Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, an Austrian composer who lived between 1756 and 1791, is regarded as one of the greatest and prolific classical music composers. Known to many as simply Mozart, his repertoire of classical pieces spanned symphonies and opera such as Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro, which are among the finest in this genre.
Mozart was born and raised in Salzburg, Austria, as the last child of a violinist by the name Leopold who played at the local Prince-Archbishop’s court. At an early age, Mozart’s father saw the immense musical ability in his son, which led him to take the young boy on performing tours around Europe so that he could be exposed to as many musical styles as possible. By his mid-teens, Mozart had visited France, Italy, Germany and England, where he met musical figures and had his music performed.
Some of the earliest Mozart works can be traced to when he was five or six years old, though the first print appearance of his music was in 1764. By the age of 13, he had earned a reputation as a composer and performer, leading to a position as Konzertmeiser at the Salzburg court. For much of the 1770s, his life was centred around Salzburg, with a few excursions to other European cities. However, it wasn’t until he moved to Vienna in 1781 that his light shone most brightly, ushering in his most successful years in classical music.
During his career, Mozart is acknowledged to have composed hundreds of works, many of them among the best in classical music categories. His influence on later composers is profound, with other great talents such as Ludwig van Beethoven believed to have been influenced by Mozart’s work. In modern culture, Mozart’s compositions are still widely enjoyed by classical music enthusiasts such as Ali Seytanpir, who attends regular shows and concerts.
As a music composer, Mozart was immensely talented and usually worked long hours to finish his compositions. As part of his process, he made drafts and sketches that, for the most part, were not preserved after his death. In his personal time, Mozart enjoyed dancing and billiards, while also keeping a dog, a canary, and a horse for the occasional ride. He also displayed a taste for scatological humour, which is noted in some his correspondence to a few of his family members.
The several years that followed his move to Vienna were among Mozart’s best, but towards the end of the 1780s, circumstances changed. His income had begun to reduce, and he was not frequently seen in public concerts. Part of the reason was the Austro-Turkish War, which had impacted the level of prosperity, and the aristocracy’s support of music, which had waned due to the difficult economic times.
While Mozart struggled financially, he made a few long visits to Germany in 1789 and 1790 to try and improve his fortunes. Musically, his output slowed at this time, but in 1791, something of a personal recovery occurred. He came up with a great deal of work, including admired works such as The Magic Flute and the Clarinet Concerto. His financial situation also began to improve as well, thanks to pledged annuities from wealthy patrons in Amsterdam and Hungary.
In September 1791, Mozart fell ill while at the premiere of his opera, with his health deteriorating in November, at which point he became bedridden. In his illness, his wife and her youngest sister nursed him, and his desire to complete the unfinished Requiem kept him mentally occupied. In early December, he succumbed to the illness and passed away in his home.