Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791), Austrian composer, is famous all over the world. A distinctive feature of Mozart is a wonderful combination of strong and clear shapes with deep emotions. The uniqueness of his work is that he not only wrote all existed in the era forms and genres, but in each of them he left a work of lasting value. Independent research of scientists, doctors, and psychologists throughout the world proves that Mozart’s music, due to its poetry and delicate elegance, has the most powerful curative effect on people and especially on children. At the same time, some researchers believe that his music has a special effect on children due to the fact that Mozart was a whiz kid. This paper will discuss the genius of Mozart and analyze the peculiarities of his masterpieces.
The Genius of Mozart - The Reason of Curative Effect?
At the age of 3 years, Mozart picked out thirds and sixths on the harpsichord. When he was 4 years old, he wrote his first concerto for harpsichord, such a complex one that there was hardly anyone of the European virtuosos of that time who could perform it. The 4-year-old Mozart remembered the little pieces of music that were performed by his older sister and then played them on the harpsichord. At the age of 5 years, he began composing simple minuets. For 6 years the young Mozart had enjoyed playing the harpsichord, organ, and violin, performing complex works. At 6 years, under the direct guidance of his father, the young musician in duet with his 11-year-old sister Anna-Maria began triumphant concerts throughout Europe that lasted a total of 10 years. With each new performance, he was receiving increasingly loud glory of musical whiz kid. At the age of 7, he wrote his first symphony, at 12 years – his first opera, Imaginary Simpleton. In 1765, when the young composer was only 9 years old, in London, virtuoso orchestra performed his first symphony. At the age of 12 years, the second grand tour with concerts in major Italian cities started. The triumph was complete and unconditional. Milan’s famous opera house even ordered a 14-year-old Mozart to write an opera, Mithridates, King of Pontus; there, in Italy, in just six months, Mozart wrote this serious work, and the opera had a huge success on the stage 20 times in a row. At 14 years, Mozart was elected an academician of the Bologna Academy of Music for composing 30 minutes of the most complicated polyphonic work (despite the fact that the academy forbade ranking any of its members under the age of 26 years). Throughout his life, Mozart performed on stage as a virtuoso harpsichordist, violinist, organist, and director. For a time, he served as an organist at the archbishop. During his 35-year life, Mozart created more than 600 pieces of music of various genres.
Peculiarities of Mozart’s Music
One should discuss the deepness and uniqueness of the composer in order to clarify the origin of his music effect. Mozart is a representative of the Viennese classical school, one of the founders of the classical music style associated with the development of symphony as the highest type of musical thought, a complete system of classical instrumental genres, classical standards of musical language, and its functional organization. It is impossible to find another composer who could so brilliantly master the most diverse musical genres and forms. Orchestral letter, excellence, and perfection of Mozart’s orchestra are subjected to the constant admiration of specialists in the field of classical music.
In Mozart’s work, the idea of harmony as a principle of dynamic vision of the world and the way of artistic transformation of reality achieved universal significance. At the same time, completely new qualities for that time, such as psychological truthfulness and naturalness, found the development in Mozart’s works. Reflection of a harmonious integrity of being, clarity and the beauty of Mozart’s music are combined with deep drama. Complex and simple, sublime and mundane, tragic and comic, eternal and transient, universal and unique appear in the works of Mozart in a dynamic equilibrium and unity.
Mozart’ style differs with intonational expressiveness, plastic flexibility, rich pictorialism of melody, and interpenetration of vocal and instrumental principles. A heightened sense of tonal-harmonic semantics and expressive possibilities of harmony are peculiar to Mozart. The texture of Mozart’s works differs with varied combinations of homophonic-harmonic and polyphonic composition, forms of synthesis. In the field of instrumentation, classical poise of compositions is complemented with finding different timbre combinations, personalized interpretation of timbres.
“Mozart Effect” on Children and Adults
In the second half of the 20th century, American research scientist Don Campbell wrote a book called “The Mozart Effect,” which became popular in many countries worldwide. D. Campbell is one of the leading educators around the world in the field of communication and healing music. Wide range of medical and psychological studies conducted by D. Campbell and his colleagues for more than 20 years has shown that Mozart’s music has a clear beneficial effect on the health and mental abilities. Campbell selected by his own author’s method the most healing works by Mozart and made a series of thematic CDs which came on stream worldwide. “The Mozart Effect” – that is how Campbell generally described the impact of the music (any, not necessarily Mozart and not necessarily classical) on a person. In a narrow sense, the term “Mozart Effect” refers solely to the action of the Mozart’s music on the human body.
Mozart is a perfect composer for the kids. A huge amount of research conducted in many countries showed that a harmonious, light, and exquisitely simple music by Mozart has a strong positive impact on children’s mental development, intelligence, and creativity. Perhaps, the fact that Mozart, being a musical genius by nature, became a composer at the age of 4 years has brought to his music a pure childish perception that is subconsciously felt by all the “fans” of his work – including the youngest listeners. According to numerous experiments, improvements in the brain under the influence of Mozart’s music in adults tend to be temporary, as neural connections in the brain of an adult have been formed. On this basis, some researchers suggest that in children whose neural connections are being formed, listening to Mozart’s music can cause not only short-term but also long-term sustainable improvement of mental activity. From this assumption, one may conclude about the effect that good music have on children. Firstly, in terms of the therapeutic effect, it is more effective for children than for adults. Secondly, the development of a strong intellectual capacity can be performed much faster than in adults. Thirdly, music can be an alternative to the use of traditional psychotropic chemotherapy.
Speaking about health consequences, the U.S. and Bulgarian scientists have independently discovered that Mozart’s music increases brain activity and intellectual level. Immediately after publication of investigation results, CDs with Mozart’s musical creations have become bestsellers in many countries. Standard “IQ-tests” fixed real increase in intelligence of people after listening to Mozart’s music. Studies by American scientists showed that 10-minute listening to piano music by Mozart improves people’s IQ by an average of 8-10 units. As European scientists have proved, it is Mozart’s music that improves mental ability in all people who listen to it without exception. Even after the 5-minute session, the concentration of attention significantly increases. People suffering from Alzheimer’s disease improve their skills with regular listening to “Sonata for Two Pianos in C-Major by Mozart”. Moreover, scientists have experimentally determined that the sounds of Mozart’s Sonatas (especially “Sonata K 448”) are able to stop seizures. According to the authoritative world-class specialists, Mozart’s music helps to escape any mental problems and improves speech and hearing. In concordance with the leading audiologists and speech therapists of the world, the abundant presence in Mozart’s music of high frequency sounds makes it the most healing among all classical music. First, high-frequency noises strengthen harmonized microscopic muscles of the middle ear. Second, the sound frequency from 3000 to 8000 Hz and above influences the cerebral cortex greatly, which helps to improve memory and thinking. In Canada, the string quartets of specially hired musicians play in city squares musical works of Mozart in order to streamline the traffic and, thereby, reduce the number of accidents.
Only in the 20th century, the power of emotionally-expressive richness of Mozart’s music, its profound inner tragedy organically neighboring with the outer serenity, and “sunshine” of major compositions and fragments was truly perceived, understood, and appreciated. One may see that genius of Mozart’s music is closely connected with his professionalism. Supposedly, genre versatility, organic combination of folk music with a national framework of other musical cultures, the deep unity of the ideological content, and the perfect art form have an influence on mind and body health.
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