Wolfgang began work on the Grand Mass in 1782, the same year he became enamored with the fugues of Johann Sebastian Bach. Such counterpoint of the "strict" style was decidedly out of fashion in the late 18th century. In vogue were the more melodious and "natural" styles favored by the European aristocracy.
Wolfgang, musical genius though he was, struggled mightily to match Bach's mastery of contrapuntal composition. One of Mozart's most widely read and respected biographers, Alfred Einstein (Mozart, His Character, His Work), offers these insights:
Mr. Einstein goes on to say of Wolfgang in the early 1780s:
"And then began for Mozart, with Constanze's pleased encouragement, a period of fugue composition, the grandest traces of which appear in the C Minor Mass. It is significant that only a portion of these fugues were completed. Mozart began to write a fugue as the finale of a violin sonata in A (K.402), but it remained unfinished for two reasons: it was composed for Constanze, and it was a fugue."
interesting that, of all the symphonies, concertos, operas, sonatas and
sacred music that Wolfgang composed, the one form that his wife favored
above all others was the one with which he had the greatest difficulty
composing: the fugue.
more fun than watching the Sopranos, and you might just win a pair of
front-row tickets to the performance, where you'll get to enjoy our
sopranos for a change.
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