Masonism in Mozart’s The Magic Flute

download (1)On the 30th of September 1791, the opera The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart made its debut at Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna. The piece was finished three months before the composer died of suspected rheumatoid fever at the young age of 35. Mozart scholar Maynard Solomon wrote that, Although there were no reviews of the first performances, it was immediately evident that Mozart and [the librettist] Schikaneder had achieved a great success, the opera drawing immense crowds and reaching hundreds of performances during the 1790s.” 

A little known fact is that for the last seven years of his life Mozart was a Freemason; him and Schikaneder were lodge brothers who adhered to the fellowship’s philosophy. According to Solomon, Mozart was interested in the rationalist, enlightenment-inspired side of Freemasonry and not its focus on occult mysticism. Mozart’s friend Prof. Weishaupt was the founder of this rationalist division, known as the Illuminati, which adhered to the French humanism of Rousseau and Diderot. Presumably, the main idea that Mozart took from them in his operas was that social /economic class or rank was not a factor that predetermined the good nature or nobility of an individual. Lower classes could have elevated spirits too.

DottedFigureAlong with some of his previous work, Mozart’s The Magic Flute is said to display musical phrases endowed with semiotic Masonic meanings.  Katharine Thomson noted in The Masonic Thread in Mozart (1977) that the  Masonic initiation ceremony began with the candidate knocking three times at the door to a71eLHL6R8QLsk to be admitted into the room and indirectly, the circle. She speculated that this element appears in the overture of Mozart’s The Magic Flute in the musical shape of a dotted figure. 

Freemason ceremonial music was used according to Rousseau’s humanist theories. Thomson quoted L.F. Lenz who wrote that, The purpose of music in the {Masonic} ceremonies is to spread good thoughts and unity among the members (…) united in the idea of innocence and joy. Music should inculcate feelings of humanity, wisdom and patience, virtue and honesty, loyalty to friends, and finally an understanding of freedom. The idea was to lose oneself in the feeling of unadulterated harmony, which equates in the symbol losing itself in what it symbolises…