1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus
MOZART, WOLFGANG AMADEUS (1756–1791), German composer, was born at Salzburg on the 27th of January 1756. He was educated by his father, Leopold Mozart, a violinist of high repute in the service of the archbishop of Salzburg. When only three years old he shared the harpsichord lessons of his sister Maria, five years his senior. A year later he played minuets, and composed little pieces, some of which are still preserved in Maria's music-book. When five years old he performed in public for the first time, in the hall of the university. In 1762 Leopold Mozart took Wolfgang and Maria on a musical tour, during the course of which they played before most of the sovereigns of Germany. The little "Wolferl's" charming appearance and disposition endeared him to every one; and so innocent and natural were his manners that at Vienna he sprang upon the empress's lap and kissed her. The emperor Francis I. sat by his side while he played, and called him his "little magician." When he slipped one day on the polished floor the archduchess Marie Antoinette, afterwards queen of France, lifted him up, whereupon he said, "You are very kind; when I grow up I will marry you." Yet, in spite of the petting he received at court, he remained as gentle and docile as ever, and so amenable to parental authority that he used to say, "Next after God comes my father." In 1763 the whole family started again. Wolferl now sang, composed, and played on the harpsichord, the organ and the violin, winning golden opinions everywhere. At every court he visited he was loaded with caresses and presents; but the journeys were expensive, and the family terribly poor. In Paris they lodged at the Bavarian embassy, giving performances on a grand scale both there and at Versailles, where Wolferl's organ-playing was even more admired than his performance on the harpsichord. Here, also, he published his first compositions—two sets of sonatas for the harpsichord and violin.
On the 10th of April 1764 Leopold Mozart brought his family to England, engaging a lodging in Cecil Court, St Martin's Lane, whence he afterwards removed to Frith Street, Soho. On the 27th of April and the 19th of May Wolferl played before the royal family with immense success, accompanying the queen in a song and playing at sight anything that the king set before him. He now made his first attempt at the composition of a symphony; published a third set of sonatas, dedicated to the queen; and wrote an anthem for four voices entitled God is our Refuge, for presentation to the British Museum. On the 17th of September 1765 the family left England for the Hague, where they remained some time, and where in March 1766 the young composer made his first attempt at an oratorio, commanding in Holland a success as great as that he had already attained in London, and astonishing his hearers at Haarlem by performing on what was at that time the largest organ in the world. In September 1767 he paid a second visit to Vienna, and at the suggestion of the emperor Joseph II. composed an opera buffa, La Finta semplice, which, though acknowledged by the company for which it was written to be "an incomparable work," was suppressed by a miserable cabal. The archbishop of Salzburg hearing of this commanded a representation of the rejected work in his palace, and appointed the young composer his "maestro di capella." The office, however, was merely an honorary one, and, since it did not involve compulsory residence, Leopold Mozart determined to complete his son's education in Italy, to which country he himself accompanied him in December 1769.
Wolfgang, now nearly fourteen years old, was already an accomplished musician, needing experience rather than instruction, and gaining it every day. At Milan he received a commission to write an opera for the following Christmas. Arriving in Rome on the Wednesday in Holy Week, he went at once to the Sistine Chapel to hear the celebrated Miserere of Gregorio Allegri, which, on returning to his hotel, he wrote down from memory note for note—a feat which created an immense sensation, for at that time the singers were forbidden to transcribe the music on pain of excommunication. Returning to Rome towards the end of June, he was invested by the pope with the order of "The Golden Spur," of which he was made a cavaliere, an honour which he prized the more highly because, not many years before, it had been conferred upon Gluck. In July he paid a second visit to Bologna, when the Accademia Filarmonica, after subjecting him to a severe examination, admitted him to the rank of "compositore," notwithstanding a statute restricting this preferment to candidates of at least twenty years old. The exercise which gained him this distinction is a four-part composition (Köchel's Catalogue, No. 86) in strict counterpoint on the antiphon Quaerite primum, written in the severe ecclesiastical style of the 16th century and abounding in points of ingenious imitation and device.
