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Music of 17th/18th Century Essay

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus, literary known as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was born on 27 January 1756 and died on 5 December 1791 in Salzburg. Historically, Mozart is known to be one of the most prolific and composers of classical music. He played music during the Classical era. He showed his prodigious ability in music career right from his early childhood age. Before attaining the age of five years, Mozart was a competent violinist and organist who once had the opportunity to perform before the European royalty. He became the youngest performer to have performed before any royalty across the world in the 18th century.

As a teenager, the music club of Salzburg hired him as one of the court musicians in Salzburg, but that opportunity did not satisfy him such that at age seventeen, he had already grown restless and he left in search of better opportunities that offered growth opportunities to his music career. By then he had composed several songs, and thus he needed an environment that could allow him to compose abundantly. Unfortunately, he visited Vienna for music concerts in 1781, and that move angered his employers who dismissed him after losing trust in him. Consequently, he chose to remain in Vienna where, despite huge financial insecurities, he achieved great fame as a musician and a composer.

During his stay in Vienna, he managed to compose all his symphonies, concertos, and operas that have remained his best-known music since then. In addition, before his death, he had a large portion of requiem that was unfinished. His early death in Vienna has since remained a mystery, but his great influence in the western music has made his memories alive after composing over six hundred works, majority of which are acknowledged as the pinnacle of classical music.

Mozart’s Influence on Music Industry in the 18th Century

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born to Leopold Mozart and Anna Maria in Salzburg, which was then the capital of Archbishopric of Salzburg, and known today as Austria. Salzburg was then a part of the Roman Empire. He was born the youngest child of the Mozart’s seven kids, five of whom had died at early ages, and he survived with his sister Maria Anna, known as Nannerl. A day after his birth, Mozart was baptised at the Cathedral of St. Rupert’s in Salzburg as Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, but he always called himself Wolfgang Amadè Mozart though as an adult his name had numerous variations with various people calling him differently.

His father, Leopold Mozart, was an Augsburg native, experienced teacher, and a music composer in Salzburg. During a musical establishment of Count Leopold in 1743, Mozart was selected as one of the four best violinists in Salzburg in a ceremony presided over by the then ruling Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. Later in 1743, he married Anna Maria with whom they settled in Salzburg and together had seven children of which only two survived the infancy stage. Interestingly, he published a violin textbook called Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule that achieved great success during the period of the birth of his son.

Leopold had an interest in teaching music to his children such that when his daughter Nannerl was seven, he started teaching her on how to play the keyboard. By then, Wolfgang was only three and all he could do was to look on until he was five when his father started to teach him the keyboard and violin lessons. Surprisingly, Leopold noted that his son was eager to learn beyond what he learnt from him. Through his own effort, he managed to come up with an ink-spattered own composition. At that juncture, Leopold gave up his composing career and left it on the hands of his son whose talent was evident by then. In his early years, Mozart had his father as the only teacher who taught him languages and other academic subjects despite the music skills.

During his early childhood, Leopold’s family travelled to other parts of Europe where the children often got opportunities to perform as child prodigies. These trips gave the children great opportunities of growing their talents, and one of the biggest opportunities presented itself in 1763 at Bavaria, in Munich, where they performed at the court of Prince-elector Maximilian III, whose success was followed by a three and a half years trail of concert tours across European cities. During that long trip, Mozart had the great opportunity of meeting with other profound musicians with whom he acquainted himself with their compositions. One of the most notable influencers of his music career was Johann Christian, with whom he visited London several times between 1764 and 1765.

In 1769, Leopold took his son for a two years journey to Italy, which lasted until 1771, and his ultimate objective was to market his son’s ability to compose and perform music. During his trip to Italy, Mozart got a great opportunity of meeting with the majority of the famous Italian composers such as Josef Mysliveček and Giovanni Battista Martini. Fortunately, they accepted him to be a member of the Italian famous Accademia Filarmonica.

