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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Geboren: Salzburg (Österreich) 27/01/1756   Gestorben: Salzburg (Österreich) 05/12/1791
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147 (14. Dezember 1769) | anzeigen
153 (7. Januar 1770) | anzeigen
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162 (27. Februar 1770) | anzeigen
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168 (24. März 1770) | anzeigen
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Early years to 1773.
Mozart was the seventh and last child of Leopold and Maria Anna Mozart (née Pertl); his first two names record that 27 January was the feast day of St John Chrysostom; Wolfgangus was the name of his maternal grandfather and Theophilus the name of his godfather, the merchant Joannes Theophilus Pergmayr. As far as is known, Leopold was entirely responsible for Wolfgang`s early education, which included mathematics, reading, writing, literature, languages, dancing, and moral and religious training. But it was his musical talent that manifested itself early and won him lasting fame. By the age of four he had learned to play simple keyboard pieces; his earliest compositions, the Andante and Allegro K1a and 1b, were written in 1761, when he was five. Mozart`s first known public appearance was at the Salzburg University in September 1761, when he took a dancing part in a performance of Sigismundus Hungariae rex, an end-of-term play by Marian Wimmer with music by the Salzburg Kapellmeister J. E. Eberlin. Leopold took him to Munich in 1762, where he played the harpsichord for Maximilian II Joseph, Elector of Bavaria, and to Vienna, where he twice appeared before Maria Theresia and her consort, Francis I.
In 1763 the family set out on a three-and-a-half year journey through Germany, France, the Low Countries, England and Switzerland, arriving in Paris by the end of the year. Mozart and his sister played before Louis XV on 1 January 1764 and gave public concerts in March and April at the private theatre of M. Félix. Before they left the French capital, Mme Vendôme published the sonatas K6-9, the first of his music to appear in print. The family arrived in England on 23 April 1764: they played twice for King George III, on 27 April and 17 May, and were scheduled to appear at a benefit for the composer and cellist Carlo Graziani but Wolfgang was taken ill and unable to perform. A concert for their benefit was mounted on 5 June at the Great Room in Spring Garden and later that month Mozart performed several of his own works on the harpsichord and organ at Ranelagh Gardens. The Mozarts remained in London until late July 1765: they played at court again in October 1764 and gave public concerts on 21 February and 13 May 1765; in December 1764 Mozart published six sonatas for keyboard and violin (K10-15), dedicated to Queen Charlotte, and it was probably during this time that he composed his first symphony (K16). They also became acquainted with the composer C. F. Abel, the singer Giovanni Manzuoli, and with J. C. Bach.
From London the Mozarts travelled via Canterbury to Lille, Ghent and Antwerp, arriving at The Hague in September 1765. There the children gave two public concerts and played before the Princess of Nassau-Weilburg, to whom Mozart later dedicated the keyboard and violin sonatas K26-31. In Amsterdam Mozart composed the Gallimathias musicum K32 for the installation of Wilhelm V on 11 March and in April they set out again for Paris, arriving in early May. Then they travelled home by way of Dijon, Lyons, Lausanne, Zürich, Donaueschingen, Augsburg and Munich, arriving in Salzburg on 29 November.
The Mozarts remained in Salzburg for nine months, during which time Wolfgang wrote the Latin comedy Apollo et Hyancinthus, the first part of the oratorio Die Schuldigkeit des ersten und fürnehmsten Gebots, and the Grabmusik K42. But on 15 September they set out again, for Vienna. It is presumed that Leopold had timed this visit to coincide with the festivities planned for the marriage of the sixteen-year-old Archduchess Josepha to Ferdinand IV of Naples. Josepha, however, contracted smallpox and died on the day after the wedding was to have taken place. Leopold removed his family from the city, first to Brünn (Brno) and then to Olmütz (Olomouc), where both Mozart and his sister had mild attacks. Shortly after their return to Vienna, Leopold conceived the idea of securing for Mozart an opera commission, La finta semplice, but intrigues at court conspired to prevent its performance. Presumably as compensation, in December Mozart directed performances before the imperial court of a festal mass (K139), an offertory (K47b) and a trumpet concerto (K47c). That same month he completed the symphony K48.
The Mozarts arrived home on 5 January 1769 and remained there for nearly a year. La finta semplice was performed at court on or about 1 May and Mozart wrote the mass K66 in October (for the first mass celebrated by his friend Cajetan Hagenauer); other important works from this time include three orchestral serenades (K63, 99 and 100), some shorter sacred works (K117 and 141) and several sets of dancing minuets. On 27 October he was appointed, on an honorary basis, Konzertmeister.
