Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Melody.

Mozart called it “the essence of music.”

One of the wonderful things about Mozart’s music is his unique gift for writing memorable, singable melodies. Some of Mozart’s tunes have genuinely become part of popular culture:

Mozart is also one of the relatively few composers who achieved success writing both operas and also music in other genres. In addition to symphonies, piano concertos, sacred works, string quartets, and numerous other works, his body of work include 5 great operas which are still performed widely.

Here is the Overture to Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro. Mozart composed this work in 1786, when he was at the height of his fame. The reviewer for a newspaper in Prague wrote “No piece has ever caused such a sensation.”

Five years after composing this piece Mozart died tragically at the age of 37. His Requiem, composed in the last year of his life and left incomplete at the time of his death, is a profound testament to suffering, sorrow, and eternity:

Despite Mozart’s personal hardships, his music is often good-humored and carefree. The second movement of his Piano Concerto No. 21 (heard during the end credits of the 1984 film Amadeus) is quintessential Mozart:

Mozart’s music is a reflection of the 18th-Century ideals of simplicity, elegance, and grace. Franz Joseph Haydn called Mozart “the greatest composer known to me by person and repute,” while in the 20th Century, the conductor George Szell added, “Listening to Mozart, we cannot think of any possible improvement.”

Let us close with another of Mozart’s immortal opera overtures. Here is the overture to The Magic Flute:

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Beethoven

Next week:
Beethoven!

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