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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Maturity

After resuming his post at Salzburg in 1779, Mozart composed Idomeneo (1781) for the Bavarian court. One of the best examples of 18th-century opera seria, it marks the first opera of Mozart's maturity. In the year of its production he resigned from the archbishop's service and moved to Vienna, where in 1782 he married Constanze Weber, the sister of Aloysia. Financial difficulties beset him almost immediately, since he was unable to secure a suitable position and had to earn his living by teaching and giving public concerts.

In Vienna, Mozart met Haydn, and the two developed a long and warm friendship that benefited the work of each. Mozart's six string quartets (1782–85) dedicated to Haydn are testimony of his influence. Die Entführung aus dem Serail ( The Abduction from the Seraglio, 1782), a singspiel combining songs and German dialogue, brought Mozart some success.

The Viennese court opera was dominated by Italian tradition, and in his next operas Mozart turned to the style of the Italian opera buffa. With the librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte he created the comic masterpiece Le Nozze di Figaro ( The Marriage of Figaro, 1786), which, after a lukewarm reception in Vienna, became a sensation in Prague. From that city also came the commission that resulted in Don Giovanni (1787). Although it has come to be regarded as one of the most brilliant operas ever written, it was considered rather difficult by his public, which preferred his more frivolous works.

At the death of Gluck (1787), Mozart succeeded him as chamber musician and court composer to Joseph II. His salary was far less than Gluck's had been, however, and his financial troubles persisted to the end of his life. An example of the elegant pieces written for social occasions at this time is the famous serenade for strings, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (1787).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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