Less than two months later, on 13 December, Leopold and Wolfgang set out for Italy. Mozart gave a concert at the Accademia Filarmonica in Verona and had his portrait painted, and on 16 January he gave a public concert at Mantua; a report in the Gazzetta di Mantva described him as `incomparable`. From Mantua the Mozarts travelled to Milan, where Wolfgang performed several times at the home of Count Karl Firmian, the Austrian minister plenipotentiary; shortly afterwards he was commissioned to write Mitridate, re di Ponto for the carnival season in December. Father and son left Milan on 15 March, stopping at Lodi (where Mozart composed his first string quartet, K80), Bologna (where they met Padre Martini) and Florence (where Wolfgang became friendly with the young English composer Thomas Linley). They arrived at Rome on 10 April, where Mozart may have composed two or three symphonies, visited Naples, and returned to Rome where, on 5 July, Pope Clemens XIV made Mozart a Knight of the Golden Spur. From Rome they returned to Bologna, where Mozart was admitted to membership of the Accademia Filarmonica, and then to Milan, for work on the opera, which was premiered on 26 December at the Regio Ducal Teatro and ran for twenty-two performances.
The Mozarts left Milan on 14 January 1771, stopping at Turin, Venice, Padua and Verona before arriving at Salzburg on 28 March. Yet even before their return home, Leopold had laid plans for two further trips to Italy: when the Mozarts were in Verona, Wolfgang was commissioned to write the serenata Ascanio in alba for the wedding in Milan the following October of Archduke Ferdinand and Princess Maria Beatrice Ricciarda of Modena; and the same month he was given a contract by the Regio Ducal Teatro at Milan for the first carnival opera of 1773, Lucio Silla. As a result, Mozart spent barely five months at home in 1771, during which time he wrote the Regina coeli K108, the litany K109 and the symphony K110. Father and son set out again on 13 August, arriving at Milan on 21 August. They received the libretto for Ascanio in Alba on 29 August and the opera went into rehearsal on 27 September; the premiere was on 17 October. The Mozarts remained in Milan until 5 December, during which time Wolfgang wrote the divertimento K113 and the symphony K112. He may also have sought employment at court but his application was effectively scotched by Ferdinand`s mother, Maria Theresia, who in a letter of 12 December advised the archduke against burdening himself with `useless people` who go `about the world like beggars`.
The third and last Italian journey began on 24 October 1772; probably Mozart had been sent the libretto and cast list for Lucio Silla during the summer, when he also began to set the recitatives. On his arrival at Milan he wrote the choruses and composed the arias, having first heard each of the singers so that he could suit the music to their voices. The premier, on 26 December, was a mixed success, chiefly because of a patchy cast. Nevertheless, the opera ran for twenty-six performances. Before leaving for home (they arrived in Salzburg on 13 March 1773), Mozart wrote the solo motet Exsultate, jubilate for the primo uomo in the opera, Venanzio Rauzzini.
Salzburg, Mannheim and Paris 1773-1780.
Archbishop Schrattenbach, who had generously supported the careers and travels of both Leopold and Wolfgang, died on 16 December 1771, the day after the Mozarts return from the second Italian tour. He was succeeded by Hieronymus Colloredo, an unpopular choice whose election was bitterly contested. Colloredo sought to modernize the archdiocese along Viennese models but his reforms met with local resistance. The court music in particular suffered and many traditional opportunities for music-making were eliminated, including the university theatre (which was closed in 1778). The mass was generally shortened, restrictions were placed on the performance of purely instrumental music at the cathedral and other churches, and local traditions, among them the famous pilgrimage to Pinzgau, were abolished. Concerts at court were curtailed.
Mozart composed prolifically during the early years of Colloredo`s rule: between 1772 and 1774 he wrote the masses K167, 192 and 194, the litanies K125 and 195, the Regina coeli K127, more than a dozen symphonies (K124 to 202), the keyboard concerto K175, the Concertone K190, the serenade K204, the divertimentos K131, 166 and 205 and the string quintet K174. The family prospered financially: in late 1773 they moved from their apartment in the Getreidegasse to a larger one, the so-called Tanzmeisterhaus, in the Hannibalplatz. Nevertheless, encouraged by rumours of a possible opening at the imperial court, Leopold took Wolfgang to Vienna in July 1773. While there, Mozart composed the serenade K185 and the string quartets K168-173, although nothing came of Leopold`s grander plans.
They returned from Vienna in late September and with the exception of three months spent in Munich between December 1774 and March 1775 (where Mozart composed La finta giardiniera), he remained in his native city until September 1777. In the absence of any sustained family correspondence, his activities there can only be surmised. They included performing at court and at the cathedral, frequent musical gatherings at home, a rich social life and composition. Among the few documented events of these years are the composition of Il re pastore for the visit to Salzburg of Archduke Maximilian Franz in April 1774 and Mozart`s participation in celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the pilgrimage church at Maria Plain, also in 1774.
