Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Part 3: The early Vienna Years 1779 - 1786
Review Part 2: Italy, Salzburg and Paris 1769 - 1779
Establish excerpt from Idomeneo
Mozart was delighted to escape Salzburg when he received a commission from the Elector of Bavaria. In January 1781, his opera Idomeneo premiered with "considerable success" in Munich.
Karl Theodor, Duke of Bavaria, Count Palatine of the Rhine and Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire complimented Mozart:
Who could believe that such great things could be hidden in so small a head?
The libretto presents a family situation, with which Mozart might have identified. Prince Idamante is supposed to be sacrificed for his father, but at the end it is the father, King Idomeneo, who must sacrifice himself and abdicate in favour of his son.
Charles Theodore, Duke of Bavaria, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire
Fade up and play out the rest of the Idomeneo excerpt.
The following March the composer was summoned to Vienna, where his employer, Archbishop Colloredo, was attending the celebrations for the accession of Joseph II to the Austrian throne. Mozart, fresh from the adulation he had earned in Munich, was offended when Colloredo treated him as a mere servant.
Our group consists of two valets, the Archbishop's private messenger, the confectioner, two cooks - and my insignificant self. The two valets have their place at the top of the table, but at least I have the privilege of being seated above the cooks.
Mozart was particularly offended, when the archbishop forbade him to perform before the Emperor at Countess Thun's for a fee equal to half of his yearly Salzburg salary. The resulting quarrel came to a head in May: Mozart attempted to resign and was refused. The following month, permission was granted but in a grossly insulting way:
Sound of impact.
The composer was dismissed literally "with a kick in the arse", administered by the Archbishop's steward, Count Arco. Mozart decided to settle in Vienna as a freelance performer and composer.
The quarrel with the archbishop went harder for Mozart because his father sided against him. Hoping fervently that he would obediently follow Colloredo back to Salzburg, Leopold exchanged intense letters with his son, urging him to be reconciled with their employer. Meanwhile Wolfgang passionately defended his intention to pursue an independent career in Vienna. He wrote to his father:.
To be badly paid, mocked, despised, and bullied into the bargain, by the Archbishop and his rabble - that really is too much.
He hoped to be appointed as pianoforte teacher to the young Princess Elisabetta. As he also wrote to his father:
This is piano country.
However Joseph II awarded the post to Antonio Salieri, the Italian Capellmeister to the Court of Vienna. Salieri has a leading role in the film Amadeus
The film begins in 1823 as Salieri, as an old man, attempts suicide by slitting his throat, while begging forgiveness for having killed Mozart in 1791.
He reminisces how in his youth he pledged celibacy to God, as a sacrifice if he could devote his life to music. His father wanted him to go into business, but providentially he choked to death during a meal, "a miracle" that allows Salieri to fulfil his vocation. He joins the 18th century cultural elite in Vienna, the "city of musicians." His success as a composer is God's reward for his piety.
Antonio Salieri 1750 - 1825 Portrait by Joseph Willibrod Mähler.
When Mozart arrives in Vienna, Salieri sees that Mozart 'off-stage' is irreverent and lewd. He also recognizes his immense talent. In 1781, when Mozart meets the Emperor, Salieri presents Mozart with a little
March of Welcome
, which he had toiled to create.
Play Salieri's Welcome March.
Mozart displays a childish high-pitched laugh which is heard throughout the rest of the film.
Establish Non Piu Andrai from the Marriage of Figaro and then play under
F. Murray Abraham as Antonio Salieri in the film, Amadeus
After hearing the march only once Mozart transforms Salieri's "trifle" into the
Non più andrai
march from his opera
The Marriage of Figaro.
Salieri reels at the notion of God speaking through the childish, petulant Mozart, whose music he regards as miraculous. He believes that God, through Mozart's genius, is cruelly laughing at his own musical mediocrity.
Bring up Non piu andrai and then play out.
