Mozart and Freemasonry

Mozart Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg on 27th January 1756. Most of his early life was spent travelling around Europe studying and giving concerts as a child prodigy. From 1776-1781 he was Court Musician to the Archbishop of Salzburg. He then moved to Vienna where he was to remain until his death, at the early age of 35, on 5th December 1791.

Mozart was initiated into Freemasonry on the 14th December 1784 in the Lodge Zur Wohltätigkeit (“Benevolence”) in Vienna. At the request of this lodge, he was passed to the second degree at a meeting of another Viennese lodge, Zur Wahlen Eintracht (“True Harmony”). There are records of his attendance at meetings of various lodges in Vienna and also in Prague. Soon afterwards he introduced his father, Leopold, and is believed to have been instrumental in bringing Haydn into freemasonry. He began composing music for Masonic occasions in 1785 and was to continue in this field until his death.

Masonic Music

Gesellenreise (Fellow Craft’s Journey) K.468. For tenor solo and piano. Composed 26th March 1785 to be performed at his father’s passing to the 2nd degree. The German words were written by Franz Josef von Ratschky, a high ranking Austrian civil servant.

Die Maurerfreude (Mason’s Joy) K.471. For tenor solo, chorus and orchestra. Composed on 20th April 1785, in honour of Ignaz von Born, metallurgist and Master of the Lodge Zur Währen Eintracht and performed on 24th April 1785 at a meeting of the Lodge at which both Mozart and his father were present as visitors. The words are by Franz Petran. The solo at the first performance was sung by Johann Valentin Adamberger, a member of another Viennese lodge who first performed the role of Belmonte in Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail and it was then published by the lodge and the proceeds used to support the poor of Vienna.

Ode for the Opening of the Lodge, K.483. For tenor solo, small choir and piano. Composed in December 1785 as an opening hymn for the consecration of the lodge Zur Neugekronten Hoffnung (“Newly Crowned Hope”) in January 1786. The lodge was founded when the Emperor Joseph II decreed that the number of lodges in Vienna was to be reduced from eight to three. One of these was Zur Neugekronten Hoffnung and Mozart became a member of it. The author of the German words is Augustin Veith von Schittlersberg.

Ode for the Closing of the Lodge, K. 484. Composed in 1785 and probably intended for the same occasion as K. 483. The author of the German words is Augustin Veith von Schittlersberg.

The Magic Flute, K.620. Opera composed in July 1791. Much has been written on the Masonic significance of this opera and there are many Masonic allusions both in the music and the libretto. The latter is by Emanuel Schikaneder who had become a freemason in Regensburg in 1788 . The model for Sarastro is believed to have been Ignaz von Born, the Master of the Lodge Zur Wahlen Eintracht.

Eine kleine Freimaurer Kantate (Little Freemasons’ Cantata) K.623. Composed, 15 November 1791, for 2 tenors, baritone and small orchestra. Written on 15th November 1791 shortly before Mozart’s death, it was his last completed work. It was intended for the dedication of the Lodge Zur Neugekronten Hoffnung and Mozart conducted its first performance on his final appearance in public. The words were written by Emanuel Schikaneder. A Hymn for the Closing of the Lodge which was printed as an Appendix to Eine kleine Freimaurer Kantate in 1792 is sung to the melody of the modern Austrian National Anthem.

In recognition of Mozart’s Masonic connections, a number of English lodges have been named after him. The first was Mozart Lodge No 1929 established in 1881 and meeting in Croydon. The first master of the lodge was Edwin Lott, organist at St Sepulchre’s Church, Holborn and Editor for the music publishers, Ashdown and Parry. The Treasurer’s jewel of the lodge celebrates the Mozart connection.