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Mozart

(Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)

1756–1791
Civilization: European — Austria
   Field of Renown:  art — Composer
Era:  Revolution

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a genius composer of the Classical period, created over 600 works in the 35 years that he lived. He composed small instrumental pieces as well as hours of operatic music, his favorite type of work. He remains one of the most famous composers of his time, and his musical pieces are still widely used.

Mozart
MOZART AS A CHILD
Even when Mozart was a young child, he displayed remarkable musical ability—he wrote his first compositions at the age of five, and he showed extraordinary skill on the keyboard and the violin. His father, a minor composer and music teacher, soon saw that his son’s talent far surpassed his own, and he encouraged Mozart and his sister Nannerl to travel Europe as child prodigies. Later, he went on another European tour, this time with his father, and during his travels he was accepted into the Philharmonic Academy of Bologna. After writing a highly popular opera in Milan at the age of 14, he returned twice more with two new works, but unfortunately, his success did not result in professional employment as his father had hoped. Instead, he began work as a court musician in Salzburg under the Archbishop Colloredo, but he was discontent with the low salary and works he was made to compose. Only a few years after taking the position at Salzburg, Mozart resigned and set out in search of a new career, but his efforts were unsuccessful and he was forced to pawn his valuables to pay his debts. His mother, who had accompanied him on the trip, fell ill and passed away while in France.

Meanwhile, his father had procured for him a better career under the Archbishop, and while Mozart remained discontent with Salzburg, he reluctantly took the position out of necessity. After one year and the composition of a highly successful opera, Mozart left Salzburg for Vienna, where he married Constanze Weber and prospered as a pianist and composer. Supported by the returns from his concerts, Mozart and his family adopted a lavish lifestyle, purchasing an expensive apartment and hiring several servants. Unfortunately, the family’s financial situation soon became dire, as Mozart appeared less frequently in concerts and his income dropped substantially. Austria was at war with the Turks, and the time was a difficult one for all artists. Mozart’s success only improved during his final year, when he wrote several of his most renowned works and his profits began to grow once more. Mozart fell ill in Prague while premiering one of his most recently completed operas, and he lived to conduct the premiere of another work, The Magic Flute, before passing away in December.


Key events during the life of Wolfgang Mozart:


Year
Event
1756
Born
1762
Performed with his sister at an exhibition at the court of Maximilian III
1764
Visited Johann Christian Bach, son of Johann Sebastian Bach
1769
Traveled to Italy with his father
1778
His mother became ill and passed away
1781
Departed to Venice, where he found work as a freelance musician
1782
Married Constanze Weber
1784
Became a freemason
1788
Fell into financial ruin
1791
Composed several of his most famous works
1791
Died at the age of 35 after falling ill in Prague

Book Links
Mozart's Youth  by  George Upton

Other Resources


Story Links
Book Links
Mozart—Boy Musician  in  Ten Boys from History  by  K. D. Sweetser


Image Links


Standing by the pedals, he trod them and struck keys as correctly
 in Mozart's Youth

He failed to observe a gentleman who had
 in Mozart's Youth

Hardly had he blown the first cruel notes
 in Mozart's Youth

He greeted the ladies courteously.
 in Mozart's Youth


Contemporary
Short Biography
Bach German composer associated with Baroque classical music.
Louis XVI King of France during the French revolution. Beheaded by the mob after trying to escape from his castle.
Beethoven One of the most brilliant classical composers of all time. Continued to compose, perform, and conduct, even when deaf.
Joseph Haydn Very influential composer from Vienna who was an associate of Mozart, and a teacher of Beethoven.