In Rome, he got an opportunity to attend the Gregorio Allegri Miserere’s opera performance in the Sistine Chapel and wrote about it thus getting his first unauthorised copy, which was then a property of the Vatican. In 1770, while in Milan, Mozart managed to write Mitridate, re di Ponto, an opera that scored exceptionally well and his father was greatly proud of his son’s success in Italy. His great success led to further composing of other great operas. In 1771, he returned to Milan accompanied by his father for composition and performance of both the Ascanio operas in Alba (1771) and Lucio Silla (1772). At that time, Leopold had achieved his objective to market his son’s skills in Italy, and the two left for Salzburg.

Upon returning to Salzburg, Mozart was hired by Prince-Archbishop Hieronymus Colloredo as one of the court musicians at Salzburg. By then, he had many important friends in the city that helped him in his compositions and made him have an opportunity to work in various music arts, which included sonatas, mass serenades, and minor operas. Despite the great success, Mozart was dissatisfied with low wages he received, and thus he decided to leave Salzburg. Unfortunately, the court was closed in 1775 shortly after his dismissal, and he left for Vienna where Arcbishop Colloredo who mistreated him just like other musicians employed him.

However, his character helped him to pull out of his employer’s mistreatment and became an independent musician and performer. Therefore, Mozart defied the old rules of treating musicians as vessels to honourable individuals with great talents. In 1782, he married Constanze with whom they got six children. Later in 1788, his health situation worsened, thus making him disappear from the public arena until 1791 when he died. His main music style was Classical, which he developed through his work by putting all classical styles in the music and his styles have remained the pacesetters for other musicians.

Ludwig van Beethoven


Ludwig van Beethoven was an unparalleled musician and pianist. He was born on 17 December 1770 and died on 26 March 1827 in Germany. He was a key figure for the music transition between the Classical and Roman music eras in the music art in Europe and other western nations. He has remained the greatest and the most famous music composer in the history of growth and development of music.

He was born in Bonn, which was by then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and a pet of the Roman Empire. Just like Mozart, Beethoven displayed great talents in the music as a young child and was taught music by his father, Johann van Beethoven. He had a great passion for studying music with Mozart, but instead, he got an opportunity to study with Joseph Haydn at the age twenty-two and consequently gained fame as a virtuoso pianist.

Unfortunately, in 1800, he suffered hearing lapses that further deteriorated, thus making him completely deaf. His hearing problems made him stop conducting and performing in public, but he gained more interest in composing. Much of his greatest works resulted from this period. He remained in Vienna until his death in 1827.

Beethoven’s Influence on Music Transition in Europe

Beethoven came from a family of musicians, as his grandfather, Lodewijk, was a famous musician who had come from Belgium. His grandfather worked as one of the singers of the court of the Elector of Cologne in Germany and was singing the bass. Lodewijk had only one son called Johann, the father of Beethoven. Johann also was employed in the same choir as his father where he sang in the tenor. Johann was the first music teacher to his son, who was a harsh music trainer and could often force Mozart to play the keyboard in tears. Other teachers included the organist of the court, Gilles van deh Eeden, a pianist and a close family friend, Tobias FIredrich, and a relative, Franz Rovantini, a renowned violin instructor who taught him how to play violin.

Johann, being aware of Leopold Mozart’s family success in the music career after introducing his children, Wolfgang and Nannerl, he became jealous to the point that he decided to introduce Beethoven to the child prodigy at a young age. Interestingly, on the preparations for their first public performance in 1778, he claimed his son to be six when he was exactly seven years old, which showed his desire to compete with Leopold, whose son started music performance at five.

In 1779, he got an opportunity to study with one of his favourite teachers, Christian Gottlob Neefe, an organist and appointee of the court at Bonn. Christian taught him about the musical compositions and enabled him to publish his first composition in March 1783. His interest for music prompted him to work as an unpaid assistant organist to Christian in the court in 1781 until 1784 when the court hired him officially as an assistant organist. This decision underscored his determination to contribute to the growth and development of the music industry in the 18th century.

