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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was baptized in Salzburg Cathedral on the day after his
birth as Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus. The first and last given
names come from his godfather Joannes Theophilus Pergmayr, although Mozart
preferred the Latin form of this last name, Amadeus, more often Amade, or the
Italiano Amadeo. Whatever the case may be, he rarely-if ever-used Theophilus in
his signature. The name Chrysostomus originates from St. John Chrysostom, whose
feast falls on the 27th of January. The name Wolfgang was given to him in honor
of his maternal grandfather, Wolfgang Nikolaus Pertl. He was the seventh and
last child born to musical author, composer and violinist, Leopold Mozart and
his wife Anna Maria Pertl. Only Wolfgang and Maria Anna (whose nickname was Nannerl)
survived infancy. He was born in a house in the Hagenauersches Haus in Salzburg,
Austria, on the 27th of January, 1756. The paternal ancestry of the family has
been traced back with some degree of certainty to Fndris Motzhart, who lived in
the Augsburg area in 1486; the name is first recorded, for a Heinrich Motxhart
in Fischach, in 1331, and appears in other villages south-west of Augsburg,
notably Heimberg, from 14th century. The surname was spelled in variety of
forms, including Moxarth, Mozhrd and Mozer. His mothers family came mainly
from the Salzburg region, but one branch may be traced to Krems-Stein and Wien.

They mostly followed lower middle-class occupations; some were gardeners. 2
Though Mozart did not walk until he was three years old, he displayed musical
gifts at extremely early age. At the age of four, he could reproduce on the
piano a melody played to him; at five, he could play violin with perfect
intonation. According to Norbert Elias, it took all of thirty minutes for Mozart
to master his first musical composition. The work , a scherzo by Georg Christoph
Wagenseiil, had been copied by his father into Nannerls notebook. Below it
Leopold jotted: “This piece was learned by Walfgangerl on 24 January 1791, 3
days before his 5th birthday, between 9 and 9:30 in the evening”. (68) Mozart
and his sister never attended school because their father dedicatedly and
instructed them at home. Besides music, he taught them German, Italian, Latin,
history science, mathematics and law. According to Ruth Halliwell, recognizing
his childrens special abilities, Leopold began to devote extra effort to
their education-with an emphasis on musical instruction. He became a loving, but
exacting, taskmaster. Some time later, he would somewhat ruefully describe to
correspondent how from a very early age Nannerl and Wolfgang had learned to wear
the “iron shirt” of discipline. The children themselves probably never
relaxed that life could be any different. Wolfgang, no doubt, enjoyed the extra
attention and found great pleasure in learning-and in pleasing his father. It
was the start of relationship that he would never quite break free of, and the
beginning of a career that would consume him altogether.(38} When the
six-year-old Wolfgang had provided his extraordinary talents at the keyboard,
Leopold was keen to exhibit those talents along with those of his gifted
pianists daughter, Nannerl. Thus Leopold undertook a four month tour to
Vienna and the 3 surrounding area, visiting every noble house and palace he
could find, taking the entire family with him. Mozarts first know public
appearance was at Salzburg University in September of 1761, when he took part in
theatrical performance with music by Eberlin. Like other parents of this time,
Leopold Mozart saw nothing wrong in exhibiting, or in exploiting, his sons
God-given genius for music. He took Walfgang and Nannerl to Munchen, for about
three weeks from January 12th, 1762, where they played the harpsichord before
the Elector of Bavaria. No documentation survived for that journey. Later ones
are better served-Leopold was a prolific correspondent and also kept travel
diaries. The next started on September 18th, 1762, when the entire family set
off for Wein; they paused at Passau and Linz where the young Wolfgang gave his
firs public recital at The Trinity Inn, Linz, on October 1st, 1762. Soon
afterwards, he amazed the Empress at Schonbrunn Castel and all her royal guests
with fascinating keyboard tricks; playing with the keys covered with a cloth,
with his hands behind his back, and so on. (Anderson 120). There is also one
funny statistic about Mozart , while in Vienna age the age of six, Mozart
appeared before the Empress Theresa. When he slipped on the floor, the
empresss daughter Marie Antoinette, who was only two month older then Mozart,
helped him up, whereupon he immediately proposed to marry her. She apparently
waited for better offer. As young Mozarts reputation grew, his father
realized the financial opportunities then could arise from increased exposure of
his sons talents. From than time on, Wolfgang and his sister spent much of
their childhood traveling through Europe. The 4 rulers of Europe and England
were astounded by Wolfgangs abilities of composition, improvisations, and
sight reading. During a large European concert tour (1763-66) the Mozart
children displayed their talents to audiences in Germany, in Paris, at court in
Versailles, and in London (where Wolfgang wrote his first symphonies and was
befriend by Johann Christian Bach, whose musical influence on Wolfgang was
profound). In Paris, Wolfgang published his first works, four sonatas for
clavier with accompanying violin (1764). In 1768 he composed his first opera, La
finta semplice, for Vienna, but intrigues prevented its performance, and it was
first presented a year later at Salzburg. Toward the close of 1769, the Mozarts
made their first journey to Italy by horse carriage, a journey crowned with
glory and partly financed by Prince Archbishop of Salzburg. In Mantua, they
attended a concert of the Philharmonic orchestra, which performed a few of
Wolfgangs compositions in his honor. In Milano, Wolfgang was commissioned to
compose an opera seria for the following year. Their next stop, Bologna brought
Mozart into contact with the great Martini, who welcomed the young genius with
open arms of admiration and respect. Martini gave the young boy lessons in
counterpoint and he also becomes a member of the Society Academia Philharmonic.

