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 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.
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, travelling through Mannheim to Paris. But in July 1778 his mother died. Nor was the trip a professional success: no longer able to pass for a prodigy, Mozart's reception there was muted and hopes of a job came nothing. Back in Salzburg Mozart worked for two years as a church...