However, he was encouraged by the Maximilian Frederick, elector of Bonn, who in 1783 noted a magical music talent in Beethoven’s musical works. In addition, he subsidised his musical studies as a way of encouraging him to attain greater heights in his career. Unfortunately, Maximilian Fredrick died a year later after promoting the young man’s talent. His successor, Maximilian Franz, brought many changes to Bonn. Copying changes that his brother, Joseph, had brought to Vienna upon his power assumption, he brought new reforms, most of which were based on the Enlightenment philosophy.

Through those changes, he managed to promote arts and education in Bonn and Beethoven’s musical career, as a young teenager then, was shaped by those changes. In 1787, Beethoven, with high hopes of studying music with Mozart, went to Vienna for his first time, but his wishes did not materialise for Mozart’s health had deteriorated by then. Worst still, his mother fell ill shortly after his arrival to Vienna and his father got into alcoholism. Hence, Beethoven was the only person who could take care of family, and thus he had to leave Vienna for Bonn where he spent more than five years. Unfortunately, Mozart died during his stay at Bonn, hence killing all Beethoven’s hopes of studying music with the renowned Classical guru.

Fortunately, Beethoven was introduced to important musicians and other professionals in Bonn, who greatly supported his music career and in catering of his family needs. He managed to have the court allocate half of his father’s salary to him for supporting his family through one of the friends that he had acquired at Bonn. In addition, Franz Wegeler introduced him to the Breuning family whom he trained their children how to play piano and violin.

He married one of the daughters of the Breuning family that he taught how to play the musical instruments. In 1792, he met with Joseph Haydn on his trip from London and went with him to Vienna for studying music. On the hands of Haydn, Beethoven viewed himself as a successor of Mozart, which made him to offer himself diligently to the works of composition. He later met various important music personnel that greatly shaped his music career and expertise. His noble skills and abilities in music enabled wealthy people, who loved his music, to offer him financial support that he greatly required in his stay in Vienna.

In 1796, Beethoven experienced some difficult in hearing that degenerated to complete deafness by 1814 thus making him incapable of performing at the concerts. That problem gave him an opportunity to settle with composition and most of his greatest works were composed during his tenure as a deaf. However, while still having the hearing problem, he taught many students how to play the musical instruments and compositions. Unlike other musicians of his era, he did not only earn income from publications, but also from patronage. Most of his patrons were wealthy and powerful personnel with whom he shared his works before publications and often sought advice from them concerning the quality of his work.

Through this method, Beethoven introduced sponsorship in the music industry among other changes that he facilitated. Beethoven introduced new musical styles thus bringing in a transition of music styles into the middle period. A good example is his newly designed third symphony that was longer than others were that existed before it. However, upon its release, there were mixed reactions where some people perceived it as a major breakthrough in the development of music while others minded much about its length and misunderstood its structure.

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi


Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was born on 4 March 1678 in Venice and died on 28 July 1741. He had a red hair that made him to be nicknamed as the red priest by his fans. He was a Catholic priest and a great music composer in Italy. He stayed in Italy for a long time, which convinced many people that he was an Italian despite his birthplace being Venice. He is renowned for his compositions of instrumental concertos especially with violins, choral works, and many operas. He was famous across the entire European region for his great works. However, the majority of his work was compositions written for female music. His music downfall occurred following the death of Emperor Charles VI soon after his arrival to Vienna for concerts though his music continued having a good public response until his death.

Vivaldi’s Influence on Music in 17th and 18th Century

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was born on 4 March 1678 in Venice, the then capital of Venice. Worst still, an earthquake hit the city during his birth, which accelerated people’s belief that the child’s life was in danger. This perception rendered his official baptism postponed for two months. He was born to Giovanni Battista Vivaldi and Camilla Calicchio who had six children. Giovanni had a barbershop during the time and later became a violist. He taught his son how to play the violin at an early age. Antonio, just like Mozart and Beethoven, had a great opportunity of growing up next to music professionals who were in this case, their parents.

