Mozart: What More Might He Have Done

Dr. Mark Fravel, Jr., 32°, K.C.C.H.

WOLFGANG AMADEUS Mozart composed an impressive number and variety of musical compositions in his brief, troubled life. Had he been blessed with better health and the financial means to be able to develop fully his creative genius, one can only imagine the music he might have written.

Born in Salzburg, Austria, January 27, 1756, he quickly demonstrated a musical talent seldom seen before or since. At the age of six, he played and composed brilliantly. His parents arranged performances in Munich and Vienna so that the world would get to know Wolfgang, the boy genius. By the time he was eight years old, he could sing, compose, and play the clavier, organ and violin.

He performed in Paris and London and was becoming adored by music lovers throughout Europe. At ten, he wrote his first symphony for orchestra, published a third set of sonatas, these dedicated to the Queen of England, and studied the Italian style of melody.

A year later, Wolfgang was stricken with smallpox and lay blind for nine days. After recovering, he returned to Vienna, but now was confronted by jealous, rather than admiring, musicians.

Against increasingly difficult odds, Mozart wrote incessantly during the next ten years. He was hired to compose the opera Mitridate, the serenata Ascanio in Alba, the opera Lucio Silla, and the Italian opera La Finta Giardiniera — all bringing him great praise and acclaim.

Although now famous, he was overworked, in poor health, and the recipient of very little financial compensation for his efforts. Another tour brought decreased appreciation for his music and very little money. Then he was jilted by the love in his life, Aloysia Weber. Four years later, however, he married her sister Constanza.

During these years, he continued to write prolifically and eventually composed some 41 symphonies, 43 violin sonatas, 17 organ sonatas, 26 quartets, 10 quintets, 30 divertiments, 20 operas, and hundreds of other compositions, including a significant number of Masonic pieces. Included in the above were his three great operas, The Marriage of Figaro, 1786; Don Giovanni, 1787; and The Magic Flute, 1790.

At age 28, Brother Mozart became a Mason in the Lodge of Benevolence (Zur Wohltätigkeit) in Vienna. On December 1, 1785, Mozart's mother lodge united with two other lodges to form a new lodge called New Crowned Hope Lodge (Zur Neugekröntin Hoffnung). It is reported that Franz Joseph Hayden, a close friend, recommended Wolfgang, and a year later, Mozart's father was initiated into the same lodge. He attended a performance of a cantata by Mozart, "Mason's Joy," just before returning to Salzburg. Other Masonic music Mozart composed was, "Fellow Crafts," "Journey," "Opening of the Lodge," "Closing of the Lodge," and his last work, the "Little Masonic Cantata." Many other of his Masonic compositions have been lost forever.

Constanza was apparently a poor manager, and Mozart began to go into debt from the time he married her. No matter how hard he worked, his debts increased and his health grew worse. By the time he was 35, he became obsessed with is own death.

By this time some of his finest work was violently opposed by jealous plotters, and although he was widely recognized for his accomplishments, he continued to live in poverty and suffered from poor health. Opportunists around him usually ended up with the financial rewards of his music, while Mozart ended up weaker, poorer and more depressed.

At the age of 35 and still in great demand, Mozart continued his work on the Requiem Mass. Deeply depressed by financial problems and greatly exhausted, he anticipated his eminent death and said:

Now I must go, just as I should be able to live, in peace: now leave my art when, no longer the slave of fashion nor the tool of speculators, I could follow the dictates of my own feeling and write whatever my heart prompts. I must leave my family, my poor children, at the very instant in which I should be able to provide for their welfare!

He died on December 5, 1791, only 35 years old. He left this world frustrated, and we must wonder what he might have accomplished if he could have written "whatever my heart prompts." What yet greater masterpieces he might have composed?

Brother Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a one-of-a-kind genius, was so poor when he died that he was buried in a pauper's, common, unmarked grave in Vienna.

Life is too short for us to waste its moments in deploring bad luck; we must go after success, since it will not come to us, and we have no time to spare.

— James Russell Lowell, Ideals Magazine, June 1989

No psychology of handling people really works unless we are genuinely and truly interested in other people. All else is mere trickery and will sooner or later fail.

Bits & Pieces

Dr. Mark Fravel, Jr., 32°, K.C.C.H., a professor at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, is a member of the Scottish Rite Bodies, Norfolk, Virginia, and serves as Chairman of Education and Patriotism, Orient of Virginia.