Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in the year of 1756 in the town of Salzburg, a region of Europe which is now Austria. In reading about these early composers one could look at Mozart’s early life and see the advantages he had right from the start. While you read about some composers constantly having to fight through poverty, failing personal health, difficult family issues, alcohol addiction and struggling through obscurity to make a name for themselves, Mozart suffered from none of these set backs. Sure he had some issues here and there and his life definitely wasn’t a cakewalk but compared to many others from his era he had it pretty good. Right from birth Mozart had a leg up on his contemporaries. Not only did he come from a musical family but his father was a accomplished music teacher, his dad even had published books on methods for teaching children. Other composers you read about focused on a single instrument as a child and grew from there, maybe they would start composing in their teens or twenties, not Mozart, he started composing when was just five. Through the course of his life he would compose over six hundred classical works quite a few of which can still be heard today.

Starting at the age of six Mozart’s father, Leopold, began a series of tours taking him and his older sister Nannerl around Europe to perform as child prodigies. These tours would last over a decade and functioned as more then just a substantial income for the Mozart’s. The tours also allowed Leopold to shop his son around to any prospective nobleman who would potentially be interested in adding Mozart to their court. Unfortunately for Leopold nothing panned out. The best Leopold could do for Mozart was get him a spot on the royal court of the ruler of Salzburg. While the position in Salzburg was sufficient to keep Mozart employed the role didn’t satiate his need for a fresh environment. Mozart yearned to play in a wide variety of venues and compose types of music not popular in Salzburg, such as operas.

Another fun fact is that during his initial family travels Mozart went to Rome. While in Rome he observed Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere being played at the Sistine Chapel. This song was a highly coveted and property of the church, no copies of it had been permitted for distribution. However all it took was a single listen and Mozart was able to transcribe it to sheet music, note for note. His was one of the first illegal copies of the song to be distributed. I wonder if the RIAA should get in touch with his decedents, maybe they can collect interest too.

In 1777 Mozart left Salzburg on a journey that would have him searching for steady work in all of the major music cities of Europe. Eventually four years later he would settle down in Vienna, a city many other classical composers called home, such as Haydn and Beethoven. Mozart took Vienna by storm, his compositions and performances were acclaimed by the highest of social stature. To quote Haydn, while speaking to Mozart’s father, “I tell you before God, and as an honest man, your son is the greatest composer known to me by person and repute, he has taste and what is more the greatest skill in composition.”. Now that is a pretty serious endorsement if you ask me, especially coming from Haydn whom shares the spotlight with Mozart as being one of the most influential composers of all time.

Mozart was a fan of potty humor, who would have thought? In fact one of his canons is titled “Leck mich im Arsch” or “Lick me in the arse”. It really cracks me up to think of someone of his caliber, a musical visionary, whose music would score upper class events for centuries, indeed was a fan perhaps the lowest grade of humor by enjoying a good fart joke. It’s facts like these that remind me that these classical composers were real people. While I find the music fascinating it’s hard to imagine a actual human sitting there with a quill and righting it note for note. Little tid-bits like this that make me like his music even more.

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