Wolfgang-Amadeus Mozart

Picture Ennevi. Courtesy of Fondazione Arena di Verona.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang-Amadeus Mozart

Born in Salzburg, Austria, on 27th January 1756, Wolfgang-Amadeus Mozart’s history is fascinating. One of the most famous and celebrated composers in the world, Mozart’s works include operas, symphonies and concertos. His repertoire contains hundreds of complex compositions and richly textured pieces from the late-Renaissance and early-Baroque periods.

Inspired by his travels throughout Europe and the work of his contemporaries, Mozart’s talent and devotion resulted in the creation of the most phenomenal and extraordinary compositions which altered the course of classical music.

Musical Childhood

The son of a successful musician and composer, Leopold Mozart, Wolfgang received a musical education from a very early age, alongside his sister, Maria Anna. Possessing exceptional natural talent, by the age of 5 Mozart had exceeded his father’s teachings and written his first composition.

From age 6, Wolfgang toured Europe with his father, visiting royal courts including Paris and Bavaria. Here Mozart was able to showcase his budding talents as a composer and subsequently received commissions, enabling him to write three intricate operas: Mitridate, re di Ponto (1770), Ascanio in Alba (1771) and Lucio Silla (1772).

While lucrative and providing the opportunity to grow his musical talents, these trips were often strenuous and impacted Mozart’s health. He therefore returned to Salzburg in 1773 to take up the position of assistant concert master, where he wrote many of his most famous masterpieces, including five violin concertos.

Life in Vienna

Bolstered by his talents, Mozart began to desire new and more lucrative pursuits and so embarked on a tour with his mother, exploring cities like Munich and Mannheim. He returned to Salzburg briefly after the death of his mother in 1778, to work as a court organist, but moved to Vienna in 1779 to pursue his work as a composer.

The year 1782 marked the beginning of one of Mozart’s most creative and formative periods. Having married his wife, Constanze Weber and producing one of his most successful operas, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Mozart’s composed worked in the Baroque style inspired by Bach, Handel and Haydn.

Dedicated to his craft, these three years were crucial to his success, although they contributed to his failing health. Continually presenting new compositions and performing almost daily, Mozart worked as a soloist while forming new partnerships, including librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte. This led to a successful collaboration on two of Mozart’s most famous operas: The Marriage of Figaro (1786) and Don Giovanni (1787).

The Extravagant Years

Living in Austria during a time of political uncertainty, much of Mozart’s career was shaped by the wider European environment. With the decline of the Holy Roman Empire and the rise of small independent factions, artists were often hired by wealthy individuals seeking more extravagant forms of entertainment.

Despite Mozart’s success and numerous commissions, war broke out in Austria and he entered a period of financial hardship during the 1780s. Although working as a successful composer, a decline in the country’s wealth led to a reduction in commissions, yet Mozart continued to live an extravagant and luxurious lifestyle.

Although able to live comfortably due to his personal performances, this was nevertheless a difficult decade for the talented musician. However, he was still able to write masterpieces, including another exceptional opera in partnership with Da Ponte: Cosi fan tutte (1790).

Armed with a renewed sense of creativity, the decade that followed could not have been more different. Funded by wealthy aristocrats, Mozart produced compositions for their entertainment while also working on some of his most revered works. This includes The Magic Flute (1791), which was released to great triumph shortly before his death.

Mozart’s Legacy

Having spent many years in ill health, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in 1791 at the age of just 35. Hearing the news, there was a great public outcry as those in Austria joined together to mourn at memorial concerts.

Viewed as an exceptionally talented composer by his contemporaries, the life and works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart have influenced and astounded musicians, inspiring other maestros including Beethoven. Even today, he continues to enthral classical music fans throughout the world.

Transforming Western classical music, Mozart’s compositions are technical and expressive, with exceptionally skilled melodies. As such, his repertoire remains prominent, with Mozart’s operas and concertos regularly performed by proficient musicians.