Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus

(mōt`särt, Ger. vôlf`gäng ämädā`o͝os mō`tsärt), 1756–91, Austrian composer, b. Salzburg. Mozart represents one of the great peaks in the history of music. His works, written in almost every conceivable genre, combine luminous beauty of sound with classical grace and technical perfection.

Early Years

A remarkable prodigy, Mozart was taught to play the harpsichord, violin, and organ by his father, Leopold, and began composing before he was five. When Mozart was six, he and his older sister, Marianne, were presented by their father in concerts at the court of the Empress Maria Theresa in Vienna and in the principal aristocratic households of central Europe, Paris, and London. His progress as a composer was amazing; by the age of 13 he had written concertos, sonatas, symphonies, a German operetta, Bastien und Bastienne (1768), and an Italian opera buffa, La finta semplice (1769). During a tour in Italy (1768–71) he absorbed Italian style, received great acclaim for his concerts in Rome and other major cities, and successfully produced his opera Mitridate, re di Ponto (1770).

In 1771 Mozart was appointed concertmaster to the archbishop of Salzburg. However, he was dissatisfied with his position and the restrictions placed on his work, and after six years he went on tour in search of a better post. He traveled with his mother, visiting numerous cities, including Munich, Mannheim (where he fell in love briefly with the singer Aloysia Weber), and Paris. Despite the successful performance in Paris of his Symphony in D (1778), known as the Paris Symphony, Mozart did not receive much attention there.


After resuming his post at Salzburg in 1779, Mozart composed Idomeneo (1781) for the Bavarian court. One of the best examples of 18th-century opera seria, it marks the first opera of Mozart's maturity. In the year of its production he resigned from the archbishop's service and moved to Vienna, where in 1782 he married Constanze Weber, the sister of Aloysia. Financial difficulties beset him almost immediately, since he was unable to secure a suitable position and had to earn his living by teaching and giving public concerts.

In Vienna, Mozart met HaydnHaydn, Franz Joseph
, 1732–1809, Austrian composer, one of the greatest masters of classical music. As a boy he sang in the choir at St. Stephen's, Vienna, where he received his principal musical training.
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, and the two developed a long and warm friendship that benefited the work of each. Mozart's six string quartets (1782–85) dedicated to Haydn are testimony of his influence. Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio, 1782), a singspiel combining songs and German dialogue, brought Mozart some success.

The Viennese court opera was dominated by Italian tradition, and in his next operas Mozart turned to the style of the Italian opera buffa. With the librettist Lorenzo Da PonteDa Ponte, Lorenzo
, 1749–1838, Italian librettist and teacher, b. Ceneda as Emmanuele Conegliano. Born Jewish, he converted to Catholicism at 14, became (1773) a priest, and shortly after ordination moved to Venice.
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 he created the comic masterpiece Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro, 1786), which, after a lukewarm reception in Vienna, became a sensation in Prague. From that city also came the commission that resulted in Don Giovanni (1787). Although it has come to be regarded as one of the most brilliant operas ever written, it was considered rather difficult by his public, which preferred his more frivolous works.

At the death of GluckGluck, Christoph Willibald von
, 1714–87, German-born operatic composer. Gluck revolutionized opera by establishing lyrical tragedy as a unified vital art form. He studied music at Prague and later in Italy with G. B. Sammartini.
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 (1787), Mozart succeeded him as chamber musician and court composer to Joseph II. His salary was far less than Gluck's had been, however, and his financial troubles persisted to the end of his life. An example of the elegant pieces written for social occasions at this time is the famous serenade for strings, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (1787).

Last Works

In the space of three months in 1788 Mozart composed his last three symphonies—No. 39 in E Flat, No. 40 in G Minor, and No. 41 in C, called the Jupiter Symphony; they all display a complete mastery of classical symphonic form as established by Haydn. In 1789 Mozart traveled to Berlin, where he was presented to King Frederick William II. Mozart's last three string quartets (1789–90) were written for the king, an accomplished cellist. Returning to Vienna, Mozart composed his clarinet quintet (1789); his last opera buffa, Così fan tutte (1790), and his last piano concerto, the Piano Concerto in B Flat (1791).

In Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute, 1791), with libretto by the actor Emmanuel Schikaneder, Mozart returned to the German opera in the singspiel, bringing this form of light musical entertainment to a height of lyrical and symbolic art. Its composition was interrupted by a commission from a wealthy nobleman for a requiem mass and by the composition of La Clemenza di Tito (1791), an opera seria for the coronation of Leopold II as king of Bohemia.

