Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Music History Monday: Franz Xaver Mozart and the Grandmother of All Shadows

Let us wish a happy birthday to three notable musicians, the third of whom will be the topic of today’s post.

John Field (1785-1837)
John Field (1785-1837)

On July 26, 1785 – 236 years ago today – the composer, pianist, and teacher John Field was born in Dublin. His Nocturnes for piano powerfully influenced those of Frédéric Chopin. Field died far from home, in Moscow, on January 23, 1837, at the age of 51.

Serge Koussevitzky
Serge Koussevitzky (1874-1951)

We mark the birth on July 26, 1874 – 147 years ago today – of the conductor and double-bass player Serge Koussevitzky in the Russian city of Vishny Volotchok. He served as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1924 to 1949 and was a tireless champion of contemporary music. He founded the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, Massachusetts in 1937 and created the Koussevitzky Music Foundation in 1942. He died at the age of 76 in New York City on June 4, 1951.

Franz Xaver Mozart in 1825
Franz Xaver Mozart (1791-1844) in 1825

Okay: here we go. We mark the birth on July 26, 1791 – 230 years ago today – of the composer, pianist, conductor and teacher Franz Xaver Mozart, in Vienna. He died in Karlsbad, Austria at the age of 53, on July 29, 1844.

He also went by the name of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Jr.

Yes, indeed: he was the sixth and youngest child born to Wolfgang and Constanze (née Weber) Mozart; the younger of their two surviving boys. He grew up to become a pianist and composer in his own right. It was his mother, Constanze Weber Mozart, who insisted on calling him Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Jr.

Thanks but no thanks, mom: bad idea.

She should have called him Ernie Shavers or William B. Williams or Fidel Flufferman; really, anything but “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Jr.” Because no one in the music biz – least not Franz Xaver Mozart – could possibly live up to the name “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Jr.” … Continue reading, only on Patreon!

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