Musician, traveller, genius - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
By Irmgard Schmidmaier Jan 27, 2006, 18:31 GMT
The statue of famous composer is seen in front of the flagged \'Sazburg Museum\' on Wednesday, 25 January 2006. Salzburg is celebrating these days the most famous son of the city, who was born here on 27 of January 1756. EPA/Roland Schlager
Vienna - He was a musician, a constant traveller, a musical genius; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born in Salzburg in 1756, took the hearts of rococo society by storm as a wunderkind.
He was a guest of royal families throughout Europe, rose to become a celebrated composer, outclassed his rivals and was ahead of his time. Today he is honoured as the central figure of Viennese Classicism and as one of the most famous composers of all time.
His operas dominate the programmes of international stages. On his 250th birthday his work, consisting of over 600 compositions, is more prominent than ever.
Mozart himself never used the great name that the world knows him by. Born in Salzburg on January 27 as the second surviving child of the musician Leopold Mozart and his wife Anna Maria, he was baptised with the name Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus. He called himself Wolfgang Amade, and Amadeo, but never Amadeus.
He was taught the piano from an early age by his father, who was a musician in the service of the Prince Archbishop. He taught himself the violin and started composing at the age of five.
At the age of only six Wolfgang, with his sister Anna Maria, five years older and known as 'Nannerl', was taken on the first concert tour of Europe by their father and gained his reputation as a wunderkind.
At the Imperial court in Vienna, little Mozart jumped onto the lap of Empress Maria Theresa and, as his father recorded, 'gave her a proper kiss.'
Mozart quickly won the hearts of princes and audiences from Munich and Mannheim to London, Paris and Rome on these journeys. At the same time the extraordinarily talented child composed court music, concertos as well as church music and even drafted his first opera.
At 14 the young Mozart had a big hit in Milan with his opera 'Mitridate'. From 1773 he worked as a concertmaster at the court of the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg, Colloredo. Mozart composed church music, symphonies and concertos, especially for piano and violin.
On a journey at this time he tried to find a position away from Salzburg, which he was increasingly finding provincial. During a trip to Paris in 1777 his mother died.
His huge success with the opera 'Idomeneo', which had its premiere in Munich, spurred him on to resign from his position in Salzburg. In 1781 Mozart moved to Vienna to live as a freelance artist and quickly enjoyed great success. His departure from Salzburg and his marriage to Constanze Weber were seen as snubs by his father and risked breaking their relationship.
In Vienna he matched the taste of the aristocracy and won the favour of Emperor Joseph II, who promoted the German Singspiel opera tradition in contrast to Italian opera buffa.
Mozart's 'Die Entfuehrung aus dem Serail', which had its premiere in 1782, was a decisive victory in this struggle. The concertos of the popular composer were also subject to more and more interest from an increasingly broad audience. From 1785 Mozart concentrated more on opera, his own real passion.
The famous operas, 'The Marriage of Figaro', 'Don Giovanni' and 'Cosi fan tutte', with Librettos by Lorenzo da Ponte, were all created by 1790. Reactions varied. Mozart was triumphant in Prague, and also in Vienna at first, but then suddenly the ground fell from beneath his feet.
Commissions became rarer. Although he sometimes earned a lot of money, Mozart, who had a weakness for gambling, never learned to deal with money. The little family - of six children only two sons survived - sometimes had numerous servants, but was often close to poverty.
Around 1790 Mozart's situation improved. His German opera 'The Magic Flute' was loved by its audience. The new Emperor Leopold II, the successor of Mozart's long term patron Joseph II, commissioned him to write a new opera.
The dark piece, 'La Clemenza di Tito' was to be Mozart's last work for the stage. The composer died of a rheumatic fever while working on his Requiem on December 5, 1791.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur