Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Born on January 27, 1756, in Salzburg, Austria, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a musician capable of playing multiple instruments who started playing in public at the age of 6. Over the years, Mozart aligned himself with a variety of European venues and patrons, composing hundreds of works that included sonatas, symphonies, masses, concertos and operas, marked by vivid emotion and sophisticated textures. The boy’s early talent for music was remarkable. At three he was picking out chords on the harpsichord, at four playing short pieces, at five composing.

There are anecdotes about his precise memory of pitch, about his scribbling a concerto at the age of five, and about his gentleness and sensitivity. Just before he was six, his father took him and Nannerl, also highly talented, to Munich to play at the Bavarian court, and a few months later they went to Vienna and were heard at the imperial court and in noble houses. Yet through his mismanagement of money (and as a successful composer of operas and a reknowned piano virtuoso, he made a great deal), and the documented incidences of his tactless, impulsive, and at times childish behavior in an era of powdered wigs and courtly manners, Mozart seemed to find it difficult to make a successful living

By 1790 he was writing letters to friends, describing himself and his family. He and Constanze had six children, only two of which survived, in desperate circumstances and begging for money. He was also by this time seriously ill, and had been intermittently for some time, with what was most likely disease of the kidneys. With the success of The Magic Flute and a newly granted yearly stipend, Mozart was just beginning to become financially stable when his illness brought an end to his life and career at the age of thirty-six. He was buried, like most Viennese in those days by the decree of Emperor Joseph, in a common grave, the exact location of which remains unknown.