Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

He showed musical gifts at a very early age, composing when he was five and when he was six playing before the Bavarian elector and the Austrian empress. Leopold felt that it was proper, and might also be profitable, to exhibit his children's God-given genius (Maria Anna, 'Nannerl', 1751-1829, was a gifted keyboard player): so in mid-1763 the family set out on a tour that took them to Paris and London, visiting numerous courts en route. Mozart astonished his audiences with his precocious skills; he played to the French and English royal families, had his first music published and wrote his earliest symphonies. The family arrived home late in 1766; nine months later they were off again, to Vienna, where hopes of having an opera by Mozart performed were frustrated by intrigues.

They spent 1769 in Salzburg; 1770-73 saw three visits to Italy, where Mozart wrote two operas (Mitridate, Lucio Silla) and a serenata for performance in Milan, and acquainted himself with Italian styles. Summer 1773 saw a further visit to Vienna, probably in the hope of securing a post; there Mozart wrote a set of string quartets and, on his return, wrote a group of symphonies including his two earliest, nos.25 in g Minor and 29 in A, in the regular repertory. Apart from a joumey to Munich for the premiere of his opera La finta giardiniera early in 1775, the period from 1774 to mid-1777 was spent in Salzburg, where Mozart worked as Konzertmeister at the Prince- Archbishop's court; his works of these years include masses, symphonies, all his violin concertos, six piano sonatas, several serenades and divertimentos and his first great piano concerto, K271.

In 1777 the Mozarts, seeing limited opportunity in Salzburg for a composer so hugely gifted, resolved to seek a post elsewhere for Wolfgang. He was sent, with his mother, to Munich and to Mannheim, but was offered no position (though he stayed over four months at Mannheim, composing for piano and flute and falling in love with Aloysia Weber). His father then dispatched him to Paris: there he had minor successes, notably with his Paris Symphony, no.31, deftly designed for the local taste. But prospects there were poor and Leopold ordered him home, where a superior post had been arranged at the court. He returned slowly and alone; his mother had died in Paris. The years 1779-80 were spent in Salzburg, playing in the cathedral and at court, composing sacred works, symphonies, concertos, serenades and dramatic music. But opera remained at the centre of his ambitions, and an opportunity came with a commission for a serious opera for Munich. He went there to compose it late in 1780; his correspondence with Leopold (through whom he communicated with the librettist, in Salzburg) is richly informative about his approach to musical drama. The work, Idomeneo, was a success. In it Mozart depicted serious, heroic emotion with a richness unparalleled elsewhere in his works, with vivid orchestral writing and an abundance of profoundly expressive orchestral recitative.

Mozart was then summoned from Munich to Vienna, where the Salzburg court was in residence on the accession of a new emperor. Fresh from his success, he found himself placed between the valets and the cooks; his resentment towards his employer, exacerbated by the Prince-Archbishop's refusal to let him perform at events the emperor was attending, soon led to conflict, and in May 1781 he resigned, or was kicked out of, his job. He wanted a post at the Imperial court in Vienna, but was content to do freelance work in a city that apparently offered golden opportunities. He made his living over the ensuing years by teaching, by publishing his music, by playing at patrons' houses or in public, by composing to commission (particularly operas); in 1787 he obtained a minor court post as Kammermusicus, which gave him a reasonable salary and required nothing beyond the writing of dance music for court balls. He always earned, by musicians' standards, a good income, and had a carriage and servants; through lavish spending and poor management he suffered times of financial difficulty and had to borrow. In 1782 he married Constanze Weber, Aloysia's younger sister.

In his early years in Vienna, Mozart built up his reputation by publishing (sonatas for piano, some with violin), by playing the piano and, in 1782, by having an opera performed: Die Entfuehrung aus dem Serail, a German Singspiel which went far beyond the usual limits of the tradition with its long, elaborately written songs (hence Emperor Joseph II's famous observation, 'Too many notes, my dear Mozart'). The work was successful and was taken into the repertories of many provincial companies (for which Mozart was not however paid). In these years, too, he wrote six string quartets which he dedicated to the master of the form, Haydn: they are marked not only by their variety of expression but by their complex textures, conceived as four-part discourse, with the musical ideas linked to this freshly integrated treatment of the medium. Haydn told Mozart's father that Mozart was 'the greatest composer known to me in person or by name; he has taste and, what is more, the greatest knowledge of composition'.

