Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(1756-1791)





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Music's Wunderkind of All Time...

was born in Salzburg, a city with a long musical tradition, situated in Bavaria (now western Austria). His father, Leopold Mozart, who was a member of the archbishop's chapel and later its assistant director, was himself a composer of some renown who wrote a respected treatise on violin playing. Recognizing early on that Wolfgang was a music prodigy, Leopold gave up his own ambitions and devoted himself to educating his son and showing off his talents in a series of tours that took them to the courts of France, England, Holland, Italy, Vienna and the major cities of Germany. By age 15 Mozart was a seasoned touring artist, his impressionable young mind exposed to the musical and cultural influences of contemporary Europe.

At the same time he had also begun composing. Indeed, composing seemed to be second nature to him - he produced his first minuets at the age of six, his first symphony just before his ninth birthday, his first oratorio at eleven, and his first opera at twelve. In his tragically short lifetime, he produced more than 600 published works (systematically catalogued by L. von Köchel in 1862, the originator of the "Köchel number" or "K." that one finds invariably attached to the title of every Mozart composition). A breakdown of his works would include: 15 masses, 49 symphonies, 20 operas, 17 organ sonatas, 26 quartets, 17 piano concertos, and dozens of other compositions for various combinations of instruments.

A selected chronology of the musical highlights of Mozart's life would include the following:

1768 composed La finta semplice, an Italian opera buffa ( performed in Salzburg in 1769) and the Singspiel Bastien und Bastienne
1769 appointed concertmaster to the archbishop of Salzburg; named chevalier of the Order of the Golden Spur by the Pope
1770-
1773
the "Italian Years" - traveled to Italy in the face of limited prospects in Salzburg; wrote his first quartets, two opera serie, and several symphonies which show Haydn's influence
1773-
1774
traveled to Vienna; composed Symphony K. 183 and 201, his first masterworks in the style of Haydn
1774-
1781
returned to Salzburg, with travels to Munich, Augsburg, Mannheim, and Paris in search of brighter prospects; compositions of the period include various piano and violin sonatas a flute quartet, an oboe quartet, divertimentos, serenades, piano and violin concertos, masses and his best opere serie Idomeneo (1781); became Haydn's personal friend;
late 1781-
1791
the "Vienna Period" when he composed the masterworks that ensured his immortality, among them: the Sonata in D major for 2 pianos, the Singspiel The Abduction from the Seraglio, the Haydn Quartets; the Dissonance Quartet; the Hoffmeister Quartet; the Sonata for 4 hands in F major; the String Quintets in C major and G minor; the Clarinet Quintet; the 17 concertos for piano and orchestra; the great symphonies: Haffner, Prague, Linz, the Symphonies in E flat, G minor and C major (Jupiter); the great operas: The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, Cosi fan tutte, The Magic Flute, and La clemenza di Tito; and the Requiem.
The early years of Mozart's Vienna Period were marked by prosperity. It was during this period in 1782 when he married Constanze Weber. Idolized by the public both as pianist and composer, he could afford to be the bon vivant caricatured in the modern-day musical Amadeus. But the public is fickle and musical tastes change. In the late 1780s, as Mozart's music went out of fashion, his adoring public deserted him and his fortunes declined as did his health. Commissions and positions were few and far between. Financial need may have driven him to pursue such collaborative work as The Philosopher's Stone. But fortunately, "genius does what it must...." It was during these most inauspicious years that Mozart created some of his greatest works - among them Jupiter, Don Giovanni, and in the year that turned out to be his last, The Magic Flute. Within weeks after happily conducting the first performances of this enchanting opera of hope and love, Mozart died.


Der Stein der Weisen Boston Baroque The Manuscript Der Stein / Die Zauberflote Mozart
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