Imatges de pÓgina

the intervening period was assiduously employed in the cultivation of his talents; but the silence of his biographer with regard to this period, and an observation, that the family of the lady, who afterwards became bis wife, objected to him on account of his unsettled habits, and because his manners had been far from exemplary, have led us to consult other sources of information; from which we collect, that, with the best natural dispositions and a feeling heart, Mozart knew not how to restrain whatever appetites or passions it was in his power to gratify. He had an ardent and unconquerable love of pleasure in every shape; and, if his means of enjoyment had been equal to his wishes, his name would probably have been added to the long list of forward children, of whose subsequent life no traces remain. The seeds of future excellence were sown during his residence in Italy; but none of the works, on which his posthumous fame is established, were composed till he had reached the age of manhood; and Dr. Burney has perhaps given a fair estimate of his talents at sixteen years of age, in a letter from a correspondent at Saltzburgh, published in his Musical Tour through Germany in 1772 :

· This young man, who so much astonished all Europe by his productions, is still a great master of his instrument. I went to his father's house, to hear him and his sister play duetts on the same harpsichord; but she is now at her summit, which is not marvellous; and, if I may judge of the music, which I heard of his composition in the orchestra, he is one further instance of early fruit being more extraordinary than excellent.'

It is perfectly natural that a youth of this age should have retained his mechanical skill of playing upon the harpsichord, but that he should not yet have acquired the degree of science necessary to constitute a great composer. Mozart was, however, fortunately roused to new exertions by the powerful excitements of love and vanity.–His whole soul was devoted to Constance Weber; his vanity was piqued by the rejection of her family, and he determined to convince them, that, although he had no fixed situation in life, he had talents that would soon procure himn an establishment.

In his twenty-fifth year the elector of Bavaria requested him to write the serious opera of Idomeneo : his love for Constance supplied him with the most impassioned airs, and his vanity impelled him to the greatest exertions in the arrangement of the accompaniments; and thus he composed his favourite work, the opera wbich he always considered bis most fortunate effort, and from which he borrowed many ideas in his subsequent compositions. The effects of this opera were, to secure his mistress, to establish his fame, and to qualify him for future success. What may be deemed his classical productions, as distinguished


from his juvenile efforts, now succeeded each other with great rapidity till the end of his short career. His sonatas, quartetts, and symphonies, operas, and sacred compositions, may be immediately distinguished from those of all other masters; they all eviuce the originality of his genius and the fertility of his invention; and their appeal to the feelings of an audience was irresistible.

Mozart's peculiar method of composition was, first, to arrange in his mind the whole subject and all its details. This was the work of silent meditation during his walks, or on bis pillow; and thus, while apparently idle, his mind was most intensely engaged. He next sat down to the piano-forte, generally in the stillness of night, tried various experiments, and satisfied himself of the effect of his whole composition. In the morning he committed his ideas to paper; and this last operation was so entirely mechanical, from the whole subject having been previously arranged in his mind, that he wrote the score at once with the greatest neatness, and frequently without altering a single note. We have lately seen the original scores, in his own hand-writing, of his principal instrumental pieces, which narrowly escaped the iron grasp of Davoust at Hamburgh, and are now in London. In looking over these manuscripts, we could almost fancy ourselves in Mozart's closet while he composed them. The notes are small, but very clearly and distinctly written. His pages had been all previously numbered, that he might continue writing without a moment's interruption. In the two first of bis iniinitable quartetts, dedicated to Haydn, there is not a single alteration; and, on the margin of the first andante movement, are directions to his copyist, in provincial German, to write now the second violin and the tenor; the bass after dinner. In the fifth quartett, several bars, which are struck out, show that his alterations were not made on revising his composition, but while he was writing it with the greatest rapidity, as in a literary production an author would substitute one word for another, while the first word was only half written. These occasional changes in his ideas are excellent studies for a composer. An eminent musician, while considering these alterations, exclaimed, · How beautiful is this first idea! who could improve it?' And immediately afterwards, · But ah! how exquisite is the new passage! who could have done this but Mozart !' At the beginning of his celebrated Fantasia, for the piano forte in C minor, he has written, ‘for Madame Tratner.' It was so rapidly written, and the notes are showered down in such profusion, that his hand was evidently not quick enough to express the ideas that flowed from his mind. Iu a fugue for four instruments, written in imitation of those of Sebastian Bach, a species of composition that required more thau usual study, he originally left the lower half of his paper blank, on which he afterwards wrote the whole fugue over again in differently coloured ink, with such improvements as his subsequent experience suggested.


