Red School of Music Musicology Series

This is a series done by one of our instructors, Alec Arnett. Subscribe to the channel to be in the know when new episodes come out!

Episode 1: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


Hello everyone my name is Alec, and this is the Red School of Music’s Musicology Series.

Today, we are going to discuss one of western classical music’s greatest composers, and one that I’m sure you already know: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Can you think of a few things you already know about Mozart? Write them down on a piece of paper, if you do, and check yourself.

At the end, Mozart lived from 1756 to 1791. He was born in Salzburg, Austria, and died in Vienna. He was a child prodigy. And although that term today is used rather loosely, Mozart embodied every sense of the word.

By age three, he had already begun playing the keyboard. And by four years of age, he had already scribbled his first attempts at composition.

Mozart’s father, Leopold Mozart, was a talented composer and violinist in his own right. But he soon abandoned his endeavors to focus all of his energy on Wolfgang Mozart.

Brief Composition History

He has been called the most universal composer in the history of western music. This is because he composed and did so well in all the genres of music in his day, including opera piano concertos, symphonies, and chamber works.

His most productive period happened relatively late in his career in the mid-1780s. Mozart was teaching many keyboard students, several composition students, played several concerts a week and had lots of work as a composer within the span of a little over a year between 1786 and 1787. 

Famous Written Pieces

Mozart had written two of the greatest well-known operas ever written: The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni in 1788. He composed one of his most popular symphonies: Symphony number 40 in g minor. This symphony is nicknamed The Great g minor Symphony. It is intensely brooding and suggests desperation or even tragedy.

Listen to a little bit of the first movement:

In the year of his death, 1791, his career was flourishing which makes his death all the more tragic. He had written two more wildly successful operas: The Magic Flute and The Clemency of Tito.

When he died on December 5th, 1791, he was working on a piece surrounded by great mystery. A mysterious stranger approached Mozart and paid him to compose a requiem mass.

Mozart died before completing the work, but one of his brightest pupils finished it in his name.

And the piece lives on today suggesting that Mozart even on his deathbed had full command of his creative powers.

So there is a brief introduction to the life and career of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But before you go, let’s check what you learned.

Pause the video after each question and see if you can answer it. What year was Mozart born? What year did he die? Can you name one work by Mozart?

Thank you for tuning in today to the Red School of Music’s Musicology Series episode number one on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Be sure to check in later for more installments in the series. Bye-bye! 

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