It was about this time that Mozart began to withdraw from the Salzburg court music, although the root cause of his dissatisfaction remains unclear. Family letters document Leopold`s frustrating inability to find suitable positions for both of them and his annoyance with Colloredo`s preference for Italian musicians. Yet there is no compelling evidence of Colloredo`s mistreatment of the Mozarts early in his rule. Il sogno di Scipione, originally composed for the fiftieth anniversary of Schrattenbach`s ordination, was reworked early in 1772 and performed as part of the festivities surrounding Colloredo`s installation; on 21 August 1772 Mozart was formally taken into the paid employment of the court, as Konzertmeister, with an annual salary of 150 gulden; Leopold continued to run the court music on a periodic basis and was entrusted with securing musicians, music and instruments; and the Mozarts travelled to Italy, Vienna and Munich. Their discontent with Salzburg must therefore have had grounds beyond the conditions of their employment, Colloredo`s difficult personality, or his attempts to reform music-making and cultural life in Salzburg. No doubt Colloredo was displeased by Leopold`s excessive pride, his superior manner and his continuing attempts to find jobs for the family elsewhere. Mozart may have contributed to their problems as well: his rejection of court musical life was transparent. He continued to compose church music, the primary duty of Salzburg composers, but with little enthusiasm; his output from 1775 to 1777, including masses and shorter church works, is meagre compared with Michael Haydn`s. Instead, he established himself as the chief composer in Salzburg of instrumental and secular vocal music, including four violin concertos and four keyboard concertos, the serenades K204 and K250, numerous divertimentos (among them K188, 240, 247 and 252) and several arias. Many of these works were intended for friends and private patrons rather than the court.
Matters came to a head in the summer of 1777. In August Mozart wrote a petition asking the archbishop for release from his employment and Colloredo responded by dismissing both father and son. Leopold, however, felt he could not afford to leave Salzburg and so Mozart, accompanied by his mother, set out from his native city. The purpose of the journey was clear: to secure well-paid employment so that the family could move. Mozart first called at Munich, where he offered his services to the elector but met with a polite refusal, and then travelled to Augsburg, where he gave a concert, became acquainted with the keyboard instrument maker J. A. Stein, and embarked on a relationship with his cousin, Maria Anna Thekla Mozart (`Bäsle`). From there Mozart travelled to Mannheim, where he and his mother remained until the end of March; he recommended himself to the elector but with no success. While in Mannheim, Mozart composed five accompanied sonatas (K296, K301-303 and K305), two arias (K294 and 295) and was commissioned by Ferdinand Dejean, an employee of the Dutch East India Company, to write three flute concertos and two flute quartets; in the end, Mozart failed at the commission and may have written only a single quartet. The aria Alcandro lo confesso K294 was written for Aloysia Weber, the daughter of a Mannheim copyist and the sister of his later wife, Constanze. Mozart, who was in love with Aloysia, put to Leopold the idea of taking her to Italy to become a prima donna, a proposal that infuriated his father, who accused him of dilatoriness, irresponsibility over money and family disloyalty.
Leopold ordered Wolfgang to Paris and it was decided that his mother should accompany him there rather than return to Salzburg. They arrived in the French capital on 23 March and Mozart immediately re-established his acquaintance with Baron Grimm. Mozart composed additional music, mainly choruses, for a performance of a Miserere by Holzbauer and, according to his letters, a sinfonia concertante for flute, oboe, bassoon and horn, now lost. A symphony (K297) was performed at the Concert Spirituel on 18 June while a group of ballet pieces, Les petits riens, was given with Piccinni`s opera Le finte gemelle.
Mozart was unhappy in Paris: he claimed to have been offered but to have declined the post of organist at Versailles, and his letters make it clear that he despised French music and suspected malicious intrigue. He was not paid for a flute and harp concerto (K299) that he composed in April for the Duc de Guines, and his mother fell ill in mid-June. Although Grimm`s doctor was called in to treat her, nothing could be done and she died on 3 July. Mozart wrote to his father to say she was critically ill and by the same post to his close Salzburg friend, Abbé Bullinger, telling him what had happened. Leopold was thus prepared when Bullinger broke the news to him.
These events triggered another round of recriminatory letters: Leopold accused Mozart of indolence, lying and improper attention to his mother; Wolfgang defended himself as best he could. Although this correspondence is usually taken to represent the first and most compelling evidence of an irreparable fissure in the relationship between Mozart and his father, it reflects more on their attempts to come to grips with a family tragedy. And Leopold`s uncompromising devotion to Mozart was never in question: in his first letter to Wolfgang after learning of Maria Anna Mozart`s death, Leopold does not lay blame but is concerned chiefly with his son`s well-being.
Mozart stayed with Grimm for the rest of the summer. He gave another symphony at the Concert Spirituel on 8 September, renewed his acquaintance with J. C. Bach (over from London to hear the Paris singers before composing his opera Amadis de Gaule), and wrote a now lost scena for the castrato Tenducci. But his friendship with Grimm deteriorated and on 31 August Leopold wrote to him that, following the death of Adlgasser, a post was open in Salzburg as court organist; the archbishop had offered an increase in salary and generous leave. Mozart set out for home on 26 September, via Nancy, Strasbourg, Mannheim and Munich, where he was coolly received by Aloysia Weber, now singing at the court opera. He arrived back in Salzburg in the third week of January 1779.