After the production of Die Zauberflöte, Mozart worked feverishly on the requiem, with the foreboding that it would commemorate his own death. He died at the age of 35 without finishing it; the work was completed by his pupil Franz Süssmayr. A thematic catalog of Mozart's works was made by Ludwig von Köchel and published in 1862; an edition revised by Alfred Einstein appearing in 1937. Mozart's works are usually identified by their numbers in this list.

Leopold Mozart

Mozart's father Leopold, 1719–87, besides being the teacher and promoter of his famous son, was a capable composer and author of A Treatise on the Fundamental Problems of Violin Playing (1756; tr. 1951), of interest today as a record of 18th-century musical practice.


See W. A. Mozart's letters, ed. by E. Anderson (tr., 2 vol., 2d ed. 1966), and selected letters, ed. by R. Spaethling (tr., 2000); biographies by O. Jahn (tr. 1891, 3 vol.; repr. 1970), A. Einstein (4th ed. 1959), O. E. Deutsch (2d ed. 1965), E. Blom (rev. ed. 1937, repr. 1985), M. Solomon (1995), P. Gay (1999), R. W. Gutman (2000), J. Rushton (2006), and C. Wolff (on his last four years, 2012); studies on his quartets by T. F. Dunhill (1927), his operas by E. J. Dent (2d ed. 1947, repr. 1970), his symphonies by G. de Saint-Foix (tr. 1947, repr. 1968); C. Rosen, The Classical Style (1971; expanded ed. 1997), J. Liebner, Mozart on the Stage (1972, repr. 1980), H. C. R. Landon, 1791: Mozart's Last Year (1988, repr. 1999), and W. Stafford, The Mozart Myths (1991).

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756–1791)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a child prodigy who began composing at the age of four. He said that his compositions came to him as a whole and all he had to do was write them down. In his own mind, he was a “receptor;” an instrument through which some unknown power channeled glorious music.

Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria on January 27, 1756. He was the youngest of seven children, five of whom died in infancy. His father was the teacher and composer Leopold Mozart and was employed as a violinist in the establishment of the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. Mozart’s mother was Anna Maria Pertl. At age six, Mozart played the harpsichord so well that his father took him to perform at the Munich court. His sister Maria Anna was equally talented. Later in the same year they both played before the Austrian Emperor and Empress in Vienna.

Some believe that spirit performed through Mozart, others that he channeled some unknown entity, and still others that this was a case proving reincarnation—that Mozart had been a talented musician in a previous life and that the ability was “carried over.”


Encyclopedia Britannica. Chicago: William Benton, 1964
Roy, Archie: Mysteries of Mind Space & Time; the Unexplained: The Genius Within. Westport: H. S. Stuttman, 1992

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus


Born Jan. 27, 1756, in Salzburg; died Dec. 5, 1791, in Vienna. Austrian composer.

One of the greatest music masters, Mozart was outstanding for a powerful, rich talent that flowered early and for the unusual course taken by his career, which began with the triumphs of a Wunderkind and developed into an arduous struggle for survival and recognition. He was distinguished for his unequaled daring as an artist who preferred the uncertain life of an independent master to demeaning service under a despotic great lord. Finally, he was unusual for the all-encompassing character of his creative work, which included almost all musical genres.

Mozart’s father, the violinist and composer Leopold Mozart, taught him to play several musical instruments and to compose. From the age of four Mozart played the harpsichord, and at age five or six he began to compose. He wrote his first symphonies at age eight or nine, and at age ten and 11, his first works for the musical theater. In 1762 he and his sister, the pianist Maria Anna Mozart, toured Germany and Austria. Later, they performed in France, England, and Switzerland. Mozart gave piano, violin, organ, and vocal recitals. From 1769 to 1777 he served as concertmaster, and from 1779 to 1781 as organist at the court of the prince-archbishop of Salzburg. Between 1769 and 1774 he traveled to Italy three times. In 1770 he was elected a member of the Accademia Filarmonica in Bologna. He took lessons in composition from Padre Martini, the director of the academy. In 1770 he received the Order of the Golden Spur from the pope. In Milan, Mozart conducted his opera Mitridate, re di Ponto.

By the time he was 19, the composer had written ten works for the musical stage: the theatrical oratorio Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebotes (part 1, 1767, Salzburg), the Latin comedy Apollo et Hyacinthus (1767, the University of Salzburg), the German singspiel Bastien und Bastienne (1768, Vienna), the Italian opera buffa La finta semplice (1769, Salzburg) and La finta giardiniera (1775, Munich), the Italian opera seria Mitridate and Lucio Silla (1772, Milan), and the dramatic serenatas (pastorales) Ascanio in Alba (1771, Milan), II sogno di Scipione (1772, Salzburg), and II re pastore (1775, Salzburg). In addition, he had completed two cantatas, as well as many symphonies, concerti, quartets, sonatas, and other works. However, he failed in his attempts to establish himself in Paris or in any important musical center in Germany. Mozart wrote the music for J.-G. Noverre’s pantomime Les Petits Riens (1778) while he was in Paris. After staging the opera Idomeneo, re di Creta in Munich (1781), he left the service of the archbishop and settled in Vienna, where he earned a living by giving lessons and academy recitals.

