Famous Family History Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Parents

About the family of famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, history of his father and mother.


(1756-1791), Austrian composer

His Roots: Mozart's paternal ancestors were bookbinders in Augsburg. His father, Leopold Mozart (1719-1787), departed from the family craft to study music at Salzburg University. He became a violinist in the court chapel and vice-Kapellmeister in 1763, a position which required him to compose church music. His prolific output included oratorios, concertos, and theatrical pieces; and his Treatise on the Fundamental Problems of Violin Playing established him as one of the foremost violin teachers of the century. His chamber music that is still performed has an innocuous charm.

Leopold Mozart's greatest influence, however, was as impresario during his prodigy-son's career. Genuinely awed by Wolfgang's genius, Leopold sought to guide its development. Wolfgang was seven when Leopold took him and his sister on their first European concert tour. In Salzburg Leopold continued to instruct his son in composition and counterpoint. Even after reaching adulthood, Wolfgang received frequent long letters from his father. Leopold pored over maps and itineraries of his son's travels, and his fatherly admonitions and advice followed Wolfgang across Europe:

"You must have something more serious in your head than nonsense; you must take the trouble to think beforehand...otherwise you will find yourself in a mess, without money--and where there is no money there is no friend left...

"My son, reflect and listen to your reason! Consider whether you are not dealing more hardly with me than our prince himself....You can be the death of me, he can only make me ill....My dear Wolfgang, you convince me in all your letters that you go by the first wild idea that enters your head....God has given you a wonderful understanding...try to understand yourself, my dear Wolfgang; you will find a little too much arrogance and self-love...you make yourself too quickly familiar and open your heart to everybody...."

Wolfgang's attitude was contained in a 1778 letter to Leopold:"I put my trust in three friends: namely, God, your head, and my head. Our heads are naturally different but each very good of its kind...and with time I hope that my head will approach nearer to yours in the things in which yours is best."

Wolfgang apparently inherited his good nature and lively disposition from his mother. Anna Maria Pertl (1720-1778), daughter of an official from St. Gilgen, had a more tolerant and humorous, though less intellectual, bent than Leopold. She bore seven children, of whom only Maria Anna, nicknamed Nannerl (1751-1829), and Wolfgang survived to adulthood. She loved music, was interested in politics, and accompanied Wolfgang on several tours. During a stay with him in Paris, she fell ill and died. Wolfgang wrote to his grieving father in Salzburg, "Never...had I seen anyone die--and the first time it must be my mother..."

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