Share my obsession.
“There is no doubt that even the greatest musical geniuses have sometimes worked without inspiration. This guest (inspiration) does not always respond to the first invitation. We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavouring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination.”
― Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Antonio Stradivari (1644—December 18, 1737) was an Italian luthier, a crafter of string instruments. He is considered the greatest artisan in this field. The Latinized form of his surname, Stradivarius, as well as the colloquial “Strad” are terms often used to refer to his instruments. Scholars estimate that Antonio produced 1,116 instruments, of which 960 were violins. It is estimated that around 650 of these instruments survive.
It is believed that Stradivari was a student of Nicola Amati, apprenticed from 1656–58, and produced his first decent instruments in 1660, at the age of 16. His first labels were printed from 1660 to 1665, indicating that his work had sufficient quality to be offered directly to his patrons. However, he stayed in Amati’s workshop until about 1684, using his master’s reputation as a launching point for his career.
In the early 1690s, Stradivari made a pronounced departure from his earlier style of instrument-making, changing two key elements of his instruments. First, he began to make violins with a larger pattern than previous instruments; these larger violins usually are known as “Long Strads”. He also switched to using a darker, richer varnish, as opposed to a yellower varnish similar to that used by Amati. He continued to use this pattern until 1698, with few exceptions. After 1698, he abandoned the Long Strad model and returned to a slightly shorter model, which he used until his death. The period from 1700 until the 1720s is often termed the “golden period” of his production. Instruments made during this time are usually considered of a higher quality than his earlier instruments.
Stradivari’s instruments are regarded as amongst the finest bowed stringed instruments ever created, are highly prized, and are still played by professionals today.
Click here to listen to videos of world-class performers, such as Anne-Sophie Mutter, Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, and Yo Yo Ma, playing Stradivarius instruments.
The Vienna Philharmonic uses several Stradivari instruments that were purchased by the National Bank of Austria and other sponsors.
Information for this article came from Wikipedia.
Leopold Mozart, professional musician, teacher, and composer in 18th century Salzburg, Austria, had seven children, only two of whom survived infancy. He began teaching the older, a girl called Nannerl, on clavier when she was seven, with little Wolfgang (January 27, 1756—December 5, 1791), aged three, watching. Soon the little boy was picking out tunes on the keyboard, and his father played little musical games with him, encouraging him to imitate what he played.
By the time he was five, Wolfgang was composing his own pieces, written down by Leopold.
When he was six and Nannerl was ten, the family began touring Europe, with the children playing at royal courts in Munich, Vienna, Prague, Mannheim, Paris, London, and Zurich. The children became well-known throughout Europe.
Mozart’s first major position was as a court musician in Salzburg from 1773-1776. Later, he was court composer for the wealthy Archbishop Colloredo, a job he did not relish and was eventually dismissed from. From then on, he freelanced as a composer and a performer, supporting himself with commissions from patrons.
On August 4, 1782, he married Constanze Weber. They lived an extravagant lifestyle which they could not really afford.
Well versed in the classical style of Josef Haydn, he took it to its zenith with surprising harmonies and cadences. In all, he wrote over 600 compositions, including 41symphonies (the first written when he was eight), 22 operas, 15 Masses, 25 piano concertos, 12 violin concertos, 17 piano sonatas, and 26 string quartets.
Some of his most beloved works:
Eine kleine Nachtmusik:
Symphony #25 (you may have to manually restart the clip at the beginning; sorry, some of the embed codes are wonky):
Symphony #40 (you may have to manually restart the clip at the beginning):
From The Magic Flute, The Queen of the Night’s aria:
In September of 1791, Mozart fell ill. Sensing his imminent demise, he drove himself to finish some projects in order to provide support for his wife and their two sons. His symptoms of pain, weakness, and vomiting grew worse. His continued his final work, a Requiem paid for by a wealthy patron, on his deathbed, dictating portions to his student, Franz Xaver Süssmayr, who subsequently completed it. Mozart was only thirty-five years old when he died.
Mozart’s life was fictionalized in the 1982 movie of the play Amadeus. It dwelt on a supposed rivalry between Mozart and his popular contemporary, Antonio Salieri. In the movie, Mozart dictated a portion of his Requiem to Salieri: