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June 18 - June 24

Kenyon Summer Seminar

The Real Amadeus: Mozart and the Enlightenment

Instructor: Jan Swafford, composer and author

The stories of Wolfgang Amadé Mozart have been told and retold for over 200 years. The prodigy of prodigies, who composed his first symphonies at age 5 and his first opera at 12. The freak of nature who with his also prodigious sister toured Europe in his childhood and charmed kings and princesses and the Pope. The eternal child who never freed himself of his domineering father. The composer of elegant and sunny music who after some years of success in Vienna sank into neglect, poverty and despair. The man who wrote his own Requiem. The victim of poison by a jealous rival. The pauper's grave. This is the story of Mozart put forth in the 19th century. Yet most of the legends are wrong. His actual story, though, is just as dramatic, just as fascinating: from a freak to a frustrated servant to a genius to a myth. This course will be devoted to studying Mozart the man—stripped of the myths—and his music, set against the brilliant cultural backdrop of European Enlightenment. We will trace his development from a brilliant composer of conventional cast to the sublime Mozart known to the world today.

Download the syllabus for this course.