Born in 1756 in the city of Salzburg, Bavaria, to Leopold and Anna Maria Pertl Mozart, his father was one of the leading musical teachers of the day who had written a textbook on the fundamentals of violin playing. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart revealed a talent for music at the tender age of three, and was given intensive musical training from his father in clavier, violin and organ. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his father traveled extensively throughout Europe during his formative years (between 1762-1768) and a concert tour of three and one half years took him to Munich, Paris, Prague and London. In 1778, accompanied by his mother who later died in Paris, he commenced another European tour.
During these trips Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart met and became acquainted with the works of other great composers. He was befriended and greatly influenced musically by Johann Christian Bach , whom he met in London in 1764-1765. All sounds, even non-musical ones, fascinated Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He was so taken with the sounds created by Benjamin Franklin’s glass harmonica that he composed music for it.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart visited Vienna in 1781 and chose to settle and develop his career there after the upper crust took an interest in his talent. In August of 1782, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart married Constanze Weber against his father’s wishes. The couple had six children although only two survived infancy. This year was a good one for the composer’s career, as his opera “The Abduction From The Seraglio” was a tremendous success. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart also performed his own piano concertos as both conductor and soloist.
He soon made the acquaintance of Joseph Haydn and the two men became friends. Between 1782-1785, his piano concertos were considered to be his greatest achievement, but after 1785, for whatever reason, he began to perform less and was much less prolific in his writings. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart became a Catholic Freemason in 1784 and was greatly influenced by the philosophy of “The Enlightenment.”
Final Illness and Death
There are so many theories about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s last days and death that the truth is difficult to establish. Whether he was aware of his declining health or in good cheer until the end is uncertain, as is the actual cause of his death. Dozens of theories abound including trichinosis, mercury poisoning and rheumatic fever. Mozart’s last words spoken on December 5, 1791 in Vienna were, “the taste of death is on my lips…I feel something not of this earth.”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was neither penniless nor forgotten when he died as one enduring legend asserts. Although his popularity had declined in Vienna, he still received commissions from other parts of Europe, most notably Prague. He often begged for money because he was known to be extravagant and usually lived beyond his means.
In 1809, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s widow, Constanze, married a Danish diplomat named Georg Nikolaus von Nissen. He was an ardent fan of the late composer and wrote a biography after editing and deleting “unfavorable passages” from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s personal writings.