Mozart`s new duties at court included playing in the cathedral, at court and in the chapel, and instructing the choirboys. At first he seems to have carried out his duties with determination: in 1779 and 1780 he composed the `Coronation` Mass K317 and the Mass K337, the Vespers K321 and 339 and the Regina coeli K276. But Colloredo was not satisfied. In an ambiguously worded document appointing Michael Haydn court and cathedral organist in 1782 he wrote that `we accordingly appoint [Haydn] as our court and cathedral organist, in the same fashion as young Mozart was obligated, with the additional stipulation that he show more diligence … and compose more often for our cathedral and chamber music`. It may be that Colloredo was disappointed that Mozart turned his energies to works such as the concerto for two pianos K365, the sonata for keyboard and violin K378, the symphonies K318, 319 and 338, the `Posthorn` serenade K320, the sinfonia concertante K364 and incidental music for Thamos, few of which would have been heard at court -- and this notwithstanding his contract, which stated only that `he shall as far as possible serve the court and the church with new compositions made by him`. During his final years in Salzburg, then, Mozart reverted to the pattern of 1774-1777: his appearances at court as both performer and composer were half-hearted and his music-making was intended chiefly for a small circle of friends and the local nobility.
Vienna 1781-1788.
In the summer of 1780, Mozart received a commission to compose a serious opera for Munich and the Salzburg cleric Giovanni Battista Varesco was engaged to prepare a libretto based on Danchet`s Idomené. Mozart began to set the text in Salzburg, completing it in Munich in January; the opera was first given on 29 January 1781. During his stay in Munich, Mozart also composed the recitative and aria Misera! dove son–Ah! Non son` io che parlo K369, the oboe quartet K370 and possibly the three piano sonatas K330-332. On 12 March he was summoned to Vienna where Archbishop Colloredo was temporarily in residence for the accession of Emperor Joseph II; Wolfgang arrived there on 16 March.
Fresh from his triumphs in Munich, Mozart was offended at being treated like a servant and his letters home over the next three months reflect his increasing resentment: on 8 April Colloredo refused to allow him to perform for the emperor at Countess Thun`s. But his letters also show a growing enthusiasm for freelancing in Vienna and matters came to a head on 9 May. At a stormy interview with the archbishop, Mozart asked for his discharge. This was refused but later, at a meeting on 8 June with the chief steward, Count Arco, he was finally and decisively released from Salzburg service, `with a kick on my arse … by order of our worthy Prince Archbishop` as he wrote to his father (letter of 9 June).
Mozart moved to the house of the Webers, his former Mannheim friends who had relocated after Aloysia`s marriage to the court actor Joseph Lange, although in order to scotch rumours linking him with the third daughter, Constanze, he relocated in late August to a room in the Graben. He made a modest living at first, teaching three or four pupils; he also participated in, or had works performed at, various concerts: the Tonkünstler-Sozietät gave one of his symphonies on 3 April and on 23 November he played at a concert sponsored by Johann Michael von Auernhammer; later, in May 1782, he participated in a series of Augarten concerts promoted by Philipp Jakob Martin. His own first pubic concert took place on 3 March 1782, possibly at the Burgtheater: the programme included the concertos K175 (with the newly composed finale K382) and K415, numbers from Lucio Silla and Idomeneo, and a free fantasy. He also played regularly at the home of Baron Gottfried van Swieten, where works by Handel and J. S. Bach were staples of the repertory.
By this time, Mozart had established himself as the finest keyboard player in Vienna and although he was not without competitors, few could match his pianistic feats. The most serious challenge, perhaps, came from Muzio Clementi, with whom he played an informal duel at court on 24 December 1781. The same month saw the publication of the sonatas for keyboard and violin K296 and K376-380. They were well-received: a review in C. F. Cramer`s Magazin der Musik described them as `unique of their kind. Rich in new ideas and traces of their author`s great musical genius`. The most important composition of this period, however, was the singspiel Die Entführung aus dem Serail, the libretto of which was given to Mozart at the end of July 1781. Originally planned for September of that year, the premiere was postponed until 16 July 1782; productions were soon mounted in cities throughout German-speaking Europe and the earliest lengthy obituary of Mozart, published in the Musikalische Korrespndenz der Teutschen Filarmonischen Gesellschaft for 4 January 1792, described the opera as `the pedestal upon which his fame was erected`.
Shortly after the premiere of Die Entführung, on 16 July, Mozart decided to go forward with his marriage to Constanze Weber. He wrote to his father on 31 July, asking for his approval, the couple took communion together on 2 August, the contract was signed on 3 August, and the next day they were married at the Stephansdom. The marriage appears to have been a happy one. Although Mozart described Constanze as lacking wit, he credited her with `plenty of common sense and the kindest heart in the world`; his letters to her, when he was on tour or she was taking the cure at Baden, are full of affection. There is little reason to think that she was solely or even primarily to blame for their later financial troubles; according to Nannerl Mozart`s statement in 1792, Wolfgang was largely incapable of managing his own affairs and Constanze was unable to help him. She nevertheless showed herself a sharp businesswoman after Mozart`s death and a manipulator of truth for her own benefit: she was an unreliable and sometimes dishonest witness concerning the history, completion and sale of the Requiem and was probably responsible for many of the myths surrounding Mozart`s death.
