Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in Austria, the son of Leopold, Kapellmeister to the Prince-Archbishop of
children enchanted Louis XV. In 1764 they arrived in London. Here Mozart wrote his first three symphonies, under the
visit to Milan, his opera Mitridate, r? di Ponto was successfully produced, followed on a subsequent visit by Lucia Silla. The
A trip to Vienna in 1773 failed to produce the court appointment that both Mozart and his father wished for him, but did
The influence is clear in Mozart’s six string quartets, K168-173, and in his Symphony in G minor, K183. Another trip in search
reception there was muted and hopes of a job came nothing.
Back in Salzburg Mozart worked for two years as a church organist for the new archbishop. His employer was less kindly
disposed to the Mozart family than his predecessor had been, but the composer nonetheless produced some of his earliest
masterpieces. The famous Sinfonia concertante for violin, violo and orchestra was written in 1780, and the following year
Mozart’s first great stage work, the opera Idomeneo, was produced in Munich, where Mozart also wrote his Serenade for 13
wind instruments, K361. On his return from Munich, however, the hostility brewing between him and the archbishop came to a
head, and Mozart resigned. On delivering his resignation he was verbally abused and eventually, physically ejected from the
Without patronage, Mozart was forced to confront the perils of a freelance existence. Initially his efforts met with some success.
He took up residence in Vienna and in 1782 his opera Die Entf?hrung aus dem Serail (The abdication from the Seraglio) was
improvised at the keyboard. Most of Mozart’s great piano concertos were written for these concerts, including those in C,
K467, A, K488 and C minor, K491. In these concertos Mozart brought to the genre a unity and diversity it had not had
before, combining bold symphonic richness with passages of subtle delicacy.
chamber music output only by his String Quintets, outstanding among which are those in C, K515, G minor, K516 and D,
(The Marriage of Figaro) was begun that year and performed in 1786 to an enthusiastic audience in Vienna and even greater
acclaim later in Prague. In 1787 Prague?s National Theatre saw the premiere of Don Giovanni, a moralizing version of the Don
lack of success with the Viennese, who responded with such enthusiasm to the comedy of Figaro.
Mozart wrote two more operas: the opera seria La clemenza di Tito (The Mercy of Tito) and Die Zauberfl?te (The Magic
with strong Masonic elements (Mozart was a devoted Freemason), is bizarre, but drew from Mozart some of his greatest
won audiences over.
The year 1788 saw the composition of Mozart’s two finest symphonies. Symphony No.40, in the tragic key of G minor,
contrasts strikingly with the affirmatory Symphony No.41 Jupiter. Neither helped alleviate his financial plight, however, which
Austrian throne but Mozart was unsuccessful in his bid to become Kapellmeister. He was deeply in debt when in July 1791 he
who wished to pass off the work as his own.) Mozart did not live to finish the Requiem. He became ill in autumn 1791 and died
on December 5; his burial the next day was attended only by a gravedigger. Rumours that Mozart had been poisoned
abounded in Vienna after his death, many suggesting that rival composer Antonio Salieri was responsible. Many now believe a
heart weakened by bouts of rheumatic fever caused his death.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria in January of 1756. By the age of four,
he had exhibited such extraordinary powers of musical memory and ear-sophistication that his
father, Leopold (a highly esteemed violinist and composer in his own right) decided to sign young
Wolfgang up for harpsichord lessons. At five, he was composing music; at six, he was a keyboard
virtuoso, so much so that Leopold took Wolfgang and his sister Maria Anna on a performance
tour of Munich and Vienna.
From that time on, young Mozart was constantly performing and
writing music. Wherever he appeared, people gaped in awe at
oratorios, symphonies and operas. His first major opera,
Mitridate, was performed in Milan in 1770 to such unqualified
raves that critics compared him to Handel.
At fifteen, Mozart was installed as the concertmaster in the
orchestra of the Archbishop of Salzburg. Things did not go very
well; Mozart didn’t get along with the Archbishop, and relations
deteriorated to the point where, in 1781, he quit this lofty
position and headed for Vienna – quite against his father’s wishes.
It has been told that Mozart once said, ‘Since I could not have
one sister, I married the other.’ Whether or not this quote is true, the facts remain the same. Three
he married her younger sister Constanze, on August 4, 1782.
What sort of person was Constanze Weber?
Mozart, who nicknamed his bride Stanzerl,
described her this way, ‘She is not ugly, but at the
same time, far from beautiful. Her entire beauty
consists of two little black eyes and a nice figure.
She isn’t witty, but has enough common sense to
make her a good wife and mother …. She
understands housekeeping and has the kindest
Constanze Mozart’s life was far from easy. From
June 1783 to July 1791, she bore six children. The
Mozarts’ first child, Raimund Leopold, died at the
age of two months of an ‘intestinal cramp’ while his
parents were away on a visit to Salzburg. Their
third, Johann Thomas Leopold, lived less than a
month, their fourth, Theresia, six months, and their
fifth, Anna Maria, only one hour. The Mozarts were left with only two surviving children, whom
Wolfgang barely had time to know. When he died, the eldest was seven years old, and the
younger only six months. After Mozart’s death, Constanze met and evetually married Nikolaus von
Nissen, an official in the Danish Embassy, and it was he who raised Mozart’s sons. von Nissen
died in 1826, and Constanze in 1842.
The two boys led fairly uneventful lives. The elder, Karl Thomas (b. 1784), ended up as a minor
official on the staff of the viceroy of Naples in Milan. He died in 1858. The younger, Franz Xaver
Wolfgang, inherited his father’s musical inclinations, if not all of his talent. He composed and
conducted extensively throught Europe, but perhaps the last word on this ‘Wolfgang Amadeus
you remember the obscurity of Mozart’s son? An amiable man, a clever musician, an excellent
expected from Mozart’s son? Not Mozart himself even.’
Wolfgang and his father, Leopold had never regained the closeness they had shared in earlier days,
but they reached a peace with each other, and maintained a steady corresponence. Leopold died
at which time Constanze was ailing as well. This turn of events left him greatly depressed, and his
own health took a turn for the worse. His music from the preceding decade was only sporadically
meet. In 1788 he stopped performing in public, preferring to compose.
Mozart may have died of a number of illnesses. The official diagnosis was miliary fever, but the
truth is that the physicians who attended him were never quite sure what Mozart died of. He
suffered from rheumatic pain, headaches, toothaches, skin eruptions, and lethargy. A common
rheumatic fever. Regardless of the cause, Mozart became bedridden for the last two weeks of his
life. He died at shortly after midnight on December 5th, 1791, aged thirty-five years, eleven
months, and nine days.
Mozart’s legacy is incestimalbe. A master of every form in which he worked, he set standards of excellence that have inspired
generations of composers.
Some of his representative works
Symphonies Nos. 25, 29, 38, 39, 40 41 Jupiter
Piano Concertos Nos. 19, 20 & 27
sinfonia concertante for violin and viola
String Quartets: the Hunt, the Dissonance
String Quintet No.4 in G minor, K516
Le Nozze di Figaro