Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
b.Salzburg,Austria 27 January 1756
d.Vienna,Austria 5 December 1791
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in the year 1756. He was perhaps the most famous child
prodigy the world has ever known, composing music and playing the keyboard before he was 5. It was reported he could read
music even before learning how to speak! His father Leopold was an amateur court musician who realized Wolfgang's great potential
and soon presented his son (together with Wolfgang's equally talented sister "Nannerl") in a series of European tours which
undoubtedly had an adverse effect on the young Wolfgang's fragile health.
Mozart was not only an excellent performer on the piano, violin and viola, but also a conductor,
and most importantly, a sublime composer who wrote splendidly for every genre of music. His music flows so naturally that
we are made to think that "Mozart is music".
Being an ingenious musician doesn't mean a good manager of finance, and Mozart was certainly
terrible at that. Already being kept in check financially due to his unwillingness to find a patron for his music, his dire
financial state was further aggravated by his extravagant lifestyle and the generally poor reception of musicians (apart
from the court composer and those under an aristocratic patron). Increasing ill health made him even unable to complete
his last work, the ominous Requiem Mass, which he increasingly felt was written for his own death in his delirious last
moments. He died at the age of 35 in 1791.
(A more comprehensive bio to follow)
My favourite Mozart works
Mozart's overtures to his operas are lovely pieces. Particularly memorable ones are the opening of
"The Marriage of Figaro" and the lovely wind parts in "Cosi Fan Tutte".
There are so many beautiful ones that I couldn't possibly mention all! The late ones (20th-27th) are especially
No.21 in C: This is a popular favourite amongst concert goers. Many will recognize the second movement.
Many easy-on-the-ears tunes.
No.23 in A: This is my favourite, the first movement has a "pastorale"
feel to it, very well-mannered. The second movement is a portrait of silent despair, the winds colour the characteristic Mozartian
pathos most touchingly. Mozart surprises us with the third movement, the mood undergoes a 360 degrees change from the second!
The opening theme is so sprightly and energetic.
No.24 in C Minor: The opening movement is the best, probably
the stormiest music Mozart has ever written, tinged with melancholy on its every page.
As a pianist, I love playing Mozart's sonatas the best. It's such a joy and challenge shaping each phrase, bringing out
the subtleties and trying to play with utmost clarity. Popular ones include the
A Major (K 331), with a warm variation
first movement and the famous Turkish march finale
B flat (K 333), a rather feminine work, I should say, the opening
movement is very gentle and I love the finale, with a playful opening theme and it even includes a small candenza!
Minor, the military-sounding opening leads to a work of great elegance and confidence.
C Minor, the most dramatic
of the piano sonatas. This work too has great Mozartian authority.
The two Piano Quartets
are magnificant works, especially the first one. Although the tunes may not seem immediately appealing, there is great craftsmenship
in the music. The potential for each instrument is fully realized here.
Some interesting Mozart trivia
Mozart was apparently able to write music and play billiards at the same time (made famous by the film "Amadeus")!
Mozart was related to the German composer Carl Maria von Weber (composer of "Invitaion to the Dance").
Weber's cousin Konstanze was Mozart's wife.
Mozart's often cheeky letters to his wife mentions things like his
"little friend" standing up and peeking out from under the table.