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Mozart circa 1780, by Johann Nepomuk della Croce
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Signature.svg

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (German: [ˈvɔlfɡaŋ amaˈdeus ˈmoːtsart], full baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart[1] (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood in Salzburg. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty; at 17 he was engaged as a court musician in Salzburg, but grew restless and traveled in search of a better position, always composing abundantly. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and the Requiem. The circumstances of his early death have been much mythologized. He was survived by his wife Constanze and two sons.

Mozart learned voraciously from others, and developed a brilliance and maturity of style that encompassed the light and graceful along with the dark and passionate—the whole informed by a vision of humanity "redeemed through art, forgiven, and reconciled with nature and the absolute."[2] His influence on subsequent Western art music is profound. Beethoven wrote his own early compositions in the shadow of Mozart, of whom Joseph Haydn wrote that "posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years."[3]



Mozart's birthplace at Getreidegasse 9, Salzburg, Austria

Family and early years

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born to Leopold and Anna Maria Pertl Mozart at 9 Getreidegasse in Salzburg, capital of the sovereign Archbishopric of Salzburg, in what is now Austria. Then it was part of the Holy Roman Empire. His only sibling to survive past birth was Maria Anna (1751–1829), called "Nannerl". Wolfgang was baptized the day after his birth at St. Rupert's Cathedral. The baptismal record gives his name in Latinized form as Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. He generally called himself "Wolfgang Amadè Mozart"[4] as an adult, but there were many variants.

His father Leopold (1719–1787) was deputy Kapellmeister to the court orchestra of the Archbishop of Salzburg, and a minor composer. He was also an experienced teacher. In the year of Mozart's birth, his father published a violin textbook, Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule, which achieved some success.

Anonymous portrait of the child Mozart, possibly by Pietro Antonio Lorenzoni; painted in 1763 on commission from Leopold

When Nannerl was seven she began keyboard lessons with her father, and her three-year-old brother would look on, evidently fascinated. Years later, after his death, she reminisced:

He often spent much time at the clavier, picking out thirds, which he was always striking, and his pleasure showed that it sounded good. [...] In the fourth year of his age his father, for a game as it were, began to teach him a few minuets and pieces at the clavier. [...] He could play it faultlessly and with the greatest delicacy, and keeping exactly in time. [...] At the age of five he was already composing little pieces, which he played to his father who wrote them down.[5]

These early pieces, K. 1–5, were recorded in the Nannerl Notenbuch.

Biographer Maynard Solomon[6] notes that while Leopold was a devoted teacher to his children, there is evidence that Wolfgang was keen to make progress beyond what he was being taught. His first ink-spattered composition and his precocious efforts with the violin were on his own initiative, and came as a great surprise to Leopold. Father and son were so close that these childhood accomplishments brought tears to Leopold's eyes.[7]

Leopold eventually gave up composing when his son's outstanding musical talents became evident.[8] He was Wolfgang's only teacher in his earliest years, and taught his children languages and academic subjects as well as music.[6]

The Mozart family on tour: Leopold, Wolfgang, and Nannerl. Watercolor by Carmontelle, ca. 1763[9]

1762–1773: Years of travel

During Mozart's formative years, his family made several European journeys in which he and Nannerl performed as child prodigies. These began with an exhibition in 1762 at the court of the Prince-elector Maximilian III of Bavaria in Munich, then in the same year at the Imperial Court in Vienna and Prague. A long concert tour spanning three and a half years followed, taking the family to the courts of Munich, Mannheim, Paris, London, The Hague, again to Paris, and back home via Zürich, Donaueschingen, and Munich. During this trip Mozart met a great number of musicians and acquainted himself with the works of other composers. A particularly important influence was Johann Christian Bach, whom Mozart visited in London in 1764 and 1765. The family again went to Vienna in late 1767 and remained there until December 1768.

These trips were often arduous. Travel conditions were primitive,[10] the family had to wait patiently for invitations and reimbursement from the nobility,[11] and they endured long, near-fatal illnesses far from home: first Leopold (London, summer 1764)[12] then both children (The Hague, autumn 1765).[13]

After one year in Salzburg, father and son set off for Italy, leaving Wolfgang's mother and sister at home. This travel lasted from December 1769 to March 1771. As with earlier journeys, Leopold wanted to display his son's abilities as a performer and as a rapidly maturing composer. Wolgang Mozart met G. B. Martini in Bologna, and was accepted as a member of the famous Accademia Filarmonica. In Rome he heard Gregorio Allegri's Miserere once in performance in the Sistine Chapel. He wrote it out in its entirety from memory, only returning to correct minor errors—thus producing the first illegal copy of this closely guarded property of the Vatican.

In Milan, Mozart wrote the opera Mitridate, re di Ponto (1770), which was performed with success. This led to further opera commissions. He returned with his father later twice to Milan (August–December 1771; October 1772 – March 1773) for the composition and premieres of Ascanio in Alba (1771) and Lucio Silla (1772). The father hoped these visits would result in a professional appointment for his son in Italy, but such hopes were never fulfilled.[14]

Toward the end of the final Italian journey, Mozart wrote the first of his works to be still widely performed today, the solo cantata Exsultate, jubilate, K. 165.

1773–1777: The Salzburg court

After finally returning with his father from Italy on 13 March 1773, Mozart was employed as a court musician by the ruler of Salzburg Prince-Archbishop Hieronymus Colloredo. The composer was a favorite son in Salzburg, where he had a great number of friends and admirers.[15] He had the opportunity to work in many genres, including symphonies, sonatas, string quartets, serenades, and a few minor operas. Several of these early works are still performed today. Between April and December of 1775, Mozart developed an enthusiasm for violin concertos, producing a series of five (the only ones he ever wrote), which steadily increase in their musical sophistication. The last three—K. 216, K. 218, K. 219—are now staples of the repertoire. In 1776 he turned his efforts to piano concertos, culminating in the E-flat concerto K. 271 of early 1777, considered by critics to be a breakthrough work.[16]

Despite these artistic successes, Mozart grew increasingly discontent with Salzburg and redoubled his efforts to find a position elsewhere. One reason was his low salary, 150 florins per year;[17] but also, Mozart longed to compose operas, and Salzburg provided only rare occasions for these. The situation worsened in 1775 when the court theater was closed, especially since the other theater in Salzburg was largely reserved for visiting troupes.[18]

Two long expeditions in search of work (both Leopold and Wolfgang were looking) interrupted this long Salzburg stay: they visited Vienna from 14 July to 26 September 1773, and Munich from 6 December 1774 to March 1775. Neither visit was successful, though the Munich journey resulted in a popular success with the premiere of Mozart's opera La finta giardiniera.[19]

1777–1778: The Paris journey

Family portrait from about 1780 by Johann Nepomuk della Croce: Nannerl, Wolfgang, Leopold. On the wall is a portrait of Mozart's mother, who had died in 1778.

