08 July 2006 till 29 October 2006

Mozart in the Period Rooms

Persbeeld tentoonstelling Mozart in de stijlkamers

As part of the current year of celebrations surrounding the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag is devoting its six Period Rooms to a celebration of the famous composer. 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 –1791) grew up surrounded by music: his father Leopold played the clavier, violin and organ and was an influential authority on the teaching of music, as well as a performing musician. The Mozart family home was full of instruments and Leopold was eager to teach his children, Wolfgang and Maria Anna, to play them. When Wolfgang turned out to be a real child genius his father decides to devote himself entirely to his son’s career. Everywhere he played, Wolfgang impressed audiences with his virtuosity on the violin and piano. He had perfect pitch, an amazing memory for music and his talent for improvisation and cheerful disposition also made him a popular performer.

Leopold Mozart thought it extremely important for his musical children to see more of the world than Salzburg alone, and in 1763 the family set out on a major tour, mainly with the aim of demonstrating the exceptional gifts of the two children to the courts of Europe. Their destinations included Vienna, Paris, Brussels, London and – at the express invitation of the Dutch court – The Hague. Here they witnessed the installation of Prince Willem V on the Dutch throne in 1765 and Mozart gave various concerts for the royal family, including music specially composed to celebrate the prince’s birthday. While in the Netherlands, however, Mozart fell seriously ill with typhus and took some time to recover. This delayed the family’s departure. During this same period, Mozart’s first published compositions were appearing in Paris, London and The Hague.

Many people now regard Mozart as the greatest musical phenomenon the world has ever seen. He is famous for ecclesiastical music and extraordinary piano concerti (he was the first composer to set the solo instrument against a full orchestra, in which the wind instruments conduct a separate dialogue with the piano), but most of all for operas like Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte and Die Zauberflöte. As a composer, he seldom abandons traditional forms, but brings together established principles to produce something entirely new. He wrote with apparent ease, producing over 600 works within a period of just 30 years.
In this presentation, each of the six Period Rooms in the Gemeentemuseum will be used to display a portrait of Mozart at a different time in his life. These will be accompanied by musical instruments, such as a Celestini spinet dating from 1589. A 1765 portrait of Mozart shows him seated by this sort of instrument by the same Venetian maker. Other remarkable instruments on display will include a Tangentenflügel (popular even before Mozart’s day), a Clavecin roïal built by Johann Gottlob Wagner in 1784, and a Johann Schanz pianoforte dating from around 1790. The latter is a type of Viennese piano customary in Mozart’s time and is still in playable condition. The Japanese Room will be used to display the instruments required to perform Mozart’s Gran Partita: double bass, four horns, basset horns, two bassoons and two oboes. The instruments will be accompanied by instruction manuals, including two by Leopold Mozart, one by Joachim Quantz and one by Philipp Emanuel Bach. The display will be completed by several costumes contemporaneous with the instruments.

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