Little Bits of History

Magic

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 30, 2012

Wolfgang Amadeau (Amadeus) Mozart

September 30, 1791: The Magic Flute debuts. This was the last opera of Wolfgang Amadeau Mozart and is listed as K. 620 in the opus. The libretto was written by Emanuel Schikaneder. The opera had both spoken and sung parts making in more in line with what we would think of as a musical today. Opening night was at Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden. Mozart himself conducted the orchestra while Schikaneder play the role of Papageno. The Queen of the Night was sung by Mozart’s sister-in-law, Josepha Hofer. The opera is done in two acts. Today, many productions omit the spoken parts, turning it back into what we consider more pure opera now.

Mozart was born in Salzburg on January 27, 1756. Today, this is part of Austria but in the eighteenth century, this was part of the Holy Roman Empire. His father was a minor composer in his own right, but Wolfgang far surpassed his father’s skill. His older sister was given keyboard lessons while the three-year-old brother watched. He began picking out notes at this young age. His first composition, spattered with ink spots, amazed his father. Both siblings began to tour Europe as child prodigies in 1762. They covered much of mainland Europe and even made it to England.

Mozart has been described as a slight man. He was small, thin, and pale. He was said to be proud of his hair and had large eyes. He had survived smallpox as a child and his face was pitted with the reminder scars. He loved elegant clothing and dressed beautifully. His singing voice was a tenor and he usually spoke softly, unless excited and then his speech was more energetic. He was raised Roman Catholic and remained devout throughout his life. He enjoyed playing billiards and dancing and kept many pets. He had a penchant for scatological humor and included some in his musical oeuvre.

Although he lived only a short time, dying at the age of 35, he was prolific in his writing. He has over 600 pieces in his Kōchel catalogue. While in Prague for the September 6 premiere of his opera, La clemenza di Tito, written early in 1791, he fell ill. Although well enough to conduct on this day for the opening of The Magic Flute, he was not really well. On November 20, his condition worsened and he became bedridden with a variety of symptoms. Even as he was dying, his last hope was to finish Requiem and he dictated to his amanuensis. He died on December 5 of “hitziges Frieselfieber” (severe military fever) which cannot be identified by today’s medical standards. He was buried in a common grave.

I pay no attention whatever to anybody’s praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.

Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.

One must not make oneself cheap here – that is a cardinal point – or else one is done. Whoever is most impertinent has the best chance.

When I am traveling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep; it is on such occasions that ideas flow best and most abundantly. – all from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Also on this day:

Meet the Flintstones – In 1960, The Flintstones come to prime time television.
FBI HQ – In 1975, The J. Edgar Hoover Building was dedicated.
Farm Work – In 1962, the first meeting of the National Farm Workers Association too place.

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