In October 1770 Wolfgang and his father returned to Milan for the completion and production of the new opera. The libretto, entitled Mitridate, Re di Ponto, was furnished by an obscure poet from Turin, to the great disappointment of the young maestro, who had hoped to set a drama by Metastasio. The progress of the work was interrupted from time to time by the miserable intrigues which seem inseparable from the lyric stage, exacerbated in this particular case by the jealousy of the resident professors, who refused to believe either that an Italian opera could be written by a native of Germany, or that a boy of fourteen could manage the orchestra of La Scala, at that time the largest in Europe. Fortunately the detractors were effectively silenced at the first full rehearsal; and on the 26th of December Wolfgang took his seat at the harpsichord and directed his work amidst a storm of genuine applause. The success of the piece was unprecedented. It had a continuous run of twenty nights, and delighted even the most captious critics.
Wolfgang's triumph was now complete. After playing with his usual success in Turin, Verona, Venice, Padua and other Italian cities, he returned with his father to Salzburg in March 1771, commissioned to compose a grand dramatic serenata for the approaching marriage of the archduke Ferdinand, and an opera for La Scala, to be performed during the season of 1773. The wedding took place at Milan on the 21st of October; and the serenata, Ascanio in Alba, was produced with an effect which completely eclipsed the new opera of Hasse, Ruggiero, composed for the same festivity. Hasse generously uttered the often-quoted prophecy, “This boy will cause us all to be forgotten.”
During the absence of Wolfgang and his father the good archbishop of Salzburg died; and in the spring of the year 1772 Hieronymus, count of Colioredo, was elected in his stead, to the horror of all who were acquainted with his real character. The Mozart family did their best to propitiate their new lord, for whose installation Wolfgang, after his return from Milan, composed an opera, Il Sogno di Scipione; but the newly-elected prelate had no taste for art, and was utterly incapable of appreciating the charm of any intellectual pursuit whatever. For a time, however, things went on smoothly. In October the father and son once more visited Milan for the preparation and production of the new opera, Lucio Silla, which was produced at Christmas with a success quite equal to that of Mitridate, and ran between twenty and thirty nights.
In the meantime Wolfgang continued to produce new works with incredible rapidity. In 1775 he composed an opera for Munich, La Finta giardiniera, produced on the 13th of January. In the following March he set to music Metastasio's dramatic cantata, Il Re pastore. Concertos, masses, symphonies, sonatas and other important works, both vocal and instrumental, followed each other without a pause. And this fertility of invention, instead of exhausting his genius, seemed only to stimulate it to still more indefatigable exertions. But the pecuniary return was so inconsiderable that in 1777 Leopold Mozart asked the archbishop for leave of absence for the purpose of making a professional tour. This was refused on the ground of the prelate's dislike to “that system of begging.” Wolfgang then requested permission to resign his appointment, which was only an honorary one, for the purpose of making the tour with his mother. The archbishop was furious; but the plan was carried out at last, and on the 23rd of September the mother and son started for Munich. The results were not encouraging. Leopold hoped that his son, now twenty-one years old, might obtain some profitable court appointment; but in this he was disappointed. And, worse still, poor Wolfgang fell in love at Mannheim with Aloysia Weber, a promising young vocalist, whose father, the prompter of the theatre (uncle of the great composer Weber), was very nearly penniless. On hearing of this Leopold ordered his wife and son to start instantly for Paris, where they arrived on the 23rd of March 1778. Wolfgang's usual success, however, seemed on this occasion to have deserted him. His reception was a cold one; and, to add to his misery, his mother fell seriously ill and died on the 3rd of July. Reduced almost to despair by this new trouble, he left Paris in September, rested for a while on his way home in Mannheim and Munich, was received by Aloysia Weber with coldness almost amounting to contempt, and in June 1779 returned to Salzburg, hoping against hope that he might make some better terms with the archbishop, who relented so far as to attach a salary of 500 florins (about £50) to his “concertmeister's” appointment, with leave of absence in case he should be engaged to write an opera elsewhere.
Two years later the desired opportunity presented itself. He was engaged to compose an opera for Munich for the carnival of 1781. The libretto was furnished by the abbate Varesco, court chaplain at Salzburg. On the 2gth of January 1781 the work was produced under the title of Idomeneo, re di Creta, with triumphant success, and thenceforth Mozart's position as an artist was assured; for this was not only the finest work he had ever written but incontestably the finest opera that had ever yet been placed upon the stage in any age or country.
