Mozart and his Music
Music plays an important role in our life, especially classical music. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the genius composer of all times, has made an enormous contribution in this field. During his life, Mozart created more than 600 works, and one of the most famous include “The Marriage of Figaro,” “The Magic Flute” and “Requiem” in D minor, K.626. The aim of this article is to overview Mozart’s biography, pointing out the most interesting facts about his musical career and analyzing selected pieces.
Mozart, the Austrian composer and representative of classicism, was born on January 27, 1756, in Salzburg (Austria today). At the age of 3, he watched with obvious delight how his father, an assistant conductor of an orchestra at the court of Archbishop of Salzburg and one of Europe’s leading music teachers, taught Wolfgang’s sister, Nannerl, musical notation. Nannerl wrote about Mozart: “When he was four years old, his father taught him to play on the libretto few minuets and pieces. He played them without mistakes and with the greatest finesse, and clearly maintaining the rhythm. At the age of five he had already written little plays, and his father recorded them on paper” (Holmes). Also, thanks to his father Mozart learned to play the piano and violin.
The composer traveled extensively throughout life. In 1762-1773, he made a tour of Europe and visited Italy three times. An interesting fact is that during one of these trips he broke the law at the first time. On April 11, 1770 in Rome he heard Gregorio Allegri’s composition “Miserere” and then wrote notes from memory, thus making the first illegal copy of it. During 1773-1777, he was in Salzburg Yard, where he wrote various musical works, including symphonies, sonatas, string quartets, serenades and sometimes opera. In 1782-1783 Mozart discovered the manuscripts of masters of Baroque: John Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel, which influenced his musical taste and predetermined his style. Besides, he had friendly relationships with Joseph Haydn; they even played together in an impromptu string quartet. Haydn was delighted by Mozart; when he first heard Mozart’s last three cycles, he said, visiting Leopold: “Before the name of God and as an honest man, I tell you that your son – the greatest composer for me, whom I know personally or by name. He has taste, moreover, has excellent knowledge of the art of composition” (Gutman). Mozart died on 5 December 1791. During the last year of life, Mozart wrote numerous pieces, including some of his best works: the opera “The Magic Flute”, the final piano concerto (K. 595 in B-flat), and the unfinished Requiem K. 626 (Holmes).
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“The Marriage of Figaro” is a comic opera, which contains Lorenzo da Ponte’s libretto based on a play by Beaumarchais. The first production took place in Vienna on May 1st, 1786, under the direction of the author. The opera consists of four acts; I heard it performed by a symphony orchestra and professional choir members. While listening, I heard a lot of musical instruments and voices. There were woodwind instruments, including flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon; brass instruments, including French horn and trumpet; drums – timpani; string instruments, including first and second violins, violas, cellos, double bass; keyboards – harpsichord or piano. I heard a big number of instruments clearly because almost every of them had a solo. There were also many actors : Count Almaviva – baritone Figaro, his valet – bass or baritone Rosina, Countess Almaviva – soprano Suzanne and so on. Opera is a typical work for the classicism of the 18th century. Despite the tragic nature of the work, only the third and fourth part are written in a minor key; the rest of the opera was written in a major key. The beginning of the third action and the end of the fourth action are written in A minor and F minor (Bishop). Mozart’s each piece is unique: it has a special expression and marks the events of that time. Of course, we can trace certain similarities between the different works, as he mainly wrote for some of his favorite instruments: keyboard, violin, trumpet, French horn and timpani. In addition, most of the works are built on basic solos and the interaction of the instruments. I envy those who saw and heard Mozart opera “The Marriage of Figaro” at the live concert. After listening the CD recording, I realized that it brings a lot of positive emotions and charm.
Obviously, the star of the opera is the lively Figaro and his party. However, despite the comic and travesty character of the opera, it is quite serious. I noticed that the composer attempts to reveal the individual quality of each of the characters and show them to us. And he had done it! The music in “The Marriage of Figaro” is dynamic, expressive and has usually a playful character, so it is difficult for the listeners not to dance. When you listen to this music, you forget about all the problems and feel calm.
“The Magic Flute” (KV 620) is Mozart’s Singspiel opera in two acts with Emanuel Shykanedera’s libretto. It was first staged on September 30, 1791, in Vienna, in the theater “auf der Wieden”.” As in the previously mentioned opera, composer here uses a large number of musical instruments and voices. Here one can hear flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassethorn, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombones (alto, tenor, and bass), timpani, bells and strings (Schwartzkoff). Among the actors of choir, tenor, baritone, soprano, and bass dominate. Similarly “The Marriage of Figaro,” this opera can also refer to the works of classicism of the 18th century. Besides, the opera is a representative of Mozart’s works written under the influence of Freemasonry. Today it is still difficult to say whether Mozart ridiculed the rituals of the Masons, or praised them in his music on stage. As we can see, the opera focuses on the interaction of the wind, string and percussion instruments and voices of actors. Despite the fact that it consists of two parts only, the opera is full of interesting events and is unique with its meaning and depth. While listening, I was delighted by the solemnity of the music, which soon changed into serenity and lightness. At first sight, it may seem that this opera is an ordinary tale, but the opera reveals quite complex themes: the conflict between mother and daughter, mutual aid and obedience. I was most struck by the part where the Queen of the Night sings her aria, after which you feel that everything is shaking, your heart stops, and you forget about everything. It is obvious that this party can be perform only by the most talented singer because it requires a very strong and sensual voice.
Requiem (KV 626) in D minor, written in 1791, is the last, unfinished work of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This funeral Mass written in canonical Latin text, is probably, the most popular and best-known Mozart’s work. It consists of seven parts. Here we can hear Basset in F, Clarinet, Bassoon, Trumpet in D, trombones (alto, tenor, and bass), drums (D, A), violin I-II, violas, cellos, double basses and organ. As in the operas, Mozart here combines instrumental music and choral singing (Wolff). By its nature, it is a funeral requiem mass. It is more special than the previous two operas because, firstly, it is the last Mozart’s work, so it has absolutely another mood; secondly, in my opinion, in this work Mozart departs from the classicism and returns to antiquity. A common feature is that Mozart uses all the same tools, but with a different purpose and mood. In fact, it is one of the few works in which Mozart used organ. First of all, I felt confusion, tension, conflict and deadlock situation. Everyone hurries somewhere, you get lost in the crowd, a mosaic of your life is in front of your eyes, you understand its transience, you want to run and do not stop. It seems that some events have deeply wounded you, and you try to escape from reality, even for a moment to forget who you are and heal your soul. By itself, the work is very complex and dynamic, with a great tragedy.
In conclusion, it is need to be said that, despite of all the problems on his life way and lack of recognition at the time, Mozart has become the genius of the classical era in terms of the purity of melody and form. The most famous Mozart’s works, “The Marriage of Figaro,” “The Magic Flute” and “Requiem” in D minor, K.626 (funeral mass) are terrific representatives of Mozart’s high professionalism. Furthermore, it seems that this music will live forever, because each of us can find there something for our souls. It is not necessary to be a professional musician to listen to and admire Mozart’s works.
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