We hope these details will not appear tedious or misplaced; but that many of our readers will participate in the pleasure we feel in tracing the few relics of a man of genius like Mozart, which have been preserved in an entire state, bis operas having been written for the copyist on separate papers, most of which were destroyed. We shall now give a short description of Mozart's personal appearance, and of his habits in private life. He never reached his full growth; be was pale and thin ; bis health was always delicate, and there was nothing striking in his physiognomy except its extreme variableness. The changes in his countenance expressed, in the liveliest manner, the pleasure or pain which he experienced ; his body was constantly in motion, and his nervous irritability was evinced by the habit he had acquired of playing with his hands, or beating the ground with his foot. His hands were so babituated to the piano-forte, that they seemed hardly fit for any thing else. His mind was so constantly absorbed by a crowd of ideas, that, in the common business of life, he was always a mere child. He had no idea of domestic affairs, of the . use of money, of the judicious selection of his pleasures, or of temperance in their enjoyment; he never looked beyond the gratitication of the moment. His affairs were necessarily managed for him, first by bis father, and afterwards by his wife. He was absent, and devoted to trifling pursuits; but the moment he was seated at the piano-forte his character changed; the harmony of sounds then absorbed his whole attention; and his ear was so accurate, that, even in the fullest orchestra, he would instantly detect and point out the instrument that had played the slightest false note; and we may imagine his feelings during the performance of his opera of L'Enlèvement du Séruil, at Berlin, where he arrived late in the evening, and took his station at the entrance of the pit, to listen without being observed :- Sometimes he was so pleased with the execution of certain passages, and at others so dissatisfied with the manner or the time in which they were performed, or with the embellishments added by the actors, that, continually expressing either his pleasure or disapprobation, he insensibly got up to the bar of the orchestra ;' at last an air was played, in which the manager had taken the liberty of making some alterations; when Mozart, unable to restrain himself any longer, directed the orchestra how to play it. The eyes of the whole audience were fixed upon the man in a great coat, who made all this noise. Mozart was recognized; and some of the performers were 20 agitated that they refused to come again upon the stage. Mo


zart immediately went behind the scenes, and, by the compliments which he paid the actors, at length prevailed upon them to go on with the piece.

Our limits oblige us to refer to the work itself for various interesting anecdotes of this extraordinary inan, and for many judicious remarks on his several compositions. During the latter years of his life he felt his health gradually declining; and his disorder was increased by a deep and habitual melancholy, arising from the anticipation of future evils, and from being convinced that he had not long to live. This persuasion excited him to new efforts, which his feeble and languid frame was unable to support, and he was frequently carried fainting from the piano-forte.

As his bodily health declined, his intellectual powers seemed to have gained fresh vigour; and, in the last year of his life, and thirty-sixth of his age, he composed some of the finest of his works - The Zauberflöte; the Clemenza di Tito, which is distinguished from his other operas, by the air of melancholy that shows the state of the composer's mind; and the Requiem, which accelerated the progress of his disorder. The circumstances attending this last composition have rather the appearance of romance than of real occurrences. A stranger, whose manner was dignified and impressive, informed him that a man of considerable importance, who did not wish to be known, was anxious to commemorate the loss of a dear friend, by the annual performance of a solemn funeral service, and therefore requested that Mozart would compose a requiem for the dead. After the stranger had departed, Mozart remained lost in thought; he soon, however, applied with great ardour to his composition.—He wrote day and night, until his constitution was no longer able to support his enthusiasm, and he fell senseless. A few days afterwards he said abruptly to his wife, • It is certain that I am writing this requiem for myself!-It will be my own funeral service ! Nothing could remove this impression from his mind; he was convinced that the mysterious stranger was a being connected with the other world, sent to announce his approaching dissolution. He applied with still greater ardour to the Requiem, as the most durable monument of his genius, till his hand was arrested by alarming fainting fits. The work was, however, at length completed ; but when, at the appointed time, the stranger returned, Mozart was vo more.

The merit must indeed be great that calls forth the unqualified praise of contemporaries and rivals.-Haydn once said to Mozart's father, · I declare, before God, and as an honest man, that your son is the greatest composer I have ever heard of!' and, in the latter part of his life, he scrupled not to confess, that he was taking lessons from his pupil.'. We have also seen a letter from

Haydn, Haydn, in which, after declining to write a comic opera for the theatre at Prague, because, in that species of writing, the great Mozart cannot be equalled by any

other composer,

he continues thus :

• If it were in my power to impress upon every lover of music, and especially upon our great men, a proper sense of the inimitable works of Mozart; if I could make them feel their beauties with the same ardour and conviction with which I comprehend and feel them; all nations would rival each other to have such a jewel among them. I am vexed and angry with the world, not yet to see this great, this incomparable Mozart engaged by some imperial or royal court. Pardon my digression- I love the man too much.'

The compositions of Haydn and Mozart cannot be properly compared with each other; for although they are both distinguished by profound science, and by the variety and beauty of their melodies; by the boldness of their modulations and the free use of semi-tones; yet their characters are essentially different. Mozart excelled in operas, in the invention of beautiful airs, and the proper adaptation of his instrumental accompaniments, which are full of grace and elegance, and unexpected combinations of harmony. Haydn is unrivalled in the number and variety of his symphovies and quartetts. But it is a great proof of the genius of Mozart, that, even in this species of composition, which is Haydn's forte, (although Mozart has written very few quartetts, and still fewer grand symphonies,) it may be questioned, whether the best of each of them is not superior to the inost favourite composition of his rival. Haydn made it the business of bis long life to collect materials, which he gradually reduced to order by dint of study and meditation; while Mozart's ideas were scattered around with all the profusion of unbounded wealth, and the confidence of a never-failing source. Thus Haydn had most diligence; Mozart most genius. It is not, however, our intention to enter into an analysis of the productions of these great composers; the works of Haydn bave long been familiar to every one who'bas music in his soul;' and the manner in which operas have lately been selected, performed, and encouraged in London, will by degrees enable ani English audience to understand those of Mozart, which never produce their full effect till they have been often heard,

At present his operas labour under a great disadvantage, which we almost despair to see remedied, because it arises in a great measure from the nature of our opera establishment. The orchestra contains a bost of excellent musicians, who are so delighted with Mozart's accompaniments, that, in the finales and other full pieces, each performer, particularly on the wind instruments, plays



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