« ПредишнаНапред »
quired a variety of airs, and performed them in so charming a style, that his father began to forin the most agreeable expectations of his future celebrity,
Before he reached his sixth year, he had com. posed several sonatas for the harpsichord, although it is said he was unable to commit them to paper; which deficiency was supplied by his father. Mornmg, noon, and night, found him at his harpsichord, or occasionally at the violin, on which, though self-taught, he made no mean progress, All his soul seemed absorbed in this delightful stu. dy. The toys and playthings which please most childeren, had no attraction for him. Music only had charms for his wonderful imagination and he pressed forward to the perfection of his art, not by gradual advances, but as it were by the velocity of intuition.
In the year 1762, when only six years old, he performed a concerto before the elector at Munich, which astonished the whole court. From hence his father carried him to Vienna, when he played be: fore the emperor, who, willing to try the child's abilities further, hinted that he could not play so well, if he did not constantly look at his fingers. The little fellow, fired at the insinuation, rea quested the keys might be concealed from his sight, and exerted himself with increased effect. In short, his execution and music appeared so wonderful, that his Imperial Majesty was beyond measure delighted, and bestowed on him an appellation of the little Sorcerer. In 1763 he visited Paris, where he performed before the court, and was thought greater on the organ than on the harpsichord. Here his father, sister, and himself, gave two concerts with so much reputation, that their portraits were painted, engraved, and eagerly sought after; and here also he first published some of his earliest compositions,
London, the centre of liberal patrouage, next heard his amazing powers, where he and his sister performed to the most fashionable audiences. His present majesty is said to have been his auditor, when a bass was given him as a ground, upon which he immediately raised a most exquisite melody.
From London, where he published six lessons for the harpsichord, he passed into Holland and France, and from thence to his native place. After a year spent in study, and in the examination of the compositions of Emanuel Bach, Handel, and the old Italian masters, he paid a second visit to Vienna in 1768 : when he composed, at the express desire of Joseph II. his first comic opera La Finta Semplice, which gained the inqualified applause of the best judges-about this time also he composed the music for the consecration of the church of orphans, which he himself conducted.
In 1769, Mozart returned to Salzburg, where he was appointed Maitre de Concert. Some time after, he set off for Italy, the school of taste and enthusiasm. Bologna admired and applauded genius so unrivalled-and Florence extolled him to the skies. At Rome he wished to have taken a copy of the celebrated Miserere from the Pope's chapel, but this being refused, he examined it with a quick eye, and afterwards in his chamber wrote out the wkole of the numerous parts from memory only!
The Pope bestowed on him the order of the Guilt Spur, and Bolognia complimented him with the title of Member and Master of the Phil-barmonic Academy. The probationary exercise for which ho. nour, a fugue for four voices, he wrote in half an hour. He aftewards visited Naples. He generally wore a fine diamond ring when he performed in public. Some of the Neapolitan ladies observed to
him, that his music must be the effect of magic, and that it lay in his ring. Taking that in the literal sense which was meant only as a compliment, he immediately took off his ring, and soon convinced that the magic lay only in his own unrivalled genius. In passing, on his return through Rome, the Pope presented him with a very valua. ble crucifix.
At Milan he composed his opera of Mithridates, which was much admired, and again went back to Salzburgh. In 1771 he made a second excursion to Paris, where, however, his stay was short. In 1773 he composed Lucio Sulla, by request, for the Carnival. In 1781, being now twenty-five years of age he composed, at the desire of the Elector of Bavaria, the celebrated opera of Idomeneo, for the carnival of that year also, which has merit enough in itself to have rendered the author illustrious.
He was now invited to Vienna, where his merit soon outshone the most brilliant of his rivals. The rapidity of his exquisite taste and feeling, were beyond all praise. His compositions were circulated far and wide, and every where astonished by their originality, expression, and energy. His next work was l'Enlevement du Serail.. During the composition of this opera, he married Mademoiselle Weber, a lady of great musical talents and genius : and to this circumstance has been attributed that peculiar tone of tender passion, for which this piece is so remarkable.
The story of the Marriage of Figaro, which filled at this time most of the theatres, was converted in. to an opera, and composed by Mozart, at the instance of the emperor; the songs of which were vociferated in the streets, the gardens, and the taverns, and it was performed at Prague during the greatest part of the winter. Here the manager of the theatre agreed with him for the composition of Don Giovanni, one of the most astonishing ef. forts of science and imagination, fire and feeling. The overture to which, after having been from home till midnight, he composed in his chamber in a few hours, the very night before the first per. formance of that opera. Yet all this fame did not hetter his circumstances, and although he might possibly be said not to have been badly paid, yet his style of living was necessarily so attended with expence, that he had determined" on another tour to London, where every useful and elegant art is more liberally encouraged under the auspices of a be. loved monarch, than in any other part of the world. Unfortunately for Englishmen, the emperor gave him the appointinent of Compositeur de la Chambre, which, small as was the salary, secured to Ger, many the regular honour of retaining him.
It is lamentable, observes one of his biographers, that premature genius too rarely enjoys a long career. The acceleration of nature in the mental powers, seems to hurry the progress of the animal economy, and to anticipate the regular close of temporal existence.
The health of Mozart began rapidly to decline, However he was not idle ; for in the few last months of his life he composed those three great works, The Enchanted Flute, the Clemency of Titus, and The Requiem. Some have called these his chef d'ævres. Nothing ever had a greater run than the first of these. It was performed at Vienna one hundred nights in less than twelve months, and on the hundredth night the theatre overflowed as much as on the first. The second was composed at the desire of the Bohemian states, for the coronation of Leopold. It was begun in his carriage on the road to Prague, and finished in eighteen days. The history of the last is singular. .
A stranger called on him and requested he would compose, as speedily as possible, a requiem for a catholic prince, in order to sooth his mind, and to prepare it for his approaching dissolution. Mozart demanded 200 ducats, and the stranger, in order to promote dispatch, deposited 400. The composer began the work, in the progress of which he felt his mind unusually raised and agitated. He employed not only the day, but much of the night in the composition of it, with which he seemed to be infatuated. He told his wife he was composing it for himself, and she prevailed upon him to give her the score, and endeavour to cheer his spirits. Upon his appearing more tranquil, she returned it, but he soon relapsed into despondency; and having finished it on the day of his death, he again reminded her that he had previously informed her it would be composed for himself.
The only complaint he suffered during his illness, was his being obliged to quit life when in a situation to provide for his family, and at liberty to follow the dictates of his genius and the impulses of his heart, unrestrained by mercenary considerations.
In the year 1791, and in the 35th year of his age, just after he had received the appointment of Maestro di Capella, in the church of St. Peter, he departed this life ; leaving the world to admire the brilliancy of his powers, and to lament the shortness of the period allotted to their display.
With respect to his person, he was small of sta. ture, and his air, when not at the piano-forte, that of an absent man. But his eyes were full of fire, and when he was performing, his whole figure became agitated, his countenance changed, and his sentiments were expressed in every motion of his muscles. His knowledge was not confined to music only: he was master of several languages, and