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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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(1756 - 1791) Probably the greatest genius in Western musical history, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria, January 27, 1756, his father was Leopold Mozart and his mother was, Anna Maria Pertl. Leopold was a successful composer, violinist and assistant concertmaster at the Salzburg court.

Wolfgang began composing minuets at the age of 5 and symphonies at 9. When he was 6,his older sister, Maria Anna (who was nicknamed "Nannerl"), and him, performed a series of concerts to Europe's courts and major cities. Both children played the keyboard, but Wolfgang became a violin virtuoso as well.

In 1762 the Mozart duo played at court in Vienna; the Empress Maria Theresa and her husband, Emperor Francis I, acknowledged them. From 1763-1766, the Mozart duo displayed their talents to audiences in Germany, Paris, at court in Versailles, and London This was where Wolfgang wrote his first symphonies and began a friendship with Johann Christian Bach, who became a great musical influence on Wolfgang. In Paris, the young Mozart published his first works, four sonatas for clavier with accompanying violin in 1764. In 1768 he composed his first opera, La Finta Semplice, which had its premiere in Salzburg. In 1769-1770, Leopold and Wolfgang took on a tour through Italy. This first Italian trip ended in a new opera, Mitridate, re di Ponto, which was composed for Milan. In two other Italian journeys he wrote two more operas for Milan, Ascanio in Alba (1771) and Lucio Silla (1772).

In 1772, Archbishop von Schrattenbach died, to be succeeded by Hieronymus von Colloredo. The latter, at first concerned for the Mozarts, later became irritated by Wolfgang's delayed absences and stubborn ways. In 1772, von Colloredo retained Wolfgang as concertmaster at a token salary. In this capacity Mozart composed a large number of sacred and worldly works. Wishing to secure a better position outside Salzburg, he got permission to undertake another journey in 1777. With his mother he traveled to France, where he composed the Paris Symphony in 1778, but he was unable to find a permanent position. His mother died in Paris.

When he returned to Salzburg he was given the position of court organist in 1779 and produced a splendid series of church works, including the famous Coronation Mass. He composed a new opera for Munich, Idomeneo in 1781, that proved he was a skilled master of opera seria. Summoned by von Colloredo to Vienna in 1781 he was dismissed after a series of arguments.

Mozart's career in Vienna began promisingly, and he was soon wanted to write The Abduction from the Seraglio in 1782. His concerts were a great success, and the emperor, Joseph II, encouraged him, later engaging him as court composer. In 1782 the now popular Mozart married Constanze Weber from Germany. His father did not like this at all. The young pair visited Salzburg in 1783; there, the Kyrie and Gloria of Mozart's great Mass in C Minor, composed in Vienna and never finished, was performed. Mozart's greatest success was Le Nozze di Figaro in 1786, composed for the Vienna Opera. The great piano concertos and the string quartets which was dedicated to his close friend Josef Haydn were also composed during this period.

Mozart's fame began to disappear after Figaro. The nobility and court grew more nervous about his revolutionary ideas as seen in Figaro. He sank into debt and was assisted by a brother Freemason, Michael Puchberg. His greatest operatic success after Figaro was Don Giovanni in 1787, composed for Prague, where Mozart's

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