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Mozart

Nov 8, 2007
Along with Beethoven, Bach and Strauss, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is one of only a handful of classical composers who are universally known by all society, even those without any interest in music older than a few years. Many people will know several Mozart melodies without even knowing who they were written by, such is the Austrian composer's penetration into the human psyche. And yet for all this ubiquity, his music remains acclaimed critically and an enduring fascination with his life keeps his story - and his music - alive. It is well known that he was a child prodigy, and had an innate ability to both perform with skill and compose by the age of five; but this only partly explains his immense body of work - over 600 compositions by the time of his death at only 35. That can only be put down to his genius and thrilling imagination.

Diversity

Mozart was writing in Europe during a period of immense change. Governments and royal houses vied for power, war between nations was common, and towards the end of his life, the seeds of Industrial Revolution were being sown. The composer was never far from the centre of all that was going on. Mozart spent much of his youth being toured around Europe's aristocratic houses almost as an attraction, his immense talent proving a draw wherever he went. He traveled to Munich, Prague, Paris, London, The Hague, Zurich and toured Italy, and he cannot but have been influenced by the sights and sounds of these places in a time when average Europeans rarely traveled more than a few miles from their home towns. Perhaps this exposure to other cultures and ways of life, albeit limited to the higher echelons, made his output so diverse. He would in his life compose numerous symphonies, concertos, pieces of chamber music, operas, dances, religious music, serenades, divertimenti and choral works that are still performed today and will go on being performed as long as people love music.

Mozart's piano sonatas

The first Piano Sonata, in C Major, appears in 1774 (K. 279), and between then and 1789 he wrote eighteen piano sonatas, plus a wealth of other solo piano pieces. It is interesting that his piano sonatas are outnumbered by his twenty-seven piano concertos, which on the face of it would have been much more time consuming and complex for mere mortals, but he was perhaps inspired by the grand performance and the commercial value of these larger pieces, and consequently made orchestral and operatic work his mainstay. However, these sonatas can in no way be considered afterthoughts or compromises; they are pieces that are as relevant and powerful to the modern listener as you would expect of this composer. And who knows how many more piano sonatas he would have written had he lived beyond 35 and not been plagued with illness? This collection of sonatas remains, of course, and they are still performed with all the passion and joy as they would have been in their day, both in public and in private.
About the Author
Charlie Buquette wrote this article about Mozart Sheet Music.
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