Scholar Groups – Composer Profiles, Part 2

Next up in our series of composer profiles for the Scholar Groups is Mozart, the composer for the group led by Mrs Barry.

Mozart barely needs introduction, but his life has been mythicized so much that a recap won’t hurt! Born in Salzburg and hailed a child genius early on, Mozart spent much of his childhood travelling around Europe, performing both alone and with his older sister, Nannerl. Aged eight, he composed his first symphony and aged 14, he wrote his first opera. He was introduced to some of the biggest names in the musical world at that time, including J.C. Bach.

In spite of all this, Mozart, like many musicians at the time, struggled to find and keep employment. His first position in Salzburg did not last long and he was obligated to travel around Europe to find more work. By his early twenties, Mozart settled in Vienna, where his operas in particular received great acclaim and successful premieres, and he continued to perform as a concert pianist. While in Vienna, Mozart met and became friends with Haydn, and there were also rumours of the older Mozart meeting a young Beethoven when the latter first came to Vienna.

Towards the end of his life, Mozart’s income shrunk and he was obligated to travel to other German cities to look for work opportunities. In spite of his poor health, his final year was one of the most productive, with The Magic Flute, the Requiem, and the Clarinet Concerto among the works he conceived in this time. But, sadly, an illness that Mozart developed while in Prague for the premiere of his opera La clemenza di Tito led to his death at just thirty-five.

Nowadays, Mozart ties with Beethoven as the most well-known classical composer in history, and he represents a highly exciting part of musical history. Musical patronage was still the main way for composers to be employed in Mozart’s time, but work on commission from individuals and institutions was increasing and Mozart started to witness this change. Mozart’s work also follows the trajectory from Baroque music to early Romantic, even though some critics say that all of his music sounds the same. Whatever your opinion of his music, there is no doubt that Mozart has had a massive effect on the classical music world from his death onwards.

Recommended listening:

The Magic Flute, Overture – one of the most famous of Mozart’s works, this overture is famed for its sudden bursts of volume and energy. As one of Mozart’s last works, this could be considered the epitome of his compositional talents.

Piano Sonata K. 331 – this is one of the more well-known piano sonatas, with the famous “Rondo alla Turca” as the final movement, but what makes this piece interesting is the way that Mozart doesn’t stick to conventional forms for each movement. Great fun to play and to listen to.

Clarinet Concerto in A – almost certainly the most famous clarinet concerto produced so far in music history, the slow movement of Mozart’s offering is particularly celebrated for its balance of impressive technical ability and stunning simplicity.

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