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Mozart, Joannes

Mozart, Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-91), was born at Salzburg. His first appearance in public was in a comedy of Eberlin's, performed in the hall of the university of Salzburg when the young musician was only five years old. In the following year (1762) Mozart's father took him and his sister Marianne on a musical tour. In February, 1765, two concerts were given in London in which all the overtures were of the boy's own composition. Mozart was on his return put to study by his father, and at the end of 1768 he conducted some sacred music of his own composition before the emperor. A year later he left Salzburg for a tour in Italy. At Milan an opera of Mozart's was received with immense applause, and he was commissioned to write several others. In March, 1771, the Mozarts returned to Salzburg, where for the next few years Wolfgang was busy composing symphonies, concertos, masses, and serenatas, and in studying the works of other masters. In 1777 he set out with his mother for Paris. At Mannheim he fell in love with Aloysia Weber (afterwards, as Madame Lange, a great singer), whose sister Constanze he afterwards married. As his mother died after a few months, Wolfgang left Paris, and in June, 1779, was again in Salzburg. In 1781 he was entrusted with the composition of a grand opera (Idomeneo) for the Munich carnival. Soon after this he finally threw up his position as concert meister to the Archbishop of Salzburg. In 1782 his opera Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail was produced with great success at Vienna. The extraordinary popularity of Don Giovanni caused the Emperor Joseph to make him "Kammer-Musicus" at 80 a year. Don Giovanni (1788) had been preceded by Le Nozze di Figaro (1786). Though these operas had gained Mozart a great reputation, he was to the end in straitened circumstances. Nevertheless, when Frederick William II. of Prussia, after the composer's visit to Berlin in 1789, offered him the post of kapellmeister at a reasonable salary, he declined rather than abandon "his good emperor." The latter, in return, ordered Mozart to compose a new opera. This was Cosi fan Tutte. Under Leopold II. Mozart received the reversion to the kapellmeistership of the cathedral, but did not live to enjoy it. His last compositions were Il Flauto Magico (Der Zauberflote), and a Requiem, the last being written for a certain Count Walsegg, and produced as the latter's own work. Mozart's best works besides his great operas are some symphonies and masses. He was master of the organ, violin, and piano, his playing on all of them arousing extraordinary enthusiasm.