Mozart’s Many Mysteries

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Duration 01:08:19

Brandeis University

Gil Harel is a musicologist and music theorist who lectures widely at Brandeis University and additional venues on topics ranging from renaissance motets to atonal opera. A piano accompanist and vocal coach, Professor Harel’s musical interests range from western classical repertoire to musical theater and jazz. Previously, he has served on the faculty at the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, China, and at CUNY Baruch College, where he was awarded the prestigious “Presidential Excellence Award for Distinguished Teaching.”



Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) is certainly one of the most famous composers who ever lived. His remarkable life has been well documented in a plethora of biographies, textbooks, and even an award-winning Hollywood biopic (Amadeus). However,  many aspects of Mozart’s life remain mysterious to us today. How did a young boy – barely past the toddler phase – demonstrate such facility and creativity at the keyboard? What about Mozart’s unusual sense of humor, which featured a decidedly scatological quality? For many early biographers, this latter point was difficult to manage. As we plunge deeper into Mozart’s life, more mysteries abound. What was the nature of his relationship with Freemasonry, and how does it manifest in his music? Finally, we shall consider what for many is perhaps the greatest mystery in the composer’s life: the story of his Requiem, which remained unfinished at the time of his own death.


Discussion Questions:

1)    What is a “Wunderkind”, and how did Mozart’s youth cement his status as a paradigmatic example of one?

2)    What has been the traditional scholarly perspective on Mozart’s personality, and how have modern musicological perspectives evolved on the topic?

3)    How did Mozart become intertwined with Freemasonry, and how did his relationship with this secret society emerge in his music?

4)    What are some of the oft-told stories – both apocryphal and true – about Mozart’s Requiem? Why has the story of Mozart’s death captivated people and invited so much speculation over the years?


Recommended Reading:

1)   Mozart: The Reign of Loveby Jan Swafford

2)  Mozart’s Letters, Mozart’s Life, by Robert Spaethling

3)  Mozart: A Life, by Maynard Solom





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Wendy Meer


Very impressive lecture. Incredible amount of information that is well organized, spoken and presented. Kudos

2 years ago
Stuart Greenman


I enthusiastically second Wendy Meer’s review.

2 years ago
Joy Morros

Fact filled

So many interesting details. Loved presentation. Thank you.

2 years ago
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