In 1782 Mozart embarked on the composition of piano concertos, so that he could appear both as composer and soloist. He wrote 15 before the end of 1786, with early 1784 as the peak of activity. They represent one of his greatest achievements, with their formal mastery, their subtle relationships between piano and orchestra (the wind instruments especially) and their combination of brilliance, lyricism and symphonic growth. In 1786 he wrote the first of his three comic operas with Lorenzo da Ponte as librettist, Le nozze di Figaro: here and in Don Giovanni (given in Prague, 1787) Mozart treats the interplay of social and sexual tensions with keen insight into human character that - as again in the more artificial sexual comedy of Cosi fan tutte (1790) - transcends the comic framework, just as Die Zauberfloete (1791) transcends, with its elements of ritual and allegory about human harmony and enlightenment, the world of the Viennese popular theatre from which it springs.

Mozart lived in Vienna for the rest of his life. He undertook a number of joumeys: to Salzburg in 1783, to introduce his wife to his family; to Prague three times, for concerts and operas; to Berlin in 1789, where he had hopes of a post; to Frankfurt in 1790, to play at coronation celebrations. The last Prague journey was for the premiere of La clemenza di Tito (1791), a traditional serious opera written for coronation celebrations, but composed with a finesse and economy characteristic of Mozart's late music. Instrumental works of these years include some piano sonatas, three string quartets written for the King of Prussia, some string quintets, which include one of his most deeply felt works (K516 in g Minor) and one of his most nobly spacious (K515 in C), and his last four symphonies - one (no.38 in D) composed for Prague in 1786, the others written in 1788 and forming, with the lyricism of no.39 in E-flat, the tragic suggestiveness of no.40 in g Minor and the grandeur of no.41 in C, a climax to his orchestral music. His final works include the Clarinet Concerto and some pieces for masonic lodges (he had been a freemason since 1784; masonic teachings no doubt affected his thinking, and his compositions, in his last years). At his death from a feverish illness whose precise nature has given rise to much speculation (he was not poisoned), he left unfinished the Requiem, his first large-scale work for the church since the c Minor Mass of 1783, also unfinished; a completion by his pupil Suessmayr was long accepted as the standard one but there have been recent attempts to improve on it. Mozart was buried in a Vienna suburb, with little ceremony and in an unmarked grave, in accordance with prevailing custom.

Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1770 Symphony No 11 KV 84 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart KV 84 Comments:
Moscow Chamber Orchestra cond. Rudolf Barshai
1772 Divertimento in F KV 138 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart KV 84 Comments:
Moscow Chamber Orchestra cond. Rudolf Barshai
1774 Bassoon Concerto KV 191 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart KV 191 Comments:
Michael Chapman - Bassoon
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner
1775 Violin Concerto No 3 KV 216 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart KV 84 Comments:
David Oistrach - Violin
Moscow Chamber Orchestra cond. Rudolf Barshai
1775 Violin Concerto No 4 KV 218 4.50 stars CD
Mozart Opera Comments:
Gideon Kremer - Violin
Wiener Philharmoniker cond. Nikolaus Harnoncourt
1775 Violin Concerto No 4 KV 218 3.50 stars CD
Mozart KV 218 Comments:
Nathan Milstein - Violin
Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Erich Leinsdorf
1772 Violin Concerto No 5 KV 219 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart KV 84 Comments:
David Oistrach - Violin
Moscow Chamber Orchestra cond. Rudolf Barshai
1775 Violin Concerto No 5 KV 219 4.50 stars CD
Mozart Opera Comments:
Gideon Kremer - Violin
Wiener Philharmoniker cond. Nikolaus Harnoncourt
1775 Violin Concerto No 5 KV 219 3.50 stars CD
Mozart KV 219 Comments:
Nathan Milstein - Violin
Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Erich Leinsdorf
1778? Variationen C-dur KV 265 4.00 stars LP
Mozart KV 415 Comments:

Based on Ah, vous dirai-je, Madam.