And now the archbishop's character exhibited itself in its true colours. Art for its own sake he utterly disdained; but it flattered his vanity to retain a famous artist in his service with the power of insulting him at will. On hearing of the success of Idomeneo he instantly summoned the composer to Vienna, where he was spending the season. Mozart lost not a moment in presenting himself, but he soon found his position intolerable. That he should be condemned to dine with his patron's servants was the fault of the age, but the open disrespect with which the lowest menials treated him was due to the archbishop's example. His salary was reduced from 500 to 400 florins, he was left to pay his own travelling expenses, and he was not permitted to add to his means by giving a concert on his own account or to play anywhere but at the archiepiscopal palace. Archbishop Hieronymus was hated at court, and most of all by the emperor Joseph, who, on retiring to Laxenburg for the summer, did not place his name on the list of invited guests. This offended him so deeply that he left Vienna in disgust. The household were sent on to Salzburg, but Mozart was left to find lodgings at his own expense. Thereupon he sent in his resignation; and for this act of contumacy was insulted by the archbishop in terms too vulgar for translation. He persevered, however, in his resolution, taking lodgings in a house rented by his old friends the Webers, and vainly hoping for pupils, since Vienna at this season was perfectly empty. Happily he had a sincere though not a generous well-wisher in the emperor, and a firm friend in the archduke Maximilian. By the emperor's command he wrote a German opera, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, which on the 16th of July 1782 was received with acclamation, and not long afterwards was performed with equal success at Prague. This great work raised the national “Singspiel” to a level commensurate with that which Idomeneo had already attained for the Italian “opera seria.”
The next great event in Mozart's life was not what one would have wished for him. Though Aloysia Weber had long since rejected him, his renewed intimacy with the family led to an imprudent marriage with her younger sister, Constance, a woman neither his equal in intellect nor his superior in prudence. The wedding took place at St Stephen's on the 16th of August 1782. By the end of the year the thriftless pair were deeply in debt. Mozart composed incessantly, played at numberless concerts, and was in greater favour than ever at court and with the nobility; but to the last day of his life his purse was empty. He had, however, many kind friends, not the least affectionate of whom was the veteran Haydn, who was sincerely attached to him. With Gluck he was on terms of courteous intercourse only. Salieri detested him, and made no secret of his dislike.
Mozart's next dramatic venture was a German singspiel in one act, Der Schauspieldirektor, produced at Schönbrunn, on the 7th of February 1786. Not quite three months later, on the 1st of May, he produced his marvellous Le Nozze di Figaro, the libretto for which was adapted from Beaumarchais by the abbé da Ponte. The reception of this magnificent work was enthusiastic. But Vienna was a hotbed of intrigue. Everything that could be done by jealous plotters to mar the composer's success was done, and that so effectively that Mozart declared he would never bring out another opera in the city which treated him so meanly. Fortunately, Figaro, like Die Entführung, was repeated with brilliant success at Prague. Mozart went there to hear it, and received a commission to write an opera for the next season, with a fee of 100 ducats. Da Ponte furnished a libretto, founded on Tirso de Molina's tale, El Convidado de piedra, and entitled Il Don Giovanni. By the 28th of October 1787 the whole was ready with the exception of the overture, not a note of which was written. This circumstance has led to the idea that it was composed in haste, but it is certain that Mozart knew it all by heart and transcribed it during the night from memory, while his wife told fairy tales to keep him awake.
The opera was produced on the 29th of October with extraordinary effect, and the overture, though played without rehearsal, was as successful as the rest of the music. Yet, when reproduced in Vienna, Don Giovanni pleased less than Salieri's comparatively worthless Tarare.
On returning to Vienna Mozart was appointed kammercompositor to the emperor, with a salary of 800 gulden (£80). In April 1789 he accompanied Prince Lichnowski to Berlin, where King Frederick William II. offered him the post of “kapellmeister” with a salary of 3000 thalers (£450). Though most unwilling to quit the emperor's service, he informed him of the offer and requested leave to resign his appointment in Vienna. “Are you going to desert me, then?” asked the emperor; and Mozart, wounded by the reproach, remained, to starve. The emperor now commissioned Mozart to compose another Italian opera, which was produced on the 26th of January 1790 under the title of Cosi fan tutte. Though the libretto by Da Ponte was too stupid for criticism, the music was delicious, and the opera would probably have had a long run but for the emperor's death on the 20th of February. In March 1791 Mozart consented to write a German opera upon an entirely new plan for Schikaneder, the manager of the little theatre in the Wieden suburb. The piece was to be addressed especially to the Freemasons, and to contain ceaseless allusions both in the words and music to the secrets of the brotherhood. Deeply interested in the affairs of a body of which he was himself a member, Mozart excelled himself in this new work, which took shape as Die Zauberflöte. He was rewarded for his labours by a brilliant artistic success, but Schikaneder alone reaped the financial benefit of the speculation.
