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the life of one of the greatest
composers in all of history was nearly cut short by fever when he was 35
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was working on his Requiem
for some time,
and his death might have left it unfinished, depriving the world of one of
its most incredible pieces of groundbreaking music. At the request of his
wife, he put aside his work and focused on overcoming his "military fever"
(believed to be acute rheumatic fever). After his fever broke in the night
of December 4, Mozart began to return to work, much as he had done his
The compositions of Mozart date back to 1761, when five-year-old Wolfgang
composed small pieces on the clavier that his father wrote down for him.
Throughout his years traveling, serving in the court at Salzburg, visiting
Paris, and eventually settling in Vienna, Mozart would produce hundreds of
pieces of music of uncanny variety: symphonies, concertos for nearly every
instrument, chamber music, serenades, divertimenti, marches, dances,
masses, sonatas, operas, arias, canons, and works that cannot easily be
classified, especially those of later in his life. As he worked in Vienna,
he also gained great influence, eventually living comfortably though never
achieving great financial wealth. Musicians like Sussmayr, van Swieten,
Salieri, Haydn, and, most significantly, Haydn's pupil Ludwig van
Beethoven all counted him as competitor and friend through his lifetime.
The young Beethoven had reportedly come to Vienna to study with Mozart but
had ended under the tutorship of Haydn.
"Very good, but Austrians for the most part wanted
nothing of the "French disease." This only came about in 1848, when the
time was right. Popular music in the capital city does not by itself
create a revolution" - reader's comment
After Mozart's recovery, he
finished his Requiem, which would finally establish his fortune as the
Catholic Church encouraged its use throughout Europe and the world. He
made another return to opera, and his works were quickly picked up for
performance as his name spread. Around 1800, he decided that he no longer
needed to work for money and became bold in his musical experimentation.
For several years, he would dazzle the salons of Europe in improvisational
competitions, often with the younger Beethoven, who seemed the only
pianist who could match and challenge him. This knowledge that he could
not dominate Beethoven completely by piano forte is said to have led
Mozart into his exploration of other ins"Glass
"armonica" instead of piano would have made popular music much different
in lots of ways.. ." - reader's comment
the glass armonica. The two would try to outdo one another through the
rest of Mozart's life, many speculating that Beethoven's twelve symphonies
were made better through the competition.
Reportedly, Mozart had learned of the spinning armonica during his time in
Paris, when its creator Benjamin Franklin was also there as ambassador
from the rebelling American colonies. Though it is unknown whether the two
had met, by 1805, Mozart began a personal quest to push out the piano
forte in favor of the armonica. His influence may be questionable, but it
is evident that the armonica had taken its place at the forefront of music
as every family of note had one in its drawing room by the mid-nineteenth
Mozart's music continued to become "erratic" as his life progressed. He
sought influences from the folk dances of Europe. In the 1820s, he took up
partnerships with the young musicians of Vienna to discover new ways of
creating music. Noted for his sponsorship of Johann Strauss and Joseph
Lanner in their formalization of the waltz, the aged Mozart was quoted as
saying, "Oh, to have been born forty years later!"
While his eagerness never left him, Mozart fell ill with fever again in
1825 and died in January of 1826. His funeral was attended by thousands in
Vienna, and many historians credit his vibrant use of popular music as one
of the leading causes of the push for civil liberties in the 1830s.