The Role of Mozart in the Age of Enlightenment

Wolfgang Mozart was born in seventeen fifty-six in Salzburg, Austria. Around this time, music was developing from the music of the Renaissance and Baroque eras into more complete works with a more sophisticated development of instrumentation. In this time Mozart would come to be known as one of the most talented musical composers. When he was a child he would travel with his family and perform where he could. His father wanted to showcase his son’s musical talents as a composer and performer to as many people as possible. In seventeen seventy-three, the archbishop selected young Mozart as assistant concertmaster. As a result he had the opportunity to work in many different genres of music to compose symphonies, string quartets, sonatas and serenades and even some operas.

Mozart began to feel unsatisfied with his job and decided to travel all over in hopes of finding something more promising. He and his mother set out in seventeen seventy-seven, but he didn’t have much luck. When his mother passed away in seventeen seventy-eight, he returned home where his father had arranged another position for him as court organist. Mozart was married in seventeen eighty-two. Between seventeen eighty-four and seventeen eighty-six he wrote nine concertos and his second opera in seventeen eighty-seven. He began to get sick in seventeen ninety and died in seventeen niney-one.

The classical period lasted from about seventeen fifty to eighteen twenty and this period also became known as the age of enlightenment. Toward the middle of the eighteenth century Europe began to evolve toward new styles of architecture, literature and the arts. This was better known as classicism. This era brought about the increase in size of the typical orchestra. The public began to become more aware of the ideas of natural philosophy. The focus on basic simplicity affected music by shifting the focus more on homophony as opposed to the polyphony that was the focus of the baroque era. As a result chords became a more dominant part of music, making the tonal structure more clear and distinct.

New changes in this era of music were also partially due to changes in economics and the social structure. As the eighteenth century went on, nobility became predominant supporters of instrumental music as opposed to the public who seemed more to favor comic opera. This affected how music was performed by directing it more toward standard instrumental groups.

Changes in economics also had an effect by altering the availability of and the quality of musicians. Unlike the baroque era, where there were more musical resources to work with, the classical period was limited to a decrease in availability. Due to a high demand of music that resulted from the baroque era, many works of music were performed with one rehearsal at best.

Since polyphonic textures were not as utilized as they were in previous times, there was a greater importance placed on notating for dynamics and phrasing. The generality of texture made instrumental detail that much more significant and individual, distinctive rhythms more important in creating and joining the tone of a single movement.

Mozart played an important role in the enlightenment. As a musician he strayed away from the music of the church and instead wrote based on his life experiences. He also inspired many other artists after his time such as Beethoven, who created some of his own work with references to some of Mozart’s work. Mozart changed the way music was composed and played, and he wrote his music based on the ideas of the new period, now known as the enlightenment.