In August 1777, Mozart resigned his Salzburg position[20] and on 23 September ventured out once more in search of employment, with visits to Augsburg, Mannheim, Paris, and Munich.[21] Since Archbishop Colloredo would not give Leopold leave to travel, Mozart's mother Anna Maria was assigned to accompany him.

Mozart became acquainted with members of the famous orchestra in Mannheim, the best in Europe at the time. He also fell in love with Aloysia Weber, one of four daughters in a musical family. There were some prospects of employment in Mannheim, but they came to nothing; and Mozart left for Paris on 14 March 1778[22] to continue his search. There his luck was hardly better; one of his letters home hints at a possible post as an organist at Versailles, but Mozart was not interested in such an appointment.[23] He fell into debt and took to pawning valuables.[24] The nadir of the visit occurred when Mozart's mother took ill, and died on 3 July 1778.[25] There had been delays in calling a doctor—probably, according to Halliwell, because of a lack of funds.[26]

While Wolfgang was in Paris, Leopold was energetically pursuing opportunities for him back in Salzburg,[27], and with the support of local nobility secured him a better post as court organist and concertmaster. The yearly salary was 450 florins;[28] but Wolfgang was reluctant to accept,[29] and after leaving Paris on 26 September 1778 he tarried in Mannheim and Munich, still hoping to obtain an appointment outside Salzburg. In Munich he again encountered Aloysia, now a very successful singer: but she made it plain that she was no longer interested in him.[30]

Mozart finally reached home on 15 January 1779 and took up the new position, but his discontent with Salzburg was undiminished.

The A minor piano sonata K. 310/300d and the "Paris" Symphony (no. 31) are among several well-known works from Mozart's time in Paris, where they were performed on 12 June and 18 June 1778.[31]

Mozart in 1777. Portrait requested by Padre Martini for his gallery; Mozart with the Order of the Golden Spur which he received in 1770 as a 14-year old from Pope Clement XIV in Rome.[32]

1781: Departure to Vienna

In January 1781, Mozart's opera Idomeneo premiered with "considerable success" in Munich.[33] 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, and particularly 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: the composer was dismissed literally "with a kick in the ass", administered by the archbishop's steward, Count Arco. In Vienna, though, Mozart had become aware of some rich opportunities, and he decided to settle there as a freelance performer and composer.[34]

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 errant son, urging him to be reconciled with their employer; but Wolfgang passionately defended his intention to pursue an independent career in Vienna. The debate ended when Mozart was dismissed, freeing him from the demands of an oppressive employer and of an over-solicitous father. Solomon characterizes Mozart's resignation as a "revolutionary step", and it greatly altered the course of his life.[35]

Early Vienna years

Mozart's new career in Vienna began well. He performed often as a pianist, notably in a competition before the Emperor with Muzio Clementi on 24 December 1781,[34] and he soon "had established himself as the finest keyboard player in Vienna".[34] He also prospered as a composer, and in 1782 completed the opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail ("The Abduction from the Seraglio"), which premiered on 16 July 1782 to enormous acclaim. The work was soon being performed "throughout German-speaking Europe",[34] and fully established Mozart's reputation as a composer.

1782 portrait of Constanze Mozart by her brother-in-law Joseph Lange

Near the height of his quarrels with Colloredo, Mozart 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.[36] 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, Constanze. The couple were married on 4 August 1782, eventually securing Leopold's "grudging consent".[37] In the marriage contract, Constanze "assigns to her bridegroom five hundred gulden which [...] the latter has promised to augment with one thousand gulden", with the total "to pass to the survivor". Further, all joint acquisitions during the marriage were to remain the common property of both.[38]

The couple had six children (although only two survived infancy):

  • Raimund Leopold (17 June – 19 August 1783)
  • Karl Thomas Mozart (21 September 1784 – 31 October 1858)
  • Johann Thomas Leopold (18 October – 15 November 1786)
  • Theresia Constanzia Adelheid Friedericke Maria Anna (27 December 1787 – 29 June 1788)
  • Anna Maria (died soon after birth, 25 December 1789)
  • Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart (26 July 1791 – 29 July 1844)

In the course of 1782 and 1783 Mozart became intimately acquainted with the work of Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel as a result of the influence of Gottfried van Swieten, who owned many manuscripts of the Baroque masters. Mozart's study of these scores inspired compositions in Baroque style, and later had a powerful influence on his own personal musical language: for example in fugal passages in Die Zauberflöte ("The Magic Flute") and the finale of Symphony No. 41.

In 1783, Wolfgang and Constanze visited his family in Salzburg. Leopold and Nannerl were, at best, only polite to Constanze; but the visit at least prompted the composition of one of Mozart's great liturgical pieces, the Mass in C minor. Though not completed, it was premiered in Salzburg, with Constanze singing a solo part.[39]

Mozart met Joseph Haydn in Vienna, and the two composers became friends (see Haydn and Mozart). When Haydn visited Vienna, they sometimes played together in an impromptu string quartet. Mozart's six quartets dedicated to Haydn (K. 387, K. 421, K. 428, K. 458, K. 464, and K. 465) date from the period 1782 to 1785, and amount to a carefully considered response to Haydn's Opus 33 set from 1781. He stood in awe of Mozart, whose sister recorded that in 1781 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, he has taste and what is more the greatest skill in composition."[40]

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 theaters was scarce, he booked unconventional venues: a large room in the Trattnerhof (an apartment building); and the ballroom of the Mehlgrube (a restaurant).[41] The concerts were very popular, and the concertos he premiered at them are still firm fixtures in the repertoire. Solomon writes that during this period Mozart created "a harmonious connection between an eager composer-performer and a delighted audience, which was given the opportunity of witnessing the transformation and perfection of a major musical genre".[41]

With substantial returns from his concerts and elsewhere, he and Constanze adopted a rather plush lifestyle. They moved to an expensive apartment, with a yearly rent of 460 florins.[42] Mozart also bought a fine fortepiano from Anton Walter for about 900 florins, and a billiard table for about 300.[42] The Mozarts sent their son Karl Thomas to an expensive boarding school,[43][44] and kept servants. Saving was therefore impossible, and the short period of financial success did nothing to soften the hardship the Mozarts were later to experience.[45][46]

On 14 December 1784, Mozart became a Freemason, admitted to the lodge Zur Wohltätigkeit ("Beneficence").[47] Freemasonry played an important role in the remainder of Mozart's life: he attended many meetings, a number of his friends were Masons, and on various occasions he composed Masonic music. (See Mozart and Freemasonry.)