In Roma, there took place that phenomenal proof of Mozarts genius, which has
frequently been quoted. Young Mozart attended a performance of the celebrated
Miserere of Allegri, which could be heard only in Roma during Holy Week
performed by the papal choir. By papal decree it was forbidden to sing the work
elsewhere, and its only existing copy was guarded slavishly by the papal choir.

Any attempt to copy the song or reproduce it in any form 5 was punishable by
excommunication. Mozart, however, had heard the work only ones when, returning
home, he reproduced it in its entirety upon paper (this pies is long and
extremely complex, with double-orchestra, organ and conflicting choral parts.)
No one has ever been able to dream of duplicating this feat, even on a much
smaller scale. This incomparable feat soon became the subject of awed whispers
in Roma. The Pope summoned Mozart, but instead of punishing the young genius, he
showed praise upon him and gave him handsome gift. A few months later, Pope
Clemens XIV bestowed upon Mozart the Cross of the Order of the Golden Spur.

Although he achieved much fame and even become honorary conductor in Verona, his
fathers efforts for employment in Italy fail. (Schenk 189). Also, during his
tour in Italy Mozart met an English boy Thomas Linley, they were much alike and
felt like brothers. Thomas too was prodigy, whose father manage his and his
older sisters music career. Thomas and Walfgang become very closed. They were
very famous in Italy and called “The young Geniuses of the Age”. Thomas
played the violin so brilliant that Wolfgang often dreamed of them touring
together as adults. Tragically, Wolfgangs friend drowned in a boating
accident when he was only fourteen years old. After returning home for a short
stay, Mozart were back in Italy to fulfill his commission for Milano and bring
to complete his opera seria, Mitridate, re di Ponte. At the performance of
Mitridate, re di Ponte on Christmas day of 1770, the work was a phenomenal
success. According to Otto Erich Deutsch, one of the soprano arias, contrary to
all precedent, was encored. Cheers greeted the diminutive composer as he reached
the 6 stage. The newspapers commented upon then “rarest musical grace” and
that “studied beauty” which seemed to be Wolfgangs intuitive idiom. (44).

Except for two brief intermissions, Mozart remained in Salzburg whose limited
intellectual world chafed him considerably. The political and social changes
resulting from the installation of the new Archbishop of Salzburg forced Mozart
to lead a highly restricted life, which in turn generated friction between the
young compositor and the strict Archbishop. Moreover, his musical labor at the
Court of the Archbishop was an endless humiliation. He was the principal
composer and virtuoso at the Court, but his salary was so meager and his work so
unappreciated that each day was a test of his patience and willingness to
tolerate insult. His fellow musicians at the Court were dissolute scoundrels,
whose musical tastes were vulgar and whose interests centered upon gambling and
drink. Mozart traveled for third time to Italy, mainly because of the premier of
the opera “Lucio Silla” in Milan. During the carnival of 1773 the work was
performed a staggering 26 times. After this the family returned to Vienna, as
the Mozart still could not obtain a secure position at court. Disappointed and
downtrodden, the Mozart return home to Salzburg, where he wrote countless
symphonies, serenades, divertimento, five concertos for violin, “II Re
pastor”, as well as part of “Idomeneo”. (Zaslaw 281) In the fall of 1774
Mozart composed the opera buffa “La finita giardiniera”. The work was
premiered in Munich on January 13, 1775 under Mozarts baton: however, there
were only two more performances. It was, therefore, with a yearning heart that 7
Wolfgang dream of escaping from Salzburg. A new extensive tour was planned for
Mozart in 1776, but the music world was this time not so easily conquered by
Mozart. He was now twenty years old-child prodigy no longer. The music world had
in the past lavished its adoration upon a little pug-nosed child who could
achieve miraculous musical feast and dazzle them with specially crafted parlor
ticket. Now that child had entered manhood, he had lost his great apparel.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was one of the greatest composers the world has ever
see. Mozart is much in evidence today. His music is heard in TV commercials and
he has entered our pop mythology as the crass innocent of Peter Schaeffers
Amadeus. His music is reputed to make one smarter.

Anderson, Emily, ed. The Letters of Mozart and His Family. New York, 1985
Deutsch, Otto Erich. Mozart: A Documentary Biography. Stanford, 1965 Elias,
Norbert. Mozart: Portrait of a Genius. Berkeley, 1993 Halliwell, Ruth. The
Mozart Family: Four Lives in a Social Context. Oxford, 1998 Schenk, Erich.

Mozart and His Times. New York, 1959 Zaslaw, Neal. Mozarts Symphonies.

Oxford, 1989