Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Mozart in enlightened times

Donald Macleod journeys through Mozart's early career in Vienna as he sought the favour of the imperial court.

Donald Macleod journeys through Mozart's early career in Vienna as he sought Imperial favour

All this week, Donald Macleod explores the relationship between the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the Austrian Emperor Joseph II. Mozart was honoured to obtain a job at the court of Joseph II. His salary however was still not enough to cover Mozart's outgoings. The Emperor's reputation for tightness with money, his interest in cultural reform, and even his re-organisation of the way people were buried, would all greatly impact upon Mozart's life and his music.

Today we follow Mozart to Vienna, having left the employment of Salzburg's Archbishop Colloredo. He was seeking to secure a court position, although these posts were occupied for life and so very hard to come by. Joseph's musical tastes didn't seem to stretch to 'opera seria' but he did enjoy the sound of wind nstruments. Mozart composed a Serenade K375, adding a pair of oboes to accomodate Joseph's own court ensemble. The Emperor was also very interested in many of the precepts of the Enlightenment, and Mozart's next opera, The Abduction from the Seraglio, is a kind of Enlightenment essay celebrating virtue as a source of happiness. For many Viennese spectators, Joseph himself was at the heart of the opera's story.

Fugue K153
Sang Woo Kang, piano

Serenade K375
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

Violin Sonata K 379 (Finale)
Rachel Podger violin
Gary Cooper, fortepiano

Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail K38 (Act 1)
Thomas Quasthoff, bass (Selim)
Diana Damrau (Konstanze)
Rolando Villazon, tenor (Belmonte)
Paul Schweinester (Pedrillo)
Franz-Josef Selig (Osmin)
Vocalensemble Rastatt
Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Yannick Nezet-Seguin, conductor

Producer Michael Surcombe.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Fugue in E flat major, compl. Sechter, K153

    Performer: Sang Woo Kang.
    • 8573114.
    • NAXOS.
    • 2.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Serenade in E flat major for wind sextet, K375

    Orchestra: Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.
    • DEUTSCHE GRAMMOP : DG 431-693-2.
    • 1.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Violin Sonata in G major, K.379 (Finale)

    Performer: Rachel Podger. Performer: Gary Cooper.
    • Channel Classics CCSSA 21804.
    • Channel Classics.
    • 1.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail, K384 (Act 1)

    Performer: Paul Schweinester. Singer: Diana Damrau. Orchestra: Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Conductor: Yannick Nézet‐Séguin. Singer: Thomas Quasthoff. Singer: Rolando Villazón. Singer: Franz-Josef Selig. Ensemble: Rastatt Vocal Ensemble.
    • Deutsche Grammophon 479 4064.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
    • 8.


Composers A to Z

Composers A to Z

Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

The composer of Jerusalem was very far from the conservative figure his image suggests.

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer Help Page

Composer Help Page

Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.