Patronage System

February 27, 2012 | | 1 Comment

         The Enlightenment gave rise to the Classical Era during which musicians worked under what is known as the patronage system. Musicians and/or composers would “[work] as servants to powerful noblemen” writing and performing pieces for their patron. There are pros and cons to this system: Some pros are financial stability and security; working under a patron gets you work, a full stomach, and a roof over your head. However, the cons are isolation and restricted creativity; musicians lived as servants with their patrons and were coWolmmitted to composing what their boss wanted, and when they wanted it. This left little exposure to the musical influences outside of the patrons walls. This too has pros and cons in that all work is unique and original, but there is little ouside inspiration.

           Two important characters from the Enlightenment Era who were involved in the patronage system were Joseph II and Mozart. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart worked under Joseph II, son of Maria Theresa and brother to Marie Antoinette, in Vienna. Mozart composed three operas while serving Joseph: Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni (Don Juan, and Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute).

          The following is a condensed scene from the movie,  Amadeus; a movie about Mozart’s life. The scene begins with the monarchy’s existing composer, Antonio Salieri, writing a welcome march for Mozart who has been invited to meet Joseph II in order to compose an opera. Salieri presents the march to Joseph who decides to play it during Mozart’s entrance. After meeting with Mozart, Joseph II offers the march to him as a gift, however Mozart claims that it has been committed to memory after hearing it only once; he then proves it upon request, and actually critques Salieri on his composition and “improves” it. This scene is an example of a pre-existing patron-ship with Joseph and Salieri, and the beginning of Mozart servant hood in Vienna.


(Sources: The Classical Era. Music History. Web. 27 Feb. 2012.

Robert Sherrane. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The Special Collection created by ipl2. Web. 27 Feb. 2012. )

-Gabriela Burgos



1 Comment so far

  1.    dubstep on December 13, 2012 1:48 pm

    Could you explain me this patronage system a little bit more?

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