Arguably the most creative musical genius of all time, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart holds an unassailable position in the repertoires of concert musicians throughout the world. A prodigy who could play at age three and was beginning to compose by age five, Mozart performed in all the major courts of Europe before he was ten years old. As an adult, Mozart wrote and performed works in every major genre of classical music—concertos, symphonies, operas, string quartets, and sonatas. Mozart the man continues to be a subject of fascination because he has been presented in popular media as the “unappreciated genius” of his time, a perception that is not quite true.
1. Mozart was born in 1756 in Salzburg, Austria. His father, Leopold, was a musician and minor composer in the court of the Archbishop of Salzburg. 2. Mozart wrote his first opera, Mitridate Re di Ponto, in 1770 when he was only 14 years old. He had actually written a few earlier operas, but they were performed only in the Archbishop’s court in Salzburg. Over his career, Mozart wrote 17 operas. The most famous include The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, and Don Giovanni. 3. Mozart’s more than 600 works include 41 symphonies, of which Eine Kleine Nachtmusic is probably the most well-known. 4. Mozart married Constanze Weber in 1782. He had first proposed to Constanze’s older sister, who had rejected his suit. In spite of this earlier proposal and financial difficulties, their marriage was a happy one until Mozart’s death in 1791 at the age of 35. 5. Much of the present fascination with the personal life of Mozart was generated by the film Amadeus. However, a good deal of the film’s story, including the rivalry between Mozart and Antonio Salieri, is fictionalized. Mozart most likely died of kidney failure, not of poisoning. Further, while Mozart did suffer occasional cash flow problems because of slow paying patrons, he actually made a rather large amount of money for a...
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