Music's Wunderkind of All Time...
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:
composed La finta semplice,
an Italian opera buffa ( performed in Salzburg in 1769)
and the Singspiel Bastien und
appointed concertmaster to the archbishop of Salzburg; named chevalier
of the Order of the Golden Spur by the Pope
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
to Vienna; composed Symphony K. 183
and 201, his first masterworks in the style of Haydn
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;
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.
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.