Who doesn’t know some music of Mozart? And most people know
something about his life. The movie Amadeus ensured that, amid
controversy. Here’s a brisk illustrated review of the film and its
dubious accuracy. View the famous scene where Mozart meets the
emperor and Salieri. Or for more facts and a lot more music go to the
superb BBC 3-part documentary ‘The Genius of Mozart’: Miracle of
Nature, A Passion for the Stage, The First Romantic.
The ‘magic’ or more often ‘God-given talent’ of Mozart is a common
theme. Violinist Shan Kothari writes:
Composers looked back to Mozart as a model because his music seems absolutely
effortless without being insubstantial. He evoked a huge range of emotions, but
his music floats ... He made the arduous, often frustrating task of composing look
easy. Each note of his music seems like it could not be any different than it is.
And since his untimely death, his myth has only grown. Full article.
in “Mozart and Enlightenment Thought”, James Donelan writes:
What Mozart is doing is making more with less: he takes a relatively simple theme
and does more complex, less predictable, and more reflective variations on the
theme than his predecessors, or even his contemporaries would have done. In
this, he is setting a precedent for Beethoven, for whom this became a central
compositional principle. …Music, for Mozart, is about constructing your own world
through melody and harmony, not reflecting the empirical reality of the world
outside, and if that’s illusory, then we will love the illusion all the more for how
temporary it is and how sweet it was to believe it.
Mozart revolutionised opera in many ways.
He determined to put his music at the centre of the action… ‘the
notes and the music must propel the action at all times’.
His music and characters were realistic, funny, human.
… before Mozart’s time, [operas] moved with a certain restricted grandeur. Their
characters were remote. Mozart’s subjects were more modern, even
contemporary… In the evolution of opera, Mozart was the first to impart to it a
strong human interest with humour playing about it like sunlight. (MusicWithEase)
And the messages were more subversive. He confronted the
dominance of (aristocratic) Italian opera in Vienna. The Marriage of Figaro
was in Italian, but our hero, a servant, mocked his master to the tune of a
minuet. Don Giovanni, written two years before the French Revolution,
declared (still in Italian) that the aristocracy performed no particularly
useful function. The Magic Flute was in German, performed in a simple,
suburban theatre with a small orchestra. In his selection of stories, his
musical sounds and his practice Mozart challenged the operatic
conventions and class assumptions of his day.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Nevertheless, the passions, whether violent or not, should never be so
expressed as to reach the point of causing disgust; and music, even in
situations of the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but
should flatter and charm it, and thereby always remain music.
Find more quotations from Mozart.
Silence is very important. The silence between the notes is
as important as the notes themselves. - Mozart