Monday, January 13, 2014



Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is perhaps the most famous of child prodigies. At age four, under the strict teaching of his father, Mozart could play minuets and perform for audiences. By age five, he began composing.  Mozart's musical gifts made him the darling of Europe's highest courts. As a man, he was vulgar, extravagant and bawdy with his rebellion against his domineering father leading him to a life of gambling, debt and excess. But inside this childish man lived history's greatest musical genius.

Discussion Questions
  1. Why is Mozart's music still popular today even though it was written in the late 1700's?
  2. What is a child prodigy? Consider Mozart's upbringing: should young prodigies be pushed to develop their talents at an early age? Why or why not?
  3. Compare life in the 18th Century Europe to life today. What are the similarities and differences in clothes, health, transportation, social expectations and daily life?
  4. What was the role of the government and the wealthy in the success of an artist in the 1700's? Today?
  5. A&E's Biography states that Mozart composed music in his own style, instead of deferring to popular opinion of the time. What is the difference between popular music and original music? Is it more important to compose music that is popular or to compose music that is original? What is a nonconformist? In what ways was Mozart a nonconformist?
  6. Why did Mozart like Vienna? Describe the musical environment in Vienna.
  7. How did Mozart convey feelings or humanize characters in his music?
  8. Does an artist's income represent his/her skill? Why or why not? What is freelance work?
  9. What was Mozart's Requiem and why did he write it?
Extended Activities
  1. Listen to 5 of Mozart's compositions that he wrote at different points in his career. What are the differences and similarities between Mozart's earlier pieces and his later ones? Create a chart, storyboard or write an essay explaining your answers.
  2. Look at Mozart's life in depth. Choose 3-4 events in Mozart's life and find a composition Mozart wrote that may have been connected to each event. Then answer the following question: how much of one's personal feelings and life are included in one's art? You may create your own work of art to explain your answer.
  3. Choose a contemporary musician and compare him/her with Mozart. Play an excerpt of the music of each musician for the class. Compare and contrast the similarities and differences of the two musicians in an oral presentation. Explain who your favorite is and why.
  4. Draw a picture, write a story/poem or create a mobile that describes what you imagine is happening during one of Mozart's compositions.