An Artist is known to create, practice, or demonstrate a skill that is capable of evoking an emotion or a reaction from its audience. Combining elements and styles to derive the desired product that is appealing, captivating, and unique – is a process followed in all art forms. Its conception, inspiration, and result may often intertwine despite the differences in the crafts but artists often associate their work with various different art forms.
Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe’s quote, “Music is liquid Architecture, Architecture is frozen music” has had various interpretations through the ages. While some relate the technical aspects of ratios and proportions in architecture to the tonal divisions and rhythms in music to create the perfect composition, others compare the impact each art has on its patrons.
Vitruvius believed that having knowledge of music helped understand relations in mathematics better and this enabled the architect to create a congruous structure. Daniel Libeskind, another well-known architect has also admitted that music and poetry have been his inspiration multiple times while designing. Simon &Garfunkel’s “So long Frank Lloyd Wright” was written as Garfunkel often thought of F.L Wright for inspiration.
The lyrics described the architect’s design style and the nights spent with the architect ‘harmonizing’ till the early hours of dawn. While we have numerous examples of individuals with an architecture degree, who have diversified into the Music industry, we don’t have many cases of musicians practicing architecture and can only speculate what their styles would be if they did so. Rapper Kanye West’s Yeezy Homes is known to build and design homes inspired by the Star Wars films and reflects his experimental and eclectic taste in both music and architecture. With this article, we theorize how another legendary musician, Mozart, would translate his artistry into designing buildings if he were an architect.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Born and raised in Salzburg, Austria, Mozart is known as one of the most prolific and prominent composers in the history of Classical music. With an aptitude for music that was evident at a very early age, Mozart was fluent in playing the keyboard and violin at the age of 5 and performed for the European Royalty. At the age of 17, he was a musician in the Salzburg court but quickly went in search of better prospects in Vienna. His ambitions brought him much fame but little financial security. He composed more than 600 works during his lifetime and his work ranged from orchestras and operas to symphonies and choral music. Mozart’s composing began during the era of ‘Style Galant’, which emerged as a reaction against the highly intricate Baroque style.
He was responsible for bringing back the Baroque style modified and moderated to suit the new social trends and environment and was known to write in all genres. He was a multifaceted composer who reached out to achieve the perfect symphony that had an emotional reach. Mozart also wrote religious music which included large masses and serenades. He travelled around the continent performing and attending concerts by other musicians due to which he absorbed and infused several elements of styles inspired by other musicians into his own to create a Chromatic harmony.
His music represents the epitome of the Classical genre. Ludwig Van Beethoven, 15 years junior to Mozart was deeply influenced by his work and has musical pieces that are inspired by Mozart’s work. Joseph Hayden, another musical genius, believed that the future would not see such a talent in 100 years. The motet Exsultate (1773), the Operas, The Marriage of Figaro (1786) and Don Giovanni (1787), and the Jupiter Symphony (1788) are some of Mozart’s most famous compositions. Parts of the Requiem that he was working on remained unfinished during his final years in Vienna due to his untimely death at the age of 35. Mozart’s mysterious death and modest funeral did not hinder his music from gaining fame after his passing. His reputation rose substantially and multiple biographies were written on his life. His music continues to inspire and intrigue aspiring musicians around the world to this day.
Mozart as an Architect?
Mozart’s musical career was at its peak during the late 18th century, at a time when he created his celebrated operas: The Magic Flute, Don Juan, and The Marriage of Figaro. This era coincides with the Neo-Classical period that dominated the architectural industry in Europe. Both art forms were at a similar stage of evolution. Like his music, that had elements of the baroque style personalized with pieces that highlighted his compositions, his structures would also redefine the conventional classical building with the intricacies of the architectural baroque period. His details in music can be compared to the ornamentation like the festoons and cartouche that were used in architecture.
Mozart as an architect would excel in all types of buildings as he did in music. His structures would be elegant with underlying eccentric elements that would surprise the onlookers. Evidence of Mozart’s scatological humor was prevalent in his letters to his family and even in some of his music. A musician like an architect learns as he travels. Every journey and experience adds to their knowledge of the features and cultural references that they need to incorporate in their work to connect with their audience; and Mozart’s gift of absorbing features of work that inspired him would be reflected in his structures too. His need to extend his music’s emotional reach would correspond to his need to satisfy the user’s requirements while designing a building, a quality that is essential as an architect.
Mozart was an artist devoted to his art, rebelling against pressures of the developing world that forced an artist to compromise on his art. His ambition and passion for music built his legacy at a time when he received modest incomes for his work and this same approach would build his legacy as an architect if he were one. An architect who would not compromise on his principles and would create a structure that would inspire the generation that follows.