Amadeus Mozart

Mozart was born in 1756 in Salzburg, Austria. His father, Leopold was a musician and minor composer in the court of the Archbishop of Salzburg. Mozart actually learned how to write musical notes before he learned how to write words. It only took roughly thirty minutes for Mozart to learn the first musical composition he played on January 24th, 1761. He was not even fiver years old yet. He also later became very interested in mathematics.

Arguably the most creative musical genius of all time, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart holds an unassailable position in the repertoires of concert musicians throughout the world. A prodigy who could play at age three and was beginning to compose by age five, Mozart performed in all the major courts of Europe before he was ten years old. As an adult, Mozart wrote and performed works in every major genre of classical music—concertos, symphonies, operas, string quartets, and sonatas. Mozart the man continues to be a subject of fascination because he has been presented in popular media as the “unappreciated genius” of his time, a perception that is not quite true.

Mozart write his first opera, Mitredate Re di Ponto, in 1770 when he was only 14 years old. He had actually written a few earlier operas, but they were performed only in the Archbishop's court in Salzburg. Over his career, Mozart wrote 17 operas. The most famous include The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, and Don Giovanni. Mozart's more than 600 works include 41 symphonies, of which Eine Kleine Nachtmusic is probably the most well-known. On April 4th, 1787, a 16 year-old Ludwig van Beethoven arrived in Vienna to get two weeks worth of musical lessons from Mozart.

Mozart married Constanze Weber in 1782 at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. He had first proposed to Constanze's older sister, who had rejected his suit. In spite of this earlier proposal and financial difficulties, their marriage was a happy one until Mozart's death in 1791 at the age of 35. While in Paris, Mozart was hired to perform for King Louis XV and Queen Maria Leszczynska. He and his family were even allowed to eat beside the King and Queen at their dinner table.

Much of the present fascination with the personal life of Mozart was generated by the film Amadeus. However, a good deal of the film’s story, including the rivalry between Mozart and Antonio Salieri, is fictionalized. Mozart most likely died of kidney failure, not of poisoning. Further, while Mozart did suffer occasional cash flow problems because of slow paying patrons, he actually made a rather large amount of money for a musician. He was buried in a common grave with little fanfare, but not because of poverty: it was the usual burial practice for all but the wealthiest members of society in Mozart’s time and place.

Mozart fell ill while in Prague for the premiere on September 6 of his opera La clemenza di Tito, written in 1791 on commission for the Emperor's coronation festivities. He was able to continue his professional functions for some time, and conducted the premiere of The Magic Flute on September 30. The illness intensified on November 20, at which point Mozart became bedridden, suffering from swelling, pain, and vomiting. 

Mozart was nursed in his final illness by Constanze and her youngest sister Sophie, and attended by the family doctor, Thomas Franz Closset. We have lucid proof that he was mentally occupied with the task of finishing his Requiem. However, the evidence that he actually dictated passages to his student Sussmayr is highly doubtful. 

Mozart died at 1 a.m. on December 5, 1791 at the age of 35. The cause of Mozart's death cannot be known with certainty. The official record has it as "severe fever", referring to a rash that looks like millet seeds, a description that does not suffice to identify the cause as it would be diagnosed in modern medicine. The most widely accepted hypothesis is that Mozart died of acute rheumatic fever. Mozart's sparse funeral did not reflect his standing with the public as a composer: memorial services and concerts in Vienna and Prague were well attended. Indeed, in the period immediately after his death, Mozart's reputation rose substantially. There was an unprecedented wave of enthusiasm. His brilliance was now truly being realized without any animosity. Biographies were written, publishers vied to produce complete editions of his work and so therefore his name began to grow into eternity. 

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