Contemporaries refer to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as, probably, one of the most gifted yet controversial musicians in the history of mankind. In his lifetime, Mozart was reputed as a somewhat frivolous person. It might have possibly happened because the composer’s contemporaries were unprepared and incapable of understanding the depth of him. Talent, the record shows, is what Mozart was so much loved for. As cynical as it sounds, free spirit, decision not to conform, and talent have become the downfall of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The following essays is mere an attempt to investigate the life and art of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a man of genius, free spirit, and goodwill.
In the year 1765, while their staying in London, the Mozarts (Leopold, Nannerl, and Wolfgang), and Leopold Mozart in particular, received some “aggressive publicity”. Critics, theorists of music, and laymen who attended Mozarts’ family concerts questioned Wolfgang’s age just because many of them were unwilling to accept and not ready to encounter a talent so great in such a young boy. Apart from that, there were those who were jealous of Wolfgang Mozart because of his talent, so much so that some of them perceived the musician with not a small amount of hostility. Here is what happened next. After all the doubts concerning Wolfgang’s age his father’s motives were dispelled, the Mozarts toured across Italy. While touring in London, “feat of sight-reading a five-part due” was claimed to be one of Wolfgang’s greatest achievements. In Italy, all those who attended the concert were amazed by seeing a fourteen-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart “memorising and transcribing Allegri’s Miserere after only two listenings”. The facts mentioned above conclusively prove that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart a man of great talent and genius. His musical composing and performing skills were unprecedentedly, remarkably extraordinary. A child prodigy, he became a virtuoso. At the same time, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has earned himself a reputation of a resilient, free-thinking, and a somewhat reckless person.
Romanticism has proved itself to be one of the distinctive features of Mozart’s creative manner. In this respect, The Magic Flute can be viewed as, probably, the most vivid illustration of how the principles of Romanticism manifested themselves in Mozart’s art. The Magic Flute premiered in 1791, few months before Mozart’s death. The work of art mentioned above contains such story-line elements of Romance as love, trial, quest, and happy-ending. Even more importantly, however, the critics, biographers, and researchers emphasize that The Magic Flute “advocates a life engaged with moral principles beyond ordinary practice”. In other words, in The Magic Flute, through artistically perfect form, the composer is pondering virtues, particularly, morality and humanity. In addition to that, The Magic Flute implies referring to Masonic rituals, ideals, and initiations. As R. B. Gill puts it, “Mozart and Emanuel Schikaneder, his librettist, model their hero’s trials on Masonic initiations, rituals, and ideals”. Developing his statement further, the researcher makes an assertion as follows: “… The Magic Flute becomes Mozart’s explicit tribute to the ability of Music to rise above the everyday world”. Since art in general and music in particular have an ability to transcend the limits of time, music may also transcend its own limits and pass into the category of men’s ordinary experience. Continuing to reflect on Mozart’s conception of experience and the expressive means pertaining to music, Gill points out that as far as the opera The Magic Flute is concerned, “music becomes Mozart’s basic mode of Romantic creation”. Lastly, libretto in The Magic Flute can be viewed as a means of conveying both the message of the work of art itself and the artist’s intent purpose.
The theorists and critic have estimated that movement “Andante” from Mozart’s String Quartet in F major, K. 590 is actually a mixture of variation and sonata as two distinct forms of musical construction. According to Ivanovitch, the term ‘recursive tendency’ applies to variation, whilst the notion of “discursive mode” pertains to sonata form. The connotative meanings of the word ‘recursive’ may be interpreted as but are not limited to course, running (flow), reoccurrence, and regularity. Evidently, the characteristics mentioned above apply to variation in a sense that the term ‘recursive’ itself characterizes variation as a musical form at its best. Pasrticularly, the theorists of music are inclined to think that variation as a musical form has circular structure. In a way, the term ‘discursive’ stands opposed to the term ‘recursive’. The connotative meanings of the word “discursive” may be interpreted as but are not limited to roving, rambling, and the state of being digressive or desultory. In addition to that, the term ‘discursive’ pertains to the construct of discourse. Particularly, the term ‘discursive’ when applied to Mozart’s String Quartet in F major, K. 590 presupposes referring to the rational elements that the sonata itself may imply. All things considered, String Quartet in F major, K. 590 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart can be viewed as a multifaceted, complex unity combining both intellectual and artistic sophistication.
Mozart’s personality testified the emergence of a new type of artist, namely, a virtuoso who has a passion for the respective expertise. Apart from that, assuming that the works of art may say something about how person who has created them perceives the audience, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart initiated a mew stage in performer-audience relationship. It is widely believed that autonomous music is superior to the music that is written merely to comply with the audiences’ tastes and meet the standards that society dictates at some given and limited period of its history. Developing the aforementioned statement further, Ridgewell points out the following aspect: “By exposing its flaws, the true nature of the relationship between composer, publisher and audience in Mozart’s Vienna is revealed as a subject that merits deeper exploration” (p. 105). Basically, the statement cited above is a conclusive proof that in the late eighteenth- and the early nineteenth-century Europe the relationship between publisher, composer, performer(s) and the audience were complicated to a greater extent. Until quite recently, researchers and biographers believed that one of the three piano quartets that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed approximately in the late 1780s or the early 1790s was particularly poorly received. As it turned out, that was not entirely true. Mozart’s composing a series of piano quartets in the last decade of the eighteenth century has become a subject of mystifications. In actuality, the event is another example of how many ill-wishers (even enemies) Mozart had.
It goes without saying that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a genius. As the mankind has been continuing to broaden its experience, the cultural paradigm of relationship between artist and audience needed reconsidering. In addition to that, the very construct of the purpose of art and artists had to be redefined as well. Here is where philosophers and psychologists came in. The researchers have estimated that throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the thinkers have developed and reconsidered (redefined) two models of genius. Year 1739 saw the republication of the ancient treatise called On the Sublime. Hence, the first conception of genius, the so-called Longinian conception of genius, was largely based on that particular piece of philosophical writing. Longinian type of genius is assumed to be capable of producing sublime work and breaking the established rules. Even more importantly, however, Longinian genius is considered “a gift of genius”. Another type of genius is called Platonic genius. Platonic genius is commonly defined as possessed and divinely inspired. As Young puts it, it is “thanks to Schopenhauer” that “Mozart was recognized as a great genius in the Platonic sense”. The statement cited above is controversial in itself. Mozart’s genius was transcendent. Even though Mozart’s behavior, at some point, was defined as child-like, the composer has managed to make an unprecedentedly unparalleled contribution to music.
Taking all the aforementioned facts into consideration, the following conclusions can be made. First of all, for a very long time Mozart’s contribution to art has been underestimated. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an artist of great talent, an intelligent, agile-minded, free-thinking, and good-humored person who, above all else, did not wish to conform. In a way, Mozart’s body of work contrasts with his personality and reflects it at the same time. Mozart’s music is sophisticated both formally (technically) and contextually (thematically). Lastly, to be capable of understanding Mozart’s music and decipher the multiple messages that his music conveys, one has to be familiar with the composer’s biography and the tendencies and values that defined the life of European community in the late eighteenth and the early nineteenth century.