I’ll admit up front, I’ve always been more a Beethoven guy than a Mozart guy. But as MTT put it “You can’t have Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven as your favorite composers…They simply define what music is!” and ain’t that the truth. I just want to throw my two cents in on Mozart, which I guess is better than giving you a penny for my thoughts or something like that (right?)
The first thing I would like to address is the whole child prodigy thing. Undeniably, Mozart is the greatest natural musician ever. The boy was redonk. Literally improvising operas to nonsense words, and playing blindfolded. A whole lot better than I was doing at three (I believe I was a normal toddler who had only recently figured out that eating feline excrement was a bad idea. Disclaimer: As far as I am aware, I never consumed cat feces). But there is one thing I want to clear up a bit. Sure, lil Wolfgang was composing symphonies at eight and operas at ten or something like that, but who really knows anything about Mozart’s Symphony 1? That’s right, literally no one. The only reason anyone would know it is because it was written by the boy who would later become one of the greatest composers ever. How about that 10 year old opera? Yeah, same exact story there. If it ever has been staged, it has been staged because it was lil Mozart’s 10 year old opera. I’m sure his early musical creations were charming, but they, I can bet my life on it, don’t even hold a light to his later works. Has anyone heard Mozart’s epic first composition which lasts a whopping 10 measures? Probably not, and yes, I looked it up. All of Mozart’s great works were written in his later life. The earliest work anyone will call a masterpiece was his 9th Piano Concert written at 21. For comparison, Shostakovich wrote his 1st Symphony at 19, and Mendelssohn composed his Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture at 17, and his Octet at 16, and all of these works are considered to some of these composer’s best works. Needless to say, this is the exception, not the rule. And as far as amazing children go, I will have to give that award to Camille Saint-Saens. He gave his first recital at 10, and offered to play any Beethoven sonata from memory as an encore. He could read and write at 3, and would read Latin at 7. (Yep, I’m 18 and I can’t do any of the above mentioned things) None of this is to discredit Mozart, but I just wanted to shine my little light on Mozart’s sometimes over emphasized youth.
As far as his overall importance in the history of music I have a few things to say. He was much more like Bach than Beethoven. Mozart didn’t usher in a new way of musical thinking a la Beethoven, but instead was the absolute high point of his era, a la Bach. The Romantics weren’t big on Mozart, so his influence on the most important era of western music is null. Again, not to discredit him, but his influence is quite a bit smaller that Bach or Beethoven, because both of those guys have influenced, give or take, every composer that has ever lived. So for this reason, I put him behind those two B’s on my list of greatest composers. And as far as form development is concern, Haydn did it first. Need I say more? No.
The purpose of all this is not to shit all over Mozart, but to put him in perspective, my perspective albeit, but still. I have my opinion, you are entitled to yours, as am I. All the above being said, I’ll have to admit, his late works still stand as some of the greatest works of all time, and will continue to do so, literally forever.