When you’re playing the violin, one thing you need is a shoulder rest, so check out this post if you want to find the best one. You might also be interested in looking at some violins by Cecilio, and fortunately, we have a guide on that too.
Being known as one of the best composers ever, Mozart was also a great instrumentist and excelled at keyboard instruments, violin, and viola. This started from a really young age, and as many sources say, he was able to play the harpsichord and violin by the age of five.
The person he learned the most from was his father, Leopold, who was an accomplished musician too. His father worked as a vocalist, instrumentist, choirmaster and composer. So he knew a lot about music and its variables.
Leopold excelled at playing the violin and even wrote a book on the instrument. He was also very prolific and creative in his compositions and his musical creations were full of color. Because Mozart grew in a house where his father gave constant lessons for piano or violin, he became acquainted with the world of music fast.
Wolfgang started taking lessons from his father at the age of 4 and he liked playing the clavier, a type of keyboard. He was, however, skilled with most instruments and had innate talent.
His 3 violins
Throughout his career, Mozart had 3 violins that he played and they are all in the museum owned by the Mozarteum Foundation, in Austria. They also have 3 other instruments – his viola, his clavichord, and his fortepiano.
The oldest of these violins is the one that he used in his youth and this violin was created by a Salzburg court luthier named Andreas Ferdinand Mayr, who had close ties to Mozart’s father, Leopold. Although the exact date the violin was manufactured is not clear, it was produced in the 1740s.
Coming from the Bavarian Alps, another of his violins, his concert one was made by the Klotz family. The manufacturing date is unclear, but it was probably made at the beginning of the 18th century. He didn’t use it that much, and when he left Salzburg for Vienna, Mozart left this violin at home. That is why the instrument is in pristine shape because it was handled with great care.
Mozart also had a third violin, named after its builder, Pietro Antonio Dalla Costa. This one was made in Treviso in 1764 and has a warm and powerful tone. These are also the qualities that the Costa violins were prized for. The violin was great as a concert instrument and Mozart probably used it in Vienna.
His preference for piano
Mozart was a prodigy, showcasing excellent talent from a young age. Playing the piano and violin by the age of five, he impressed everyone, including his father, when he started composing music without any previous tutoring. According to an anecdote, he once started accompanying his father that was playing with some friends.
Leopold, his father, said that when he took Wolfgang to Vienna for the first time, the little virtuoso played a minuet on his little fiddle for the customs officer. Although Mozart had mixed feelings about the violin, the talent that he showcased on it was clear.
He wrote some letters during his trips in 1778–79 to Munich, Mannheim, and Paris, and from these letters, we can observe that he used to play his own violin concertos that were very demanding. He also played his solo compositions publicly and he was astonished by the response he always got from those listening to him. Apparently, he couldn’t believe he was as good as others thought.
Even his father said to him that Wolfgang didn’t know how well he played the violin. These are impressive words considering that they came from a very respected violinist and author of the “Fundamental Art of Violin Playing”.
Mozart was a great musician that was employed by the Salzburg court, but he always disliked that. He wanted to get more out of life and that’s why he traveled a lot. But he had to return to the court service from time to time and when he came back from Paris he wrote to his father.
He told him that he didn’t want to be a violinist anymore or a fiddler of any kind, as he wished to conduct at the clavier or accompanying instruments. He managed to achieve this small dream in Vienna where he mainly played the keyboard during the last ten years of his life.
That is why in 1781 he wrote to his father telling him that the piano suited him very well and it was the instrument that he can achieve the most with.
The violin’s impact on his life
There are many writings about Mozart’s life, but few of them go in detail about the fact that he played the violin. Although he did play this instrument, it was always not the thing he preferred to do, and that is why the violin was surpassed by the keyboard instruments in his life.
However, the violin was an important part of his life until the age of 24, when he stopped playing it altogether. His first job was as a violin player, and 5 of his first compositions, in 1771, were violin concertos.
Because his father was a violinist too, this instrument played an important role in the relation between the two. Mozart’s character was closely related to that of his father, including as a violinist. The social system that Leopold lived in, however, was one that was slowly ending.
Young Wolfgang felt that and wanted to distance himself from that life. He didn’t want to be a court composer, but a worldwide one. However, the violin served as a great tool to help him climb the ladder of success in that old social system.
The most symbolic act of rebellion against that social system that he grew up in was the fact that the talented musician broke free by ceasing to play the violin ever again. This also showed that Mozart also gained independence from the strong influence of his father, and continued his musical life playing the keyboards.