The legacy of musical works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) straddled both worlds when, in Europe, composers were able to convert drama and religion into sounds of unparalleled intensity. It is wide ranging, as are his influences.
He’s also still top of the pops as well; a new box set dedicated to his works has recently become the biggest CD release of the year 2016.
Mozart 225: The New Complete Edition sold 1.25 million CDs globally in the first five weeks since it was released – more than releases from Drake, Rihanna and David Bowie.
The 200-CD collection, produced by Decca and Deutsche Grammophon in collaboration with the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation, presents every single work by Mozart – right up to a new song only discovered last year.
It is a total of 240 hours of music, which will also be played across 40 nights on 3MBS Fine Music in Melbourne, beginning January 1, 2017.
The set features 600 world-class soloists and 60 orchestras across 200 CDs (ordered chronologically within genre), including 30 CDs of alternative interpretations of the best-known works providing a choice between traditional and period instruments.
Paul Moseley, Universal Music Group’s Director of Mozart 225, commented, “It is wonderful to see the reaction to this box set, which is the fruit of years of scholarship, planning and curation. Mozart’s immortal melodies, no less than The Beatles or Abba, are in some way part of all our lives – and this Edition is the perfect way to celebrate that on his 225th anniversary.”
In Austria where John Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus was born on the 27th of January 1756 in the Archbishopric of Salzburg, music and religion were integral to his family’s daily life
At that time the Empress Maria Theresa 1717 – 1780 and her husband Emperor Joseph II were enjoying compositions by well known musicians including Joseph Haydn (1732-1509), Christoph Willibald (von) Gluck 1714 – 1787 and Ludgwig van Beethoven (1770-1827).
By the age of 8 Mozart was not only an accomplished piano, organ and violin player, but also had acquired a knowledge of musical composition you would normally expect from a man well experienced in his profession.
In historical context King George III 1760 – 1811 of England was on the throne and the First Fleet taking convicts to Australia landed on 26th January 1770 when Mozart was 14 years of age.
During his lifetime Mozart would never lose his ‘magic’ touch, or the joyous child within, his music reflecting his joy of life and its no surprise that he is now considered the rock star musician of his day.
‘I tell you before God, as an honest man, your son is the greatest composer known to me in person and by name. He has taste, but above this, he has the greatest knowledge of composition’ said Franz Joseph Haydn one of the most revered composers, delivering this testimony about his son’s abilities to his father Leopold at a quartet party in 1785 when Mozart was 29 years of age.
Content and form balance each other in Mozart’s music as he had an extraordinary sense of form and beauty of sound, which he combined with fantasy and poetry in music.
His travels with his father and sister were beneficial and he did not imitate anyone or anything. He combined spiritual conception with practical execution, producing original music that sounded simple but in reflection, is extremely complex.
He was at the pinnacle of a ‘golden age’ of musical art and the earnestness of his music was consumed passionately as it elevated its artists so they achieved both unity of form and material.
A notable feature of the music is the way in which Mozart was able to write for a range of skill-sets to combine voices of great virtuosity in a symphony of sound.
The beauty was attained in both instrumental music and the human voice. He was totally enchanted by the sorcery of singing, which made him turn to the paramount form of vocal composition at the time, the opera.
One of his most admired operas Don Giovanni is based on that legendary fictional libertine Don Juan, whose story has been told many times by many different authors.
It was billed as dramma giocoso or “playful drama,” belonging to a genre neither completely comic nor completely tragic. It was a fine example of his ability to cross boundaries and remain relevant to the modern age.
‘Mozart 225: The New Complete Edition’ is believed to be the biggest ever box set dedicated to a single composer. It features two books – a new biography by Professor Cliff Eisen and a work-by-work commentary from Mozart experts worldwide – plus a series of high-quality collector’s prints and a special app to access digital libretti for each of Mozart’s operas and sacred works.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016