Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria on January 27, 1756 to Leopold Mozart and Anna Maria Pertl. Leopold was a successful composer, violinist and assistant concertmaster at the Salzburg court. Wolfgang began composing minuets at the age of 5 and symphonies at 9. When he was 6, he and his older sister, Maria Anna (“Nannerl”), performed a series of concerts for European royal courts in major European cities. Both children played the keyboard, but Wolfgang became a violin virtuoso as well.
From 1762-66, the Mozart children toured Europe and played for the courts in Vienna and Versailles as well as audiences in Paris and London. As if this was not enough, young Mozart also began publishing his first works in 1764 – pretty good for an 8 year old. His first opera, MITRIDATE, RE DI PONTO, was commissioned in 1770 at the ripe old age of 14. After touring France with his mother, Mozart returned to Salzburg as a court organist and continued to add to his already prodigious composition catalog.
When the Emperor commissioned Mozart to write an opera in1782, Mozart was 26 years old, living in Vienna with long-time family friends, The Webers. Mozart eventually married Constanze Weber, who coincidently, shares the name of the heroin in THE ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO.
Based on the libretto of the operetta Belmont and Constanze by Christoph Bretzner, Mozart reworked the material with his own librettist, Gottfried Stephanie. They incorporated the use of singspiel (where spoken dialogue is included between the vocal selections) as well as including a speaking only character in the Pasha Selim.
THE ABDUCTION FROM THE SERALGIO premiered on July, 16 1782 in Vienna. The work was a pinnacle point in Mozart’s career, and is considered the first of many masterpieces.
Within ABDUCTION, Mozart demonstrates his particular use of symmetry within his writing structure. He combines this balanced form with the great emotional depth of the characters. These elements enable a highly entertaining execution of the story line through solo voice, his beloved ensembles and orchestration choices.
His success would garnered further attention of Emperor Joseph II, who hired him as his court composer. Four years later, THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO (1786) was the first of his collaborations with Lorenzo da Ponte (followed by DON GIOVANNI and COSÌ FAN TUTTE).
Wolfgang’s fame began to disappear after FIGARO. A fellow Freemason, Michael Puchberg, provided financial assistance to Mozart as he sank into debt. Mozarts’ finances continued to plague him throughout the completion of his last three symphonies (E flat, G minor and Jupiter in C), which he completed in less than 7 weeks during the summer of 1788.
Wolfgang died on December 5, 1791. There has been much speculation about the circumstances and causes of his death. Mozart was buried in an unmarked grave at the cemetery of Saint Marx, a Viennese suburb.
Wolfgang excelled in every form he composed. Along with Haydn, Mozart perfected the grand forms of symphony, opera, chamber music, and concertos that marked the classical period in music. In his operas, Mozart’s uncanny psychological insight is unique in musical history and his music influenced the next generation of composers, most notably Ludwig von Beethoven. To this day, Mozart’s compositions continue to exert a particular fascination for musicians and music lovers alike.