Posted by Admin on March 14 2013 05:11:18





MozartIt has been maintained that the "infant prodigy," as a rule, fails to make good in later years the promises of early youth; but the career of Mozart illustrates a noteworthy and brilliant exception. In his case the most remarkable musical precocity ripened into the finest and most versatile genius, and his continued fertility of invention proved a fount of increasingly beautiful melody to the day of bis death.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born January 27. 1756. He began to play upon the harpsichord when not yet four years of age, attempted composition in his firth year, and in 1762 he and his sister Marianne began their musical tours with their father, Johann Georg Leopold Mozart III Vienna, especially, were!: their performances attended with great success at the court of the emperor, Francis I. Little" Wolferl,H with his innocent and natural manners, showed not the least embarrassment in the presence of the great people he met. It may be remarked here, parenthetically, that Mozart retained throughout his life his simple, natural manners. A childlike faith, a healthy love of humor, sympathy, affection, unbounded animal spirits, these were his prominent characteristics. In 1763 they left Salzburg again on a tour that took thmm to the courts of the principal sovereigns of Europe. Wolfgang learned with astonishing facility, and at the age of ten composed, played upon the organ, harpsichord, violin and flute, sang, and did everything well. In December, 1769, father and sou went to Italy, where the boy achieved a brilliant success. At Rome, be heard at the Sistine Chapel Gregorie Allegris celebrated Miesere, which it was forbidden to transcribe, but which he wrote down entirely from memory; at Naples, the public attributed his power to the magic effect of a ring he wore, and insisted on his removing it at Bologna, he was admitted as compositore to the "Accademia Filarmonica," and finally the Pope made him a Cavaliere of the Order of the Golden Spur. In 1770 his opera, Mitradate Re di Ponte, after delays caused by professional intrigues, was produced at Milan before an enthusiastic audience and ran for twenty nights.


Meanwhile, artistic triumphs appear not to have brought pecuniary profits, nor was the new archbishop of Salzburg, Hieronymus, Count of Colloredo elected in 1772, the man to encourage native talent. Important vocal and instrumental compositions began to come from Mozart's pen with incredible rapidity, and this fecundity of invention seemed to stimulate his genius instead of exhausting it. The operas Sogno di Seipione and Lucio Silla 1772, the opera-buffa La Finta Giardzinera 1775, and Re Pastore 1775, were among the more important works of this period, Another tour was next undertaken, but the result was disappointing. He went with his mother to Munich, to Mannheim, and thence to Paris, which no longer proved a good field. Here his mother died, and Mozart returned in 1779 to Salzburg, where the archbishop now finally allowed him a small salary. His opera, Idomeme, Re di Creta, produced in Munich in 1781 with triulllphant success, assured his position, and marked an era in the history of the lyrical drama. Finding his position under the archbishop intolerable, he left his service and settled in Vienna. In 1782 he married Constance Weber, and in the same year was produced his Die Enfuhrung aus dem Serail "the foundation of German opera." In 1786 his wonderful Le Noise di Figaro was received with the greatest enthusiasm, although intrigue was still rife in Vienna. The. production of the opera in Prague was followed by a commission for a new opera for a consideration of 100 ducats. The libretto was furnished by Lorenzo Da Ponte, and on October 29, 1787;, Don Giovanni "the pearl of all operas," was produced with extraordinary effect, although the overture had been written out on the night before the performance. He was next appointed chamber musician to the emperor, at a salary of 800 gulden. But he continued to remain miserably poor, and his wife had become a confirmed invalid. Nevertheles when, in 1789, King Frederick William II., of Prussia, affered him the post of Kapellmeister, with a salary of 300 thalers, he decided to remain with his emperor. The operas Cosie tutte and La Clemenza di Tilo, were produced in 1790, and next year Mozart wrote Die Zauberjlijle "The Magic Flute , an apotheosis of Freemasonry. Mozart, himself a member of the brotherhood, achieved a brilliant success artistically, but as usual reaped no financial benefit. While he was still at work on this opera, a stranger visited him with an order for a Requiem. It was the steward of Count Franz Von Walsegg, of Stuppach. But Mozart, not knowing this queer messenger, believed that he had been sent from the other world to warn him of approaching death. Thus the composition was begun in superstitious fear, but he worked at it assiduously, and surpassed himself. He did not live to write it all out, but left the score to be completed by Franz Sussmayer, who had received instructions from Mozart on the composer's death bed. He ended his short life on December 5th, 1791, and on the afternoon of the following day his body was hurried in a disgraceful fashion to a pauper's grave, the rain causing even the few friends at the funeral to turn back and leave him to go to his last rest unattended. A statue has been erected to his memory, but his place or burial cannot be pointed out with any certainty.


Mozart's genius was many sided and adaptative, though distinctly individual in whatever channels it was led into. lit his works, every note is fitted into place with a definite purpose, and" the result of this well·considered symmetry is a degree of technical perfection which no composer, ancient or modem, has ever surpassed." The boundless wealth of melody ill his music is governed by a highly refined taste, a fine artistic sense, which has insured the inexpressible charm of his work for all time.







his work for all time. He "laid the foundation for the development of modem pianoforte· playing, " and raised orchestral music to a new level. Says Richard Wagner: "He raised the capacity of instrumental music for vocal expression to a height which enabled it to embrace the whole depth of the infinite yearning of the heart." At his death he was indeed crossing the threshold of that domain" of larger and freer musical forms in which Beethoven, and after him Schumann, were destined to do their greatest work. He combined the highest characteristics of the Italian and the German schools as no man ever did, before or since.




The glorious Zauberflote, "The Magic Flute," written to assist a theatrical manager, Schikaneder, was his next work. At this time a strange melancholy began to show itself in his letters-it may be that already his overwrought brain was conscious that the end was not far distant. Such lines as these, pathetic and sad in their simple, almost childlike expression, occur in a letter he wrote during a short absence from his wife at Frankfort in 1790:-"I am as happy as a child at the thought of returning to you. If people could see into my heart should almost feel ashamed-all there is cold, cold as ice. Were you with me, I should possibly take more pleasure in the kindness of those I meet here, but all seems to me so empty." On bis return to Vienna pecuniary want was rather pressingly felt his silver plate had to be pawned, and a perfidious friend, Stadler, made away with the tickets, and the silver was never redeemed. On one occasion Joseph Deiner, the landlord of the Silberne Schlange, chanced to call upon him, and was surprised to find Mozart and his wife Constanze dancing round the room. The laughing explanation was that they had no firewood in the house, and so were trying to warm themselves with dancing. Deiner at once offered to send in firewood, Mozart promising to pay as soon as he could.


That grand work, the Zauberflote, had just been completed when a strange commission was given him. One day a tall, haggard-looking man, dressed in grey, with a very sombre expression of countenance, called upon Mozart, bringing with him an anonymous letter. This letter contained an inquiry as to the sum for which he would write a mass for the dead, and in how short a time this could be completed. Mozart consulted his wife, and the Sum of fifty ducats was mentioned. The stranger departed, and soon returned with the money, promising Mozart a further sum on completion, and also mentioned that he might as well spare the trouble of finding out who had given this commission, for it would be entirely useless. 'We now know that the commission had really been given by Count Walsegg, a foolish nobleman, whose wife had died, and who wanted, by transcribing Mozart's score, to pass it off as his own composition-and this be actually did after the composer's death. Poor Mozart, in the weak state of health in which he now was, with nerves unstrung and over-excited brain, was strangely impressed by this visit, and soon the fancy took firm possession of him that the messenger had arrived with a mandate from the unseen world, and that the Requiem he was to write was for himself! Not the less did he ardently set to work on it.