Clara Haskil - Piano

1777 Piano Concerto No 9 KV 271 4.00 stars LP
Mozart KV 271 Comments:
Jeune Homme

Murray Perahia - Piano
The English Chamber Orchestra

Mozart KV 467 Comments:

Murray Perahia - Piano
The English Chamber Orchestra

Same recording as above on CD

1778 Piano Sonate F-dur KV 280 4.00 stars LP
Mozart KV 280 Comments:

Clara Haskil - Piano

1778 Symphony No 31 KV 297 4.00 stars LP
Mozart KV 271 Comments:
Pariser Sinfonie

Sinfonie-Orchester des Bayrischen Rundfunk cond. Ferdinand Leitner

1778 Sinfonia Concertante KV 297b 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart KV 299b Comments:
Neil Black - Oboe
Jack Brymer - Clarinet
Alan Civil - Horn
Michael Chapman - Bassoon
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner
1778 Concerto for Flute, Harp and Orchestra KV 299(c) 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart KV 299 Comments:
Claude Monteux - Flute
Osian Ellis - Harp
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner
1778 Concerto for Flute, Harp and Orchestra KV 299(c) 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart KV 84 Comments:
Alexander Korolev - Flute
Olga Erdelli - Harp
Moscow Chamber Orchestra cond. Rudolf Barshai
1778 Ouverture Les petits Reins KV 299b 4.00 stars LP
Mozart KV 299b Comments:
Sinfonie-Orchester des Bayrischen Rundfunk cond. Ferdinand Leitner
1778 Flute Concerto KV 313 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart Comments:
Claude Monteux - Flute
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner
1778 Oboe Concerto KV 314 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart KV 314 Comments:
Neil Black - Oboe
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner
1778? Andante for Flute and Orchestra KV 315 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart KV 315 Comments:
Claude Monteux - Flute
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner
1778 Piano Sonala No 11 KV 331 4.00 stars LP
Mozart KV 595 Comments:
Wilhelm Backhaus - Piano
Wiener Philharmoniker cond. Karl Böhm
1778 Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra KV 365 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart KV 84 Comments:
Lubov Brook - Piano
Mark Taimanov - Piano
Moscow Chamber Orchestra cond. Lazar Gozman
1781 Rondo in E flat KV 371 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart KV 371 Comments:
Alan Civil - Horn
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner
1781-1782? Serenade No 11 KV 375 4.50 stars CD
Mozart Serenade Comments:
Netherlands Wind Ensemble cond. Edo de Waart
1782? Adagio for 2 Clarinets and 3 Bassethorns KV 411 3.50 stars CD
Mozart KV 439b Comments:
Alan Hacker and members of the Matrix
1782 Horn Concerto KV 412 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart Comments:
Alan Civil - Horn
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner
1782 Piano Concerto No 11 KV 413 4.00 stars LP
Mozart KV 413 Comments:

Geza Anda - Piano
Camerata Academica des Salzburger Mozarteums cond. Geza Anda

1782 Piano Concerto No 12 KV 414 4.00 stars LP
Mozart KV 414 Comments:

Alfred Brendel - Piano
Academy of St Martins in the Fields cond. Neville Marriner

1782 Piano Concerto No 13 KV 415 4.00 stars LP
Mozart KV 415 Comments:

Clara Haskil - Piano
Festival Strings Lucerne cond. Rudolf Baumgartner

1783 Horn Concerto KV 417 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart KV 299b Comments:
Alan Civil - Horn
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner
1783 Horn Concerto KV 417 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart KV 84 Comments:
Valerie Polech - Horn
Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra cond. Boris Khaikin
1783 Fugue in C minor for two piano's 3.5 out of 5 importance 10 CD

Comments:

Igor and Soulima Stravinsky - Piano

Part of: Stravinsky Portrait

1783 Symphony No 36 KV 425 4.00 stars LP
Mozart Comments:
Linzer Sinfonie

Sinfonie-Orchester des Bayrischen Rundfunk cond. Ferdinand Leitner

1784? Divertimenti No 1 No 5 KV 439b 4.50 stars CD
Mozart KV 439b Comments:
For 2 Clarinets and 3 Bassethorns

Alan Hacker and members of the Matrix

1783 Horn Concerto KV 447 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart KV 447 Comments:
Alan Civil - Horn
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner
1784 Piano Concerto No 11 KV 450 4.00 stars LP
Mozart KV 450 Comments:

