Mozart is one of the greatest musical geniuses the world has ever known. A piece from his Magic Flute opera was incorporated onto the Voyager Golden Record, which was sent into space in 1977 to represent the different forms of life that exist here on earth. The movie “Amadeus,” based on Mozart’s life won Best Picture at the 1984 Oscars. You can still hear Mozart’s music scattered throughout pop culture. Mozart’s legacy is still so prevalent that you might be surprised learning certain pieces were composed by him almost three hundred years ago!
A prodigy from the age of three, Mozart started playing the piano from the age of four. Little Mozart watched his father give his sister piano lessons, which were actually clavier lessons, and he would stand on tiptoe to play when they were finished. Leopold, his father, taught him to play minuets and would end his lesson after a half hour despite little Mozart’s desire to keep playing.
At seven, his father took him and his sister on a Grand European Tour to show off their family’s exceptional talent. Mozart musical memory was so good, that at 14 he heard a sacred piece of music performed in the Vatican, which not even the choir was allowed to practice beforehand because of its sanctity. After the performance, Mozart ran home, and copied out all of the notes from memory. The next day he heard it again, fixed some small errors in his manuscript and hid it in his hat.
When word got out that a boy from Salzburg had a version of this music, Pope Clement requested to know how he had found it. He called the choirmaster to examine the manuscript and confirm that it was accurate. Of course, it was and when Mozart said that he’d written out the entire piece from memory the Pope was so impressed he gave the young boy a gold medal and made him a Knight of the Golden Spur. Mozart loved music so much that he focused all of his energy into learning it by heart.
As Mozart continued to play and compose, he incorporated the contrapuntal complexities of the Baroque era from masters such as Bach, into a new milieu, with refined clarity and harmonious tonics to define the Classical style. Mozart wrote all kinds of music: opera, symphonies, sonatas, solo concerto, chamber music, masses and dances.
All of this genius came at a price, however; Wolfgang gave up an ordinary childhood, much like Michael Jackson did, to pursue music and become one of the greatest of all time. He died young, in his forties. His friend Joseph Haydn said that the world would not see another musical genius for at least a hundred years.
Not everyone can be like Mozart, but one thing’s for sure: if you can get excited about your NYC piano lessons, it makes it a lot easier to practice every day. Try listening to Mozart so that you can ask your piano lesson teacher to help you play select pieces!