1786–1787: Return to opera

Despite the great success of Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Mozart did little operatic writing for the next four years, producing only two unfinished works and the one-act Der Schauspieldirektor. He focused instead on his career as a piano soloist and writer of concertos. However, around the end of 1785, Mozart moved away from keyboard writing[48] and began his famous operatic collaboration with the librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte. 1786 saw the successful premiere of The Marriage of Figaro in Vienna. Its reception in Prague later in the year was even warmer, and this led to a second collaboration with Da Ponte: the opera Don Giovanni, which premiered in October 1787 to acclaim in Prague, and also met with success in Vienna in 1788. The two are esteemed among Mozart's most important works and are mainstays of the operatic repertoire today, though at their premieres their musical complexity caused difficulty for both listeners and performers. These developments were not witnessed by the composer's father, as Leopold had died on 28 May 1787.

In December 1787 Mozart finally obtained a steady post under aristocratic patronage. Emperor Joseph II appointed him as his "chamber composer", a post that had fallen vacant the previous month on the death of Gluck. It was a part-time appointment, paying just 800 florins per year, and only required Mozart to compose dances for the annual balls in the Redoutensaal. Mozart complained to Constanze that the pay was "too much for what I do, too little for what I could do".[49] However, even this modest income became important to Mozart when hard times arrived. Court records show that Joseph's aim was to keep the esteemed composer from leaving Vienna in pursuit of better prospects.[49]

In 1787 the young Ludwig van Beethoven spent two weeks in Vienna, hoping to study with Mozart. The evidence concerning this time is conflicting, and at least three hypotheses are in play: that Mozart heard Beethoven play and praised him; that Mozart rejected Beethoven as a student; and that they never even met. (See Mozart and Beethoven.)


Drawing of Mozart in silverpoint, made by Dora Stock during Mozart's visit to Dresden, April 1789

Toward the end of the decade, Mozart's circumstances worsened. Around 1786 he had ceased to appear frequently in public concerts, and his income shrank.[50] This was a difficult time for all musicians in Vienna because Austria was at war, and both the general level of prosperity and the ability of the aristocracy to support music had declined. [51]

By mid-1788, Mozart and his family had moved from central Vienna to the suburb of Alsergrund.[50] Although it has been thought that Mozart reduced his rental expenses, recent research shows that by moving to the suburb Mozart had certainly not reduced his expenses (as claimed in his letter to Puchberg), but merely increased the housing space at his disposal.[52] Mozart began to borrow money, most often from his friend and fellow Mason Michael Puchberg; "a pitiful sequence of letters pleading for loans" survives.[53] Maynard Solomon and others have suggested that Mozart was suffering from depression, and it seems that his output slowed.[54] Major works of the period include the last three symphonies (Nos. 39, 40, and 41, all from 1788, and the last of the three Da Ponte operas, Così fan tutte, premiered in 1790.

Around this time Mozart made long journeys hoping to improve his fortunes: to Leipzig, Dresden, and Berlin in the spring of 1789 (see Mozart's Berlin journey), and to Frankfurt, Mannheim, and other German cities in 1790. The trips produced only isolated success and did not relieve the family's financial distress.


Mozart's last year was, until his final illness struck, a time of great productivity—and by some accounts a time of personal recovery.[55] He composed a great deal, including some of his most admired works: the opera The Magic Flute, the final piano concerto (K. 595 in B-flat), the Clarinet Concerto K. 622, the last in his great series of string quintets (K. 614 in E-flat), the motet Ave verum corpus K. 618, and the unfinished Requiem K. 626.

Mozart's financial situation, a source of extreme anxiety in 1790, finally began to improve. Although the evidence is inconclusive[56] it appears that wealthy patrons in Hungary and Amsterdam pledged annuities to Mozart, in return for the occasional composition. He probably also benefited from the sale of dance music written in his role as Imperial chamber composer.[56] Mozart no longer borrowed large sums from Puchberg, and made a start on paying off his debts.[56]

He experienced great satisfaction in the public success of some of his works, notably The Magic Flute (performed many times in the short period between its premiere and Mozart's death)[57] and the Little Masonic Cantata K. 623, premiered on 15 November 1791.[58]

Final illness and death

Posthumous painting by Barbara Krafft in 1819

Mozart fell ill while in Prague, for the premiere on 6 September of his opera La clemenza di Tito, written in 1791 on commission for the Emperor's coronation festivities.[59] He was able to continue his professional functions for some time, and conducted the premiere of The Magic Flute on 30 September. The illness intensified on 20 November, at which point Mozart became bedridden, suffering from swelling, pain, and vomiting.[60]

Mozart was nursed in his final illness by Constanze and her youngest sister Sophie, and attended by the family doctor, Thomas Franz Closset. It is clear that he was mentally occupied with the task of finishing his Requiem. However, the evidence that he actually dictated passages to his student Süssmayr is very slim.[61][62]

Mozart died at 1 a.m. on 5 December 1791 at the age of 35. The New Grove gives a matter-of-fact description of his funeral:

Mozart was buried in a common grave, in accordance with contemporary Viennese custom, at the St Marx cemetery outside the city on 7 December. If, as later reports say, no mourners attended, that too is consistent with Viennese burial customs at the time; later Jahn (1856) wrote that Salieri, Süssmayr, van Swieten and two other musicians were present. The tale of a storm and snow is false; the day was calm and mild.[63]

The cause of Mozart's death cannot be known with certainty. The official record has it as "hitziges Frieselfieber" ("severe miliary fever", referring to a rash that looks like millet seeds), a description that does not suffice to identify the cause as it would be diagnosed in modern medicine. Dozens of theories have been proposed, including trichinosis, influenza, mercury poisoning, and a rare kidney ailment. The practice of bleeding medical patients, common at that time, is also cited as a contributing factor. The most widely accepted version, however, is that he died of acute rheumatic fever; he is known to have had three or even four attacks of it since his childhood, and this disease has a tendency to recur, with increasingly serious consequences each time, such as rampant infection and damage to the heart valves.[64] A 2009 paper suggested that Mozart may have died from acute nephritic syndrome arising from a streptococcus infection.[65]

Mozart's sparse funeral did not reflect his standing with the public as a composer: memorial services and concerts in Vienna and Prague were well attended. Indeed, in the period immediately after his death Mozart's reputation rose substantially: Solomon describes an "unprecedented wave of enthusiasm"[66] for his work; biographies were written (first by Schlichtegroll, Niemetschek, and Nissen; see Biographies of Mozart); and publishers vied to produce complete editions of his works.[66]

Appearance and character

Unfinished portrait of Mozart by his brother-in-law Joseph Lange

Mozart's physical appearance was described by tenor Michael Kelly, in his Reminiscences: "a remarkable small man, very thin and pale, with a profusion of fine, fair hair of which he was rather vain". As his early biographer Niemetschek wrote, "there was nothing special about [his] physique. [...] He was small and his countenance, except for his large intense eyes, gave no signs of his genius." His facial complexion was pitted, a reminder of his childhood case of smallpox. He loved elegant clothing. Kelly remembered him at a rehearsal: "[He] was on the stage with his crimson pelisse and gold-laced cocked hat, giving the time of the music to the orchestra." Of his voice Constanze later wrote that it "was a tenor, rather soft in speaking and delicate in singing, but when anything excited him, or it became necessary to exert it, it was both powerful and energetic".[67]

Mozart usually worked long and hard, finishing compositions at a tremendous pace as deadlines approached. He often made sketches and drafts, though unlike Beethoven's these are mostly not preserved, Constanze having sought to destroy them after his death.[68] See: Mozart's compositional method.

