Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Leopold Mozart

Music History Monday: The Other Mozart Kid

Today we mark the birth – 267 years ago, on July 30, 1751 – of the “other” surviving Mozart child. Four-and-a-half years older than her brother Wolfgang, her full name was Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia Mozart; she was known as “Marianne” and went by the nickname of “Nannerl.” Nannerl was something of a musical prodigy herself, and by an early age she had become a formidable harpsichordist and pianist, to the degree that in the earliest of the Mozart family musical tours, she often received top billing over her brother. But her life as a performer came to a screeching halt when she turned 18 in 1769. Having reached a “marriageable age”, she was no longer permitted by her father to publically “exhibit” her talents. Yes, Nannerl could have gone renegade like her brother and defied her father, but such a thing would have been inconceivable to her. From her first breath to her last, Maria Anna/Marianne/Nannerl – whatever we choose to call her – was her father’s daughter, and she could no more have gone against his wishes than I can pole vault 19 feet (or 4 feet, for that matter). She did not marry the man she loved […]

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Music History Monday: Leopold Mozart

On this day in 1787 – 231 years ago – Leopold Mozart, the father of Wolfgang Mozart, died in Salzburg at the age of 67. For all of his talents as a violinist, violin teacher, conductor and composer, history would have forgotten Johann Georg Leopold Mozart almost entirely had he not fathered and trained one of the greatest members of our species ever to have lived, his son Wolfgang. Leopold Mozart gave his son what was – very possibly – the greatest music education ever given anyone, for which posterity must be grateful. But more than just his son’s teacher, Leopold became his Dr. Frankenstein, his creator: Wolfgang’s ghost-writer, concert producer, travel agent, booking agent, public relations huckster, investment councilor, valet, and, in the end, oppressive tyrant. In the process, Leopold crafted one of the most troubling parent-child relationships since Oedipus and his mother Jocasta. In the long history of excessive parenting, of tiger mamas and tennis fathers, Leopold Mozart must be considered among the very greatest of the type. The History He was born on November 19, 1719 into a family of artisans that had for generations lived in the city of Augsburg, in southern Germany. Young Leopold was […]

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Music History Monday: One Talented Kid

As is sometimes the case, the lack of notable musical events on our “appointed” date (in today’s case, April 10) requires that we shimmy forward (or back) a day for relevant material; thus: On April 11, 1770 – 247 years ago tomorrow – a choral performance took place in Rome that was the source of one of the most famous stories in the entire history of Western music. Here’s the story. On December 13, 1769, the then 13 year-old Wolfgang Mozart and his father left their hometown of Salzburg for what would be the first of three extended tours of Italy. Working their way south, they arrived in Rome on Wednesday, April 11, 1770, four days before Easter. They were just in time to hear the Papal Choir perform Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere in the Sistine Chapel. Allegri’s Miserere is a setting of Psalm 51, which consists of 20 lines. Here are its first three: Have mercy upon me, O God, after Thy great goodness According to the multitude of Thy mercies do away mine offences. Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness: and cleanse me from my sin. Allegri (1582-1652) composed his Miserere sometime in the late 1630s, during the reign […]

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Music History Mondays: Too Many Birthdays!

I began this “Music History Monday” project by scouring the Web for musical events from which I assembled a master list of what happened in the world of Western concert music on each of the year’s 366 days. (Indeed: 366; we cannot forget February 29. And yes, February 29 is a significant date in the history of Western concert music. Since February 29 will not again fall on a Monday until 2044, I don’t mind spilling those leap year beans right now: On February 29, 1792, the extraordinary Italian opera composer Gioachino Antonio Rossini was born in Pesaro, Italy. In his 76 years, the poor dude managed to celebrate only 19 birthdays!) My master list catalogs over a thousand noteworthy musical events. On most Mondays I have two or three events to choose between, although – every now and then – there are Mondays during which nothing noteworthy happened: nada, niente, zilch, zed, zero. Monday, September 19, 2016 was just such a day. Yes, many other noteworthy things occurred on September 19, among them: on September 19, 1870 the Prussian Army laid siege to Paris; on September 19, 1893, New Zealand became the first country to grant all women the […]

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