Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was the most prolific and influential composer of the Classical era.

Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, he was engaged as a court musician in Salzburg, but grew restless and travelled in search of a better position, always composing abundantly. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his death.

In his lifespan of only 35 years he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers, and his influence on subsequent Western art music is profound; Ludwig van Beethoven composed his own early works in the shadow of Mozart, and Joseph Haydn wrote that “posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years.”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was not only one of the greatest composers of the Classical period, but one of the greatest of all time. Surprisingly, he is not identified with radical formal or harmonic innovations, or with the profound kind of symbolism heard in some of Bach’s works. Mozart’s best music has a natural flow and irresistible charm, and can express humor, joy or sorrow with both conviction and mastery. His operas, especially his later works, are brilliant examples of high art, as are many of his piano concertos and later symphonies. Even his lesser compositions and juvenile works feature much attractive and often masterful music.

Mozart was the last of seven children, of whom five did not survive early childhood. By the age of three he was playing the clavichord, and at four he began writing short compositions. Young Wolfgang gave his first public performance at the age of five at Salzburg University, and in January, 1762, he performed on harpsichord for the Elector of Bavaria. There are many astonishing accounts of the young Mozart’s precocity and genius. At the age of seven, for instance, he picked up a violin at a musical gathering and sight-read the second part of a work with complete accuracy, despite his never having had a violin lesson.

In the years 1763 – 1766, Mozart, along with his father Leopold, a composer and musician, and sister Nannerl, also a musically talented child, toured London, Paris, and other parts of Europe, giving many successful concerts and performing before royalty. The Mozart family returned to Salzburg in November 1766. The following year young Wolfgang composed his first opera, Apollo et Hyacinthus. Keyboard concertos and other major works were also coming from his pen now.

In 1769, Mozart was appointed Konzertmeister at the Salzburg Court by the Archbishop. Beginning that same year, the Mozarts made three tours of Italy, where the young composer studied Italian opera and produced two successful works, Mitridate and Lucio Silla. In 1773, Mozart was back in Austria, where he spent most of the next few years composing. He wrote all his violin concertos between 1774 and 1777, as well as Masses, symphonies, and chamber works.

In 1780, Mozart wrote his opera Idomeneo, which became a sensation in Munich. After a conflict with the Archbishop, Mozart left his Konzertmeister post and settled in Vienna. He received a number of commissions now and took on a well-paying but unimportant Court post. In 1782 Mozart married Constanze Weber and took her to Salzburg the following year to introduce her to his family. 1782 was also the year that saw his opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail staged with great success.

In 1784, Mozart joined the Freemasons, apparently embracing the teachings of that group. He would later write music for certain Masonic lodges. In the early- and mid-1780s, Mozart composed many sonatas and quartets, and often appeared as soloist in the fifteen piano concertos he wrote during this period. Many of his commissions were for operas now, and Mozart met them with a string of masterpieces. Le nozze di Figaro came 1786, Don Giovanni in 1787, Così fan tutte in 1790 and Die Zauberflöte in 1791. Mozart made a number of trips in his last years, and while his health had been fragile in previous times, he displayed no serious condition or illness until he developed a fever of unknown origin near the end of 1791.







Symphony No. 36 in C major, K. 425

This sympony – also known as the Linz Symphony – was written during a stopover in the Austrian town of Linz on Mozart’s and his wife’s way back home to Vienna from Salzburg in late 1783. The entire symphony was written in four days to accommodate the local count’s announcement, upon hearing of the Mozarts’ arrival in Linz, of a concert. However, the symphony shows no signs of haste. It is especially concisely worked out. The première in Linz took place on 4 November 1783.

There are 4 movements:
Adagio — Allegro spiritoso
Andante
Menuetto
Finale (Presto)

The video shows a performance by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Carlos Kleiber.








Symphony No. 38 in D major, K. 504

This sympony was composed in late 1786. It was premiered in Prague on January 19, 1787, during Mozart’s first visit to the city. Because it was first performed in Prague, it is popularly known as the Prague Symphony. Mozart’s autograph thematic catalogue records December 6, 1786, as the date of completion for this composition.

The work has the following three movements, all three of which are in sonata form.
1.    Adagio—Allegro, 4/4
2.    Andante in G major, 6/8
3.    Finale (Presto), 2/4

In the video the symphony is performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Rafael Kubelík.








Symphony No. 39 in E-flat major, K. 543

This symphony was completed on 26 June 1788. It is the first of a Mozart’s three last symphonies composed in rapid succession during the summer of 1788. No. 40 was completed 25 July and No. 41 on 10 August. Perhaps Mozart composed the three symphonies as a final unified work.

There are four movements:
Adagio – Allegro
Andante con moto
Menuetto: Trio
Allegro

In the video the symphony is performed by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra (DR Symfoniorkestret) conducted by Manfred Honeck.








Symphony No. 40 in G minor, KV. 550

This symphony was completed on 25 July 1788. It is sometimes referred to as the “Great G minor symphony”. Mozart only wrote two symphonies in minor.
The symphony was composed in just a few weeks. The work is in four movements
Molto allegro
Andante
Menuetto, allegretto
Finale, allegro assai

In the video the symphony is performed by Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonard Bernstein.








Symphony No. 41 in C major, K. 551

This symphony was completed on 10 August 1788. It was the last symphony that Mozart composed, and also the longest. The work is nicknamed the Jupiter Symphony. This name stems not from Mozart but rather was likely coined by the impresario Johann Peter Salomon in an early arrangement for piano.

The four movements are arranged in the traditional symphonic form:
Allegro vivace
Andante cantabile
Menuetto: Allegretto – Trio
Molto allegro

In the video the symphony is performed by the Danish National Chamber Orchestra conducted by Adam Fischer.








Violin Concerto No. 2 in D major K. 211

This concerto was composed in 1775. There are three movements:
Allegro moderato
Andante
Rondeau, Allegro

In the video the concerto is performed by violinist Julia Fischer with Netherlands Chamber Orchestra conducted by Yakov Kreizberg.








Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, K. 216

This was composed in Salzburg in 1775 when Mozart was only 19 years old. It has three movements:
I.  Allegro
II. Adagio
III. Rondeau. Allegro

In the video the concert is performed by violinist Nikolaj Znaider and the Danish National Chamber Orchestra conducted by Adam Fischer








Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, K. 218

This concerto was composed in 1775 in Salzburg. There are three movements:
1 Allegro
2 Andante cantabile
3 Rondeau. Andante grazioso – Allegro ma non troppo

In the video the concerto is performed by violinist Hilary Hahn and BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andrew Davis.








Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K. 219

This concerto is often referred to as the Turkish. It was written in 1775, premiering during the holiday season that year in Salzburg. It follows the typical fast-slow-fast musical structure:
Allegro Aperto – Adagio – Allegro Aperto
Adagio
Rondeau – Tempo di Minuetto

In the video the concerto is performed by Nicolaj Znaider and the Staatskapelle Berlin conducted by Julien Salemkour.








Piano Concerto No. 14 in E-flat major K. 449

This was finished on February 9 1784. This concerto is regarded as being the first of the mature series of concertos. Some commentators valued it as one of the best, particularly as all three movements are of the highest standard.
This concerto has three movements:
Allegro vivace
Andantino
Allegro ma non troppo

In the video the concerto is performed by Murray Perahia and the English Chamber Orchestra.








Piano Concerto No. 18 in B-flat major, KV. 456

This concertante work for piano and orchestra is dated 30 September 1784. The concerto is in three movements:
Allegro vivace
Andante in G minor
Allegro vivace

In the video the concerto is performed by the legendary pianist Sviatoslav Richter and Japan Shinsei Symphony Orchestra conducted by Rudolf Barshai.








Piano Concerto No. 19 in F major, KV 459

This concerto was finished 11 December 1784. The concerto was written for Mozart to perform himself. It combines grace with vigour. There are three movements:
Allegro
Allegretto
Allegro assai

In the video the concerto is performed by Radu Lupu and Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie conducted by David Zinman.








Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466

This was written in 1785 and first performed by Mozart at the Mehlgrube Casino in Vienna on February 11, 1785. The movements are:
Allegro
Romanze
Allegro assai

In the video the concerto is performed by Daniel Barenboim and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.








Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467

This was completed on March 9, 1785, four weeks after the completion of the previous D minor concerto, K. 466.
The concerto has three movements:
Allegro maestoso
Andante
Allegro vivace assai

In the video the concerto is performed by South Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho at the 17th International Chopin Piano Competition in the Polish capital, Warsaw in 2015. Conductor is Avner Biron.








Piano Concerto No. 22 in E flat major, K. 482

This concertante work for piano and orchestra was composed in December 1785. This is the first piano concerto of Mozart’s to include clarinets. It has the following 3 movements:
Allegro
Andante
Allegro

In the video the concerto is performed by the pianist Rudolf Buchbinder who also conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.








Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major (K. 488)

This concerto for piano and orchestra was finished on March 2, 1786, around the time of the premiere of his opera, The Marriage of Figaro. It was one of three subscription concerts given that spring and was probably played by Mozart himself at one of these.
The concerto has three movements:
Allegro
Adagio
Allegro assai – Rondo

In the video the concerto is performed at the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv by pianist Daniil Trifonov and the Israel Camerata Orchestra conducted by Avner Biron.








Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491

This concerto for piano and orchestra was completed on 24 March 1786, just three weeks after No. 23. The premiere was on 7 April 1786 at the Burgtheater, Vienna. The concerto has the following three movements:
Allegro in
Larghetto
Allegretto (Variations)

In the video the concerto is performed by Rudolf Buchbinder and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.








Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major, K. 503

This concerto was completed on December 4, 1786, alongside the Prague Symphony, K. 504. Although two more concertos (K. 537 and K. 595) would later follow, this work is the last of the twelve great piano concertos written in Vienna between 1784 and 1786.
Though the orchestra lacks clarinets, it does include trumpets and timpani. The concerto is one of Mozart’s longest, with a duration of about 33 minutes.
It has the following three movements:
Allegro maestoso
Andante
Allegretto

In the video the concerto is performed by pianist Rudolf Buchbinder and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.








Piano Concerto No. 26 in D major, K. 537

This was completed on 24 February 1788. It is generally known as the “Coronation” Concerto.
The concerto has the following three movements:
Allegro
Larghetto
Allegretto

In the video the concerto is performed by pianist Homero Francesch and the German Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gerd Albrecht.








Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat major, K. 595

This is Mozart’s last piano concerto; it was first performed early in 1791, the year of his death. It has the following three movements:
Allegro
Larghetto
Allegro

In the video the concerto is performed by Murray Perahia and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.








Mozart’s Clarinet concerto in A major, K. 622

This concerto was written in 1791, shortly before Mozart’s death, for the clarinetist Anton Stadler. The concerto is notable for its delicate interplay between soloist and orchestra, and for the lack of overly extroverted display on the part of the soloist. It consists of the usual three movements, in a fast–slow–fast form:
Allegro
Adagio
Rondo. Allegro

In the video the concerto is performed by Arngunnur Árnadóttir and Iceland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Cornelius Meister.








Quintet in A major for Clarinet and Strings, K. 581

This was written in 1789 for the clarinetist Anton Stadler. It was Mozart’s only completed clarinet quintet, and is one of the earliest and best-known works written especially for the instrument. It remains to this day one of the most admired of the composer’s works.

There are four movements:
1 Allegro
2 Larghetto
3 Menuetto – Trio I – Trio II
4 Allegretto con Variazioni

In the video the quintet is performed by Seiji Yokokawa (Clarinet), Pamela Frank (1st Violin), Tatsuya Yabe (2nd Violin), Yasushi Toyoshima (viola) and Yo-Yo Ma (Cello).