At the age of twenty-four, he displayed great talents in music, which indicated that he had started learning music at an early age. He was then working at Ospedale della Pietà, a music foundation that promoted music talents. His father also led to the foundation of a group of musicians known as Sovvegno dei musicisti di Santa Cecilia, which was an association of Italian musicians, but has now spread to different parts of the world. Giovanni Legrenzi was elected as the president of the association and was then a great composer though still at an early age. Vivaldi had the rare opportunity of meeting Giovanni Legrenzi who taught him how to compose.

Unfortunately, Vivaldi’s health started to deteriorate at an early age and it was discovered at late stages that he suffered from asthma. However, his bad health did not keep him away from music activities; instead, he continued to play violin, composing, and performing in concerts. At the age of fifteen, he joined the seminary and at age twenty-five, he was ordained as a catholic priest in 1703. Unfortunately, he was not in a good health to conduct masses for a long time, and after one year, he was offered a dispensation from continuing to celebrate masses for his health had deteriorated further. Consequently, he appeared to have withdrawn from priesthood, but remained a priest and settled as a musician.

Later in 1703, Vivaldi was made the master of violin while working at an orphanage in Devout Hospital of Mercy in Venice. Despite his fame as a composer, Vivaldi is the best-known violinist of all times in the history of music. His fans said that he concluded his music concerts with additional fantasies that displayed his exceptional performance. He had started to work in an orphanage at the age of twenty-five and continued to work there for another thirty years that enabled him to attain high heights of his musical expertise. His main work was to compose music while teaching children how to play the musical instruments.

Vivaldi loved working with children such that he wrote sacred vocal music, concertos, and cantatas specifically for the young children. This deed brought success to the children and him as well as they were invited for concerts in great events both locally and abroad across European countries. He mostly dealt with young girls for young men were kept in the orphanage until age fifteen after which they left for trade activities. Young girls who showed proficiency in music career were retained in the orphanage and they joined an association of musicians led by Vivaldi.

Unfortunately, in 1709, the board of directors, who managed the orphanage, declined to retain him for the next one year in the orphanage by voting unanimously against him. He was dismissed and spent one year acting as a freelance musician. However, the board of directors felt the pinch after his dismissal as the music performance deteriorated rapidly such that they had to recall him. He performed so well as a music teacher such that the board of directors decided to promote him by making him the orphanage’s music director in 1716.

In early 18th century, opera was the best performing music art in Venice. Vivaldi had no option rather than to venture into it and proved profitable for him. He introduced pieces of opera done by many musicians where he was the leader of the performers. It was a unique kind of performance, which helped to shape the music industry in Venice. The biggest challenge that faced musicians during that period was the financial insecurity, as music concerts did not draw much public attention as it is in the modern world.

There was a great change of perception and music tastes in the public arena that made Vivaldi to sell off a great portion of his compositions before deciding to leave Venice for Vienna. He had a successful meeting with Emperor Charles VI who promised him a job of performing and composing at the imperial court. He left Venice for Vienna and stopped over at Anna Giro’s place in Graz before proceeding to Vienna where as promised by the emperor, he became a composer at the loyal imperial court.

He staged several operas and before long, the emperor died under mysterious circumstances. Vivaldi was left with no steady financial income and without the royal protection that he had enjoyed at the care of the emperor. As a result, he died a poor man on 27 July in 1741. However, despite him dying a poor man, he left behind a significant effect in the music industry. His operas displayed great innovativeness as a basic style. He mostly used harmonic and innovative melodies in the development of his concertos, which made his music work admirable to his fans.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Music of 17th/18th Century'. 12 January.

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