Mozart`s wedding to Constanze set off another acrimonious exchange with Leopold, whose letters from this period are lost (although their contents can be inferred, at least in part, from Mozart`s). Leopold accused Wolfgang of concealing his affair with Constanze and, worse, of being a dupe, while Wolfgang became increasingly anxious to defend his honour against reproaches of improper behaviour; he chastised his father for withholding consent to his marriage and for his lukewarm reaction to Die Entführung. Presumably in order to heal the rift with his family, Mozart determined to take Constanze to Salzburg to meet his father and sister, but the visit was postponed several times: the opera had catapulted him to success (it was performed on 9 October in the presence of the visiting Russian Grand Duke Paul Petrovic) and between November 1782 and March 1783 he played at concerts sponsored by Auernhammer, the Russian Prince Dmitry Golitsïn, Countess Maria Thun, Philipp Jakob Martin, his sister-in-law Aloysia Lange, Count Esterházy, and the singer Therese Teyber. On 23 March he gave his own academy at the Burgtheater, in the presence of the emperor. Mozart composed several new works for these occasions, including the piano concertos K413-K415 and three arias (K418-K430) intended for a production of Pasquale Anfossi`s Il curioso indiscreto. He also began work on the so-called `Haydn` quartets the first of which, K387, was completed in December 1782; the second was finished in June 1783, about the time Constanze gave birth to their first child, Raimund Leopold, on 17 June.
Mozart and Constanze finally set out in July; they remained in Salzburg for about three months. (Raimund Leopold, who was left behind, died on 9 August.) Later evidence suggests the visit was not entirely happy but details are lacking. While in Salzburg, he composed two duos for violin and viola (K423 and K424) and parts of the mass K427 (which he never completed) may have had their first hearing at St Peter`s on 26 October. On the return journey to Vienna, Mozart stopped off a Linz, where he composed a symphony (K425) and probably a piano sonata (K333).
With his return to Vienna in late November, Mozart entered on what were to be the busiest and most successful years of his life. On 22 December he performed a concerto in a concert given by the Tonkünster-Sozietät and on 25 January 1784 he conducted Die Entführung for the benefit of Aloysia Lange. He gave three subscription concerts in the private hall of the Trattnerhof in March and a grand musical academy at the Burgtheater on 1 April; the programme included a `quite new` symphony (possibly the `Linz` K425), a new concerto (K450 or K451), the quintet for piano and winds (K452) and an improvisation. The 1785 season was just as busy: there were six subscription concerts at the Mehlgrube beginning on 11 February and another grand academy at the Burgtheater on 10 March; it was chiefly for these and other similar concerts that he composed a dozen piano concertos (from K449 to K503) between February 1784 and December 1786. In addition to his public performances, Mozart was also in demand for private concerts: in March 1784 alone he played thirteen times, mostly at the houses of Count Johann Esterházy and the Russian ambassador, Prince Golitsïn. And newly commissioned works by him were frequently given by visiting and local virtuosos and concert organizations: on 23 March 1784 the clarinettist Anton Stadler mounted a performance of the wind serenade K361 and on 29 April Mozart and the violinist Regina Strinasacchi played the sonata for keyboard and violin K454. The Tonkünster-Sozietät gave the cantata Davidde penitente, arranged from the unfinished C-minor mass, in March 1785 and Mozart played a concerto for the same group in December. These works brought Mozart considerable acclaim: a review in the Wiener Zeitung of the December Tonkünstler-Sozietät concert noted `the deserving fame of this master, as well known as he is universally valued` and earlier that year, when Wolfgang`s father visited him in Vienna, Leopold wrote to Nannerl describing a quartet party at Mozart`s home at which Joseph Haydn told him: `Before God and as an honest man I tell you that your son is the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name. He has taste and, what is more, the most profound knowledge of composition`.
Mozart`s publications at this time were numerous. In July 1784 Torricella brought out the three sonatas K333, K284 and K454 and Lausch advertised manuscript copies of six piano concertos; in February 1785 Traeg offered copies of three symphonies. In March of that year Artaria published the concertos K413-K415 and in September the six quartets dedicated to Haydn. The success of these works may have brought about a fundamental shift in Mozart`s attitude to composition. After mid-1786, several works were conceived primarily with a view to publication rather than public performance; these included the piano quartets K478 and K493, the three piano trios K496, K542 and K548, the string quintets in C major and G minor, K515 and K516, the `Hoffmeister` quartet K499 and the sonata for keyboard and violin K526.
