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July 2020

Mozart: The Child Prodigy

[1]

At three years old, the young Wolfgang was attracted to music. Often he entertains himself for hours in search of thirds on the harpsichord. In his fourth year his father Leopold began to teach him on the harpsichord, by play, small minuets, etudes, which he learned in half an hour or an hour and which he could reproduce without a fault. Besides the harpsichord, Wolfgang also learns the violin on a small instrument built to his size.

 

In other words, before learning to read, write and count, Mozart knows how to decipher a score and play it to perfection. Wolfgang is not going, will never go to school. His father is his only teacher. Leopold notes on January 26, 1761 "this minuet and this trio were learned by Wolfgang in half an hour, a day before his fifth year at half past nine in the evening. "

 

In January 1762, Léopold transcribed Wolfgang's first work on a Marianne notebook: the K2 minuet and in

the months that followed succeeded an allegro for harpsichord and two other minuets. At the age of 8 he will have already composed nearly thirty works (sonatas, minuets, two symphonies). On May 17, 1767, then 11 years old, he performed his first opera in Salzburg: Apollo and Hyacinthus, and during the year he composed his first four concertos for harpsichord (in two months). [2]

As a child Mozart has the desire to learn everything he sees and shows a lot of aptitude for drawing and calculation but he was too absorbed in music to demonstrate his talents in any other branch. However, when he learns to count, he covers everything: chairs, tables, walls, parquet floors with figures drawn in chalk.

 

Child prodigy, Wolfgang, ran with his father and his sister, the European Courts from 1763 to 1766: Germany, Belgium, France, England and the Netherlands. He performs in salons where he takes part in contests for improvisation, virtuosity, also gives public concerts "Wolfgang asks someone to write down a minuet or whatever, and he, immediately, without touching the harpsichord, here he writes the bass on this music, and even even, if you like, a second part of song for the violin… He even knows how to transpose the tunes at first sight, accompanying them.

Everywhere we put in front of him pieces that he deciphers at glance ... "[3]

 

Mozart also has an extraordinary memory. Everyone knows the anecdote repeated in several letters, including that of his father on April 14, 1770 (Mozart is 14 years old): "You may have heard of the Miserere de Rome [4], so famous and which is estimated at such a price that it is expressly forbidden, under penalty of excommunication to the musicians of the chapel (Sistine) to extract a partition from the chapel, to copy it or to communicate it to anyone. We already have it. Wolfgang already wrote it ... "(the night of his audition).

[1] According to the notes of Léopold Mozart and Marianne Mozart (older sister of Wolfgang, known as Nannerl) taken from the bibliography of Mozart by Jean and Brigitte Massin.

[2] These are actually concerto arrangements for harpsichord of works by other authors, a common practice at the time.

[3] Léopold Mozart Paris February 1 to 3, 1764

[4] Allegri's Miserere

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