Tom Hulce as Mozart, Jeffrey Jones as Emperor Joseph II and Roderick Cook as Count von Strack in Amadeus
He hatches a complex plot to gain ultimate victory over Mozart and over God. He wears a mask and costume similar to one he had seen Leopold Mozart wear and commissions the composer to write a requiem mass, giving Mozart a down payment and the promise of an enormous sum upon completion..
Establish and weave under the Introit from Mozart's Requiem Mass
Mozart begins to write the piece, the
Requiem Mass in D minor
, unaware of the true identity of his mysterious patron and his scheme: to kill him when the work is complete.
Salieri dwells on the anticipation of the admiration of the court, when they applaud the magnificent Requiem, as he claims to be the music's composer. Only Salieri and God would know the truth - that Mozart wrote his own requiem mass, and that God could only watch while Salieri finally received the fame and renown he deserved.
Mozart's health deteriorates and he collapses during the premiere performance of
The Magic Flute
. Salieri takes the stricken Mozart home and convinces him into working on the Requiem. Mozart dictates while Salieri transcribes throughout the night. Mozart's wife, Constanze tells Salieri to leave. She locks the manuscript away, despite Salieri's objections, but when she goes to wake her husband, Mozart is dead. The Requiem is left unfinished, and Salieri is left powerless as Mozart's body is hauled out of Vienna for burial in a pauper's mass grave.
Bring up the Requiem Mass and play out as appropriate.
Of course this is a highly fictional account, as author, Annie Neville, has pointed out:
There is no historical evidence for Salieri being either mediocre or a blaspheming maniacal murderer. Peter Shaffer the writer of
based his play on Alexander Pushkin's play
Mozart and Salieri,
an archetypal study of envy and of mediocrity versus genius, one of his "Little Tragedies". Certainly it was a tragedy for Salieri's reputation, as it was based on a tiny mad idea, a rumour that he poisoned Mozart.
In 1780, the court of Emperor Joseph II was alive and kicking with cabals. More Hollywood than Hapsburg, artistic Vienna was a bewigged sea of special 'luvvy' relationships, where composers were more servants than celebrities. Though only six years older than Mozart the well established Salieri was as 'old school' as Mozart was 'nouveau'. Wolfgang had been controlled all his life, first by his 'stage mom' father, who took him on tours that would make a rock star weep, then by his patrons. Would he take kindly to playing second fiddle to Salieri? It is easy to understand how he felt creatively poisoned.
Alexander Pushkin, Russian Poet 1799 - 1837
Indeed he did complain.
The emperor has spoilt everything, for he cares for no one but Salieri. Archbishop Maximillian recommended me to the Princess. She told she was extremely sorry.
In fact Salieri was not mediocre. He was a talented conducter, director of opera and teacher of Beethoven, Haydn and Liszt. He was neither a poisoner, nor a blasphemer. He raised funds for impoversished artists and singers, giving free music lessons to many, including Mozart's son.
Meanwhile in 1781, in spite of dramas and disappointments, Mozart wrote some of his most serene music, as with the
Serenade No. 10 in B major.
Enjoy the serenade for atleast a minute then slowly fade under the following
Near the height of his quarrels with Colloredo, Mozart had moved in with the Weber family, who had moved to Vienna from Mannheim. The father, Fridolin, had died, and the Webers were now taking in lodgers to make ends meet. Aloysia, who had earlier rejected Mozart's suit, was now married to the actor Joseph Lange, and Mozart's interest shifted to the third daughter, Constance. He wrote to his father:
The voice of nature speaks as loud in me as in others, louder, perhaps, than in many a big strong lout of a fellow. I cannot live as most young men do these days. In the first place I have too much religion; in the second I have too high a feeling of honour to seduce an innocent girl; and in the third place I have horror and disgust, too much care for my health, to fool about with whores.
The courtship did not go entirely smoothly; surviving correspondence indicates that Mozart and Constance briefly broke up in April 1782. Mozart also faced a very difficult task in getting his father's permission for the marriage. Mozart told him:
She has a pair of bright, black eyes and a pretty figure. She is kind-hearted, clever, modest, good-tempered, economical, neat.
She dresses her own hair, understands housekeeping, and has the best heart in the world.