The Abduction From the Seraglio, a singspiel staged in Vienna in 1782, was a milestone in the development of the national musical theater. In 1786, Mozart’s short musical comedy Der Schauspieldirektor (The Impresario) and the opera The Marriage of Figaro, which was based on Beaumarchais’s comedy, were performed for the first time. After its premiere in Vienna, The Marriage of Figaro was staged in Prague, where it met with a triumphant reception, as did the opera Don Giovanni (1787). At the end of 1787, Mozart became a chamber musician at the court of Emperor Joseph II, where it was his duty to compose dances for masquerades.

As a composer of operas Mozart was not successful in Vienna. He was commissioned to compose for the Vienna Imperial Theater only once—the merry, elegant opera Così fan tutte (So Do All the Women, 1790). The opera La clemenza di Tito (The Mercy of Titus), based on a classical plot and adapted for coronation ceremonies in Prague (1791), was received coldly. Mozart’s last opera, The Magic Flute, which was first staged in 1791 in a small theater in suburban Vienna, won recognition among the democratic public. Hardship, poverty, and disease hastened the tragic end of the composer’s life. He died before reaching the age of 36 and was buried in a pauper’s grave.

Mozart is a representative of the Viennese classical school. His creative art is the musical apex of the 18th century, a reflection of the Enlightenment. In his work the rationalistic principles of classicism were combined with the influence of sentimentalist aesthetics as well as of the Sturm und Drang movement. An excited, nervous quality and passion are just as characteristic of his music as restraint, control, and a high degree of structure. Although Mozart retained the elegance and tenderness of the “courtly” style (galante stil) in his works, he overcame the mannered quality of the style, especially in his mature compositions. His creative thought focused on a more profound expression of the spiritual world and on a truthful depiction of the many aspects of reality. Conveyed with equal force in his music are a feeling of life’s fullness and the joy of being, as well as the sufferings of a man who experienced the oppression of an unjust social system and who strove passionately for happiness and joy. Although sorrow often attains a tragic quality in his work, a bright, harmonious, positive outlook prevails.

Mozart’s operas are a synthesis and revival of previous genres and forms. In them the music—the vocal foundation, the ensemble of voices, and a symphonic quality—is emphasized. Nevertheless, Mozart freely and flexibly subordinated musical composition to the logic of dramatic action, as well as to the characteristics of the players as individuals and as a group. Particularly in Idomeneo, he developed certain devices of Gluck’s musical drama in his own way.

Drawing on the Italian comic opera and, to some extent, on the “serious” opera, Mozart created the comic opera The Marriage of Figaro, which combines lyricism and merriment, lively action, and three-dimensional development of characters. The underlying idea of this social opera is the superiority of the common people to the aristocracy. The opera-drama (dramma giocoso) Don Giovanni combines comedy and tragedy, fantastic conventionality and everyday reality. In the opera the hero of an old legend, a seducer from Seville, embodies vital energy, youth, and freedom of feelings, but the willfulness of his personality encounters opposition from rigid moral principles.

The nationalistic opera-fairy tale The Magic Flute carries on the tradition of the Austro-German singspiel. Like The Abduction From the Seraglio, it combines musical forms with conversational dialogue, and it has a German text. (Most of Mozart’s other operas had Italian librettos.) But the music for The Magic Flute is enriched by various genres, ranging from operatic arias in the style of the opera buffa and opera seria to chorales and fugues and from the simple song to highly symbolic Masonic music. (The plot is permeated with borrowings from Masonic literature.) In this opera Mozart glorified brotherhood, love, and moral steadfastness.

Taking as his point of departure the classical norms of symphonic and chamber music developed by Haydn, Mozart perfected the structure of the symphony, the quintet, the quartet, and the sonata, deepening and individualizing their ideological and imagistic content, introducing a dramatic tension and sharpened internal contrasts, and intensifying the stylistic unity of the sonata-symphonic cycle. Subsequently, Haydn borrowed a great deal from Mozart. The essential principle of Mozartian instrumental composition is its expressive cantabile. Among Mozart’s symphonies, of which there are about 50, the most important are the last three (1788)—the Symphony in Eb major, which is imbued with the joy of life and combines lofty images with images from everyday life; the Symphony in G minor, which is permeated with powerful emotions, sorrow, tenderness, and courage; and the stately, magnificent, emotionally complex Symphony in C major, which was later called the “Jupiter.”

