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The Mozart Affect

In Classical on March 7, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Firstly, before everyone tries to get into a grammatically-correct uproar: No, I did not misspell ‘affect’. It’s a play on words. Now that we have that out of the way, we’re about to take the aesthetic appreciation beyond the purely visual like my last two blog posts (which if you haven’t read them because of their length, shame on you). For our audio appreciative audience, I have just the piece from the Classical Era to soothe your acoustic ear: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik (or “A Little Serenade” for you non-German speakers, like me).

Sometimes finding a good performance online of any popular music piece is just a Youtube search away. However, this one took a little digging to find and is an excellent performance of the Allegro portion of Mozart’s piece. In fact, finding much in the way of online resources, besides Wikipedia on Mozart’s Serenade No. 13 was also a struggle. Surprising, since this is probably one of Mozart’s most popular pieces, possibly surpassed by his Symphony No. 40. Even more surprising, this piece wasn’t even published until 1827, many decades after Mozart’s death (Hildsheimer Mozart).

We do know, however, that this work was completed in Vienna on the tenth of August, in 1787. For the amount of works Mozart published in his short life, it comes as no revelation, then, that he completed this piece while working on his opera Don Giovanni (Holoman Evenings). Now, you might be asking, why the heck did he write a serenade in the middle of his musings over an opera? Well, we can infer that, since many of Mozart’s serenades were produced as a result of commissions, this was no different, even if no record of such a commission exists (Hildsheimer Mozart).

During this period when Mozart, the child prodigy born in 1756, began composing, there became a growing audience in the middle class for concerts, operas and other musical compositions. Mozart’s own influences are traced to this rise in middle class commissions by his father’s own position as a teacher and composer from Augsburg (Hildesheimer Mozart). In listening to Mozart’s composition of Eine kleine Nachtmusik, we can also see how much of an appeal this would have had to a middle class audience in this period, who craved more simplistic, melodic works. Mozart’s piece never really gets buried in too many different instruments going off at once in different chords. It’s unified, simple, and yet still sounds grand and pensive. Even though this work wasn’t even published until years after he wrote it, it still shows an ever important connection to how music changed in the Classical Era.

Works Cited

Holoman, D. Kern. Evenings with the Orchestra: A Norton Companion for Concertgoers. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1992. Print.

Hildesheimer, Wolfgang. Mozart. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1991. Print.

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  1. I really like how your blog! I chose Mozart also, this is one of the pieces, I am familiar with. It is very light and uplifting. I believe you that you addressed all the requirements for the assignment. I was wondering how you were going to connect a piece of work that was not published during the era, but I believe you accomplished connecting it to the rise of the middle class.

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