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Versailles near Paris.

However patronage reached its heights in i8th Century Europe. Every monarch, prince and archbishop had their own court of artists, writers, virtuosos and most important of all, musicians and composers.

A practical training in music was considered an essential part of the education of all persons of influence. Music was a way of displaying power and wealth and there was great rivalry between the royal courts to attract the leading musicians and composers of the day. All these musicians and composers were dependent for their livelihood on the favour and goodwill of their royal patrons.

The system of patronage was a precarious one for musicians and they were often treated like servants (which in a sense they were) by their employers. It was not easy to earn an independent living. The nobility had a stranglehold on the arts and there was often no place in their scheme of things for an impatient genius such as Mozart. Mozart wrote to his father from fashionable Paris saying that the Duchess de Chahot had kept him waiting for half an hour in an ice-cold unheated room before condescending to appear for a private recital.

“I am surrounded by mere brute-beasts… not only my hands, but my whole body and my feet were frozen and my head began to ache…"

Mozart’s rebellious tendencies made it hard for him to fit into the protocol-ridden patronage of the time. He eventually quit his position as court organist for the Archbishop of Salzburg and went to Vienna to the court of Emperor Joseph II as a free-lance composer. He was probably the first person in musical history to go free-lance.

The patronage system was beginning to change in Europe towards the end of the i8th Century but Mozart, dying at 35, did not benefit from these changes.

There is a contemporary system of patronage which can best he illustrated by the relationship between the big recording companies and singers, bands and groups today. The executives of the recording companies, the new ‘patrons”, decide what material is to be released onto the market. Many new bands are signed up and kept waiting until the market is ready for their ‘big break’. There may not be a lot of difference in the way Mozart was kept waiting for the Duchess in Paris and the way bands are kept waiting for the release of their first album.

©Film Education


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