Honors | Mozart and His Era (HON)
H203 | 27311 | David Hertz

TuTh 7:15-8:30pm

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91) is often said to be the most
brilliant musician who ever lived. He might also be called the first
modern musician. Mozart, who played with Marie Antoinette as a
child, later wrote opera with defiant revolutionary overtones. For
the twentieth century, Mozart symbolized the cool perfection of
ideal form. For the nineteenth century, he was the creator of Don
Giovanni, a revolutionary hero who embodied the “life force.” Was he
close to an idiot-savant, as in some popular treatments of him, or a
calculating musical innovator? Was he stage-managed by a dominating
musician-father, Leopold, or an independent genius? Who was the real
Mozart? This course offers a reconsideration of the life, the works
and the rich cultural background. It will include study of both
little-known works and famous masterpieces, with reference to a
variety of important precursors and contemporaries (Bach, Handel,
Salieri, Haydn, and others). Study of the operas The Marriage of
Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Magic Flute, selected chamber music, and--
since Mozart was one of the first master pianists--the keyboard
literature, especially the piano concerto genre. Survey of pertinent
cultural artifacts in poetry, painting, philosophy and more.  Among
the figures to be explored in the context work are Rousseau,
Beaumarchais and Lorenzo da Ponte. Recent scholarly treatments in
biography and traditional views will be compared and contrasted. We
will read portions of the recently published translation of the
biography by Hermann Abert, recently cited as one of the greatest
books on Mozart ever written.