Establish Abduction from the Harem and take under
This was probably one of the happiest periods in Mozart's life. He was in love and there was a huge potential for new work. He was commissioned to write a new opera
The Abduction from the Harem.
Constanze Weber Mozart
Swell Abduction from the Harem again and take under again.
The following year after the performance the Emperor approached Mozart.
Too beautiful for our ears, Herr Mozart, dear Mozart, and far too many notes!
Just as many as are necessary, your Majesty!
Swell Abduction from the Harem again and fade.
Meanwhile Wolfgang had to obtain permission for the marriage from Constance's legal guardian, Johann von Thorwart, an official of the Court of Vienna. Von Thorwart insisted in a pre-nuptial agreement. Mozart wrote to his father:
I drew up a document to the effect that 'I bound myself to marry Mademoiselle Constance Weber within the space of three years and that if it should prove impossible, owing to my changing my mind, she should be entitled to claim from me three hundred florins a year.'
His father was not best pleased. The couple were finally married on 4 August 1782, in St. Stephen's Cathedral, the day before Leopold's consent arrived in the mail. Mozart later remarked:
St Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna
If I had to marry all the women I've laughed with, I'd have at least 200 wives.
While all this was going on Mozart had become famous enough to be invited to a duel with Clementi, a gifted pianist, as part of the merry making surrounding the visit of the Grand Duke of Russia. They were asked to become musical gladiators in a contest of piano virtuosity. Mozart came off best. The Emperor declared:
Clementi has only art. Mozart has art and taste.
I got fifty ducats for my troubles and right now I need them.
Introduce Rondo for Piano and Orchestra, k 382.
The newly weds led a lively social life not skimping on entertainment, food or drink. Wolfgang also had a compulsive love of fine clothing. He developed his own means of obtaining it. One of his patrons was Baroness Waldstatten.
Rondo K382 choreographed by Maurice Bejarts .
About that beautiful red coat that attracted me so, please, please let me know, where it is to be found and how much it costs.
I simply have to have it, for it will do perfect justice to certain buttons, which I have long coveted.
They are mother of pearl with a few white stones round the edge and an exquisite yellow stone in the centre.
Posthumous painting by Barbara Krafft in 1819
The ploy paid off. A lovely, uninhibited and seductive woman, notorious for her free and easy way of life, the baroness was not only Mozart's piano pupil, but also his generous sponsor.
In return he dedicated his
Rondo in D for Piano and Orchestra
Mozart had "female acquaintances" that went beyond mere social or professional contacts, turning into more or less fleeting love affairs before and after he married Constance.
Bring up the Rondo and play out as appropriate .
But he was composing greater works too.
Introduce Piano Concerto 20. Establish and weave under the following .
Up till now he had composed ten piano concertos. Before his death in 1791 he was to compose another fifteen, including his
piano concerto number 20
. As his biographer Jeremy Siepmann has said:
His great concertos are in many ways like operas without words, alive with sparkling dialogues, dramatic confrontations, psychological insights and unforgettable characterisations.
Introduce Piano Concerto 20. Establish and weave under the following .
Meanwhile Wolfgang was perfectly happy with his Constance, but she was a bad manager; and he, soaring far above mundane things, was in a perpetual worry of pecuniary embarrassment. A friend called one winter day and found the pair waltzing round the room.
Mozart humming and the sounds of a couple waltzing - probably to the theme of Piano concerto 20. Then Laughing and stopping. Bring up Concerto 20 fully again and fade as appropriate .
(Shivering) We were cold.
We have no wood to make a fire.
However Mozart, the genius, the prodigy, probably the world's greatest composer, had mother-in-law problems. A few weeks into his marriage he wrote:
I didn't marry Constance in order to live a life of squabbles. We've been to see Frau Weber twice since the wedding. The second time the rebukes and arguments began - Constance started crying. I told her it was time to leave
Constance was usually pregnant, though only two of the couple's six children survived.
At this time Mozart became acquainted with the work of Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frederick Handel. His study of their scores inspired compositions in Baroque style, for example in passages from
The Magic Flute
, which was to be performed in the last year of his life.
