Biography of Classical Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Part 1

About the famous classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, biography and history of the musician.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was one of the 1st of a long string of major composers who began as child prodigies. His father Leopold exploited the young musician's talents to the fullest. As soon as they were old enough, Leopold began showing off both Wolfgang and his sister Maria Anna in courts and castles over all of Europe. Wolfgang was only 6 when he played for the Austrian royalty at Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna. When Mozart was 8, King George III of England tested his abilities by playing all sorts of improvisational games with him. Whether or not this exploitation had any effect on the young Mozart is purely speculative; those who point to Wolfgang's early development as a composer applaud Leopold for developing the child so thoroughly and so early; those who condemn the father point to Wolfgang's early death, saying overwork ruined his health.

Composing began early; there were piano works and a symphony by 1764 when Mozart was only 8. Once the flow started, it never ceased. Nor did it vary either in quantity or quality. Mozart's early travels gave him exposure to the wide variety of music being composed in Europe, ranging from Italian operas to north German religious works to French orchestral pieces. The impressions he received were invaluable aids when he composed his later works.

As Mozart grew up, he continued both to travel and compose but the problem of making a living became an increasingly imperative one. In late 1768, he was appointed Konzertmeister to the Archbishop of Salzburg. The position brought prestige and freedom to travel, but not much money. In 1772, the archbishop died and his successor was not only unmusical but had no personal liking for Mozart. The young composer found himself eating with the servants and performing menial tasks. When he finally complained--in 1781--the archbishop had him ejected from the palace.

Mozart moved on to Vienna where he tried, not too successfully, to make a living as a performer and composer. Soon after reaching Vienna, he met Haydn and played for him. Haydn remarked to Mozart's father that the young Mozart was the greatest composer he had ever heard, and that he possessed a "most consummate knowledge of the art of composition." The 2 composers eventually became friends and met to play chamber music. The influence they had on each other was remarkable, for it was after these meetings that they both flowered as mature, classic-era composers.

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