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Biography of Wolfgang Mozart


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WOLFGANG GOTTLIEB MOZART, one of the greatest of musical composers, was born January 27th 1756, at Salzburg, where his father was sub-director of the Archepiscopal Chapel. His extraordinary musical talents were cultivated to the utmost by his father. At the age of four he played the clavichord, and composed a number of minuets and other pieces still extant. When only six years of age, his performances were so remarkable, that his father took him and his sister, who possessed similar gifts, to Munich and Vienna, where they obtained every kind of encouragment from the Elector of Bavaria, and the Emperor Francis I. In 1763 and 1764, the Mozart family visited Paris and London. At the age of seven, young Mozart surprised a party of musicians, including his father, by taking part, at sight, in a trio for stringed instruments. Symphonies of his own composition were produced at a public concert in London; and while there he composed and published six sonatas, and made acquaintance with the works of Handel, recently deceased. Two years later, when but twelve years of age, he composed the music for the religious service, and for a trumpet concert at the dedication of the Orphan House Church, in Vienna, and conducted it in the presence of the imperial court, in 1769, at the age of thirteen, he was appointed director of the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg's concerts; and in the same year travelled with his father to Italy, where he created an unheard of enthusiasm by his performances and compositions. He composed the Opera of Mithridates, at Milan, in October, 1770, and it was publicly performed there in December of that year.

At the age of sixteen, he was the first clavecinist in the world; he had produced two requiems and a stabat mater, numerous offertories, hymns and motetts, four operas, two cantatas, thirteen symphonies, twenty-four piano-forte sonatas, not to speak of a vast number of concertos for different instruments, trios, quartets, marches, and other minor pieces. In 1779, he was appointed composer to the royal court at Vienna, where he then fixed his residence, and there the musical works were composed upon which his fame chiefly rest. His great opera of Idomeneo was composed in 1780, with a view to induce the family of Mademoiselle Constance Webber, afterwards his wife, to consent to the marriage, which they had declined to do on the ground of his reputation not being sufficiently established. The opera forms an epoch, not in the composer's life only, but in the history of music. In construction, detail, instrumentation, and every imaginable respect it was an enormous advance on all previous works of the kind, and established his repute as the greatest musician the world had seen.

In 1787, he produced his chef-d'oeuvre, Don Giovanni, which, though received with enthusiasm at Prague, was at first beyond the comprehension of the Viennese. To 1791, the last year of his short life, we owe Zauberflote, La Clemenza di Tito, and the sublime requiem, composed in anticipation of death, and finished only a few days before his decease. He died on the 5th of December, 1791, aged 35.