Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Dr. Gene Anderson
The methods by which great composers create their masterpieces often remain a mystery to modern scholars. There are essentially two approaches to determining what these methods might be: investigating a composer’s surviving drafts, sketches, and letters and analyzing their musical influences. The first approach can be very limiting, especially when applied to a composer such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who did not leave behind many musical sketches. Therefore, when studying Mozart’s compositional process, it is more useful to rely on the second method in which one traces his stylistic development to key musical figures. From these major influences, one can uncover how Mozart learned his craft and determine what musical elements he must have considered to be most important. Although Mozart experienced a wide range of influences throughout his life—he was known for quickly picking up various forms and styles of music—this paper will focus on one composer in particular: Johann Christian Bach. Many musicologists have formed a general consensus that Christian, aside from Mozart’s father, Leopold, was one of the leading musical influences in Mozart’s life. Musicologist Georges de Saint-Foix, for instance, makes the dramatic claim that “[Bach’s influence] replaced the influence of the father…so that Johan Christian Bach became the only the true teacher of Mozart.”1 Another scholar, Robert Gjerdingen, similarly states, “[Mozart] always viewed [J.C.
Bach] as the great model, the man whose style he worked to emulate more assiduously than any other during his early years.”2 Through this paper, I intend to investigate the true significance of the role that Bach played in Mozart’s life and determine how this influence might shed light on
Mozart’s own compositional practices.
Bourdon, Austin, "Johann Christian Bach's influence on Mozart's developing style" (2010). Honors Theses. 167.