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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


Born in Salzburg on 27 January 1756, Mozart’s full name was Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Gottlieb Mozart. His father, Leopold, was a composer and violinist, working mainly as concertmaster at the archiepiscopal court and the Salzburg court. Mozart displayed an aptitude for music at a very early age, writing his first sonata at age four, his first symphony at eight, and his first opera (La Finta Semplice) at twelve. His father took advantage of his musical talents, setting out on a tour of France and England and visiting numerous courts in both countries. The young and precocious Mozart amazed audiences with his immense talent and his showmanship, as well as with his behaviour. Haydn called him “the greatest composer known to me in person or by name; he has taste, and what is more, the greatest knowledge of composition.” Although he is best known for his operas, symphonies, and works for piano, Mozart contributed much to the body of wind literature. Perhaps the three most important works in this vein are his Serenades Nos. 10, 11, and 12, K.361/370a, K. 375, and K.388/384a, respectively.

Mozart died in Vienna on 5 December 1791 of rheumatic fever. Despite persistent rumours to the contrary, Mozart was not poisoned, and the Italian composer Salieri certainly had nothing to do with his death. Mozart was never a healthy individual, and he had suffered from rheumatic fever most of his life. He was buried in a wooden coffin along with four or five other people in an unmarked grave. While much has been made of this, the fact is that it was Viennese law to bury people in this manner unless they were of noble or aristocratic birth. Later on a memorial was erected for him, but in reality this memorial does not sit atop the site where Mozart was buried, because unfortunately, that spot is unknown.

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