Composer in Focus – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Name: Johannes Chrystostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart
Dates: 1756-1791
Country of Birth: Austria
Musical Era: Classical


Mozart would be very pleased with himself if he knew just how much his music is cherished, studied and lauded 225 years after his death (at the tragically young age of 35).  It’s no secret that the young genius – and he was a total genius – was a little full of himself and lived hard and fast.  Mozart, it seems, was high on life and music, and ate up the praise and accolades thrown at him during those few fruitful decades of music-making.  Like many a famous composer, Mozart started young; but Mozart was a true wünderkind who was an accomplished pianist and violinist at the age of five and the composer of his first symphony at the age of eleven.  Indeed the young maestro had written some thirty symphonies by his 18th birthday.  Having played for royalty from the age of five – paraded as he was by his father – it’s no surprise that Mozart found himself a place at court in Salzburg as a musician. The teenager’s itchy feet got the better of him, however, and he fled to Vienna, where he remained and quickly found fame.  Any fortune he did find was liberally spent on splendid things to be consumed and enjoyed; but the commissions kept coming and Mozart found he could turn his hand to absolutely anything.  Indeed his 600+ works (an astonishing number when you remember he died at 35) traverse all forms of music, from instrumental and vocal to chamber, symphonies and opera. His final years saw some of his greatest works realised, including the poignant Clarinet Concerto, the effervescent opera The Magic Flute and his final word, the unfinished Requiem.

There’s a certain amount of myth surrounding Mozart’s final years, and it’s that mythology that has driven the passion for Mozart’s music for over 200 years.  There’s intrigue and just a bit of sauce in his story – his sense of humour was at gutter-level, so they say – and intense beauty in his music.  His shadow has loomed large from the beginning, influencing contemporaries like Beethoven and Haydn and the many names and faces that have followed since, right through to the present.  His mark on music is indelible and Mozart will forever be the clown prince of classical music.

Key works… Symphony No 41, Clarinet Concerto, Cosi Fan Tutti, Requiem, The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute…

Did you know?  Mozart’s father Leopold was also a composer.

Mozart in Bristol (May 2016)
Tues 3 May, 7pm / OAE ‘Clarinet Concerto’, ‘Symphony Nos 1 & 33’ (St George’s)
Thurs 12 May, 1pm / Pomegranate Piano Trio ‘Piano Trio in B flat’ (St George’s)
Thurs 19 May, 7.30pm / Bristol Ensemble ‘Requiem’, ‘Violin Concerto No 5’ (Colston Hall)
Sat 21 May, 7.45pm / Brandon Hill Chamber Orchestra Il Re Pastore ‘Overture’ (St George’s)

Learn more about Mozart and listen to playlists at classicfm.com