Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in Austria, the son of Leopold, Kapellmeister to the Prince-Archbishop of
Salzburg. By the age of three he could play the piano, and he was composing by the time he was five; minuets from this period
show remarkable understanding of form. Mozart's elder sister Maria Anna (best known as Nannerl) was also a gifted keyboard
player, and in 1762 their father took the two prodigies on a short performing tour, of the courts at Vienna and Munich.
Encouraged by their reception, they embarked the next year on a longer tour, including two weeks at Versailles, where the
children enchanted Louis XV. In 1764 they arrived in London. Here Mozart wrote his first three symphonies, under the
influence of Johann Christian Bach, youngest son of Johann Sebastian, who lived in the city. After their return to Salzburg there
followed three trips to Italy between 1769 and 1773.
In Rome Mozart heard a performance of Allegri's Misere; the score of
this work was closely guarded, but Mozart managed to transcribe the music almost perfectly from memory. On Mozart's first
visit to Milan, his opera Mitridate, rÃÂ© di Ponto was successfully produced, followed on a subsequent visit by Lucia Silla. The
latter showed signs of the rich, full orchestration that characterizes his later operas.
A trip to Vienna in 1773 failed to produce the court appointment that both Mozart and his father wished for him, but did
introduce Mozart to the influence of Haydn, whose Sturm und Drang string quartets (Opus 20) had recently been published.
The influence is clear in Mozart's six string quartets, K168-173, and in his Symphony in G minor, K183. Another trip in search
of patronage ended less happily. Accompanied by his mother, Mozart left Salzburg in 1777,