Thoughtful History for the Day: Leopold Mozart

“When I was a young fellow I used to think that philosophers were people who said little, seldom laughed, and turned a sulky face upon the world in general. But my own experiences have completely persuaded me that, without knowing it, I must be a philosopher.”

Leopold Mozart (in a letter sent to the Baroness von Waldstadten in Vienna)

leopold portrait

“Leopold Mozart is and will remain, in the memory of posterity, the father of his son,” writes esteemed musicologist and music editor, Alfred Einstein, in his Preface at the beginning of the 1937 and subsequent publications of “A Treatise on the Fundamental Principles of Violin Playing” by Leopold Mozart (who first published this historic work in July 1756, five months after Wolfgang’s birth).

Einstein goes on to present a detailed and fascinating look into the life, personality, and trials of Leopold, including the pain and frustration of his estrangement with his famous son, and his joy at seeing Wolfgang achieve through his composing what Leopold and his classical contemporaries had not previously done (namely, find a way to combine Genius and Art — the “gallant” style derived from the new and popular opera buffa, and the “learned” style of the old music; i.e., from the 1600’s.)

I highly recommend this book, both for Einstein’s in-depth Preface, and for its effect as a rich backdrop for Leopold’s own learned thoughts on the history, technique, and sound musicianship of the violin and its proper execution, as derived from his own era.

blankTreatise on the Fundamental Principles of Violin Playing

leopold mozart

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