Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart does not deserve to be on the list of history's most influential people. Mozart's work clearly shows the influence of his time, including the ideas of the Enlightenment and musical influences of the time. His work is clearly long-lasting in the western world, and the best of his pieces show a profound grasp of melody, and mark him as a major talent. While an immensely talented and prolific composer, Mozart's lasting fame seems to be based largely on the ideal of him as a Romantic artist, rather than on the body of his work. In addition, Mozart's fame can be attributed also to his family's great influence. Mozart's work can be argued to be lacking in many areas, including the lack of depth in his church music, the lack of nature or a sense of fun and whimsy in his work, and flaws within his early work. In addition, Mozart's work fails to show any real innovation in genre or theme, which can be said to be the mark of a truly great or influential musician. Taken together, the omissions and flaws within Mozart's work, and the proportion of Mozart's fame that seems to be based on Mozart as a stereotype of the great Romantic composer, argue that Mozart, while profoundly talented, does not deserve to be considered as one of history's most influential individuals.
Mozart is certainly one of classical music's most well-known composers. Born in Austria in 1756 and baptized Johannes Chrysosomus Wolfgang Theophilus, Mozart was an early child protege, and began composing music by the age of five. He was a prolific composer, he left over 600 works by the time he died in poverty at the age of 35 (Solomon). In the interim, Mozart performed for kings and emperors. He was born to a domineering and difficult father, and Mozart struggled most of his adult life to come to terms with his "intellectual, ambitious, suave, and frequently cunning" (Gutman, 6) father's influence.
In Mozart's time, the Enlightenment played an important role in music and larger society.
Eighteenth century Europe, during Mozart's life, was a time of rich cultural growth, and an emphasis on music and the arts. Intellectual trends often appeared in the music of Mozart. For example, the Age of Reason shows its influence in the Magic Flute, and Sturm and Drang shows in come of his symphonies. Other intellectual and social trends, including freemasonry influenced Mozart and his music. Other historical events clearly affected both Mozart and his family, including the experience of freedom in England, interactions with other musicians, and new musical developments (Gutman).
Importantly, the principles of the Enlightenment played an important role in Mozart's rebellion against his controlling father. In internalizing Enlightenment beliefs, Mozart sought to seek his fortune as a composer and performer for the bourgeoisie. During his lifetime, Mozart worked for an extensive number of bishops, dukes, princes, kings and emperors who all played a role in the enormous and complicated political life of the Holy Roman Empire of his day. Mozart benefited financially from his work for the aristocrats, despite the often mocking tone that his compositions took toward his patrons. The demands of the time dictated that he observe protocol, and yet his sense of the superiority of his creative genius showed clearly in many of his compositions, where he mocked the aristocracy (Gutman).
Achievements and Lasting Influence
Mozart's work has certainly been long-lasting and influential within the Western world. His work is best known for its delicate melody and tender sensibility. Notes The Catholic Encyclopedia, Mozart's "operas, "Don Juan," "The Magic Flute," "The Marriage of Figaro," "Cosi fan tutte," "La Clemenza di Tito," on account of their melodic beauty and truth of expression, have as strong a hold upon the affections of the musical public today as they did at the end of the eighteenth century."
Mozart was certainly prolific as a performer, leaving over 600 compositions in his short lifetime. In addition, the scope of his work (including chamber music, liturgical, theater and keyboard compositions, concertos, operas, symphonies, and oratorios) reveals a true virtuosity and intellect (Gutman).
While a great deal is often made of Mozart's early genius, Gutman argues that there are clear flaws within many of Mozart's early works. In addition, Mozart's early works often show the mark of his father, Leopold. It is only in later years that Mozart…