Before the completion of Die Zauberflöte a stranger called on Mozart, requesting him to compose a Requiem and offering to pay for it in advance. He began the work under the influence of superstitious fear, believing that the messenger had been sent from the other world to forewarn him of his own approaching death. Meanwhile he received a commission to compose an opera, La Clemenza di Tito, for the coronation of the emperor Leopold II. at Prague. He worked incessantly and far beyond his strength. The coronation took place on the 6th of September, and its splendours threw the opera very much into the shade. Die Zauberflöte was produced on the 30th of September and had a splendid run. But the Requiem still remained unfinished; the stranger therefore made another appointment, paying a further sum in advance. Mozart worked at it unremittingly, hoping to make it his greatest work. In the Requiem he surpassed himself, but he was not permitted to finish it. When the stranger called the third time the composer was no more. The score of the Requiem was reverently completed by Süssmayer, whose task may have been simplified by instructions received from Mozart on his deathbed. It is now known that the work was commissioned by Count Walsegg, who wished to perform it as his own.
Mozart died on the 5th of December 1791, apparently from typhus fever, though he believed himself poisoned. His funeral was a disgrace to the court, the emperor, the public, society itself. On the afternoon of the 6th his body was hurried to a pauper's grave; and because it rained, Van Swieten, Süssmayer, and three other “friends ” turned back and left him to be carried to his last long home alone. (W. S. R.)
Mozart's work falls conveniently into three periods, though O. Jahn makes out, more accurately, five. Our first period may be said, in sober seriousness, to begin at the age of five and to merge into the second somewhere about the age of sixteen or seventeen. It was fortunate that the infancy of the sonata-forms (q.v.) coincided with the infancy of Mozart; for while this coincidence gave his earliest attempts a marvellous resemblance to the work of the fully-grown masters of the time, it secured for his mental activity a healthy and normal relation to the musical world which infant prodigies can never attain in a modern artistic environment. The little pieces composed by Mozart in his fifth and sixth years are a fascinating study in the unswerving progress made by a child who masters every step, not by some miraculous intuition that enables him to dispense with learning, but by a hardly less miraculous directness of thought that prevents him from either making the same mistake twice or exactly repeating a form once mastered. The violin sonatas written in London and Paris at the age of seven in no way fall below the accepted standards of the period, while they already show that variety of invention and experiment which, by the time he was twelve, caused some sober-minded critics to regard him as a dangerous person. His studies in the severer contrapuntal forms speedily gave him the greatest technical mastery of choral music attained since Bach; and more than one stray piece of church music, or movement from a mass or litany, written before he was fifteen, deserves to take rank as a true masterpiece of which the date is immaterial. At the age of fifteen we see a loss of freshness, especially in the numerous operas which show at its worst that hopeless condition of operatic art from which only Gluck's most drastic reforms could rescue it. Fortunately, Mozart had at fifteen acquired more than enough technique to rest upon; and thus the growing boy could keep his spirits up, continuing his public successes and indulging his easy sense of mastery, without putting a strain upon his brain which nature need revenge then or afterwards.
Lucio Silla, though loaded with conventional bravura arias, nevertheless shows him approaching the age of seventeen with clear signs of a man's power, and in higher qualities than mere variety and fancy. Some of its recitatives and choruses strike a solemn dramatic note hitherto undreamt of in stage music, except by Gluck. La Finta giardiniera first gave Mozart scope for the exercise of his wonderful stage-craft and power of characterization. Though it has not kept the stage, yet it marks the beginning of Mozart's true operatic career, just as the Masses in F and D, written in the same year, mark the close of his first really representative period as a composer of church music. It is, however, difficult to draw such lines definitely; for there is no period of Mozart's career in which he did not practise all art-forms at once; and the difficulty of drawing inferences as to the relative importance of different forms in his intellectual development is increased by his invariable mastery, which seems to depend neither on method nor on inspiration. Most of the pianoforte sonatas and many of the best-known violin sonatas belong to his early manhood. To the same period also belong those unfortunate masses which, together with several spurious works, were at one time so popular, and have since been accepted as evidence that he had not the depth of feeling and earnestness necessary for church music. Idomeneo and Die Entführung are currently regarded as quite early works, but they are later than any of the masses except the great unfinished work in C minor, and there is some really great church music of his later period in the shape of stray pieces, litanies and vespers (i.e. collections of psalms sung at evening service) which is almost totally neglected, and which shows a consistent solemnity and richness of style no less in keeping with Mozart's new artistic developments than worthy of the glories of Handel and Bach.
