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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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VII The “Program” in Mozart’s Master Overtures.


A Semantic Analysis

“The composer will thus be able to include the principal phrases of the most expressive tunes he will want to be heard in his overture.” B. G. Lacépède (1785)1

“Characteristic symphonies one could preferably call those symphonies that are used at the start of an opera etc. in place of the usual overtures. This nomenclature, however, is appropriate to the symphony only if the character of the opera is overall represented in it, or if the composer has expressed a certain immediately preceding action in the symphony.” Daniel Gottlob Türk (1789)2

1. Overture and Drama

The second half of the18th century, we all know, saw a change in style and aesthetics that was of enormous significance for the subsequent development of European music, i.e., the transition from the high Baroque to early Classicism, the change from the doctrine of imitation and affect, to the theory of “affective motion.”3 The musical genres, too, underwent profound transformations: from the operatic symphony evolved the concert symphony, the trio sonata was replaced by the solo sonata, the string quartet established itself as an independent genre. To this period also belong the endeavors to renew the opera. Lully’s tragédie lyrique was modernized by Rameau, the opera seria and Metastasianism became the object of critical scrutiny, Gluck’s reform efforts aimed at a renewal of the opera from the spirit of poetry and thus at transforming the recitative, the...

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