Wolfgang Mozart

Wolfgang Mozart
Wolfgang Mozart (1756-1791)

As an undergraduate I had to analyse Mozart’s music for a term. I had enjoyed playing some of his piano sonatas. As a composer, he did not seem to be bothered by ‘handedness’ in his music which is often formed around symmetrical patterns.

Listening, playing and analysing revealed how Mozart would base his pieces on simple raw materials such as scales and arpeggios, but turn them into something else using modulation, chromaticism and suspension.

Mozart’s music is like lycopodium: the plant that when dry forms an almost crystalline structure that can be brushed between the fingers to form talcum powder. Mozart’s music is like a palace of playing cards: remove any element and the lot falls down: each component is essential to the whole.

Mozart liked teasing his listeners’ expectations. He would ‘glue’ his melodies by making the last note of one phrase the start of the next, to give an unbroken phrase structure. Leonard Bernstein called this ‘deaduck’.


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