Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito” Overture: Music for a Coronation

During the final year of his life, Mozart was extraordinarily productive. In the months leading up  to his illness, and eventual death on December 5, 1791 at the age of 35, Mozart completed a series of works including the Clarinet Concerto, K. 622, a final String Quartet, K. 614, the motet Ave verum corpus, K. 618, and the operas Così fan tutte and The Magic Flute. The monumental Requiem in D minor remained unfinished until other composers pieced together Mozart’s blueprint, posthumously.

Often overlooked is the opera, La clemenza di Tito (“The Clemency of Titus”), K. 621. The commission, which Mozart received in July of 1791, came from Prague, and was intended to celebrate the coronation of Leopold II as King of Bohemia. Designed to buttress the aristocratic order in the wake of the French Revolution, the politically charged work fell into the category of opera seriaan already anachronistic form which involved stories rooted in ancient history and mythology. The commission was first offered to Antonio Salieri, who was too busy and turned it down. Mozart was given barely a month to complete the opera. While in Prague for the September 6, 1791 premiere, he fell ill with a sickness which would become fatal.

Beginning with halting, dramatic fanfares, the Overture to La clemenza di Tito is festive music fit for a coronation. It is straightforward, crowd-pleasing music by a man who was not only a sublime composer, but also a consummate craftsman and professional.


  • Mozart: La clemenza di Tito : Overture, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Zürich Opera Orchestra Amazon

Featured Image: the Estates Theatre in Prague where “La clemenza di Tito” was premiered 

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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