On 17th June 1783 he became a father for the first time. They named their son Raimund Leopold.
Rather surprisingly they left their newborn with a wet nurse and set out to visit grandfather Leopold in Salzburg. While they were there their -
- Darling, fat, bonny, little boy -
As Wolfgang called him, died in Vienna, after only nine weeks of life. It was the first of a series of such bereavements and left deep scars.
In Salzburg Leopold and Nannerl were, at best, only polite to Constance, but the visit prompted the composition of one of Mozart's great liturgical pieces, the
Mass in C minor.
Bring up the Christe Eleison from the Mass in c minor.
The Mass was written as a result of a vow Mozart made with himself in relation to Constance and Leopold and their strained relationship. Though not completed, it was premiered in Salzburg, with Constance singing a solo part. It seems that Mozart emerged from the experience stronger and with a lessened sense of guilt.
Swell and play out the Christe .
Mozart met Joseph Haydn in Vienna, and the two composers became friends. They sometimes played together in an impromptu string quartet. Haydn told the visiting Leopold:
I tell you before God, and as an honest man, your son is the greatest composer known to me by person and repute.
Establish Piano Concerto 21 and then play under .
From 1782 to 1785 Mozart mounted concerts with himself as soloist, presenting three or four new piano concertos in each season. Since space in the theatres was scarce, he booked unconventional venues: a large room in the Trattnerhof (an apartment building), and the ballroom of the Mehlgrube (a restaurant). His beautiful Piano Concerto No. 21, popularly known as the Elvira Madigan Suite from the Swedish film of 1967, dates from this time.
Einstein, who understood the nature of genius, said:
While Beethoven creates his music, Mozart's is so pure that it seems to have been ever-present in the universe, waiting to be discovered by the master.
Bring up Piano Concerto 21 and play out as appropriate .
With substantial returns from his concerts and elsewhere, he and Constance adopted a rather plush lifestyle. They moved to an expensive apartment, with a yearly rent of 460 florins. Mozart also bought a fine fortepiano from Anton Walter for about 900 florins, and a billiard table for about 300. They kept servants. In 1784 their second son, Karl Thomas, was born and later sent to an expensive boarding school. Saving was therefore impossible, and the short period of financial success did nothing to soften the hardship the Mozarts were later to experience.
In August 1784 Nannerl, aged 33, got married. Wolfgang did not attend the wedding, but he sent her a poem.
Constance said this was his closest likeness
Wedlock will show you many things
Which still a mystery remain;
Experience soon will teach to you
What Eve herself once had to do
Before she could give birth to Cain.
Perhaps towards the end of the poem he was thinking of his own marriage.
Yet no state is an unmixed joy,
And marriage has its own alloy
Lest us its bliss perchance should cloy.
Should her husband be in a black humour, she would do well to pray.
... Lord, thy will be done by day,
But mine at night you'll do.
The day after the wedding her husband gave her a
of 500 florins, a reward for entering the marriage a virgin.
On 14 December 1784, Mozart became a Freemason, admitted to the lodge of
Freemasonry played an important role in the remainder of Mozart's life: he attended meetings, a number of his friends were Masons, and on various occasions he composed Masonic music.
Establish Clarinet Quintet and take under: .
He wrote his
for his Freemason friend, the Clarinettist, Anton Stadler.
Meeting of the Masonic Lodge, Vienna
Bring up the Clarinet Quintet again and take under: .
The final and most popular episode of
the American TV series about the Korean war was called
Goodbye, Farewell and Amen
. In it Major Charles Winchester teaches a group of Chinese prisoners of war to play the
Bring up quintet again and play out as appropriate .
Mozart's music finds itself in a multitude of places today, from mobile ring tones to commercials. However as we shall discover in the next part his great operas have largely remained faithful to their author's intentions.
Part 4: Return to Opera, The later Vienna Years, Illness and Death 1786 - 1791.
Music of the Great Composers
Johann Sebastian Bach
Ludwig van Beethoven
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