Idomeneo is the only opera of Mozart which unmistakably shows the influence of Gluck; because, with the exception of La Clemenza di Tito, it is the only opera seria by which Mozart is known; and only a serious opera on a classical subject could furnish occasion for Gluck's phraseology and range of feeling to appear at all. How profoundly and independently Mozart seizes Gluck's method and style may best be seen by comparing the oracle scenes in Idomeneo and Alceste. In the management of the chorus, however, Mozart has, as was to be expected, incomparably the advantage. He has all, or rather more than all, Gluck's power for portraying panic and managing, by the motion of his music, the flight of a crowd; but he also has an inexhaustible harmonic and contrapuntal invention which lay beyond Gluck's scope.
The problems of comic opera presented a far more fruitful field. In Die Entführung he speedily showed a dramatic grasp for which opera seria, in spite of all the influence of Gluck, gave him no scope. He had a wonderful feeling for character, and did not imagine, like many French and other disseminators of musical-dramatic ideas (including, in moments of weakness, even Gluck himself), that the expression of character in music was a mere matter of harping on special types of phrase. His melodic invention was clearly and subtly characteristic without mannerism. It is of hardly minor importance that his own literary sense was far higher than that of many a writer of ostensibly superior general culture; and that Osmin, the most living figure in Die Entführung, is Mozart's creation, words and all.
After Die Entführung, Mozart's record is a series of masterpieces, accompanied, but not interrupted, by a running commentary of pièces d'occasion. With rare exceptions, everything he writes illustrates the perfect solution of an art-problem, and he often achieves an artistic triumph with the most eccentric materials. The modern organist can find since Bach no grander piece in his repertory than the two fantasias which Mozart wrote for the barrel of a musical clock. Shortly before his death he wrote a beautiful adagio and rondo for the glass harmonica, to which he devised the curious but eminently natural accompaniment of flute, oboe, viola and violoncello. And when at an earlier period it occurred to him to write some processional music for two flutes, five trumpets and four drums, the result, although not artistically important, might well have seemed to indicate long experience in handling the combination. His work in the larger instrumental forms is further discussed in the articles Sonata Forms and Instrumentation. While Mozart's treatment of form has often been attacked as conventional, and his range of thought despised as childish, his instrumentation and general sense of euphony are at the present day more unreservedly admired by the most progressive propagandists than anything else in classical art.
Mozart's later operas, from Figaro onwards, represent the nearest approach to a perfect art-form attainable in pre-Wagnerian opera. What he might have attained in serious opera had he been spared to see the solemn triumphs the French operatic stage realized in the austere sincerity of Cherubini and Méhul it is impossible to guess. But we cannot doubt that a Mozart of yet riper experience than we have known would have given tragic opera a history in which Fidelio did not stand in lonely splendour. For Mozart, however, serious opera was an Italian art form, only temporarily rescued from the tyranny of bravura singers by Gluck. After Idomeneo he handled it only once, at the very close of his career, and then, as if to seal its fate, in a pièce d'occasion with an impossibly dull and unsympathetic libretto (La Clemenza di Tito). For comedy, however, his harmonic and rhythmic range was perfectly adapted; and in Figaro he had the advantage of a libretto which was already a finished literary product of consummate stagecraft before it ever became an opera. The perpetual surprises of its absurdly complex intrigues impose no real strain, for no one attempts to follow them; but they keep every character on the stage in a state of excitement which is so heightened and differentiated by the music that, while Beaumarchais's Mariage de Figaro has its modest but definite place in literature, Mozart's Figaro is, with all its lightness of touch, one of the most ideal classics in all art. The subject is not edifying; but Mozart does not analyse it from that point of view. His characters are irresponsible, mischievous and fairy-like. Theirs is the world described by Lamb — “the Utopia of gallantry, where pleasure is duty and the manners perfect freedom.”