He was raised a Roman Catholic, and remained a loyal member of the Church throughout his life; see: Mozart and Roman Catholicism.

Mozart lived at the center of the Viennese musical world, and knew a great number and variety of people: fellow musicians, theatrical performers, fellow transplanted Salzburgers, and many aristocrats, including some acquaintance with the Emperor Joseph II. Solomon considers his three closest friends to have been Gottfried von Jacquin, Count August Hatzfeld, and Sigmund Barisani; the many others included his older colleague Joseph Haydn, singers Franz Xaver Gerl and Benedikt Schack, and the horn player Joseph Leutgeb. Leutgeb and Mozart carried on a curious kind of friendly mockery, often with Leutgeb as the butt of Mozart's practical jokes.[69]

He enjoyed billiards and dancing (see: Mozart and dance), and kept pets: a canary, a starling, a dog, and also a horse for recreational riding.[70] Particularly in his youth, Mozart had a striking fondness for scatological humor, which is preserved in his many surviving letters, notably those written to his cousin Maria Anna Thekla Mozart around 1777–1778, but also in his correspondence with his sister Nannerl and his parents.[71] Mozart even wrote scatological music, the canon "Leck mich im Arsch" (literally "Lick me in the arse", sometimes idiomatically translated "Kiss my arse" or "Get stuffed") K. 231.

Works, musical style, and innovations


A sheet of music from the Dies Irae movement of the "Requiem Mass in D Minor" (K. 626) in Mozart's own handwriting. It is located at the Mozarthaus in Vienna.

Mozart's music, like Haydn's, stands as an archetype of the Classical style. At the time he began composing, European music was dominated by the style galant: a reaction against the highly evolved intricacy of the Baroque. But progressively, and in large part at the hands of Mozart himself, the contrapuntal complexities of the late Baroque emerged once more, moderated and disciplined by new forms, and adapted to a new aesthetic and social milieu. Mozart was a versatile composer, and wrote in every major genre, including symphony, opera, the solo concerto, chamber music including string quartet and string quintet, and the piano sonata. These forms were not new; but Mozart advanced the technical sophistication and emotional reach of them all. He almost single-handedly developed and popularized the Classical piano concerto. He wrote a great deal of religious music, including large-scale masses: but also many dances, divertimenti, serenades, and other forms of light entertainment.

The central traits of the Classical style are all present in Mozart's music. Clarity, balance, and transparency are the hallmarks of his work, but any simplistic notion of its delicacy masks the exceptional power of his finest masterpieces, such as the Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491, the Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550, and the opera Don Giovanni. Charles Rosen makes the point forcefully:

It is only through recognizing the violence and sensuality at the center of Mozart's work that we can make a start towards a comprehension of his structures and an insight into his magnificence. In a paradoxical way, Schumann's superficial characterization of the G minor Symphony can help us to see Mozart's daemon more steadily. In all of Mozart's supreme expressions of suffering and terror, there is something shockingly voluptuous.[72]

Especially during his last decade, Mozart exploited chromatic harmony to a degree rare at the time, with remarkable assurance and to great artistic effect.

Mozart always had a gift for absorbing and adapting valuable features of others' music. His travels certainly helped in the forging of a unique compositional language.[73] In London as a child, he met J.C. Bach and heard his music. In Paris, Mannheim, and Vienna he met with many other compositional influences, as well as the avant-garde capabilities of the Mannheim orchestra. In Italy he encountered the Italian overture and opera buffa, both of which deeply affected the evolution of his own practice. Both in London and Italy, the galant style was in the ascendent: simple, light music with a mania for cadencing; an emphasis on tonic, dominant, and subdominant to the exclusion of other harmonies; symmetrical phrases; and clearly articulated partitions in the overall form of movements.[74] Some of Mozart's early symphonies are Italian overtures, with three movements running into each other; many are homotonal (all three movements having the same key signature, with the slow middle movement being in the relative minor). Others mimic the works of J.C. Bach, and others show the simple rounded binary forms turned out by Viennese composers.

As Mozart matured, he progressively incorporated more features adapted from the Baroque. For example, the Symphony No. 29 in A Major K. 201 has a contrapuntal main theme in its first movement, and experimentation with irregular phrase lengths. Some of his quartets from 1773 have fugal finales: probably influenced by Haydn, who had included three such finales in his recently published Opus 20 set. The influence of the Sturm und Drang ("Storm and Stress") period in music, with its brief foreshadowing of the Romantic era to come, is evident in the music of both composers at that time. Mozart's Symphony No. 25 in G minor K. 183 is another excellent example.

Mozart would sometimes switch his focus between operas and instrumental music. He produced operas in each of the prevailing styles: opera buffa, such as The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte; opera seria, such as Idomeneo; and Singspiel, of which Die Zauberflöte is the most famous example by any composer. In his later operas he employed subtle changes in instrumentation, orchestral texture, and tone color, for emotional depth and to mark dramatic shifts. Here his advances in opera and instrumental composing interacted: his increasingly sophisticated use of the orchestra in the symphonies and concertos influenced his operatic orchestration, and his developing subtlety in using the orchestra to psychological effect in his operas was in turn reflected in his later non-operatic compositions.[75]

Portrait of Beethoven as a young man by Carl Traugott Riedel (1769–1832)


Mozart's most famous pupil, whom the Mozarts took into their Vienna home for two years as a child, was probably Johann Nepomuk Hummel, a transitional figure between Classical and Romantic eras.[76]

More important is the influence Mozart had on composers of later generations. Ever since the surge in his reputation after his death, studying his scores has been a standard part of the training of classical musicians.

Ludwig van Beethoven, Mozart's junior by fourteen years, esteemed and was deeply influenced by his work, with which he was acquainted as a teenager. He is thought to have played in the court orchestra at Bonn in performance of Mozart's operas,[77] and he traveled to Vienna in 1787 hoping to study the older composer (see above). Some of Beethoven's works have direct models in comparable works by Mozart, and he wrote cadenzas (WoO 58) to Mozart's D minor piano concerto K. 466.

