Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is one of the greatest music composers who ever lived. His name and the word ‘genius’ are often bandied about together by music writers and critics and many would argue rightly so.
Mozart had a fantastic ear for writing a catchy tune with perfect orchestral arrangement. His compositions have a rich and distinctive sound; it can be said that in his brief lifetime (only 35 years) that he wrote a masterpiece in every genre of classical music without much apparent effort.
Original and completed music poured out of his mind and his music scores showed little correction. His wife, Constanze, said that he wrote out the overture of his opera Don Giovanni on the day of its première.
Mozart was born on 27 January, 1756, and was named Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, but called Wolfgang Amadeus by his family. His father, Leopold, was a musician at the court of the Archbishop of Salzburg, and later became Konzertmeister or Court Composer.
Wolfgang could play complicated pieces of music on the piano at the of age four, and at five he was composing, with his father writing down the creation. At the age of 8, Mozart began to write his first symphony.
In 1771, Mozart was given a part time job at the Archbishop’s court.
In 1777, Mozart quit his post at Salzburg and travelled to Mannheim and Paris with his mother, who unfortunately died during the journey. Mozart returned to Salzburg, and back into the service of the Archbishop Colleredo. n 1781, Mozart quit the Archbishop’s service again after a heated exchange, and left Salzburg to pursue a freelance career in Vienna, as a composer. The next ten years of Mozart’s life are perhaps without parallel in history as the greatest decade of creative genius.
In 1782, Mozart married Constanze Weber. He settled down with his new wife in Vienna, and made money teaching, composing and giving public performances of his new work.
While in Vienna, Mozart made the acquaintance of composer Franz Joseph Haydn.
The two became close friends and the older composer’s music had a profound influence on Mozart. Between 1782 and 1785, Mozart composed a series of six string quartets which he dedicated to Haydn. From 1784, Mozart took advantage of playing the Lenten Season concerts, from which he could make the public more aware of his new work. Although his financial problems were very apparent, the Vienna Court Composer Antonio Salieri, who was more popular than Mozart in his day, schemed against Mozart by stopping him from getting a coveted court position.
In 1785, Mozart started work on his new opera The Marriage of Figaro with Lorenzo da Ponte providing the words. It was first performed 1786, after it was delayed by Salieri.
Just before Mozart finished his new opera, Don Giovanni (1787) his father Leopold died. The opera went ahead and was a big success in Prague, where it was premiered. Unfortunately, it went down less well in Vienna, where Mozart was beginning to become less fashionable among the fickle Vienna public.
Mozart was especially productive in his last four years, churning out one masterpiece after another. Examples include Horn Concertos 1, 3 and 4, Clarinet Concerto and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik