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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: A Spirit That Knows No Age

3943 words - 16 pages

Leonard Bernstein once said, “Mozart is all music; there is nothing you can ask from music that he cannot supply…bathed in a glitter that could have come only from the eighteenth century...It is a perfect product of the age of reason – witty, objective, graceful, delicious. And yet over it all hovers the greater spirit that is Mozart’s – the spirit of compassion, of universal love, even of suffering – a spirit that knows no age, that belongs to all ages” (Kenyon 19-20). Mozart’s effervescent spirit is apparent in letters that he wrote to his family and friends. These letters show that Mozart lived a life full of family feuds, heartbreaks, romance, triumphs, and failures in the short span of thirty-five years. Mozart’s letters prove that he took the music of the eighteenth century and reinvented it using perspective gained in the course of events in his lifetime.
(Johann Chrysostom) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria on January 27, 1756 to composer, violinist, and theorist Leopold Mozart and his wife Maria Anna (Sadie 276). Wolfgang was the ultimate definition of a child prodigy. He mastered one of his sister’s music books at the age of four and wrote his first compositions, Andante and Allegro K1a and 1b, at only five years old (277). The public first witnessed young Mozart’s talent when he performed a dancing role in Sigismundus Hungarie rex at Salzburg University in September of 1761 (277). Mozart flourished in the spotlight and began to tour Europe with his father and sister, Maria Anna (affectionately referred to Nannerl), in September of 1762 (277). Both children were extremely talented musicians and they often performed for the courts or gave public concerts (277). The family returned home to Salzburg on January 5, 1763; Leopold and Wolfgang left shortly after to go on a ten-year musical tour (278-281). During this tour, Mozart wrote many letters home expressing his love of music as well as his sheer exhaustion from the demands of touring (Spaethling). Mozart’s letters also demonstrate how critical he could be in relation to music. On January 26, 1770 in a letter to his sister, Mozart writes: “…the prima Dona’s singing is good but too soft, and if you didn’t see her act with her hands but only heard her sing, you would think she is not singing at all because she doesn’t open her mouth and just whines everything out very softly, but that sort of thing is nothing new for us” (Spaethling 8). Mozart was becoming used to the trials and errors of the music world but this ten-year span was nothing but successful for him. During this tour, young Mozart composed over one hundred works (Eisen and Sadie 60-86). The child prodigy was just getting started.
The Mozart family had it all: a new apartment in the Getreidegasse, blossoming social lives complete with shooting parties and ceaseless music making, and visitors wanting to see the child star (Sadie 281). On August 21, 1772, Mozart was “formally taken into paid employment of...

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