Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Biography

A portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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On November 14, 1719, Mozart's father, Leopold, was born. Leopold attended Salzburg Benedictine University and studied philosophy, but later he was expelled due to poor attendance. Leopold, however, became proficient in violin and organ. He married Anna Maria Pertl on November 21, 1747. Of the seven children they had, only two survived Maria Anna (1751) and Wolfgang Amadeus (1756).

A Prodigy

When Wolfgang was four (as noted by his father in his sister's music book), he was playing the same pieces as his sister. At the age of five, he wrote a miniature andante and allegro (K. 1a and 1b). In 1762, Leopold took the young Mozart and Maria Anna on tour throughout Vienna performing for nobles and ambassadors. Later in 1763, they began a three-and-a-half year tour throughout Germany, France, England, Switzerland, and other countries.

Becoming a Composer

Amid the many tours, Mozart wrote music for a number of occasions. In 1770, Mozart (only 14) was commissioned to write an opera (Mitridate, re di Ponto) by that December. He began work on the opera in October, and by December 26, after eight rehearsals, the show was performed. The show, which included several ballets from other composers, lasted six hours. Too much of Leopold's surprise, the opera was a huge success and was performed 22 more times.

In 1777, Mozart left Salzburg with his mother to search for a higher paying job. His travels lead him to Paris, where, unfortunately, his mother became deathly ill. Mozart's efforts to find a better job were unfruitful. He returned home two years later and continued working in the court as an organist with accompanying duties rather than a violinist. Mozart was offered an increase in salary and generous leave.

After the successful premiere of the opera Idomenée in Munich in 1781, Mozart returned to Salzburg. Wanting to be released from his job as court organist, Mozart met with the archbishop. In March of 1781, Mozart was finally released from his duties and began working freelance. A year later, Mozart gave his first public concert consisting entirely of his own compositions.

Mozart's Late Adult Years

Mozart married Constanze Weber in July of 1782, despite his father's constant disapproval. As Mozart's compositions flourished, his debts did too; money always seemed a bit tight for him. In 1787, Mozart's father died. Mozart was deeply affected by the passing of his father, which can be seen in a lull in new compositions. Less than four years later, Mozart died of miliary fever in 1791.


January 27, 1756 - Salzburg


December 5, 1791 - Vienna

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Quick Facts

  • Of the 41 symphonies that Mozart wrote, only two are in a minor key, both of which are in g minor (Symphony 25 & 40).
  • Mozart's music was often criticized as being too complex and "having too many notes."
  • Mozart was known to take familiar musical lines from one piece of music and insert them into another piece of music.

Symphonic Works

  • Symphony No. 25, K. 183 - g minor - 1773
  • Symphony No. 35 Haffner, K. 385 - D Major - 1782
  • Symphony No. 36 Linz, K. 425 - C Major - 1783
  • Symphony No. 38 Prague, K. 504 - D Major - 1786
  • Symphony No. 39, K. 543 - E flat Major - 1788
  • Symphony No. 40, K. 550 - g minor - 1788
  • Symphony No. 41 Jupiter, K. 551 - C Major - 1788