Hardly was it commenced when he was compelled to write another opera, La Clemenza di Tito, for which a commission had been given him by the Bohemian Estates, for production on the occasion of the Emperor Leopold's coronation in their capital. This was accomplished in the short space of eighteen days, and though it does not contain his best music, yet the overture and several of the numbers are full of a piquant beauty and liveliness well suiting the festival of a people's rejoicing. His far greater work, the Zauberflote, was produced in Vienna shortly afterwards. It did not take very well at first, but subsequent performances went better. Schikaneder, the manager, acted as Papageno, and Mozart tells the following story in a letter to his wife: went behind the scenes when Papageno's air accompanied by the bells began, feeling such a strong impulse to play the bells myself for once. I played them a capital trick, for at Schikaneder's pause made an arpeggio; he started, looked behind the scenes, and saw me. The second time the pause came I did nothing, when he paused and would not proceed. I guessed his thoughts and played a chord. He then struck the bell and said' Halt's Mauls hold your tongue, which made everybody laugh. I believe it was owing to this joke that many learned for the first time that Schikaneder did not himself play the instrument."


His labors in bringing out Zauberflote over, Mozart returned to the Requiem he had already commenced but, while writing, he often had to sink back in his chair, being seized with short swoons. Too plainly was his strength exhausted; but he persisted in his solemn work. One bright November morning he was walking with Constanze in the Prater, and sadly pointing out to her the falling leaves, and speaking or death, with tears in his eyes he added, "I well know I am writing this Requiem for myself. My own feelings tell me that I shall not last long. No doubt some one has given me poison-I cannot get rid of this thought." With these gloomy fancies haunting his mind, he rapidly grew worse, and soon could not leave his room. The performances of the Zauberflote were still going on, and extraordinarily successful. He took the greatest interest in hearing of them, and at night would take out his watch and note the time, "Now the first act is over, now is the time for the great Queen of Night." The day before bis death he said to his wife, .. Oh that could only once more hear my Flaulo Afagico," humming, in scarcely audible voice, the lively Bird-catcher song. The same day, at two o'clock in the afternoon, he called his friends together, and asked for the score of his nearly completed Requiem to be laid on his bed. Benedict Schack sang the soprano, his brother-in-law, Hofer, the tenor Gerl, the bassj and Mozart himself took the alto in a weak, hut delicately clear voice. They had got through the vn.rious parts till they came to the Lacrymosa, when Mozart hurst into tears, and laid the score aside. The next day Sunday he was worse, and said to Sophie, his sister-in-law-" I have the taste of death on my tongue, I smell the grave, and who can comfort my Constanze, if you don't stay here?" In her account of his last moments, she says, .. I found Sussmayer sitting by Mozart's bed. The well-known Requiem was lying on the coverlet, and Mozart was explaining to Sussmayer the mode in which he wished him to complete it after his death. He further requested his wife to keep his death secret until she had informed Albrechtsberger of it, 'for the situation of assistant-organist at the 8t. Stephen Church ought to be his before Cod and the world.' The doctor camc and ordered cold applications on Mozart's burniug head .... The Jast lIlovemeut of his lips was an endeavor to indicate where the kettledrums should be used in the Requiem. I think 1 still hear the sound." On a cold and stonny December day his body was taken to the Church of St. Stepheu, and, amid a violent shower of snow and rain, was calTied thence to tbe churchyard of St. Marx. his friends, who had followed the coffin part of the way, did not battle against thc storm to the end, and so it fell out that 110t a single friend of his stood by his side when the coffin was lowered into the grave. And, by a strange mischance, arising from a change in the person who held the office of sexton, when Constanze afterwards inquired as to the position of the grave, for the purpose of erecting a cross there, no information could be given, and to this day the spot has never bcen discovered. But, little matter !-his resting-place may be forgotten, but his memory still remains, and, so long as men continue to cherish and veuerate the pure and beautiful in art and in human life, so long will Mozart, the great master of melody, be remembered and loved by them. -C. E. BOURNE.