Julien Rouleau

“The classical period produced more instrumental than vocal music, a wealth of serious and comic operas as well as vocal religious music also appeared during this time”(Ferris, 231). One of the best composer of this time was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In this paper I will go through his childhood, his friends and family, and of course his music. Enjoy!!!

Child of the Enlightenment
The world that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart entered ceremoniously in 1756 was brimming in change. Historians refer to this era as the Age of Enlightenment, one of unparalleled scientific, philosophical, and political ferment. Within Mozart’s lifetime it set in motion forces that would fundamentally alter life not only in his native, Salzburg, but also around the globe. The Enlightenment was not, to be sure, a democratic

movement. In France, the absolutism of the Sun King, Louis XIV, continued under Louis XV and XVI. But in Austria, Empress Maria Theresa introduced a greater measure of tolerance and freedom among her subjects, laying a foundation for the democratic revolutions that followed. Wolfgang’s father Leopold came from a family of Augsburg bookbinders. He received a solid Jesuit education, more intellectual than evangelical after a year at the Benedictine University in nearby Salzburg; Leopold stopped attending classes to pursue a career as a musician. “Leopold figured as Mozart’s most important first model. He taught his son the clavier and composition”(Mercardo 763). Wolfgang’s mother Anna-Maria brought as much talent to her 32-year marriage as did Leopold. Though deprived of a formal education, she was highly intelligent and quick-witted— qualities that attracted the sober and reserved Leopold. Only two of their seven children survived infancy. Wolfgang’s musically talented sister Nannerl was five years older. Yet in this painting, the 12-year- old looks like a spinster of seventy—complete with budding double chin. Wolfgang, too, looks far older than his 7 years, and controls the action from his place at its center.

The Child Prodigy
Indeed, Mozart marks the beginning of the Western fascination with the child prodigy. Dressed in the festive outfit given Wolfgang in 1762 by the Empress Maria Theresa, this boy of not quite seven years old looks, for all the world, like a miniature adult who has simply skipped childhood. “Mozart was keenly aware of his exceptional
ability, which had been fostered and rutted in him by his father from a very early age”(Schroter). Other nineteenth-century artists represented Wolfgang—variously said to be anywhere from 11 to 14 as a curly-locked angel. For them, how else could the divine music that poured out of a child-size body be explained? The idealization of Mozart’s genius was complete by the end of the nineteenth century. Mozart composes with his violin in one hand and music has appeared miraculously on his stand in the other. The message is unmistakable:
“Mortals use quills,
Mozart simply wills”(Solomon)

On the Road
The temptation to take his two prodigies on the road proved irresistible to Leopold, who assumed sole responsibility for Mozart’s education. Between 1762 and 1766, the Mozarts appeared at almost every major court in Europe. Wolfgang dazzled audiences with his ability to read difficult music at sight and to improvise. In London, as elsewhere, the Mozarts hobnobbed with the leading musicians. Probably the most important of these was Johann Christian Bach, the youngest son of Johann Sebastian. It is no accident that Mozart’s early symphonies, composed in London, are often stylistically indistinguishable from those of J. C. Bach. When Mozart was 13, his prowess as a keyboard player, violinist, improviser, and composer were already legendary. “When Mozart was 21 he wrote “Paris” Symphony, N31 while he was in Paris looking for a
music position. He was thoroughly disenchanted with the French and their music”(Internet). From 1768 to 1775, between stays in Salzburg, he and Leopold made three further forays to Italy and Germany. Wolfgang evolved from a prodigy into a serious composer.

Public Successes
A self-confident Mozart assured his father in 1782 that he would be able to support a wife and family in Vienna, As a result which he called “Clavierland. Of its earlier devastation, the dominant architectural style in Vienna is Baroque, aided in the 1700s by an influx of Italian sculptors, stucco workers, and painters. The dominant architect and architectural historian was Italian-trained Johann Fischer von Erlach(1656-1723), whose densely decorated structures still stand out today.”