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Mozart's Last Year

Although we tend to think of Mozart as the child prodigy and genius composer, his life was not a complete success. He had to deal with many personal and professional difficulties, and this was certainly the case during the last year of his life. Yet, he continued to compose important music that is honored to this day.

Mozart was very young when he died. In January of 1791, he had just turned 35, but this was to be his last birthday. At the time, he was in an extremely difficult and precarious position. His fame was extensive, but he had very little money and less meaningful work. As Harris (1991) noted, although he was still court composer for the Emperor, this work was less than meaningful to him. The Emperor was not interested in having Mozart compose great music, or substantial pieces of work. Instead, he wanted to have Mozart at his court in order to provide entertainment for him through the creation of dance music and frivolous pieces.

This last year is actually fairly of representative of Mozart's life. There are financial difficulties, personal problems, intense composition, and intermittent reinforcement by critics and others. Ironically, it was only right at his death that Mozart received two offers that might have made it possible for him to leave the Emperor's court and compose music in some semblance of financial security. In December of 1791, Hungarian noblemen offered Mozart a yearly honorarium of 1,000 florins, while a Dutch group made a similar offer to him that was actually not received until after his death (Hildesheimer, 1982).

Yet, during this year of incredible difficulty, Mozart composed his most childlike and simple opera, The Magic Flute. This was the central work of his year, but by no means the only one. Instead, he completed a considerable body of dance music, including minuets, contradances, and German dances, a Piano Concerto, motets, a commissioned work La Clemenza di Tito, K. 6...

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Mozart's Last Year. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:32, February 26, 2017, from