Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria on January 26, 1756. Though he did not begin to walk until he was three years old, Mozart’s talent for music soon became apparent. At the age of four, he could reproduce on the piano a melody played to him; at five, he could play the violin with perfect intonation; and at six he composed his first minuet. As the young Mozart’s reputation grew, his father Leopold realized the financial rewards that could arise from increased exposure of his son’s talents. From that time on, Wolfgang and his sister Nannerl spent much of their childhood traveling through Europe. The rulers of Europe and England were astounded by Wolfgang’s abilities of composition, improvisations, and sight reading. While the public admired Wolfgang for his talents, they disapproved quite heartily of his father, saying extensive voyages and frequent exhibitions were no life for the child.

Mozart become the concertmaster for the Archbishop of Salzburg in 1771. After spending frustrating and unproductive years serving the Archbishop, Mozart resigned. He promptly moved to Vienna where his creative energies flourished. There Mozart met and was influenced by Hayden, who came to love him like his own son. He told Leopold Mozart, “I consider your son to be the greatest composer I have ever heard.”

In 1782, Mozart married Constanze Weber, the sister of his long-time love Aloysia. His father disapproved of his son’s choice of bride and lifestyle. The newlyweds lived the carefree gypsy life constantly moving from house to house, spending money frivolously.

In 1784, Lorenzo Da Ponte presented Mozart the libretto for The Marriage of Figaro and a long collaboration between the two began. Figaro premiered in 1786 to an enthusiastic crowd. The two continued their initial success with another: Don Giovanni , which received its premiere in Prague in 1787. Later that same year, Wolfgang’s father died, leaving the 31-year old alone for the first time.

The success of a revival of Figaro in Vienna led to a commission from the Emperor Joseph II for Cosi fan tutte , again with Da Ponte, the premiere of which was a qualified success. In 1790, with the death of Joseph II, Mozart found himself out of favor with the new regime and plagued by his creditors. He was helped by Emanuel Shikander, who commissioned The Magic Flute for his theater. Another commission came at this time, for La Clemenza Di Tito , but it did not help his situation, as it received mixed reviews.

Mozart’s health waned and it was during this illness that he received his last commission. A mysterious stranger requested a requiem mass from the composer. Depressed and delirious, Mozart became convinced that the Requiem was for his own death. In 1791, Wolfgang’s pupil Sussmayer completed the work, as the composer was too ill. He was given a pauper’s funeral and was buried in an unmarked grave, in silence and unattended.

– courtesy Arizona Opera Virtual Opera House