The Classical Spirit of Mozart in Amadeus

Published: 2021-08-02 09:55:06
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Category: Movies

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Classical age or classical spirit can be used to define a period of time in the arts between 1750 and 1825. In music, this meant a switch to a simpler style than the previous eras. The melodies became symmetrical with balanced phrases and cadences. Harmonies were mostly diatonic and involved the seven tones of a major-minor scale. Dance rhythms were common, and dynamics varied continuously with crescendos and decrescendos. (Forney) One of the period’s most influential composers is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The fictional portrayal of Mozart’s life in Amadeus not only does a good job displaying the classical spirit, but also the interaction of those involved in music and society.
Composers in Mozart’s time worked mostly as servants to wealthy people. There was an opportunity to work as teachers, but in order to gain pupils, they had to gain recognition. This recognition was gained from service to these upperclassmen, mostly royalty. Mozart worked at the Vienna Royal Court for many years. Working for the wealthy often made it difficult for composers to have complete creative freedom. Mozart is composing an opera based on the story of the marriage of Figaro in one part of the film. It is brought to his attention that this story is banned from the Emperor’s court. This is apparently for two reasons: it involves too many controversial politics and is also a farce. The emperor and other powerful men asked Mozart to use more ‘elevated topics’ for his opera (Amadeus). Ultimately, the story plot can be used by Mozart, but he has to leave out the political ideas. Mozart must always be constantly aware of the response of the Emperor to his plays. This could decide how many times his operas were performed and, in effect, decides how much money Mozart is going to make. This is portrayed in a scene where the emperor yawns during one of Mozart’s productions. It is said that three yawns could have very well killed the show. This can be related back to the lack of creative freedom. When explaining why he yawned, the emperor declares that the show was ‘too long.’Another idea depicted in the movie was the rivalry between composers in the classical era. Throughout the movie this was the central idea. A court composer called Salieri is competing with Mozart and is beginning to feel overshadowed. This is considerably highlighted in a scene where the Emperor refers to one of Mozart’s work as the ‘best opera yet written’ (Amadeus). Due to this intense competition and the feeling of being set against Mozart, Salieri tries to sabotage him numerous times. One such attempt includes having a maid sent to Mozart’s home as a spy. It seems that in this particular time composers are forced to compete with each other, whether openly contending or backstabbing each other.
The spirit of the classical era and its numerous social nuances are extremely well showed in the Amadeus movie. From the public praise and criticism, to the private competitions, the struggles and the triumphs of Mozart and composers of his times are brought to the light.

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