Lonely Masterpieces

It Is Getting Quiet around Mozart

Ordeals of fire and water, sketch for the stage design of Mozart's Magic Flute (detail)

Gouache by Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781–1841) 1817 (Theatre Collection of the University of Cologne) Source: Wikimedia
1791
Salzburg
Front page of the original edition of the libretto of the Magic Flute: Emanuel Schikaneder as Papageno

Front page of the original edition of the libretto of the Magic Flute: Emanuel Schikaneder as Papageno

1791 Source: Wikimedia

In 1791 Mozart was thirty-five years of age. He had matured as an artist, his works had received more or less appreciation, but he was far from any great financial breakthrough. Mozart was in poor health and he was deeply worried about his financial existence. Constanze had been staying at the health spa in Baden near Vienna for weeks and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart felt lonely and sad: “If I go to the piano and sing something from the opera, I immediately have to stop. It causes me too much sensation,” he wrote to her.

In those depressing weeks, Mozart wrote his last piano piece, Piano Concerto Nr. 27. It is widely considered his most mature work in this genre, with strong suggestions of Romanticism. With the exception of this Mozart piano piece, he only accepted random commissions which made little money. A new opera commission by the emperor had moved well out of reach.

The Enchanting Magic Flute

Mozart’s old friend and manager of a Viennese suburban theatre, Emanuel Schikaneder, came to the rescue. He inspired Mozart to write a magical piece, which at that time was very en vogue in Vienna. After hesitating at first, Mozart agreed. Both men created a literally enchanting and diverse musical piece. But Mozart had difficulties composing “The Magic Flute”. He missed Constanze at his side. He would have preferred her around him at all times. “2999 and ½ kisses fly in your direction, waiting to be received… Out of sheer boredom, I composed one aria from the opera today.”

“The Magic Flute” counts among Mozart’s most famous and best operas – and it was not to be his last…