1756 (Salzburg) – 1791 (Vienna)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756 as the seventh child of “Salzburg’s royal chamber musician” Leopold Mozart (1719 – 1787) and his wife, Anna Maria Walpurga née Pertl of St. Gilgen near Salzburg (1720 – 1778). At a very early age, the two surviving children, Maria Anna, known as “Nannerl” (1751-1829) and her younger brother Wolfgang, displayed an extraordinary musical talent.
Their father neglected his own musical work to devote himself to the education and exploitation of his children. On January 12, 1762 Leopold Mozart embarked on a journey with his family which he had planned with great circumspection and skill.
For Wolfgang a time of travelling began, a time of restlessness which was to fill almost a third of his short life. The journeys took him to the most magnificent royal courts of his time. He won great acclaim in Munich and Vienna. In the summer of 1763 the Mozarts set out on an extensive tour of western Euorpe, taking them to Germany, Belgium, France and London.
After interest in the child prodigy had subdued, the goal of the first journey to Italy was to learn the skills of music where music had originated and to obtain a commission to compose an opera. Wolfgang was very successful on this trip: he became a member of the Philharmonic Society Academia Filarmonica of Bologna and was awarded the Order of the Golden Spur by Pope Clemens XIV (1705/1769-1774). The performance of the first opera seria composed for Italy “Mitridate, Re di Ponto” (Mithridates, King of Pontus) K. 87, was received with great enthusiasm in Milan. The desperate attempts of the young musician and composer, who had been without a salary since 1769 and concert master of the Salzburg royal orchestra since 1772, to find a permanent post during subsequent journeys to Italy, Vienna and Munich were unsuccessful. The family moved to the house on Hannibal Square (now Makart Square 8, Mozart’s Residence/Mozart-Wohnhaus in the autumn of 1773, where he wrote countless symphonies, serenades, divertimenti, five concerts for violin and piano (“Lützow-Concert” K. 246, “Jeunehomme Concert” K.271), “Il Re pastore” K. 208 as well as parts of “Idomeneo” K. 366.
The political and social changes resulting from the installation of the new Archbishop of Salzburg in 1772 – Prince Archbishop Hieronymus Graf Colloredo (1732/1772-1803/1812) had put an enlightened ecclesiastic on the throne, forcing Mozart to lead a highly restricted life. This led to a prolonged conflict with his employer (Wolfgang had received the post of court organist in 1779 with an annual salary of 450 gulden) which caused a permanent rift with the Archbishop after the successful performance of “Idomeneo” in Munich at the beginning of June 1781. Mozart tried to establish himself as an independent composer in Vienna, which appeared to be “the best place in the world for his metier” and earned a living mostly by composing operas (“Die Entführung aus dem Serail” (The Abduction from the Seraglio) K. 384, “Der Schauspieldirektor” K. 486, “Le Nozze di Figaro” (The Marriage of Figaro) K. 492), as a piano virtuoso of his own compositions and as a teacher. On August 4, 1782 he married Constanze Weber (1762-1842) without his father’s blessing. She is criticized by posterity as being extravagant, unfeeling and extremely enterprising after the death of her husband.
Mozart and his wife travelled to Salzburg (1783) and twice to Prague in 1787 to attend the performance of “Le Nozze di Figaro” and the première of “Don Giovanni” K. 527. His last two successful operas were “La Clemenza di Tito” K. 621, which premièred in Prague on September 6, 1791 and “Zauberflöte” (Magic Flute) K. 620, at the Freihaustheater in Vienna. Mozart died in the house in Rauhensteingasse in which he had composed “Zauberflöte” and his unfinished “Requiem” K. 626 on December 5, 1791 at the age of 35 years of “heated miliary fever”.
Read about Mozart’s birthplace and Mozart’s Residence at “Salzburg Museums”
International Mozarteum Foundation
The Mozarteum Foundation Salzburg dealt with the life and work of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart since 1880. Through initiatives in its core fields – concerts, Mozart museums and research – the Foundation forges a link between preserving traditions and contemporary culture
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