A number of composers have paid homage to Mozart by writing sets of variations on his themes. Beethoven wrote four such sets (Op. 66, WoO 28, WoO 40, WoO 46). Others include Frédéric Chopin's Variations for Piano and Orchestra on "Là ci darem la mano" from Don Giovanni (1827) and Max Reger's Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Mozart (1914), based on the variation theme in the piano sonata K. 331.[78] Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote his Orchestral Suite No. 4 in G, "Mozartiana" (1887), as a tribute to Mozart.

Köchel catalogue

For unambiguous identification of works by Mozart, a Köchel catalogue number is used. This is a unique number assigned, in regular chronological order, to every one of his known works. A work is referenced by the abbreviation "K." followed by this number. The first edition of the catalogue was completed in 1862 by Ludwig von Köchel. It has repeatedly been updated since then, as scholarly research improves our knowledge of the dates and authenticity of individual works.

See also


  1. ^ Mozart's exact name involved many complications; for details see Mozart's name.
  2. ^ Till, p. 320
  3. ^ Robbins Landon, p. 171
  4. ^ Deutsch 1965, p. 9
  5. ^ Deutsch 1965, p. 455
  6. ^ a b Solomon 1995, pp. 39–40
  7. ^ Deutsch 1965, p. 453
  8. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 33
  9. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 44
  10. ^ Halliwell 1998, pp. 51, 53
  11. ^ Halliwell 1998, pp. 47–48
  12. ^ Halliwell 1998, pp. 82–83
  13. ^ Halliwell 1998, pp. 99–102
  14. ^ Halliwell 1998, p. 172, pp. 183–185
  15. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 106
  16. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 103
  17. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 98
  18. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 107
  19. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 109
  20. ^ Archbishop Colloredo responded to the request by dismissing both Wolfgang and Leopold, though the dismissal of the latter was not actually carried out. See Halliwell 1998, p. 225.
  21. ^ Rushton (1992)
  22. ^ Deutsch 1965, p. 174
  23. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 149
  24. ^ Halliwell 1998, pp. 304–305
  25. ^ Abert (2007, 509)
  26. ^ Halliwell 1998, p. 305
  27. ^ For details see Halliwell 1998, chs. 18–19.
  28. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 157
  29. ^ See for example Halliwell 1998, p. 322
  30. ^ Rushton 1992, §3
  31. ^ Deutsch 1965, p. 176
  32. ^ "Award of the Papal Equestrian Order of the Golden Spur to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart", Vatican Archives
  33. ^ New Grove Vol. 12, p. 700
  34. ^ a b c d Rushton 1992, §4
  35. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 247
  36. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 253
  37. ^ New Grove Vol. 12, p. 702
  38. ^ Deutsch 1965, p. 204
  39. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 270
  40. ^ Deutsch 1965, pp. 461–462
  41. ^ a b Solomon 1995, p. 293
  42. ^ a b Solomon 1995, p. 298
  43. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 430
  44. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 578
  45. ^ Solomon 1995, §27
  46. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 431
  47. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 321
  48. ^ Solomon 1995
  49. ^ a b Solomon 1995, pp. 423–424
  50. ^ a b Rushton 1992, §6
  51. ^ Solomon 1995
  52. ^ Michael Lorenz, 'Mozart’s Apartment on the Alsergrund', published on the internet on 8 June 2009.
  53. ^ New Grove Vol. 12, p. 710
  54. ^ Steptoe 1988, p. 208
  55. ^ Solomon 1995, §30
  56. ^ a b c Solomon 1995, p. 477
  57. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 487
  58. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 490
  59. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 485
  60. ^ Solomon 1995, 491
  61. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 493
  62. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 588
  63. ^ New Grove Vol 12, p. 716
  64. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 491
  65. ^ Richard H.C. Zegers; Andreas Weigl; and Andrew Steptoe The Death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: An Epidemiologic Perspective Annals of Internal Medicine Volume 151 Issue 4, pp. 274–278
  66. ^ a b Solomon 1995, p. 499
  67. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 308
  68. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 310
  69. ^ Solomon 1995, §20
  70. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 319
  71. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 169
  72. ^ Rosen, Charles (1998). The Classical Style. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 324. ISBN 0393317129. 
  73. ^ Solomon (1995, ch. 8) discusses the sources of style as well as his early imitative ability.
  74. ^ Heartz, Daniel (2003). Music in European Capitals: The Galant Style, 1720–1780. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0393050807. 
  75. ^ Einstein, Alfred (31 December 1965). Mozart: His Character, His Work. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195007328. 
  76. ^ Solomon 1995, p. 574
  77. ^ "Mozart, Mozart's Magic Flute and Beethoven". Raptus Association. 
  78. ^ March, Ivan (3 January 2006). The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and DVDs 2005/06 Edition. Penguin Books. ISBN 0141022620. 


  • Abert, Hermann (2007) W. A. Mozart. Translated by Stewart Spencer with additional notes by Cliff Eisen. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0300072236
  • Deutsch, Otto Erich (1966) Mozart: A Documentary Biography, Stanford University Press, ISBN 0804702330.
  • Halliwell, Ruth (1998) The Mozart Family: Four Lives in a Social Context, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0198163711.
  • Robbins Landon, H. C. (1990) Mozart's Last Year, London, Fontana Paperbacks, ISBN 0-00-654324-3
  • Rushton, Julian (1998) New Grove Dictionary of Opera, London: Grove Publications, ISBN 0-333-73432-7 .
  • Sadie, Stanley (ed.) (1980). New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-3333-23111. 
  • Solomon, Maynard (1996) Mozart: A Life, Harper Perennial, ISBN 0060926929.
  • Steptoe, Andrew (1990) The Mozart—da Ponte Operas, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0198162219.
  • Till, Nicholas (1994) Mozart and the Enlightenment: Truth, Virtue and Beauty in Mozart's Operas, W. W. Norton & Company, ISBN 0393313956.

Further reading

  • Cairns, David (2006) Mozart and His Operas, University of California Press, ISBN 0520228987.
  • Eisen, Cliff (2006) The Cambridge Mozart Encyclopedia, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521856590.
  • Gutman, Robert W. (2000), Mozart: A Cultural Biography, Harvest Books, ISBN 0156011719,
  • Rosen, Charles (1998) The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, W. W. Norton & Company, ISBN 0393317129.

External links

Digitized, scanned Material (Books, Sheetmusic)

Sheetmusic (Scores)



Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart article)

From Wikiquote

Be silent, if you choose; but when it is necessary, speak — and speak in such a way that people will remember it.
It is a mistake to think that the practice of my art has become easy to me. I assure you, dear friend, no one has given so much care to the study of composition as I.
I never lie down at night without reflecting that — young as I am — I may not live to see another day.
I pay no attention whatever to anybody's praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-01-27 - 1791-12-05) was a composer and musician.