Although opera remained central to Mozart`s ambitions, there were few opportunities to build on the success of Die Entführung: by late 1782 Joseph II had decided to close down the Nationaltheater and to re-establish Italian opera. Mozart was eager to capitalize on this change but had little luck finding a text; on 7 May 1783 he wrote to his father: `I have looked through at least a hundred librettos and more, but I have scarcely found a single one with which I am satisfied.` He began, but abandoned, L`oca del Cairo and in 1785 he worked on Lo sposo deluso, after a text used by Cimarosa, but this too was left unfinished. A one-act comedy, Der Schauspieldirektor, was given early in 1786 at Schloss Schönbrunn, together with Salieri`s Prima la musica e poi le parole (both were commissioned for a visit to Vienna by the Governor General of the Austrian Netherlands) and in March a private performance of a revised version of Idomeneo was given at Prince Auersperg`s.
The libretto of Mozart`s first documented collaboration with Lorenzo da Ponte, Le nozze di Figaro, was carefully chosen. Beaumarchais`s play, La folle journée, ou Le mariage de Figaro, had been printed in German translation in Vienna in 1785 and the opera was a sequel to the same author`s Le barbier de Séville, ou La précaution inutile, which had been successfully performed in Paisiello`s operatic version in Vienna in May 1784. Work on Figaro was started by October or November 1785 and the opera premiered at the Burgtheater on 1 May 1786. The initial run was a success: several items were encored at the first three performances, prompting Joseph II to restrict encores at later ones to the arias. Letters from Leopold to Nannerl Mozart make it clear that there was intrigue against the opera, allegedly by Salieri and Vincenzo Righini; and a review in the Wiener Zeitung obliquely points the finger at cabals by lesser lights: `Herr Mozart`s music was generally admired by connoisseurs already at the first performance, if I except only those whose self-love and conceit will not allow them to find merit in anything not written by themselves`.
It was while composing Figaro that Mozart became a Freemason. On 11 December 1784 he joined the lodge `Zur Wohlthätigkeit` (`Beneficence`), which in 1786, at Joseph II`s orders, was amalgamated with the lodges `Zur gekrönten Hoffnung` (`Crowned hope`) and `Drei Feuern` (`Three Fires`) into `Zur neugrekrönten Hoffnung` (`New Crowned Hope`) under the leadership of the well-known scientist Ignaz von Born. The society was essentially one of liberal intellectuals, less concerned with political ideas than with the philosophical ones of the Enlightenment, including nature, reason and the brotherhood of man. The organization was not anti-religious and membership was compatible with Mozart`s faith. Wolfgang frequently composed for masonic meetings: the cantata Die Maurerfreude K471 was written to honour Born and the Maurerische Trauermusik K477 was given in November 1786 in memory of Duke Georg August von Mecklenburg and Count Franz Esterházy; several songs and other occasional works were also composed for lodge meetings.
Even with the successes of the mid-1780s, Mozart continued to teach: the most important of his pupils was Johann Nepomuk Hummel, who lodged with the composer between 1786 and 1788. He also taught the English composer Thomas Attwood, whose surviving exercises testify to Mozart`s careful, systematic teaching methods. Mozart`s English connections were strong at this time: the first Don Curzio in Figaro was Michael Kelly (in fact an Irishman) and the first Susanna was the soprano Nancy Storace. It is likely that Nancy`s brother Stephen also consulted with Mozart (even if informally) on matters of composition and after his return to London, Storace prepared a series of publications that in 1789 included the first edition of Mozart`s keyboard trio K564.
It was the departure from Vienna in 1787 of the English contingent that led Mozart to consider a journey to London although the plan foundered when Leopold took a strong stand against it and refused to look after Mozart`s children. Wolfgang did, however, accept an invitation to Prague, where Figaro had been a great success. He spent approximately four weeks there, beginning 11 January 1787: he directed a performance of Figaro, gave a concert including a new symphony (the `Prague` K504) and received from the impresario Pasquale Bondini an opera commission for the following autumn. On his return to Vienna, Mozart asked Da Ponte for a libretto. The new opera, Don Giovanni, was originally scheduled for 14 October 1787 but its premiere was postponed to 29 October because of inadequate rehearsal. In the meantime, Mozart, who had arrived in Prague on 1 October, directed three or four performances of Figaro. He also visited his friends the Duschek family and wrote the difficult aria Bella mia fiamma K528 for Josepha.
The two Da Ponte operas, together with the increased success of his publications, initiated a new phase in Mozart`s career: he now gave fewer public concerts—a grand academy at the Burgtheater on 7 April 1786 was his last in that venue—and other genres came to the fore in his output, including the symphony. The final trilogy, K543, K550 and K551 (`Jupiter`), composed between June and August 1788, was apparently intended for a concert series that autumn; it is striking that Mozart chose these works, rather than concertos, for what may have been his first pubic concert appearance in two years. (There is no evidence the concerts took place.) Possibly these changes related to Mozart`s appointment the previous December as court chamber musician although he was apparently required to do little more than write dances for court balls. Nevertheless, he welcomed the appointment, which gave him a dependable income and advanced his standing in Viennese musical circles. There is little reason to think that the salary (800 gulden, considerably less than the 2000 gulden paid Gluck, the previous incumbent) was an insult to Mozart for the post was superfluous to begin with; Joseph II later remarked that he had created the position solely to keep Mozart in Vienna.