Geza Anda - Piano
Camerata Academica des Salzburger Mozarteums cond. Geza Anda

1784 Piano Concerto No 17 KV 453 4.00 stars LP
Mozart KV 453 Comments:

Alfred Brendel - Piano
Academy of St Martins in the Fields cond. Neville Marriner

1785 Piano Concerto No 21 KV 467 4.00 stars LP
Mozart KV 467 Comments:
Very well known as music from the Elvira Madigan movie

Murray Perahia - Piano
The English Chamber Orchestra

Mozart KV 467 Comments:
Very well known as music from the Elvira Madigan movie

Murray Perahia - Piano
The English Chamber Orchestra

Same recording as above on CD

1785 Piano Concerto No 23 in A major, KV 488 4.00 stars DVD-R
Comments:

Maria João Pires - Piano
The Chamber Orchestra of Europe cond. Bernard Haitink.

Recorded from BBC Proms 2015

1786 Horn Concerto No 4 KV 495 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart Comments:
Alan Civil - Horn (also wrote the cadenzas)
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner
1786 Horn Concerto No 4 KV 495 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart KV 84 Comments:
Valerie Polech - Horn
Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra cond. Boris Khaikin
1786 Andante with five Variations KV 501 4.00 stars 2CD
Mozart KV 84 Comments:
Martha Argerich - Piano
Stephan Kovacevitch - Piano
1786 Andante with five Variations KV 501 4.00 stars 6 CD
Comments:
Martha Argerich - Piano
Stephan Kovacevitch - Piano
1787 Eine kleine Nachtmusik KV 525 (Serenade 13) 4.00 stars EP
Comments:
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra cond. George Solti
1788 Piano Sonata No 16 KV 545 4.00 stars 6 CD
Comments:
Second piano part by Grieg
I. Allegro
II. Andante
III. Rondo

Martha Argerich - Piano
Piotr Anderszewski - Piano

1788 Symphony No 40 KV 550 4.00 stars LP
Mozart KV 550 Comments:
Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Otto Klemperer
1788 Symphony No 41 KV 551 4.00 stars LP
Mozart KV 551 Comments:
Jupiter

Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Otto Klemperer

1791 Piano Concerto No 27 KV 595 4.00 stars LP
Mozart KV 595 Comments:
Wilhelm Backhaus - Piano
Wiener Philharmoniker cond. Karl Böhm
1791 Die Zauberflöte KV 620 4.50 stars 3LP
Mozart Opera Comments:
A 1964 production with a very atractive cast:

Evelyn Lear
Lisa Otto
Roberta Peters
Franz Crass
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Hans Hotter
Fritz Wunderlich
Berliner Philharmoniker cond. Karl Böhm

1791 Die Zauberflöte KV 620 4.50 stars 2CD
Comments:
Peter Schreier
Margaret Price
Kurt Moll
Luciana Serra
Mikael Melbye
Dresdener Staatskapelle und Kreuzchor, Leipziger Rundfunkchor
Cond. ColinDavis (1984)
1791 Clarinet Concerto KV 622 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart KV 622 Comments:
Jack Brymer - Clarinet
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner
1791 Clarinet Concerto KV 622 4.00 stars DVD-R
Comments:
Julian Bliss - Clarinet
BBC Symphony Orchestra cond. Jiri Belohlavek

Recorded from BBC Proms 2015

1791 Requiem KV 626 4.00 stars LP
Mozart Requiem Comments:
Orignal Version

Kurt Equiluz - Tenor
Gerhard Eder - Bass
Wiener Sängerknaben
Choir and Orchestra of the Hofmusikkapelle Wien
Cond. Hans Gillesberger

Compilation The Symphonies 4.00 stars 12 CD
Mozart Symphonies Comments:
All 41 Symphonies

Berliner Philharmoniker cond. Karl Böhm

Details:

Compilation Complete Works for Violin and Orchestra 4.00 stars 4LP
Mozart KV 299b Comments:
David Oistrach - Violin
Igor Oistrach - Violin
Berliner Philharminiker cond. David Oistrach

Details:

Compilation Salzburger Marionetten Theater 4.00 stars 5 DVD
Mozart Operas Comments:
Highlights from well know operas in very good performances.

The DVD shows stagings by an Austrian Puppet-Theatre.

Peter Ustinov tells the story outline.

Details: