According to a common 19th century view, Mozart was a naïvely-divine composer, creating from a state of childlike intuition. In more recent appreciation, this view gave way to a less metaphysical one, seeing in Mozart a pragmatic, accommodating composer, seeking to please the taste of his time. But both these views are challenged by the fact that in Mozart’s own days, much of his music was considered overly complex, if not unyieldingly progressive, and only a few of his works enjoyed the resonating success they have today. While Mozart’s letters bear testimony to a constant effort to appeal to various audiences of his time – connoisseurs and amateurs alike, some of his artistic decisions and documented statements clearly point to an “individualistic” approach, regarding composition as a mean to self-fulfillment through music.
The course will seek to portray Mozart as a freelance artist – an untypical status for an 18th century musician – in search of balance between providing music as a marketable commodity on the one hand, and an individual artistic quest on the other. We will trace the image and reception of Mozart’s music throughout the centuries. A special focus will be given to an analysis of Mozart’s style as it constantly developed in dialogue with composers and music styles of his time (with a special emphasis on his instrumental works). Select issues of musical interpretation and performance practice will be taken into consideration as well, and music students will be encouraged to participate in class performances.
The course may be attended as a seminar (to be concluded with a seminar paper) or as a regular optional course.