Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in the city of Salzburg on 27th January 1756 and even though he had a relatively short life, he became one of the most influential and highly respected composers and performers of all time. His only surviving sibling, Maria 'Nannerl' Anna was also a brilliant musician and his father Leopold was a talented court musician, composer and violin teacher. His Violinschule, written in 1756, became famous throughout Europe and is still widely used today.
Even as a young child, Mozart was picking tunes out by ear and by 1761 was composing his own pieces. Leopold Mozart recognised the rare gift exhibited by both his children and promptly took them 'on tour', displaying their endless talents to the rest of the world.
After trips to places such as Vienna and Munich in 1762, Paris in 1763, London in 1764 and Holland in 1766, Mozart finally returned to Salzburg in 1766 having already written many compositions.
Between 1766 and 1771, Mozart arranged and composed further works including his first opera La Finta Semplice, which he wrote whilst in Vienna. Unfortunately, the opera was not performed here, much to Leopold's distress and they headed back to Salzburg in 1769, where it was performed shortly after. On 27th October 1769 Mozart was appointed Konzertmeister to the court at Salzburg.
Mozart's output from 1769 – 77 increased at an incredible rate, and he produced nearly 300 compositions from sacred to symphonic, including Piano Sonata No. 5 in G (K283) and over 20 symphonies. During this time he also managed to tour Italy, where he was honoured with a knighthood in Rome, and visit Vienna and Munich again. He returned to Salzburg on 7th March 1775.
On 9th July 1772, Mozart was formally employed as Konzertmeister at the Salzburg court, a position that had been previously unpaid. 1773 saw the composition and performance of the celebrated Exsultate Jubilate.
During August 1777 Mozart and his father petitioned the archbishop of Salzburg to temporarily release them from their duties at the court in order to let them continue their travels. The archbishop begrudgingly accepted their request. However, Leopold soon realised that he could not afford to give up his position as Kapellmeister and remained in Salzburg.
Mozart and his mother left Salzburg soon afterwards, visiting Mannheim and Paris, where his mother Anna Maria became ill and tragically died in 1778. Mozart then travelled on to Munich alone, returning to Salzburg in 1779 where he composed the Divertimento No. 17.
By this time, Mozart was putting all his energies into composing. 1780 saw the creation of the magnificent Vesperae solennes de Confessore, followed by the Serenade in B flat in 1781, the year in which he also met Haydn, and then the Fantasy in D minor in 1782 to name but a few. 1782 was also the year he married Contanze Weber in St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna.
In 1783, Mozart and Constanze had their first child, called Raimund Leopold, but he died after only two months. They went on to have a further five children – Carl Thomas in 1784, Johann Thomas Leopold in 1786 (who died of suffocation), Theresia in 1788 (who also died), Anna Maria in 1789 (who passed away one hour after birth) and Franz Xaver Wolfgang in 1791.
In 1785, whilst in Vienna, Mozart and Haydn meet again. Their warm friendship is well documented and based on a high regard for each other's music. Mozart dedicated his six string quartets to him (Haydn Quartets) and Haydn is reported to have said to Leopold Mozart: 'Before God, I tell you that your son is the greatest composer known to me in person or by name. He has taste, and, what is more, the greatest knowledge of composition.' It was also during 1785 that Mozart composed the beautiful Piano Concerto No. 21, also known as 'Elvira Madigan' after the film in which the 'Andante' movement was featured.
By 1786 Mozart and Constanze were still travelling and he composes The Marriage Of Figaro which was performed a staggering nine times that year.
Mozart's next opera, Don Giovanni, was written in 1787 and premiered at the National Theatre in Prague. Mozart left Prague to return to Vienna.
The last four years of Mozart's life saw the composition of some of his greatest works such as Symphony No. 40 in G minor, Così fan tutte, and Die Zauberflöte.
Mozart died on 5th December 1791. The Requiem that he was writing at the time remains unfinished. He was laid to rest in an unmarked grave at a cemetery in St. Marx, Vienna.
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