Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is generally considered one of the greatest composers in the history of Western music. Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria on January 27, 1756. On December 14th, 1784 he joined the Lodge ‘Zur Wohltätigkeit’ in Vienna. He was a regular attendant of his lodge and became its official lodge musician.
Even though he was a devout Catholic and wrote over 60 liturgical compositions, many of which are still in use today, he was a devoted Freemason. He did this in clear defiance of the Church’s ban on Masonry, because he agreed with its belief in Human Dignity and Freedom. He was a rationalist and a strong proponent of the ideals of the Enlightenment.
“The purpose of music in the [Masonic] ceremonies is to spread good thoughts and unity among the members” so that they may be “united in the idea of innocence and joy,” wrote L.F. Lenz in a contemporary edition of Masonic songs. Music should “inculcate feelings of humanity, wisdom and patience, virtue and honesty, loyalty to friends, and finally an understanding of freedom.”
Mozart used Masonic themes and symbolism throughout his music, and published at least 8 outright Masonic pieces. These include his “Freemeason’s Funeral Music” and his opera the “Magic Flute“. The last piece he finished before his death was K.23, ‘The Little Masonic Cantata”.
Music was a vital component of Freemasonry during Mozart’s time. Lodge songs, mostly with piano or organ accompaniment, were sung at the beginning and end of meetings, as well as during the meal which followed. Mozart wrote thirteen of these lodge songs, but five of these are missing.
Masonic subject matter is used incidentally in his works which were not intended for the lodge. It has, therefore, been suggested that Mozart’s last three symphonies represent the three degrees of Masonic life. [note: Mozart’s last three symphonies are No. 39 in E flat major K.543, No. 40 in G minor K. 550 and No.41 in C major K.551 (also known as the “Jupiter”). Note also the keys in which these symphonies are written – E flat major being “the fundamental key of Freemasonry”, G minor having a symbolic connection with the letter “G” and C major representing “the resurrection of the enlightened man to the rank of Master”]