In Don Giovanni the matter is less clear. Mozart rose, not only in the music of the ghostly statue, but also in the music of Donna Anna and Donna Elvira, to heights that can only be called sublime; yet he never lost sight of the true methods of that comedy of gallantry to which Don Giovanni stands in some sense as a grotesque tragic finale. It is the business of an artistic intellect to grasp the artistic possibility of a world in which the “Utopia of gallantry” is at war with a full-blooded and incipiently moral humanity until the critical moment determines, not the breaking up of the artistic unity, but the right conclusion of the story. If it is absurd to treat Donna Anna and Donna Elvira as Wagnerian heroines, and so to complain of the inadequacy and conventionality of much of their utterances and attitudes; so, also, is it no less absurd to regard them as “secretly rather gratified than otherwise to be on Don Giovanni's list.” Donna Elvira has suffered more cruelly from stolidly tragic singers and no less stolidly flippant critics than she ever suffered from Don Giovanni himself. She comes upon the stage expressing herself in thoroughly conventional music, and we are told that the formulas of Italian opera are inadequate for the expression of her sorrows. Look at the sforzando in the second violins at the words Ah se ritrovo l'empio. Mozart is depicting a young girl facing a position she does not in the least understand; expressing herself in stereotyped phrases as much from inexperience of their meaning as from lack of anything that may better say what she really feels. What Mozart's music with exquisite humour and simplicity expresses is as yet nothing more serious than the wish to scratch Don Giovanni's eyes out; as soon as his character is revealed to her in Leporello's comic aria of the “catalogue,” she determines that others at all events shall not suffer as she has suffered; and from that moment her character steadily develops in seriousness and dignity. She is not all strength, and Don Giovanni fools her to the top of her bent; but nevertheless Mozart realizes, on hints of which the librettist was hardly conscious, a consistent scheme of development as dramatic as it is in keeping with the most sublime possibilities of comic opera. Yet it is a common practice to insert Elvira's last confession of weakness, the aria Mi tradi, immediately after Leporello's catalogue aria! Perhaps the first place where an intelligent tradition of Mozart as a comic genius of the highest type has been restored is Munich, where the standard set under the conductorship of Richard Strauss will not soon be forgotten.
In Cosi fan tutte Mozart's struggles with an absurd libretto show even clearer evidence of the accuracy and power of his genius than when he is working under conditions where success is possible. Space forbids our dwelling further on this subject, nor can we do more than glance at his last great opera, Die Zauberflöte. Beethoven thought it his greatest work; for the simple literal-minded sincerity with which Beethoven regarded the question of operatic libretto made Figaro frivolous and Don Giovanni scandalous in his sight. Mozart's very serious interest in freemasonry, which in its solemn ritual furnished an edifying contrast to the frivolity and uncongeniality of the existing state of church music, inspired him with the most sublime ideas hitherto brought upon the operatic stage. He was further stimulated by the feeling that freemasonry was to some extent a persecuted institution; and the circumstance that his librettist was a skilful stage manager secured for him that variety of action and effectiveness of entry and exit, compared with which an intelligible plot is of almost negligible importance as a source of inspiration to the classical composer, or even as a means of retaining popular favour. Thus Die Zauberflöte is an achievement unique in opera; combining as it does the farcical gorgeousness of a pantomime with the solemnity of a ritual and the contemporary interest of a political satire.
From the solemnity of masonic ritual there is but one step to that most pathetic of unfinished monuments, Mozart's Requiem. The finished portions of this work contain the most sublime and perfect church music between Bach and the Missa solemnis of Beethoven. The unauthentic portions, supplied by Süssmayer, are so well designed that even their comparative slightness of material hardly militates against the suggestion that he may have had some inkling of Mozart's intentions. In particular, the return of the first number at the words Lux aeterna, which enables Süssmayer to end with ten pages of authentic Mozart, is splendidly placed (though Mozart is reported to have contemplated an independent final number); while the latter part of the Lacrimosa, though not in Mozart's handwriting, must surely have been dictated by him. The instrumentation of the incomplete numbers is based for the most part on highly authentic evidence, though there are doubtful points; but that of the supplied numbers, especially the Benedictus, is far below the intellectual level of their design. In this, his last work, as in many wonderful polyphonic experiments immediately before it, Mozart showed unmistakable signs of the growth of a new style, which would undoubtedly have had an influence even more powerful on the history of music as being embodied in works surpassing his ripest known achievements as these surpass the marvellous productions of his childhood. Nevertheless, what he has given us is unique, and the intelligent love of Mozart's work is a liberal education in the meaning of art.
