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sichord and organ and soon mastered them under his father’s tutelage. The young Mozart could play the piano by age three and was composing music, unbelievably, by age five. He was a true “wunderkind.” His older sister, Maria Anna, was also a gifted keyboard player. Their father, being aware of the natural talent of his children, recognized the marketable commodity and began taking the children on concert tours of European cities. He exploited them in hopes of making money and eventually finding a position for Wolfgang when he became an adult. The first tour of principle cities in 1762-63 included stays in Paris and London. Wolfgang excelled at musical skills including transposing from one key to another and also at improvisation. Needless to say, the young boy astonished audiences with musical skills unheard of in someone so young. In 1764, at the age of eight, he wrote his first three symphonies under the influence of Johann Christian Bach, the youngest son of the famous Johann Sebastian Bach. Mozart’s musical memory and fantastic ear were phenomenal, proving he was an extraordinary, rare person and a true prodigy. An example of his fantastic musical memory occurred in 1770, when he was only 14 years old. After only one hearing, at the Sistine Chapel in Rome, he was able to transcribe Gregorio Allegris’ Miserere, a formidable piece with multiple vocal parts. This was deemed a nearly impossible task. During the tours of the great cities of Europe he assimilated the various forms and styles of music he heard. This influenced him in forming his own style. Adult Life In 1782 Mozart moved to Vienna where he met and married Constanze Weber. They eventually had six children but only two survived infancy. Vienna was their home for the rest of his shortened life. Here he befriended Franz Joseph Haydn who was Mozart’s senior by 24 years. Haydn influenced him greatly. To cement their friendship Mozart wrote six string quartets and dedicated them to Haydn. Haydn was so taken by Mozart’s inspired compositions that he said to Mozart’s father, Leopold, “Before God and as an honest man, I tell you that your son is the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name.” Wow! What a great affirmation of Mozart’s talents and skills coming from someone as great as Haydn. During the last five years of Mozart’s life, opera took center stage. However, in 1780 he wrote the opera Idomeneo. His most famous operas were: The Abduction from the Seraglio; Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro); Don Giovanni; Cosi Fan Tutte and Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute). “Mozart’s outstanding virtue as a composer of operas was his ability to create convincing personalities by means of musical characterization,” said Martin Bernstein in his book, An Introduction to Music. In addition to Mozart’s dramatic musical output, he still had time to write numerous instrumental pieces including: piano sonatas, violin sonatas, string quartets, and concertos for various instruments, including the horn, clarinet, violin, harp, flute and bassoon. He also wrote many sacred works and his last four symphonies were his greatest. He was so gifted, compositions flowed out of him; he wrote over 41 symphonies during his lifetime. Near the end of his life, Mozart received an anonymous commission to write a Requiem Mass. The stipulation was that the person commissioning the work was to claim the mass as his own. Unfortunately Mozart was very ill during the writing of the mass and died before it was completed. Mozart’s wife, Constanze, wanted no part of the agreement with a stranger and asked Mozart’s student, Franz Xaver Sussmeyer, to complete the mass. He filled in missing sections, added three movements and completed the instrumentation in Mozart’s style. Sussmeyer’s handwriting was so similar to Mozart’s even experts were fooled into believing it was Mozart’s own hand. Mozart was so ill that he thought he was composing his own Requiem. (I must point out if you saw the movie, Amadeus, the final scene where the dying Mozart was dictating the music to composer, Antonio Salieri, was completely false. The producers and director of the film took great dramatic license having Salieri finish the mass rather than Sussmeyer.) It was revealed after Mozart’s death that the mysterious stranger commissioning the work was Count Franz Von Walsegg. He was an amateur who made a habit of palming other composer’s works off as his own. Very near the end of his life, Mozart’s situation was desperate. He was in financial difficulties and relying on commissions to keep food on the table. He was overworked and extremely ill when he was composing the Requiem. He died destitute in December 1791, one month before his 35th birthday, and was buried in a pauper’s grave. Mozart was one of the world’s first freelance composers. He wrote over 600 works – an unbelievable output for so short a life. His legacy is inestimable. Mozart was a master of every form in which he wrote. “He set standards of excellence that has inspired generations of composers,” wrote John Stanley in Classical Music. One can only imagine what his compositions would have been had he lived a normal life span. Mozart’s body of work has been a glorious gift to generations past and will, thankfully, continue to be so for generations to come. Mozart was a true music master for the ages. Please submit questions and comments to banddirector01@comcast.net Visit our website at www.danvilleband.org for up-to-date information about the Danville Community Band. j u l y 2 0 1 6 A L I V E E A S T B A Y 15


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