Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – baptized as – wait for it – Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart was born on the 27th January 1756 in Salzburg Austria – so Happy Birthday to Mister Mozart.
Below I have written a short account of Mozart’s journey late in his life to Berlin and follow that with the major part of a short biography of hime as part of the ‘Mini Composer’s Bio’ series commisioned by OTA-Berlin.
First about Mozart’s trip to Berlin in May 1789.
With a little luck a direct flight from Salzburg to Berlin today would take about 1 hour and 20 minutes. However when Mozart took it about 223 years ago it would have taken a good 3 weeks!
Back then he would have had to travel through Brno, Prague, Dresden, Leipzig and then on to Berlin. And he came with great expectations in that spring to Berlin – as usual he was in his impecunious state -habitually plagued by money problems through-out his life.
But it was not Berlin he wanted to visit as such but rather Potsdam. Mozart came with great expectations in the spring in Berlin.
Potsdam because that is where he was hoping to obtain some commissions and obtain some new revenue source to support his family by applying directly with the Prussian ruler Frederick the Great – Fredrich II – who as it happens has a birthday just 3 days before Wolfgang!
The main gist of the entire trip was to meet the monarch himself and Mozart was sure that such a face-to-face meeting would convince his potential future patron of his ability and good will – something similar which a meeting with Johann Sebastian Bach achieved. http://www.ota-berlin.de/blog/05/21/biography-of-johann-sebastian-bach/
However it was not to be, whether through the court intrigue of a court musician who was jealous of losing out to Mozart in future musical orders or whether Frederick was just not in one of his musical moods – it seems we will never know exactly.
Mozart’s misfortune or court nemisis was in this instance a Frenchman called Jean Pierre Duport who happened also to be Frederick’s his cello teacher.
However while dissapointed that he not achieved that for which he came – a permanent position at Frederick’s Prussian court – Mozart did not leave empty handed and got orders for 6 string quartets and 6 piano sonatas.
The following is taken from the ‘Mini Composer Bio’ – http://www.ota-berlin.de/blog/05/21/biography-of-wolfgang-amadeus-mozart/
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is rightly considered the sun in the constellation of music. Mozart is the most enduringly popular of classical composers and his works have become part of the standard concert and opera repertoires.
Mozart had a complex and serious personality, but was at the same time, by all accounts of an easy-going and humorous nature. Brought up as the super-star child genius, [which he no doubt was!] playing for all the wealthy patrons and nobility of Europe, Mozart himself found this literally and figuratively a hard act to follow! Recently much has been made of the idea that most of his adult life was spent in reversing the influence of his well-meaning, but over-bearing father.
However this social problem was never a <musical> problem, Mozart being the versatile and dynamic master composer that he was, wrote in almost every major genre, including symphony, opera, the solo concerto, chamber music including string quartet and string quintet, and the piano sonata. While none of these genres were new, the piano concerto was almost single-handedly developed and popularized by Mozart. However it was in opera that Mozart found his true love and one could say that his creative life centered on it.
Mozart’s last years were lived mostly in difficult financial circumstances, but they also produced some of his finest works. During this time Mozart wrote a great deal of music, including some of his most admired works: the opera The Magic Flute, the final piano concerto (K. 595 in B flat), the Clarinet Concerto K. 622, and the unfinished Requiem K. 626.
Mozart died at 1 on the morning on December 5 and was buried in an unmarked grave – as was custom for those without the means to afford a proper burial.
In the usual Hollywood obfuscation of history style and to aid the intellectually challenged American public appreciates the phenomenon of Mozart; his death has been presented as being directly linked to the Italian composer Antonio Salieri which is anything but true. Put very simply Mozart died from the effects of poverty.
Salieri was a 2nd or even 3rd rate composer, and it is true was a scheming, jealous and devious Vienna court favorite. He recognized Mozart’s genius early on and actively sought to stymie and frustrate him and used his considerable influence at the royal court to become an irritant to Mozart’s success.
This then is the shameful legacy of Salieri,- along with most of the other double-dealing and deceitful Austrian court gentry and Catholic church hierarchy to whom Mozart was forced to sell his services – to have abetted in thwarting the greatest musical mind the world has yet produced.
However in spite of his tribulations and general neglect in his native Austria, the Czechs of Prague knew a musical genius when they heard one! The citizens of Prague provided Mozart with his greatest successes in his life-time where tunes of his opera’s were sung on the streets and rewarded with great acclaim and recognition.
For a full account of Mozart’s journey to Berlin pls see – Mozart’s Journey to Berlin by Maynard Solomon The Journal of Musicology Vol. 12, No. 1 (Winter, 1994), pp. 76-84
See also -
This Saturday in Berlin – perhaps Mozart’s greatest work ‘ Die Zauberflöte’ -http://www.deutscheoperberlin.de/?page=spielplandetail&id_event_date=8849377
Along with humanity in general -who rightly consider him a musical treasure- many composers consider Mozart as the greatest example of their art. These include Richard Strauss, Maurice Ravel and Pyotr Tchaikovsky.
January 27th means….Happy Birthday Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart! – Mozart in Berlin – by contributor Mr Filip v d Plas from OTA Berlin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License. If you use this article or parts of it, please refer to http://www.ota-berlin.de.