More significant, perhaps, was the death in May 1787 of Leopold Mozart, which may have triggered a fallow period for the composer. Mozart wrote relatively few works immediately following the Prague premiere of Don Giovanni; a similar fallow period had followed the death of his mother in Paris in July 1778. What is more, Leopold`s death marked the final breakdown of the Salzburg Mozart family. Only Nannerl, who in 1784 had married the magistrate Johann Baptist Franz von Berchtold zu Sonnenburg and moved to St Gilgen, remained and except for settling their father`s estate, Mozart apparently failed to keep in touch with her. Nannerl was probably hurt by Mozart`s lack of attention: in 1792, when she was asked about her brother`s life in Vienna, she pleaded ignorance despite the fact that she had become personally acquainted with Constanze in 1783 and still had in her possession numerous letters from her father detailing Mozart`s activities at the time.
The final years, 1788-1791.
Mozart`s financial well-being in Vienna can be measured in part by the size and location of his rented lodgings there. In September 1785 he moved to a flat, now Domgasse 5, in the heart of the town, close to the Stephansdom. By mid-1788, however, he had removed to the distant suburb of Alsergrund where rents were cheaper. It is from this time, too, that a series of begging letters to his fellow freemason Michael Puchberg survives; they continued well into 1790. Nevertheless, Mozart`s finances at this time must be counted a mystery. He was never forced to do without a maid or other luxuries although his income was unstable; estimates of his earnings are incomplete and unreliable. His main sources of income included profits from his public concerts and gifts from private patrons, teaching, honoraria for publications and, from 1788, his salary as court chamber musician. During his early years in Vienna, performances were a good source of income: his subscription series of 1784 attracted over 100 patrons; but this largely disappeared after 1786. Teaching brought in less although Mozart enterprisingly formulated a scheme to ensure some regularity of payment: `I no longer charge for 12 lessons` he wrote to his father, `but monthly. I learned to my cost that my pupils often dropped out for weeks at a time; so now, whether they learn or not, each of them must pay me 6 ducats` (letter of 23 January 1782). And publication may have brought in substantial sums as well although the 450 gulden he received from Artaria for the six quartets dedicated to Haydn was exceptional; he received less for symphonies, sonatas and other chamber music. On occasion he acted as his own publisher, sometimes with sorry results: a 1788 subscription for his string quintets apparently failed. In 1791, however, he may have sold copies of Die Zauberflöte for 100 gulden each; for the composition of an opera he generally received 450 gulden from the court theatre. But he also had expenses, which have been little explored. In addition to rent and food, his income had to cover substantial medical bills, many of them resulting from Constanze`s frequent cures, child-rearing expenses, a costly wardrobe, books, music and manuscript paper. By all accounts he was also generous to his friends, sometimes lending them money.
Perhaps in an effort to alleviate his presumed financial woes, Mozart undertook a concert tour of Leipzig, Dresden and Berlin in the late spring of 1789. Details of the journey are scarce: he played at court in Dresden and at Leipzig he reportedly improvised on the Thomaskirche organ in the presence of J. F. Doles, the local cantor and a former pupil of J. S. Bach. He may also have sold some of his compositions. But the trip was not a financial success, even if it had its rewards: in Leipzig Mozart renewed his acquaintance with Bach`s music; and he conceived the idea to write six string quartets for King Friedrich Wilhelm II, an avid amateur cellist, in addition to keyboard sonatas for Princess Friederike (in the event, only three more quartets were finished, K575, K589 and K590, and when they were published by Artaria in 1791 they lacked a dedication).
Mozart`s circumstances began to improve in late 1789. In addition to the first of the `Prussian` quartets, he wrote two replacement arias, `Al desio di chi t`adora` K577 and `Un moto di gioia mi sento` K579, for a new production of Figaro on 29 August and substitute arias for productions of Cimarosa`s I due baroni and Martín y Soler`s Il burbero di buon cuore. His work attracted international interest: the poet Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter wanted to offer Mozart his opera libretto Die Geisterinsel and in 1791 he was apparently offered a pension by two groups of patrons, one in Amsterdam, the other in Hungary. But his main energies were directed to the composition of Così fan tutte, which premiered on 26 January 1790. There were four further performances, then a break because of the death of Joseph II in February, and five more in the summer.
Emperor Joseph II died on 20 February 1790 was succeeded by Leopold II. Mozart travelled to the coronation festivities in Frankfurt that September although he had no official role. He gave a public concert on 15 October that was poorly attended and on the way home a concert at Mainz; he heard Figaro at Mannheim, played before the King of Naples, and reached Vienna about 10 November. A trip to England again became a possibility: Mozart was offered a commission for an opera and the promise of an engagement but apparently declined. He was busy in Vienna: during the winter months he composed the concerto K595 and two string quintets, K593 and K614. He played a concerto at a concert organized by the clarinettist Josef Bähr and an aria and symphony by him were given at the Tonkünstler-Sozietät concerts in April. That same month Mozart secured from the Vienna city council the reversion to the important and remunerative post of Kapellmeister at the Stephansdom, where the incumbent Leopold Hofmann was old and in poor health. He was appointed deputy without pay; in the end, Hofmann outlived him.
During the summer, Mozart composed La clemenza di Tito, commissioned for the Prague coronation of Leopold II in September. Reports published soon after Mozart`s death suggested that it was written in only eighteen days but it is more likely to have been composed over a period of six weeks. The impresario Domenico Guardasoni had signed a contract with the Bohemian Estates on 8 July and his first choice to compose the coronation opera was Salieri. But Salieri refused the commission and it fell to Mozart, probably in mid-July. The text, based on Metastasio, was arranged by Caterino Mazzolà and the premiere took place on 6 September.
Mozart was well along with the composition of Die Zauberflöte, composed for Emanuel Schikandeder` suburban Theater auf der Wieden, even before he received the commission for La clemenza di Tito, as a reference in a letter to Constanze of 11 June makes clear; except for a few vocal items, the priests` march and the overture, it may have been finished in July. Premiered on 30 September, contemporary opinion on the music was universally favourable. The text, however, was roundly criticized; according to a report published in Hamburg, `the piece would have won universal approval if only the text … had met minimum expectations`. It was probably about the time that he finished most of Die Zauberflöte, in July, that he was also commissioned by Count Walsegg-Stuppach, under conditions of secrecy, to compose a Requiem for his wife, who had died on 14 February 1791. It is likely that Mozart was aware of Walsegg`s identity: his friend Puchberg lived in Walsegg`s Vienna villa and the inclusion of basset-horns in the score suggests that Mozart could count on the participation of specific players who would have been booked far in advance for a date and place already known to him. Actual composition probably did not begin until the fall, after the premieres of his two operas, and while later sources describe Mozart as working feverishly on it, filled with premonitions of his own death, these accounts are hard to reconcile with the high spirits of his letters from much of November. Constanze`s earliest account, published in Niemetschek`s biography of 1798, states that Mozart `told her of his remarkable request, and at the same time expressed a wish to try his hand at this type of composition, the more so as the higher forms of church music had always appealed to his genius`. There is no hint that the work was a burden to him as was widely reported in German newspapers from January 1792 on.
Mozart was confined to bed at the end of November, attended by two leading doctors, Closset and Sallaba, and nursed by Constanze and her youngest sister, Sophie. His condition seemed to improve on 3 December and the next day his friends Schack, Hofer and Gerl gathered to sing over parts of the unfinished Requiem; he may also have been visited by Salieri. That evening, however, his condition worsened and Closset (who had refused to leave the theatre until the end of the production) applied cold compresses, sending Mozart into shock. He died just before 1am on 5 December 1791. The cause of his death was registered as `severe miliary fever` (where `miliary` refers to a rash resembling millet-seeds) and later described as rheumatic inflammatory fever on evidence from Closset and Sallaba, a diagnosis consistent with Mozart`s medical history. There is no credible evidence to suppose that he was poisoned, by Salieri or by anyone else.
In accordance with contemporaneous Viennese custom, Mozart was buried in a communal grave at the St Marx cemetery outside the city on 7 December. Later reports claimed that no mourners attended but according to Jahn, Salieri, Süβmayr, van Swieten and two other musicians were present. The day was calm and mild.
At the time of his death, Mozart was flourishing in Vienna and widely recognized, along with Haydn, as the leading composer in Europe. His last year already gave testimony to this. Not only were his works widely disseminated (Viennese dealers produced nearly a dozen editions of his works in that year alone) but he was commissioned to write for audiences that ranged far beyond court and noble circles: in addition to the keyboard concerto, string quintets, two operas and unfinished Requiem, he also composed the clarinet concerto K622 for Anton Stadler, the Masonic cantata Laut verkünde unsre Freude K623, the aria Per questa bella mano K612 and the motet Ave verum corpus K618. Obituary notices appeared across the continent, including London; and according to the Staats- und gelehrte Zeitung des hamburgischen unpartheyischen Correspondenten for 16 December, Mozart was `a rare musical talent [who] rose to the rank of a great master through the felicitous development of his exceptional natural gifts and assiduous industriousness; this is shown by his universally loved and admired works and it gives the measure of the irreplaceable loss which music has suffered because of his death`.
Bitte benutzen Sie den folgenden Hinweis beim Zitieren dieser Webseite:
Eisen, Cliff et al. Mit Mozarts Worten, 'Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart' <http://letters.mozartways.com>. Version 1.0, herausgegeben von HRI Online, 2011. ISBN 9780955787676.
Mit Mozarts Worten. Version 1.0, herausgegeben von HRI Online, 2011. ISBN 9780955787676.