Music Monday – Victoria’s Musicians

Headline Date 05-09-2018

September 17th is Music Monday, so what better opportunity to appreciate some of the incredibly talented composers and musicians who have lived in Victoria. Arguably one of the greatest musical composers ever, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived in London for part of his life (mainly in Covent Garden), however for a very short period of time he lived in Belgravia (1764). Residing in 180 Ebury Street (a road that’s been home to various writers and celebrities throughout history), the house is now Grade I listed on account of its association with the German.

A child prodigy, this house is where Mozart composed his first symphony at the ripe young age of eight. Already composing from the age of five, Mozart had also performed before European royalty and was a musician in the Salzburg court at age 17. Before passing away at the age of 35, Mozart was able to compose more than 600 works. Many of these were acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, chamber, operatic, and choral music during their time.

Mozart, along with his older sister, was educated by his father, who taught him music, languages, and academic subjects. However, Mozart’s own desires to progress beyond what his father was able to teach him soon became apparent through his first compositions and his skilled attempts with the violin.  

Another composer who travelled the streets of Victoria was Frederic Chopin. Spending time in London while suffering from TB in 1848, it was around this time that Chopin delivered his final public performance before his death the following year. He lived at 4 St James’s Place where his blue plaque still hangs on the building’s cream walls.

Polish-born composer and virtuoso pianist, Frederic Chopin was one of the masters of the Romantic musical movement. He wrote primarily for solo piano and, like Mozart, many of his pieces are still referenced today and continue to inspire in popular culture.

Born in Poland in 1810 to a French father and Polish mother (both musicians), Chopin later emigrated to Paris in 1830 before moving to London for a short time in 1848. He made his debut performances in the late 1820s in Vienna while returning from a trip to Berlin with a friend. These were received favourably and he performed again on his return to Warsaw, Poland in 1830. Through his early successes as composer and performer, the doors of Western Europe opened up to him as well as a world of exciting opportunities.

He decided to go to Italy shortly before the breakout of the Polish November Uprising in 1831. His friend who was travelling with him went back to enlist in Poland, and Chopin, stuck in Italy, alone, began to feel homesick. After hearing that the uprising had been crushed in September 1831 he lamented its failure and soon after moved to Paris, never to return to Poland. He seldom performed publicly in Paris, instead he preferred playing in the intimate setting of a salon or his own apartment. He made money from taking on pupils for a considerable amount of time throughout his musical career. Finally, in 1848, he delivered his last Paris performance before setting off for London. He performed various concerts, including one before Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Stafford House. Never forgetting his Polish heritage and his compatriots fleeing political turmoil in Poland, his final performance was played for the benefit of Polish refugees.

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