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Wolfgang Amadé Mozart

Undeserved Gift to Humanity

Constantin Floros

Mozart’s ambivalent personality offers a key to a deeper understanding of his music. He could be merry, even boisterous, but from many of his works speaks a deep seriousness. Both mirth and melancholy stamp his being. His operatic music includes both the comic and the tragic. The present study treats the special character of his musical language and the relations between his personality and his multiform oeuvre. Its mission is to grasp the peculiarities of his operatic work, his opere serie, opere buffe and singspiels. The chapter "The Program in the Master Overtures" initiates the series of semantic analyses the author has pursued in other books. In the 19th century, it was fashionable to compare Mozart to Raffael. But the comparison is askew, as the graceful is only one side of his personality.

About the German edition

Chapter II "presents new and even surprising insights into the ‘program’ in Mozart’s master overtures. The connection between overture and drama is viewed from both compositional and semantic points of view. The studies, written with great stylistic and literary knowledge, enter deep into Mozart’s way of working. For both amateurs and cognoscenti, Floros achieves ad better understanding, above all, of the musical interconnections." (Rudolf Angermüller, Mitteilungen des Mozarteums)

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An intensive occupation with the great Salzburg composer has pervaded my entire adult life. It commenced during my studies in Vienna (1951–1955) and continued to the brink of my 90th year. The present study is largely based on the Mozart Studien, which Breitkopf & Härtel published in Wiesbaden in 1979. That book enjoyed a very positive reception by international Mozart scholarship. Rudolph Angermüller published a detailed review of it in 1980 in the Mitteilungen der Internationalen Stiftung Mozarteum, in which he pointed to the significance of the Studien for research and emphasized above all the striking results of the chapters “Das ‘Programm’ in Mozarts Meisterouvertüren,” which views the connections between overture and drama from compositional and semantic aspects; “Stilebenen und Stilsynthese in den Opern Mozarts,” which analyzes seria, buffa and singspiel styles, aria and role types in the operas; and “Österreichische Tradition in der Kirchenmusik,” which discusses the complex relation of Mozart’s sacred music to the tradition of Michael Haydn, Gaßmann and G. Reutter. “The studies,” Angermüller summarizes, “written with great stylistic and literary knowledge, enter deeply into Mozart’s craft” and “produce a better understanding especially of musical connections for both cognoscenti and amateurs.”

The essay “Das ‘Programm’ in Mozarts Meisterouvertüren,” first published in 1964, initiated the series of “semantic analyses” I have since elaborated. Especially in the English-speaking countries the book prompted a number of critics, such as Daniel Heartz, Julian Rushton, Richard Will and Christoph Wolff (see...

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