Need ideas for easy and fun at-home music learning? Here's our daily Classical Kids Music Lesson.
Today we will learn about a famous composer named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Target age range: Grades K-6.
1. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (MOE-tzart) was born in Salzburg, Austria, in 1756. That's 244 years ago- or twenty years before the United States of America became a country.
2. Mozart lived for only 35 years. In those 35 years, he wrote hundreds and hundreds of pieces of music. One reason he managed to write so much music is because he started composing really young. Let's go through his life and learn about how this musical genius was formed.
Mozart was from a very musical family. His father, Leopold, was his first music teacher. His older sister, Nannerl, was also an excellent musician.
Leopold composed some music in a notebook for Nannerl, called "Nannerl's Notebook." Over the next few years, Leopold and the young Wolfgang both composed some additional pieces to be added to the notebook. Wolfgang was only four or five years old at the time, so Leopold had to help him by writing the notes. Listen to one of the pieces from Nannerl's Notebook. The modern piano wasn't even invented during this time, so originally this piece would have been played on an instrument called a "clavier."
4. ON THE ROAD
The Mozart siblings were so talented that their parents decided to bring them around Europe to perform for royalty. During these travels, the young Wolfgang got to meet other musicians and hear their style. One musician who influenced him a lot was Johann Christian Bach, the son of a very famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Listen to the first few minutes of this video to hear a little music by Mozart's inspiration, J.C. Bach.
5. LATE TEENS/EARLY ADULTHOOD
By this point, Mozart was composing symphonies and concertos and longer works. He was taking jobs at court in Salzburg, his home town, and doing some work in Paris. Here is a little bit of his "Paris" Symphony, written during that time.
6. MOVE TO THE BIG CITY
During this time in history, Vienna (in Austria) was considered by many to be the place to go for musicians with big dreams. Around age 25, Mozart decided to move there permanently. This was a sign of trying to make it big- kind of like an aspiring actor moving to Hollywood. Soon after arriving in Vienna, he got married. After a short time in the city, he earned a reputation for being an excellent keyboard player.
Listen to this example of some piano music he composed during this time. It's the third movement of his Piano Sonata #11, subtitled "Alla Turca." Elements of this movement imitate Turkish music, which was very popular in Vienna during this time.
In Vienna, Mozart became very well known for composing some famous opera. One of the last operas he wrote was called The Magic Flute. The opera includes several magical and mystical characters, and a birdcatcher named Papageno. In this famous aria (song in an opera), Papageno meets his ideal mate, a female birdcatcher named Papagena.
8. LAST YEARS
Mozart became sick in 1791 and died later that year. Leading up to his death, he was very busy and wrote a lot of music, including his famous Requiem, which is a mass for the dead.
The professional baseball player Prince Fielder liked Mozart's Requiem that he used part of it for his walk up music when he was at bat. Listen over the crowd noise and you will hear some Mozart.
Here is another clip of some music from the Requiem, this time without the crowd noise.
9. If you like Mozart, watch this Class Notes Video: Expression in Music- Mozart's Gran Partita.
10. Think of three things you learned about Mozart and write them down or share them with someone. What was your favorite Mozart piece you listened to in this lesson.
Have a question or suggestion? Contact Katie Condon, music education specialist.