Wolfgang Amadeus MozartWolfgang Amadeus Mozart was probably the greatest genius in Western musical history. He was born in Salzberg, Austria on January 27, 1756. The son of Leopold Mozart and his wife Anna Maria Pertl. Leopold was a successful composer and violinist and assistant concertmaster at the Salzberg court.
At the age of three, Wolfgang showed signs of remarkable musical talent. He learned to play the harpsichord, a keyboard instrument related to the piano, at the age of four. Wolfgang began composing minuets at the age of five. When he was only six years old, he and his older sister, Anna Maria, embarked on a series of concert tours to Europe’s courts and major cities. They played for the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa at her court in Vienna in 1762. Both children played the keyboard, but Wolfgang became a violin virtuoso as well. Before he was fourteen, Mozart had composed many works called sonatas for the harpsichord, piano, or the violin as well as orchestral and other works. His father recognized Wolfgang’s amazing talent and devoted a lot of his time to his son’s general and musical education.
Wolfgang never attended school; his father took him to concert tours through much of Europe. Wolfgang composed, gave public performances, met many musicians and played the organ in many churches. In 1769, like his father before him, he began working for the archbishop of Salzburg, who also ruled the province. The Mozarts often quarreled with the archbishop, partly because Wolfgang was often absent from Salzburg. The archbishop dismissed young Mozart in 1781. Mozart was actually glad to leave Salzburg, a small town, and seek his fortune in Vienna , one of the music capitals in Europe. By this time people tool less notice of him because he was no longer a child prodigy. However, he was a brilliant performer and active as an orchestrator. Much to his father’s dismay, Mozart married Constanze Weber from Germany in 1782. He did not have a regular job in Vienna and tried to earn a living by selling his compositions, giving public performances, and giving music lessons. None of these activities produced enough income to support his family. He even traveled to Germany for the coronation of a new emperor, but his concerts there did not attract as much attention as he had hoped. He died in poverty on December 5, 1791. He was given a cheap funeral at …
…the opera Cosi Fan Tutte (All Women Are Like That, 1790), much of his early instrumental music, and canons (rounds) with nonsense words. Mozart also produced deeply serious music. His most profound works include the piano concerto in D minor, several string quartets, the string quintet in G minor, and his last three symphonies – E flat major, G minor, and the Jupiter. Larger works may contain both serious and light elements, as does Don Giovanni. Mozart belonged to the Order of Freemasons and wrote several compositions for their meetings. Some scenes from his fairy-tale opera The Magic Flute was inspired by Masonic traditions and beliefs. A catalog of Mozart’s works was first prepared by Ludwig Kochel (1800-1877), a German music lover. Today, Mozart’s works are still identified by the number Kochel assigned to them. Today Mozart’s music is well known and admired throughout the world. His compositions continue to exert a particular fascination for musicians and music lovers today.
“Mozart, Wolfgang A.” Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia. 1993-1996 Microsoft Corporation.
“Mozart, Wolfgang A.” Compton’s Encyclopedia Online v2.0 1997, The Learning Comany, Inc.