Rorate Caeli

Exsultate, Iubilate, o vos animae beatae! Mozart 250

250 years ago today, the seventh and last child (and only the second to survive infancy) of Leopold Mozart, Vice-Kapellmeister to the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, and Anna Maria Mozart was born in Salzburg. He was named after the saint of the day, in the Traditional Roman Calendar, Saint John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church: Johannes Chrysostomus [Johann Chrysostom] Wolfgang Theophilus [Gotlieb, Amadeus] Mozart. Our frequent readers may have noticed in the past few days the seal in the sidebar which links to the BBC Radio 3 page with lots of interesting music options for this week (it is not a commercial link, since this blog has no ads). The city and Land of Salzburg also have an interesting Mozart 250 page.

My personal admiration for Mozart's music -- especially his sacred music -- knows no boundaries. I am glad that his talent has also touched the heart and soul of so many Catholics -- today as well as in his lifetime. From the Vatican Secret Archives:

On the 10th April 1770, [Mozart] arrived in Rome together with his father and, as guest of many noble and ecclesiastic salons, the “infant prodigy” showed his mastery. He also went to a liturgical celebration in the Sistine Chapel, where he could listen to the Miserere by Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652) for two nine-part choirs; already knowing that he could not get the music score because it was strictly prohibited, he transcribed the piece by heart at the end of the liturgy, almost without any mistakes. Mozart so highly impressed the scholars of the Curia that Pope Clement XIV decided to honour the artistic talent of the this boy from Saltsburg by granting him a private audience (together with father Giovanni Battista Martini, another famous musician who Mozart had already met in Bologna), thus conferring him the high honour of the golden army or the “Golden Spur”. ... In the brief it is also possible to read a praise of the young musician (f. 24r: te, quem in suavissimo cymbali sonitu a prima adolescentia tua excellentem esse intelleximus).

Many deride Mozart's shorter Masses, including the Coronation Mass and the several Missae Breves, but it is my modest opinion that they are among the crowning achievements of non-Gregorian sacred music. They were the result of a most favorable encounter of two strong-minded souls: Mozart and the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, Count Colloredo von Wallsee und Mels. And this same tempestuous soul would, when nearing his own death, near the completion of the most glorious Requiem ever written for non-Gregorian Church music.


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