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The Life Of Mozart

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My book report is from the biography of Mozart written by Robert W. Gutman. It was illustrated by the Jacket art courtesy of Music Lovers Society and was published by Harcourt Brace and Company. It was printed in New York City and the year of publication was 1999.

Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria, the son of composer, musical author, and violinist, Leopold Mozart and his wife, Anna Maria Pertl. His given names were Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Theophilus, the last of which is Gottlieb in German, and Amadeus in Latin. He used Wolfgang and Amadeus in his signature, so he is generally known by these two names.

He displayed marked musical gifts very early, playing the keyboard confidently when aged four, composing his first pieces for it aged five, and quickly mastering the violin. Leopold was keen to exhibit his son's extraordinary talents, along with those of his gifted pianist-daughter, Maria-Anna (called Nannerl) (1751--1829), and he undertook a series of tours across Europe with them when Mozart was just six years old.

In 1767 the family went to Vienna for five months, where Mozart wrote an opera buffa (comic opera) for the Emperor, La finta semplice (trans, the Pretend Simpleton); and a Singspiel (a German-language opera with some spoken dialogue), Bastien und Bastienne (1769), commissioned by Dr Franz Anton Mesmer. However, in Vienna, the Italian musicians at court, including the composer Antonio Salieri, made it difficult for him to produce his operas. He returned to Salzburg, and was appointed honorary Konzertmeister to Archbishop Sigismund von Schrattenbach.

There followed three extended visits by father and son to Italy (1770--2). Musical experience gained on these tours helped mold Mozart's style, especially in dramatic music. He was prolific, writing sacred vocal pieces and instrumental works too. By 1772 he had written about 25 symphonies (some are lost), and his first quartets. Further quartets and symphonies followed during and after a visit to Vienna in 1773, when he came into contact with Haydn's music. Between 1775--6 he composed two operas: La finta Giardiniera (trans The Lady Who Disguised Herself as a Gardener) and Il Re Pastore (The Shepherd King); five violin concertos; the Haffner Serenade, and masses for the Salzburg Court Chapel. Bach, Haydn, Handel, and the Italian composers were all major influences on him at the time.

Unhappy with the austere and unmusical Archbishop Colloredo of Salzburg, who was appointed at the death of Sigismund, Mozart left his service in 1777 and, traveling with his mother, sought employment elsewhere. They stayed at Mannheim, where he composed some piano concertos and flute quartets, and fell in love with a coloratura soprano, Aloysia Weber. In 1778 his mother died in Paris. He composed the Paris symphony the same year. His father then persuaded him to return to Salzburg. Mozart visited the Webers on his way back to find that Aloysia seemed to have forgotten him entirely.

Back in Salzburg, Mozart reluctantly accepted the post of court organist (1779). At this time he composed the Coronation Mass (1779), the Sinfonia Concertante in E Flat Major for Violin, Viola and Orchestra, and the Serenade in D Major. In 1780 he received an important commission from Munich, the opera seria (serious opera) Idomeneo. In 1781 Colloredo summoned Mozart to Vienna for the coronation of Emperor Joseph II. Again, he left the archbishop's service, this time after a stormy scene, but remained in Vienna, which became his home for the rest of his short, full life.

Aloysia Weber had married a court actor and Mozart had turned his attentions to her sister Constanze, whom he married in 1782 - the year of his Singspiel, Die Entfhrung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Harem). Married life was humorous and happy, but financially insecure. Mozart eked out his income by teaching. He and Constanza

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