Biography of Classical Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Part 2

About the famous classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, biography and history of the musician.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791).

There are many stories about Mozart's compositional abilities and there is no question but that he composed with great speed. Typical of his efforts was the Symphony No. 36, the "Linz." Mozart wrote the 4-movement work, copied it, rehearsed it with the Linz court orchestra, and had it performed in a period of 4 days. The overture to Don Giovanni was composed in toto, and copied, the night before the 1st performance of the opera. Mozart's wife, Constanze, plied him with punch and told him fairy tales to keep him awake and working.

Don Giovanni was written while Mozart was in Prague, and was given a tumultuous reception by that Czech city. Prague considered Mozart as her adopted son and treated him royally whenever he visited. The Villa Bertramka, where he stayed while he wrote Don Giovanni, is now a national museum. When Mozart died, Prague, upon hearing of his death, went into a long period of mourning.

Vienna was not so kind. Only in Mozart's last year, did he begin to get commissions and orders for compositions there. And he quite possibly worked himself to death. His efforts to get compositions completed on time exhausted him, allowing the typhus which killed him to get a firm hold. He had 3 major works to finish--2 operas, The Clemency of Tito and The Magic Flute, and the Requiem. As he worked on the Requiem, he began to complain about his condition, claming that he had been poisoned. This led to a story that he had indeed been poisoned by Salieri, a rival composer. Constanze made the accusation and insisted for the rest of her life that it was so. While evidence has almost completely disproved the story, unfortunately, Mozart's body was never made available for examination.

He died on December 5, 1791, and the next day his funeral was held in the open air near St. Stephen's Cathedral in the center of Vienna. Only a few of his friends were present (among them, incidentally, was Salieri). No official notice of his death was taken by the city. The coffin was carried to the gate of the cemetery and handed over to the gravediggers. As was the custom in paupers' funerals, the coffin was buried in an unmarked grave with no mourners in attendance, and the location was forever lost. Later, a lovely monument to Mozart was erected in the cemetery in the circle where other famous composers of Vienna are buried.

Mozart was the complete composer; he wrote operas, symphonies, concerti, chamber works, sonatas, and songs. Many of them are played the world over. He set a level of quality in composition that only a few composers have since been able to meet.

Long after Mozart's death, an Austrian musicographer, Ludwig Kochel, catalogued all of Mozart's music, listing the compositions in chronological order. When his catalogue was published in 1862, it was such a definitive listing that it became the universal reference for all of Mozart's music. Thus, his works are listed on a program with a "K" number (K.551, for instance, is Symphony No. 41, the "Jupiter").

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