This author is a professional trombonist, conductor, and educator. He has a long career in music and writes about his passion for music.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is one of the most influential, prolific, and versatile composers of western art music. Born in Austria in 1756, Mozart composed over 600 compositions in numerous different genres, before his death in 1791. Amazing output for being only 35 years old! This article surveys his best classical music, so read further to learn why Mozart was a musical genius.
A Child Prodigy
A child prodigy is defined in psychology as a person under the age of 10 who produces meaningful output to the level of an adult expert. Mozart is perceived as a rare music prodigy. It is my belief that a child prodigy doesn’t earn the title without an enormous amount of hard work. In the case of Mozart, several things contributed to his early success.
First is the fact that Wolfgang came from a very musical family. His early interest in music came from observing his sister playing the keyboard. Next, Wolfgang would pickup and mimic tunes on the piano which his father noticed.
Mozart's father, Leopold Mozart, was a recognized composer, teacher, and renowned violinist. He recognized early on the ability of his son to recreate tunes he heard. Because of his interest Wolfgang received rigorous daily training from his father. Keyboard practice along with musical analysis of the two great Baroque composers Johann Sebastian Bach and Franz Joseph Haydn.
Mozart Goes on Tour
As with any child prodigy the emphasis centers around the philosophy of “No Skills Without Drills”. The more Mozart’s father fed him these drills the faster he learned, retained, and moved on to more difficult ones. Leopold was a thorough teacher concentrating on the basic elements of music. Understand that Mozart’s life was centered around his music education. He didn’t just practice the keyboard for an hour a day. He studied music all day long. Each and every day.
It didn’t take Mozart long for him to show that he could read and write music while entertaining people with his keyboard proficiency at age 5. Between 1763 and 1766, Mozart's father escorted him and his sister on musical tours across Europe, London, and Paris, where they performed before the royal families.
Between 1766 and 1769, Mozart spent most of his time in Salzburg composing instrumental music for school dramas in Latin and German. This led to his first piece of real operas, the German Singspiel. In 1769 Mozart moved to Italy, where he was welcomed and received a commission for an opera. He later returned to Salzburg and produced his first series of operas, such as Miltridate in 1770, and Lucio Silla, in 1772.
The Classical Period
The term “classical music” has become a catch-all expression used by most people today to refer to any orchestrated music. The fact is, classical music refers to a specific period in the development of western art music, roughly 1750-1825, and Mozart was one of its defining composers.
The classical period was a time of elegant refinement, good manners, and proper etiquette. Silk suits for the men and ladies of the court. Lace cuffs, powdered wigs, etc. This was a time when people wanted to be entertained and amused. The music was not complicated, but precise. There were defined rules for composers to abide by. The concerto, symphony, and opera all became important and popular musical forms and were the delivery system for the works of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.
Melody is the one element of music for which the classical period was known. Composers wrote great melodic lines with simple accompaniments and the master of this was Mozart. His excellent keyboard performances, compositions, and improvisational ability made an enormous impression in London and won the attention and admiration of Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782). (Not to be confused with his father, Johann Sebastian Bach of the Baroque period)
Christian Bach was a massive influence on Mozart — then only 8-9 years old — turning the young Wolfgang onto a number of different music styles and tastes across Europe. By the time he was 17, Mozart was every bit equal to the established musicians of the classical period.
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Mozart - Rondo Alla Turka
The Genius of Mozart
To say that Mozart was a genius is an understatement. Mozart's intuitive grasp of the basic elements of music helped him develop an incredible ear. He could listen to a piece of music and play it back on the keyboard. He could also write it down on paper. This was a regular practice to sharpen his skill.
Mozart studied the musical style of Johann Sebastian Bach which was mathematically complicated and polyphonic, and he went in the other direction. Mozart's compositions seemed complicated on the surface, but that dazzle disguised deceptive simplicity, the main difference between the baroque and classical periods.
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik - Mozart
12 of Mozart's Greatest Compositions
The list below reflects what many refer to as Mozart's most famous works.
- Eine kleine Nachtmusik
- Symphony No. 40
- The Magic Flute
- Don Giovanni
- Sonata No. 16, K 545
- Symphony No. 28
- Rondo Alla Turka
- Divertimento, K 136
- Ah vous dirai-je, Maman, K 265
- Piano Concerto No. 2, K 167 andante
- Sonata for Two Pianos, K 448
Mozart Piano Sonata No 16 C major
Illness and Death
On December 5, 1791, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died at his home in Vienna, Austria. He was only 35.
During his last few months of life, Mozart completed the score for The Magic Flute. He also composed his Clarinet Concerto in A major, a Masonic cantata, and began writing his Requiem in D minor.
Mozart composed part of the Requiem in Vienna in late 1791, but it was unfinished at the time of his death. A completed version by Franz Xaver Süssmayr was delivered to Count Franz von Walsegg in 1792.
To appreciate the genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is to listen to his music. The amount of superb musical compositions this man produced is truly remarkable. If he had lived longer than 35 years, there is no telling what The Best Classical Music of Mozart would have been.
- Classical Era in Music: The Age of Enlightenment
One of the most celebrated periods in Western Art Music was between the years 1750 and 1825. It was marked by incredible advances in composition and performance. Read on and learn about the Classical Era in Music: The Age of Enlightenment.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Reginald Thomas