Of the seven string quintets, the most outstanding are the C major and G minor (1787). The most important of Mozart’s 23 string quartets are the six dedicated to Haydn, “father, teacher, and friend” (1782–85), and the three “Prussian quartets” (1789–90). The chamber music includes ensembles for various instrumental groups, including some with parts for piano and wind instruments.

Mozart was the creator of the classical concerto for solo instrument and orchestra. His concerti retained the broad accessibility essential to the genre but acquired symphonic scope and a diversity of individual expressiveness. His 21 concerti for piano and orchestra reflected the brilliant mastery and the inspired, singing quality of the composer’s own manner of performance, as well as his command of improvisation. Mozart wrote one concerto for two pianos and one for three pianos and orchestra, five (or six) concerti for violin and orchestra, and a number of concerti for various wind instruments, including a sinfonia concertante for four solo wind instruments (1788). For his own performances and for his pupils and acquaintances he composed 19 piano sonatas, as well as rondos, fantasias, variations, four-hand works for piano and for two pianos, and sonatas for piano and violin.

Of great aesthetic value is Mozart’s everyday (light or amusing) orchestral and ensemble music—divertimenti, serenades, cassations, and nocturnes, as well as marches and dances. His Masonic compositions for orchestra (Masonic Funeral Music, 1785) and for chorus and orchestra (including the little Cantata for the Freemasons, 1791), which are similar in spirit to The Magic Flute, make up a special group. Most of his ecclesiastical choral works and church sonatas for organ were composed in Salzburg. During the Vienna period he composed two major, unfinished works—the Mass in C minor (written parts of which were used in the cantata Davidde penitente, 1785) and the famous Requiem, one of his most profound works. Commissioned anonymously in 1791 by Count F. von Walsegg und Stuppach, the Requiem was completed by Mozart’s student, the composer F. X. Süssmayr.

Mozart was among the first Austrian composers to create classical examples of the chamber song (lied). Many of his arias are extant, as well as ensembles for voice and orchestra (almost all with Italian texts), vocal riddle canons, and 30 songs for voice and piano, including Das Veilchen, a setting of a text by Goethe (1785).

After his death Mozart won fame. His name became a symbol for the highest musical talent and creative genius, as well as for the unity of beauty and truth. The unsurpassed value of his creative work and its enormous role in mankind’s spiritual life has been underscored in statements by musicians, writers, philosophers, and scholars from Haydn, Beethoven, Goethe, and E. T. A. Hoffmann to A. Einstein, G. V. Chicherin, and various contemporary masters. In Mozart and Salieri, A. S. Pushkin characterized Mozart’s works in this pointed, pithy phrase: “Such depth! Such boldness, and such graceful form!” Tchaikovsky paid tribute to the “bright, shining genius” in a number of his compositions, including the orchestral suite Mozartiana. Mozart societies have been organized in many countries. In Salzburg, Mozart’s home city, a network of memorial, educational, research, and scholarly institutions has been established, headed by the Mozarteum, an international institution founded in 1880.

Mozart’s works were catalogued by L. von Köchel (Chronologisch-thematisches Verzeichnis sämtlicher Tonwerke W. A. Mozarts, 6th ed. Edited by A. Einstein. Leipzig, 1969). Another, more complete, revised sixth edition was edited by F. Giegling, A. Weinmann, and G. Sievers (Wiesbaden, 1964; 7th ed., 1965).


Briefs und Aufzeichnungen, complete edition, vols. 1–6. Compiled by W. A. Bauer and O. E. Deutsch, based on preliminary work by J. H. Eibl. Kassel, 1962–71.


Ulybyshev, A. D. Novaia biografiia Motsarta, vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1890–92. (Translated from French.)
Korganov, V. D. Motsart: Biograficheskii etiud. St. Petersburg, 1900.
Livanova, T. N. Motsart i russkaia muzykal’naia kul’tura. Moscow, 1956.
Chernaia, E. S. Motsart: Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo [2nd ed.]. Moscow, 1966.
Chicherin, G. V. Motsart, 3rd ed. Leningrad, 1973.
Wyzewa, T. de, and G. de St.-Foix. W. A. Mozart, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1912.
St.-Foix, G. de. W. A. Mozart, vols. 3–5 (continuation). Paris, 1937–46.
Abert, H. W. A. Mozart, 7th ed., parts 1–2. Leipzig, 1955–56. (Index, Leipzig, 1966).
Deutsch, O. E. Mozart: Die Dokumente seines Lebens. Kassel, 1961.
Einstein, A. Mozart: Sein Charakter, sein Werk. Frankfurt am Main, 1968.


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