  • If Germany, my beloved fatherland, of whom you know I am proud, will not accept me, then must I, in the name of God, again make France or England richer by one capable German; — and to the shame of the German nation.
    • Letter to Leopold Mozart (Vienna, 1782-08-17), from Mozart: The Man and the Artist, as Revealed in his own Words by Friedrich Kerst, trans. Henry Edward Krehbiel (1906)
  • "She will never learn the most necessary, most difficult and principal thing in music, that is time, because from childhood she has designedly cultivated the habit of ignoring the beat."
    • Letter to Leopold Mozart (1777-10-24), from Mozart: The Man and the Artist, as Revealed in his own Words by Friedrich Kerst, trans. Henry Edward Krehbiel (1906) [1]
  • I know myself, and I have such a sense of religion that I shall never do anything which I would not do before the whole world; but I am alarmed at the very thoughts of being in the society of people, during my journey, whose mode of thinking is so entirely different from mine (and from that of all good people). But of course they must do as they please. I have no heart to travel with them, nor could I enjoy one pleasant hour, nor know what to talk about; for, in short, I have no great confidence in them. Friends who have no religion cannot be long our friends.
    • Letter to Leopold Mozart (Mannheim, 1778-02-02), from The letters of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1769-1791, translated, from the collection of Ludwig Nohl, by Lady [Grace] Wallace (Oxford University Press, 1865, digitized 2006) vol. I, # 91 (p. 164) [2]
  • The most stimulating and encouraging thought is that you, dearest father, and my dear sister, are well, that I am an honest German, and that if I am not always permitted to talk I can think what I please; but that is all.
    • Letter to Leopold Mozart (Paris, 1778-05-29), from Mozart: The Man and the Artist, as Revealed in his own Words by Friedrich Kerst, trans. Henry Edward Krehbiel (1906)
  • Music is my life and my life is music. Anyone who does not understand this is not worthy of god.(London, Henry Colburn, 1826; digitized 2006), 2nd ed., vol. I (p. 225) [3]
  • I must give you a piece of intelligence that you perhaps already know — namely, that the ungodly arch-villain Voltaire has died miserably like a dog — just like a brute. That is his reward!
    • Letter to Leopold Mozart (1778-07-03), from The letters of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1769-1791, translated, from the collection of Ludwig Nohl, by Lady [Grace] Wallace (Oxford University Press, 1865, digitized 2006) vol. I, # 107 (p. 218) [4]
  • A fellow of mediocre talent will remain a mediocrity, whether he travels or not; but one of superior talent (which without impiety I cannot deny that I possess) will go to seed if he always remains in the same place.
    • Letter to Leopold Mozart (1778-09-11), from Wolfgang Amadé Mozart by Georg Knepler (1991), trans. J. Bradford Robinson [Cambridge University Press, 1994, ISBN 0-521-58823-5], p. 12
  • As I love Mannheim, Mannheim loves me.
    • Letter to Leopold Mozart, (Mannheim, 1778-11-12], from Mozart's Letters, Mozart's Life: Selected Letters, ed. Robert Spaethling [W.W. Norton, 2000, ISBN 0-393-04719-9], p. 193
  • My fatherland has always the first claim on me.
    • Letter to Leopold Mozart (1781-11-24), from Mozart: The Man and the Artist, as Revealed in his own Words by Friedrich Kerst, trans. Henry Edward Krehbiel (1906)
  • I care very little for Salzburg and not at all for the archbishop: I shit on both of them.
    • Letter to Leopold Mozart (1783-07-12), from The Complete Operas of Mozart: a critical guide By Charles Osborne [Da Capo, 1983, ISBN 0-306-80190-6], p. 208
  • As death, when we come to consider it closely, is the true goal of our existence, I have formed during the last few years such close relationships with this best and truest friend of mankind that death's image is not only no longer terrifying to me, but is indeed very soothing and consoling, and I thank my God for graciously granting me the opportunity...of learning that death is the key which unlocks the door to our true happiness. I never lie down at night without reflecting that —- young as I am — I may not live to see another day. Yet no one of all my acquaintances could say that in company I am morose or disgruntled.
    • Letter to Leopold Mozart (1787-04-04), from The Mozart-Da Ponte Operas by Andrew Steptoe [Oxford University Press, 1988, ISBN 0-198-16221-9], p. 84
  • It is a mistake to think that the practice of my art has become easy to me. I assure you, dear friend, no one has given so much care to the study of composition as I. There is scarcely a famous master in music whose works I have not frequently and diligently studied.
    • Spoken in Prague, 1787, to conductor Kucharz, who led the rehearsals for Don Giovanni, from Mozart: The Man and the Artist, as Revealed in his own Words by Friedrich Kerst, trans. Henry Edward Krehbiel (1906)
  • Melody is the essence of music. I compare a good melodist to a fine racer, and counterpointists to hack post-horses; therefore be advised, let well alone and remember the old Italian proverb: 'Chi sa più, meno sa— Who knows most, knows least.
    • As spoken to Michael Kelly, from Reminiscences of Michael Kelly, of the King's Theatre, and Theatre Royal Drury Lane, including a period of nearly half a century; with Original Anecdotes of many distinguished Personnages, Political, Literary, and Musical, (London, Henry Colburn, 1826; digitized 2006), 2nd ed., vol. I (p. 225) [5]
  • Stay with me to-night; you must see me die. I have long had the taste of death on my tongue, I smell death, and who will stand by my Constanze, if you do not stay?
    • Spoken on his deathbed to his sister-in-law, Sophie Weber (1791-12-05), from Mozart: The Man and the Artist, as Revealed in his own Words by Friedrich Kerst, trans. Henry Edward Krehbiel (1906)
    • Variant: The taste of death is on my tongue, I feel something that is not from this world (Der Geschmack des Todes ist auf meiner Zunge, ich fühle etwas, das nicht von dieser Welt ist).
  • The passions, whether violent or not, should never be so expressed as to reach the point of causing disgust; and music, even in situations of the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but should flatter and charm it, and thereby always remain music.
    • Letter by Mozart, as quoted in a journal entry (12 December 1856) The Journal of Eugene Delacroixas translated by Walter Pach (1937), p. 521
  • All I insist on, and nothing else, is that you should show the whole world that you are not afraid. Be silent, if you choose; but when it is necessary, speak — and speak in such a way that people will remember it.
    • Letter as published in The Letters of Mozart & His Family (1938) translated and edited by Emily Anderson, p. 1114
  • I pay no attention whatever to anybody's praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.
    • Musician's Little Book of Wisdom‎ (1996) by Scott E. Power, Quote 416.


  • Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.
    • True genius without heart is a thing of nought - for not great understanding alone, not intelligence alone, nor both together, make genius. Love! Love! Love! that is the soul of genius. - Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin, entry in Mozart's souvenir album (1787-04-11) from Mozart: A Life by Maynard Solomon [Harper-Collins, 1966, ISBN 0-060-92692-9], p.312
  • When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer — say traveling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep — it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best, and most abundantly. Whence and how they come, I know not, nor can I force them.
    • From a letter now regarded as a forgery by Johann Friedrich Rochlitz [6], [7], [8]

Quotations about Mozart

Karl Barth

  • It may be that when the angels go about their task praising God, they play only Bach. I am sure, however, that when they are together en famille they play Mozart.
    • Possibly a misattributed quotation which actually originated with Vicki Baum - Results of an Accident, 1931
  • Mozart creates music from a mysterious center, and so knows the limits to the right and the left, above and below. He maintains moderation.
  • Mozart's music always sounds unburdened, effortless, and light. This is why it unburdens, releases, and liberates us.
  • Mozart's music is an invitation to the listener to venture just a little out of the sense of his own subjectivity.
  • Mozart's music is free of all exaggeration, of all sharp breaks and contradictions. The sun shines but does not blind, does not burn or consume. Heaven arches over the earth, but it does not weigh it down, it does not crush or devour it.

Leonard Bernstein

  • It is hard to think of another composer who so perfectly marries form and passion.
  • Mozart combines serenity, melancholy, and tragic intensity into one great lyric improvisation. Over it all hovers the greater spirit that is Mozart's — the spirit of compassion, of universal love, even of suffering — a spirit that knows no age, that belongs to all ages.
  • Mozart's music is constantly escaping from its frame, because it cannot be contained in it.

Charles Gounod

  • Before Mozart, all ambition turns to despair.
  • Mozart, prodigal heaven gave thee everything, grace and strength, abundance and moderation, perfect equilibrium.
  • Who has reached the extreme limits of scale with the same infallible precision, equally guarded against the false refinement of artificial elegance and the roughness of spurious force? Who has better known how to breathe anguish and dread into the purest and most exquisite forms?
  • Mozart exists, and will exist, eternally; divine Mozart - less a name, more a soul descending to us from the heavens, who appeared on this earth, stayed for a little over thirty years, and left it all the more rejuvenated, richer and happier for his appearance.
  • As with all great artists, Mozart expressed not only the soul, the taste and the aroma of his epoch, but also the spiritual world of man-man for all ages, in all the complexity of his desires, his struggles and ambivalence. Some of us, who only identify in Mozart a certain aristocratic refinement, may find these words strange. Often we meet with a condescending attitude towards him, to his music, reminiscent of chiming bells in a music box! ...'It's very nice, but not for me' say such people, 'give me passion - Beethoven, Brahms, tragic, monumental...' Such comments only reveal one thing, these people don't know Mozart.

George Szell

editor, Viva Mozart: An Anthology of Appreciation
  • 21 piano sonatas, 27 piano concertos, 41 symphonies, 18 masses, 13 operas, 9 oratorios and cantata, 2 ballets, 40 plus concertos for various instruments, string quartets, trios and quintets, violin and piano duets piano quartets, and the songs. This astounding output includes hardly one work less than a masterpiece.
  • Lengthy immersion in the works of other composers can tire. The music of Mozart does not tire, and this is one of its miracles.
  • Listening to Mozart, we cannot think of any possible improvement.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

  • I find consolation and rest in Mozart's music, wherein he gives expression to that joy of life which was part of his sane and wholesome temperament.
  • Mozart is the highest, the culminating point that beauty has attained in the sphere of music.
  • Mozart is the musical Christ.


  • We cannot despair about mankind knowing that Mozart was a man. ~ Albert Einstein
  • When Mozart composed he didn't have aims of genius, he simply was one. ~ Sir Roger Norrington
  • Mozart has the classic purity of light and the red ocean; Beethoven the romantic grandeur which belongs to the storms of air and sea, and while the soul of Mozart seems to dwell on the ethereal peaks of Olympus, that of Beethoven climbs shuddering the storm-beaten sides of a Sinai. Blessed be they both! Each represents a moment of the ideal life, each does us good. Our love is due to both. ~ Henri-Frédéric Amiel
  • Mozart shows a creative power of such magnitude that one can virtually say that he tossed out of himself one great masterpiece after another. ~ Claudio Arrau
  • Most of all I admire Mozart's capacity to be both deep and rational, a combination often said to be impossible. ~ Allan Bloom
  • Mozart combined high formality and playfulness that delights as no other composition in any other medium does. ~ Roy Blount, Jr.
  • In my dreams of heaven, I always see the great Masters gathered in a huge hall in which they all reside. Only Mozart has his own suite. ~ Victor Borge
  • If we cannot write with the beauty of Mozart, let us at least try to write with his purity. ~ Johannes Brahms
  • It is a real pleasure to see music so bright and spontaneous expressed with corresponding ease and grace. ~ Johannes Brahms
  • Mozart encompasses the entire domain of musical creation, but I've got only the keyboard in my poor head. ~ Frédéric Chopin
  • Mozart tapped the source from which all music flows, expressing himself with a spontaneity and refinement and breathtaking rightness. ~ Aaron Copland
  • Mozart does not give the listener time to catch his breath, for no sooner is one inclined to reflect upon a beautiful inspiration than another appears, even more splendid, which drives away the first, and this continues on and on, so that in the end one is unable to retain any of these beauties in the memory. ~ Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf
  • Mozart began his works in childhood and a childlike quality lurked in his compositions until it dawned on him that the Requiem he was writing for a stranger was his own. ~ Will and Ariel Durant
  • Mozart is the greatest composer of all. Beethoven created his music, but the music of Mozart is of such purity and beauty that one feels he merely found it — that it has always existed as part of the inner beauty of the universe waiting to be revealed. ~ Albert Einstein
  • Mozart's music is particularly difficult to perform. His admirable clarity exacts absolute cleanness: the slightest mistake in it stands out like black on white. It is music in which all the notes must be heard. ~ Gabriel Fauré
  • There are three things in the world I love most: the sea, Hamlet, and Don Giovanni. ~ Gustave Flaubert
  • Mozart's joy is made of serenity, and a phrase of his music is like a calm thought; his simplicity is merely purity. It is a crystalline thing in which all the emotions play a role, but as if already celestially transposed. Moderation consists in feeling emotions as the angels do. ~ André Gide
  • Mozart did not die too early, but rather too late. ~ Glenn Gould
  • For one moment in the history of music all opposites were reconciled; all tensions resolved; that luminous moment was Mozart. ~ Phil Goulding
  • In Mozart's music, all intensity are crystallized in the clearest, the most beautifully balanced and proportioned, and altogether flawless musical forms. ~ Phil Goulding
  • In Bach, Beethoven and Wagner we admire principally the depth and energy of the human mind; in Mozart, the divine instinct. ~ Edvard Grieg
  • Mozart never did too little and never too much; he always attains but never exceeds his goal. ~ Franz Grillparzer
  • How can such a disproportionately large number of people have a definite, and unusually positive relationship to Mozart? ~ Wolfgang Hildesheimer
  • The riddle of Mozart is precisely that "the man" refuses to be a key for solving it. In death, as in life, he conceals himself behind his work. ~ Wolfgang Hildesheimer
  • Mozart's music is the mysterious language of a distant spiritual kingdom, whose marvelous accents echo in our inner being and arouse a higher, intensive life. ~ E.T.A. Hoffmann
  • Mozart said profound things and at the same time remained flippant and lively. ~ Michael Kennedy
  • Mozart has reached the boundary gate of music and leaped over it, leaving behind the old masters and moderns, and posterity itself. ~ A. Hyatt King
  • The works of Mozart may be easy to read, but they are very difficult to interpret. The least speck of dust spoils them. They are clear, transparent, and joyful as a spring, and not only those muddy pools which seem deep only because the bottom cannot be seen. ~ Wanda Landowska
  • Mozart resolved his emotions on a level that transformed them into moods uncontaminated by mortal anguish, enabling him to express the angelic anguish that is so peculiarly his own. ~ Yehudi Menuhin
  • Mozart is happiness before it has gotten defined. ~ Arthur Miller
  • Mozart wrote everything with such ease and speed as might at first be taken for carelessness or haste. His imagination held before him the whole work clear and lively once it was conceived. One seldom finds in his scores improved or erased passages. ~ Franz Niemetschek
  • There was nothing exceptional about the physical presence of this extraordinary man; he was small and his appearance gave no sign of his genius, apart from his large intense eyes. [...] But in this ungainly body there dwelt an artistic genius such as Nature rarely bestows even upon her most treasured darlings. ~ Franz Niemetschek
  • Mozart was able to do what he wished in music and he never wished to do what was beyond him. ~ Romain Rolland
  • Beethoven I take twice a week, Haydn four times, and Mozart every day! ~ Gioacchino Rossini
  • Give Mozart a fairy tale and he creates without effort an immortal masterpiece. ~ Camille Saint-Saëns
  • What gives Bach and Mozart a place apart is that these two great composers never sacrificed form to expression. As high as their expression may soar, their musical form remains supreme and all-efficient. ~ Camille Saint-Saëns
  • A light, bright, fine day this will remain throughout my whole life. As from afar, the magic notes of Mozart's music still gently haunts me. ~ Franz Schubert
  • A world that has produced a Mozart is a world worth saving. What a picture of a better world you have given us, Mozart! ~ Franz Schubert
  • Does it not seem as if Mozart's works become fresher and fresher the oftener we hear them? ~ Robert Schumann
  • Designing an opera by Mozart is like doing something for God — it's a labor of love. ~ Maurice Sendak
  • The best of Mozart's works cannot be even slightly rewritten without diminishment. ~ Peter Shaffer
  • What was evident was that Mozart was simply written down music already finished in his head. And music, finished as no music is ever finished. Displace one note and there would be diminishment. Displace one phrase and the structure would fall. I was staring through the cage of those meticulous ink strokes at an absolute beauty. ~ Peter Shaffer (spoken by Antonio Salieri in Shaffer's play Amadeus and slightly reworded in the movie adaptation of the play)
  • Mozart's music represents neither the prolonged sigh of faith that characterizes so much of the music written before his time, nor the stormy idealism which cloaks most music after him. Rather he is that mercurial balance of the skeptic and the humane. Like him, and in him, we can always discover new worlds. ~ Joseph Solman
  • Mozart makes you believe in God because it cannot be by chance that such a phenomenon arrives into this world and leaves such an unbounded number of unparalleled masterpieces. ~ Georg Solti
  • Sometimes the impact of Mozart's music is so immediate that the vision in the mind remains blurred and incomplete, while the soul seems to be directly invaded, drenched in wave upon wave of melancholy. ~ Stendhal
  • I listened to the pure crystalline notes of one of Mozart's concertos dropping at my feet like leaves from the trees. ~ Virgil Thomson
  • Mozart's mental grip never loosens; he never abandons himself to any one sense; even at his most ecstatic moments his mind is vigorous, alert, and on the wing. He dives unerringly on to his finest ideas like a bird of prey, and once an idea is seized he soars off again with an undiminished power. ~ Walter J. Turner
  • The most tremendous genius raised Mozart above all masters, in all centuries and in all the arts. ~ Richard Wagner

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary








Mozart (plural Mozarts)

  1. By analogy with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a musical virtuoso.
    • Sir William Mitchell, The Place of Minds in the World (1933) p. 142:
      One child is a Mozart with a flying start, while another foots it, and makes little way; but the course is the same, being set by the object.
    • Joseph Lane Hancock, Nature Sketches in Temperate America: A Series of Sketches and Popular Account of Insects, Birds,... (1911) p. 103:
      He is a Mozart in the insect world, sending out his strain upon the evening air.
    • Henry Ward Beecher, Plymouth Pulpit: Sermons Preached in Plymouth Church, Brooklyn (1875) p. 446:
      [W]e can understand how a father who is a good musician may have a son who is a Mozart—a genius in music...
  2. By extension, a virtuoso in any field.
    • Ryan A Nerz, Eat This Book: a year of gorging and glory on the competitive eating circuit (2006) p. 67:
      There is a Mozart of competitive eating who is yet to reveal himself.
    • Victor H. Mair, The Columbia History of Chinese Literature (2001) p. 296:
      Li Po is the most musical, most versatile, and most engaging of Chinese poets, a Mozart of words.
    • Lawrence Grobel, Endangered Species: Writers Talk about Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives (2001):
      Joyce Carol Oates has said, "If there is a Mozart of interviewers, Larry Grobel is that individual."
    • Kathryn Ann Lindskoog, Surprised by C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, and Dante: An Array of Original Discoveries (2001) p. 116:
      In contrast, MacDonald's Gibbie is not only a moral prodigy, but also a Mozart of religious sensibility.
    • Noel Bertram Gerson, Harriet Beecher Stowe: a biography (1976) p. 86:
      By the same token, Rembrandt resembled Hawthorne, and the architect who had designed Melrose Abbey was a Mozart among architects.

Proper noun


  1. A surname.
  2. Specifically, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.


Derived terms


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