Show Less
Restricted access

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)

Show Summary Details
Restricted access

II Mirth and Melancholy in Mozart


The new music is “highly unnatural,” because it “carries on merrily at first, then all of a sudden sadly and promptly merrily again.” Johann Friedrich Reichardt1

Around no other composer have so many legends grown up as twine around Wolfgang Amadé Mozart. Their origins are most likely to be found in his stunning precociousness: the phenomenal abilities of the boy astounded his contemporaries, and Leopold Mozart, greatly moved by the extraordinary talent of his children, thought it was his duty to “proclaim a miracle to the world, which God caused to be born in Salzburg.”2 All of this contributed substantially to the growth of the myth about the “eternal child” Mozart.3 It remains a fact, however, that we still do not know enough about Mozart’s complex personality and its contradictions, and that much about it still appears as enigmatic as ever.

In 1829, Mary and Vincent Novello undertook a “pilgrimage” to Austria from London, with the intention of collecting authentic biographic material about their idol Mozart.4 In Salzburg, they visited Mozart’s sister, who was 78 by then and bedridden, and made her a monetary gift. More productive than the encounter with “Nannerl” was a conversation, conducted in French, with Constanze Nissen, Mozart’s 67-year-old widow. The first question Vincent Novello put to Constanze was: “Was his general frame of mind vivacious or melancholy?” She replied: “Il était toujours si gai.” And she added that “mere minutes before his death, which came quite unexpectedly, he...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.