Mozart's extant works (as catalogued by Köchel in 626 items, beginning with minuets written at the age of four and ending with the Requiem) comprise 20 masses (including the Requiem and the great unfinished Mass in C minor); 8 sets of vesperae and litanies; 40 smaller Latin pieces of church music; 6 cantatas and oratorio works, of which the greatest, Davidde penitente, is adapted from the C minor Mass; 17 “organ sonatas” (i.e. little movements for organ and an organ-loft band, for use in church); 23 operas (including fragments and operettas); 66 arias and other pieces for insertion into operas or for concert use; 41 songs with pianoforte accompaniment; 23 canons (mostly rounds); 17 pianoforte sonatas; 5 fantasias and a Handelian suite (unfinished); 22 smaller pianoforte pieces; 36 cadenzas to his own pianoforte concertos; 11 works for pianoforte à quatre mains; 45 sonatas, including fragments and variations, for pianoforte and violin; 8 pianoforte trios; 2 pianoforte quartets and 1 quintet for pianoforte and wind; 2 duets for violin and viola; 2 string trios; 29 string quartets; 2 quartets for flute and strings; 1 quartet for oboe and strings; 9 string quintets, of which 1 is for the singular combination of 1 violin, 2 violas, violoncello and horn, and another is the famous clarinet quintet; 49 symphonies; 33 cassations, serenades and divertimenti, many for the oddest orchestral or solo combinations; 27 smaller orchestral and other pieces, also often for strange combinations of surprising beauty; 29 sets of orchestral dances; 6 violin concertos (the 6th is either quite spurious or extremely corrupt) and 4 single violin movements; 2 double concertos (one for 2 violins, the other for violin and viola); 10 concertos and concert pieces for various wind instruments (flute, horn, bassoon, clarinet, flute and harp); 27 pianoforte concertos (including one for 2 and one for 3 pianofortes) and a concert rondo. Then there is an enormous number of fragments, many of them peculiarly promising, as if Mozart was full of ideas that were in advance of even his mastery of form; there is, for example, a magnificent and comparatively early opening tutti for a double concerto for pianoforte and violin, and a very large string quartet movement in A (probably a finale), which breaks off at an exciting moment at the beginning of its development.
No composer's reputation has suffered more from forgeries and false attributions than Mozart's and the tale begun during the lifetime of his widow is not yet ended at the present day. The concertante for 4 wind instruments which recently went triumphantly round the orchestral societies of Europe as a long-lost work written during Mozart's visit to Paris (though it is not for the same instruments) is not so bad as the notorious forged masses, but it is, to any one acquainted with Mozart's style at any period of his career, almost as obviously spurious. Mozart often wrote without thought, but never, even when he was six years old, without mastery; and there is much genuine work that is as dull as this concertante, but none that is obviously constructed by a fool. A panegyric of the concertante has been inserted in the latest (posthumous) editions of Jahn's biography, which it is very difficult to believe would have met with that great scholar's approval.
On the other hand, twelve recently discovered divertimenti for 2 clarinets and bassoon are delightful little works which, with all their slightness, only Mozart, and Mozart in full maturity, could have written. A seventh violin concerto appeared in November 1907, and, though inferior to the earlier ones, is undoubtedly genuine, every detail and quality of its organization being exactly in keeping with Mozart's progress in 1777, its alleged date.
Many genuine works are known in spurious forms; thus the motet Splendente te Deus is an unauthorized arrangement of a chorus from König Thamos, and most of the flute-music mentioned in the article Flute in Grove's Dictionary (new ed.) consists of spurious arrangements, while several important genuine works are ignored.
(D. F. T.)
- In the baptismal register his name stands, Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus (Lat. Amadeus, Ger. Gottheb).
- The German diminutive of Wolfgang.
- The original autograph is numbered "Select Case C, 21. d."
- Auratae militiae eques.
- “Questo ragazzo ci farà dimenticar tutti.”
- Michael Kelly, in his Reminiscences, has left a delightful account of the circumstances.