Leopold Mozart (1719-1787)

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01Reluctant Scholar20140317

Donald Macleod focuses on Leopold Mozart's being asked to leave Salzburg University.

He was at the forefront of early symphonic writing and composed a great deal of music across many forms, but he's been largely overshadowed by the popularity of his own son; this week Donald Macleod with Professor Cliff Eisen, explores the life and music of Leopold Mozart. Very few of his works are heard today, except a popular Trumpet Concerto and Toy Symphony. This hardly does justice to a man who composed many symphonies, concertos, chamber and sacred works, and whose musical influence can be heard in the compositions of his son, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This week Donald Macleod follows Leopold on his tours with his family, explores the popular Violin Manual which made him famous across Europe, and questions whether Leopold's status as a composer should be reconsidered.

Leopold Mozart was the son of a bookbinder, living in Augsburg. He studied at the Augsburg Gymnasium, and then at the Jesuit school of St Salvator, where he performed as an actor, singer, organist and violinist. He was also a choirboy, and religion played an important part in his life. Leopold went on to compose a great many sacred choral works, including his Missa solemnis in C, which was once attributed to his son Wolfgang.

Leopold became a significant figure in the early development of the symphony. First though, he needed to leave Augsburg and make for Salzburg, where he was employed as a valet and musician to a Canon, who was also a Count. Leopold dedicated his Opus 1 set of Six Church and Chamber Sonatas to his employer, including his Sonata in G major Op 1 No 4.

02Minimum Wage20140318

Donald Macleod focuses on Leopold Mozart's first appointment at the court of Salzburg.

He was at the forefront of early symphonic writing and composed a great deal of music across many forms, but he's been largely overshadowed by the popularity of his own son; this week Donald Macleod with Professor Cliff Eisen, explores the life and music of Leopold Mozart.

In the 1740s, Leopold Mozart gained his first position at the Court of the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg. This was an unpaid position to begin with, and it was difficult to rise up the ranks at Court. Leopold went on to write much music for the court orchestra, in particular for those musicians he particularly admired, including two horn players. It is probable that his Concerto in E flat for two horns and strings was composed with these colleagues in mind.

During this early period in Salzburg, Leopold met Maria Anna Pertl. It was only when Leopold became more financially secure that they were eventually able to marry, in 1747, at Salzburg Cathedral.

03Teacher20140319

Donald Macleod discusses the manual Leopold Mozart wrote for playing the violin.

He was at the forefront of early symphonic writing and composed a great deal of music across many forms, but he's been largely overshadowed by the popularity of his own son; this week Donald Macleod with Professor Cliff Eisen, explores the life and music of Leopold Mozart.

Leopold Mozart was now very active at the court in Salzburg, with a great many violin pupils. With this experience, Leopold decided to write a Manual on the Violin. His book proved to be very popular indeed, and was reprinted in different languages. With his circumstances improving, he was now able to marry. Leopold and his wife Maria Anna would go on to have a number of children, although only two survived, Nannerl and Wolfgang. Leopold took a great interest in teaching his children, including writing several minuets for Nannerl to study, which he presented to her in a notebook, for her 8th birthday.

04Travels With The Mozarts20140320

Donald Macleod discusses the Mozart family's 'grand tour'.

He was at the forefront of early symphonic writing and composed a great deal of music across many forms, but he's been largely overshadowed by the popularity of his own son; this week Donald Macleod with Professor Cliff Eisen, explores the life and music of Leopold Mozart.

Leopold Mozart was convinced that his son, Wolfgang, was a gift from God. Such a talented son should be shown off to the world, and so Leopold took his family on tour. They performed for royalty and aristocrats; Wolfgang, aged just 6, played for the Empress Maria Theresa. These journeys abroad were also intended to be educational and Leopold, who was a devout Catholic, commented much on the changes in religious landscape from country to country.

Once the family had returned from their Grand Tour, Leopold settled back into life in Salzburg, and composed his Symphony in G, the Neue Lambacher symphony, once thought to be by his son. By now Wolfgang had started to compose his own music, although Leopold and Wolfgang often collaborated together on composition, including the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in D major, K 107.

05 LASTFinal Years20140321

Donald Macleod focuses on the final years of Leopold Mozart's life.

He was at the forefront of early symphonic writing and composed a great deal of music across many forms, but he's been largely overshadowed by the popularity of his own son; this week Donald Macleod with Professor Cliff Eisen, explores the life and music of Leopold Mozart.

In the last decade of Leopold Mozart's life, he gave up composing music. His time focused more and more on the support and development of his children. It wasn't all hard work though, and on one occasion Leopold and Wolfgang went to a fancy dress party in Salzburg, where it was likely some of Leopold's music was performed, such as his Serenade in D major.

Leopold was now facing a lonely final few years. His wife Maria Anna had died in Paris, and both Wolfgang and Nannerl had left home and got married. Leopold no longer sought promotion at court, having been passed over a number of times. He did however continue to teach musicians at home, which included regular ensemble sessions, working on pieces like his own Trio Sonata in A major.

Leopold remained proud of his son's achievements, even if he didn't always approve of his behaviour. One contemporary account reports Leopold crying when he heard one of Wolfgang's Violin works. Leopold's own reputation was now becoming more and more eclipsed by his famous son; however, he remains an important early explorer in symphonic writing, such as his Symphony in D major D17.