Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Symphony No. 39 in Eb Major, K. 543

            While Mozart had enjoyed some degree of success with his operas during the recent years, he was again in deep financial trouble during 1788.  His income from time to time was evidently encouraging, but he was notorious for his over-spending.  So, there are extant some heart-rending letters to his friends, literally begging for money.  It is in this context that he moved his family from the inner city of Vienna out to the suburbs for the summer.  There he had at his disposal a quite large apartment adjacent to an attractive garden.  In this pleasant atmosphere, in less than two months, working at what must have been a feverish pace, Mozart wrote three of his most important works:   his last three symphonies—the Eb , the G minor, and the “Jupiter.”  We don’t know his motivatio

Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551

        Mozart’s symphonies are generally conceded to surrender pride of place to his incomparable operas and piano concertos.  Nevertheless, they still constitute one of the treasures of symphonic music.  Admittedly, he began composition of symphonies when both he and the genre were practically in their respective infancies.  He had not yet the models of achievement of the maturity of Joseph Haydn before him, but as Haydn gradually developed the modern symphony, Mozart grew along with the older colleague.  They later became close friends in Vienna, and constituted a mutual admiration society.  As with all his works, Mozart’s symphonies were generally written “upon demand,” for a specific purpose or event.  But the “wunder” summer of 1788 produced a group of three symphonies that distin

Two Mozart Arias: Exsultate, jubilate, K. 165 and “Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio,” K. 418

            Mozart was the master of all contemporary musical genres, but opera was his forte, and of course, none since has exceeded his remarkable achievement in the marriage of music and drama.  It is easy to forget, today, that Italian opera ruled the roost in eighteenth-century European musical life, and so it was natural for young Wolfgang to begin remarkably early composing them.  His father, Leopold, was a consummate stage door father, and was assiduous in promoting the genius of his young son.   The blandishments—and recognition--of Italian musical culture lay just over the Alps from Salzburg, and the early significant trips to Milan and Rome figured prominently in the lives of father and son.  The first trip began in 1769 when Wolfgang was thirteen years of age, was a

Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219 (“Turkish”)

            Visitors to the small, sparse museum located in the putative home of the Mozarts in Salzburg will see a class display case containing the little violin of the young Wolfgang.   And it reminds us of the centrality of the violin in Mozart’s younger days.  His father, Leopold, was the author of the most celebrated tutor for the violin in the eighteenth century .   Little Wolfgang was his prize pupil, and his performances on the violin were a mainstay of his celebrity during all those barnstorming tours as a child.  A little older, and back home in Salzburg, Mozart led the little court orchestra as a virtuoso concertmaster.  In 1775, at the age of nineteen, Mozart composed all five of his violin concertos, for own use, of course.  Though composed rather quickly in succession, ea

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