Posted: June 2, 2020
Good morning everyone. I hope you enjoyed a great weekend. We are now working from the school. I am very happy to be out of my basement and back in the music room. Last week we looked at the life and music of J.S. Bach. This week we are going to focus on W.A. Mozart, the man history refers to as the greatest composer of classical music. If you recall when we did The Prince and the Penguin-one of the characters at the ball was based on Mozart-Do you remember Wolfgang Amadeus Walrus? He was supposed to play at the ball but had cut his playing hand on a can of Tuna fish?!
Look at the following website to learn about his life and music: https://www.classicsforkids.com/composers/composer_profile.php?id=46. One thing you should notice right off the bat is the fact that he only lived to be 35 years old (1756-1791). In fact, history named him the greatest composer in history, because of the staggering amount of music he composed during his short life time. After you read the story of his life there are two music clips; the "Turkish Rondo" (which I'm sure you have all heard on tv commercials) for piano and "Ah Vous Dirai-je Maman" (you will notice this is the main theme of Twinkle Twinkle with variations (different ways to play the melody) of this song. A lot of music you hear on tv commercials is borrowed from the music of these great composers who lived hundreds of years ago. I wonder in 300 years will students be studying the music of our time?
The next part of the website I want you to look at tells the story of Mozart's life and plays several examples of his most familiar music. https://www.classicsforkids.com/shows/shows.php?id=65. Again, you may recognize some of this music. Grade 7 will appreciate the Horn Concerto because they know how hard it is to get a nice sound on this instrument. The final piece is one of Mozart's greatest works, "The Requiem" ( a mass for the dead). Keep in mind, he not only wrote the orchestra parts for this, but the vocal/choral parts as well. Let me also remind you during Mozart's time- electricity had not been invented-he did not have a computer; he wrote by candle light and with an ink blot quill pen. The story goes that he wrote this while his own health was failing. Here is a small sample of the Requiem with the music score. You will see how busy the score looks with the vocal lines and the orchestra parts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTlTTKYHalg Just before he died, one of his students finished the final part of this music.
I also want you to read the section on his Operas (these are like super long plays where all of the dialogue is sung in addition to the songs you hear in the opera. An orchestra plays all of the music.) https://www.classicsforkids.com/shows/shows.php?id=103. This gives a brief story of his operas and music samples. Again, you may recognize a few of these music clips. On this same page you will notice they give special mention to his opera "The Magic Flute". Read this and listen to the samples. https://www.classicsforkids.com/shows/shows.php?id=207. This seems like a lot of work-but I only want you to "LISTEN" as the narrator tells the story and take notice of the names of each music sample as it plays.
Mozart was a musical genius. Even though he may seem to you kids to be a "boring composer of classical music", you would be wrong. Mozart was a child prodigy, composing and playing music from the age of 4 years old. As are many child stars- he was in plain terms- a bit of a brat!! When he grew into adulthood-he partied like a rock star while composing some of the greatest music of all time. He should have been a wealthy man-but he was broke at the time of his death and left nothing for his wife and children. Instead of being given a State funeral- following his death-he was buried in a common grave (for regular people-not aristocrats) on a stormy winter's day- with few people in attendance. A tragic end for a great composer. Spend some time looking over this material. He really had a fascinating life. Think about this question; Does his story sound familiar or comparable to modern day music stars?