many of his unpublished manuscripts to undoubtedly pay off the family’s large debts. She was able to obtain a pension from the Emperor and organize several profitable memorial concerts in Mozart’s honor. From these efforts, Constanze was able to gain some financial security for herself and allowing her to send her children to private schools.

At the time of his death, Mozart was considered one of the greatest composers of all time. His music presented a bold expression, of ten times complex and dissonant, and required high technical mastery from the musicians who performed it. His works remained secure and popular throughout the 19th century, as biographies were written and his music enjoyed constant performances and renditions by other musicians. His work influenced many composers that followed most notably Beethoven in its complexity and depth. Along with his friend Joseph Haydn, Mozart conceived and perfected the grand forms of symphony, opera, string ensemble, and concerto that marked the classical period.

His seven year old son, Karl, noted that a few days before Mozart died his entire body became so swollen that the smallest movement was almost impossible. He also noted that there was an awful stench, which after death made an autopsy impossible. It was also observed that upon death the corpse did not become stiff and limbs were able to be bent, which is often the case when someone is poisoned.

So was Mozart poisoned or was it disease that killed him? The poisoning theory is interesting in the Mozart himself started these rumors by telling his wife, “I am only too conscious that my end will not be long in coming, for sure, someone has poisoned me!” For a long time poisoning had been suspected. Who could have done it?

The first suspect was his rival Antonio Sallieri, chief composer to the court of Emperor Joseph II. Mozart’s wife blamed Salieri, and in his later years, suffering from dementia, Salieri, himself took credit for poisoning Mozart. This has been discredited as Salieri had no reason to murder Mozart. Salieri was in a position of power and esteem with a handsome stipend, and Mozart was of little threat to him.

Some maintained that Mozart poisoned himself by treating his syphilis with mercury and using larger than recommended doses. Others felt the Freemasons did him in because his Magic Flute challenged their doctrines and revealed their secret rituals. An early 20th century German neuropsychiatrist, Mathilde Ludendorff, put forward one of the most bizarre theories that the Jews, Masons, and Catholics collaborated together to poison Mozart.

Mozart was a studiously hard worker, and by his own admission his extensive knowledge and abilities developed out of many years’ close study of the European musical tradition. In particular, his operas display an uncanny psychological insight, unique to music at the time, and contuie to exert a particular fascination for musicians and music lovers today.

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