Term Paper: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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[. . .] Further, the presence of Mozart's precocious talent as the son of a composer in the 1800s is less impressive than it would be today. At the time, children were less entertained with distractions, and the young Mozart would likely have been liberally schooled by his father and immersed in music (Wright).

Mozart's church music was influenced by the Josephinist spirit of the age, and are often regarded as much lesser as never reaching the artistic level of his other works. The limitations of Mozart's religious music are one of his great flaws. Notes The Catholic Encyclopedia, "What Mozart, with his Raphaelesque imagination and temperament, would have been for church music had he lived at a different time and in different surroundings, or risen above his own, can easily be imagined." In addition to his limited repertoire for church music, Mozart's works fail to convey either a great love of nature or a real sense of fun or whimsy. While he did write a piece called "A Musical Joke" (K. 522) it was not imbued with any real sense of humor (Wright).

Mozart is perhaps one of the most well-known of the classical composers, overshadowing even greats like Beethoven, Schubert, Johann Christian Bach, and Haydn. Interestingly, Mozart's long influence may have a great deal to do with perceptions of his person and his family's influence, rather than his specific musical influence. For instance, Mozart's depiction as sensitive, mercurial, arrogant, and his early death has grabbed the public's imagination much more than the descriptions of the equally talented Hayden, who is often described as calm, kingly, and deliberate, and who lived a longer life (Oldman). Further, Mozart's family was influential and driven, likely playing a large part in Mozart's success, while Hyden's family was much less influential and had meager means, thus likely limiting Hyden's success. Despite these differences in opportunity, Hyden produced material that many consider to be the equal or superior of Mozart's works, and possessing a uniqueness that indicates great artistic maturity (Oldman).

In addition, Mozart's best work seems to be drawn from an enormous talent and virtuosity, but it does not show any profound innovation in musical genre or use. Mozart is a master of the classical music of his time, but he did little to incorporate other styles of music, or to branch out into other musical areas.

In essence, Mozart's fame seems to come largely from the perception of him as one of the world's first great Romantic artistic figures. With his supposed flair for arrogance, vulgarity, and distain of the upper class, Mozart personifies much of the stereotype of the great artist. His musical precociousness, which culminated in the writing of the opera 'La Finta Semplice" (K.51) when he was only 12 years old only adds to this perception. Further, his dramatic death at the age of 35, his supposed feud with the composer Antonio Salieri, and his salacious letters to his lovers only add to this notion of Mozart as the great Romantic.

In essence, Mozart's work seems to have been the product of an immense talent, and while he did produce some profoundly excellent pieces, his continued fame seems to be based more on a Romantic ideal of the artist than a true and deep appreciation for his body of work. Mozart's work has certainly stood the test of time, although there are many criticisms of individual pieces.


In conclusion, Mozart does not deserve to be considered as one of history's most influential people. While a man of clear and profound talent and a prolific composer, Mozart's lack of innovation and flaws within many of his works mar these accomplishments. Ultimately, however, the large role his family and personality play in his ongoing perception in the Western world as a great Romantic artistic figure argue even more strongly that Mozart's fame is due to his perception of the great Romantic stereotype, rather than a true appreciation of his musical genius.

Works Cited

The Catholic Encyclopedia. Johann Chrysostomus Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight.

Gutman, Robert W. 2000. Mozart: A Cultural Biography. Harvest Books.

Oldham, Ronnie. Mozart and Haydn: More Alike than Different. 09 May 2004. http://www.pillowrock.com/ronnie/mozart.htm

Solomon, Maynard. 1996. Mozart: A Life. Perennial.

Wright, C.F. David, Dr. What Makes a Great Composer? Mozart. 09 May 2004. http://www.musicweb.uk.net/classrev/2002/Oct02/Mozart_Wright.htm [END OF PREVIEW]

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