Full Name:Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart (yeah baby!)
Years active: 1756-1791
Number of compositions: 626
Number of symphonies: 41
Number of concertos: 46
Number of string quartets: 23
Style: The epitome of Classical music. Mozart’s music is well-balanced, witty and frisky. There isn’t much variation in speed or dynamics (the posh word for changes in volume), and the structures he used usually followed well-established classical techniques.
He died young, right? That’s right, at the age of 35. This meant that he just missed the transition from the Classical to the Romantic era. The former being full of precise, well-balanced pieces, and the latter being defined by the rise of emotional and musical freedom.
Holy crap, he wrote a lot of pieces! Yes he did. In general the further back you go, the more pieces each composer wrote. However, most of the pieces tend to sound pretty similar. Part of the reason for this is that there used to be way more rigid ideas about what the “perfect” symphony (or concerto or whatever) should sound like, whereas freedom of expression became trendy later on. Another reason is that Classical composers were often employed as Court Composers, which is like the 18th century version of Last.fm or Pandora, for rich people. They’d just keep churning out whatever music their boss requested, seriously limiting their creative vision.
Alright let’s hear it…
Symphony No. 40, 1st movement
Mozart’s last two symphonies, No. 40 and 41, are his most famous. Interestingly, people have interpreted the 40th as being everything from exceptionally light and graceful, to dark and full of emotion. Which just goes to show that you should consider the music totally on your own terms!
Marriage of Figaro, Overture
An overture is music played at the beginning of an opera to get everyone in the mood. It’s sort of like the introductory credits/opening sequence of a movie. Lots of overtures end up getting really popular and played completely separately from the opera, like this one.
Requiem – Lacrimosa
Mozart’s Requiem is the last thing he wrote, and in fact he didn’t manage to finish it. There is a lot of controversy about who filled in the missing bits, and various people have attempted to rewrite it in a more “Mozartian” style. Despite (or maybe because of) all this mystery it is one of his most famous and well-liked pieces.