Elizabeth Handley, musicologist, lecturer

Monday 22–Friday 26 January 11.15 am COURSE FEES R550; Staff and students R275

This course explores the music and milieu of one of the most extraordinary composers the Western world has ever produced, and the paradoxical world of militant and philosophical revolution in which he lived.

But where did this astonishing wonder-child come from? Mozart lived a strangely compressed life, dying just before his thirty-sixth birthday amidst conspiracy theories of jealousy and poisoning. It’s also a mystery why, although much of his music was popular, he spent his last years in apparent poverty, ending in the legendary ‘unmarked pauper’s grave’. Was this the ignominious end of a distinguished individual, or simply the practice of the time? With numerous musical examples and quotes from his amusing letters, deeper insights can be achieved about his ideas, failures and triumphs.

The first lecture provides historical background about the era in which he lived and worked – the ‘Classical Period’, and an exploration of his personality and unique musical characteristics. The second lecture covers his heritage and early years, while in the third lecture we witness his quest for independence from both his domineering father and servitude to the Archbishop of Salzburg. The fourth and fifth lectures explore his productive mature years as a freelance performer-composer in Vienna, his mysterious premature death, and his remarkable legacy.

Lecture titles

  1. Introducing Mozart and his era – the eighteenth century
  2. Childhood: gift from God (1756–1773)
  3. In search of independence and first masterworks (1773–1781)
  4. Last ten years in Vienna: musical maturity (1781–1791)
  5. The Vienna period: Mozart’s legacy – achievements and contributions