Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1756 - 1791
Circa 1780, from an oil by Johann Nepomuk della Croce
Born: 27 January 1756, Salzburg, Archbishopric of Salzburg, Holy Roman Empire
Died: 5 December 1791, Vienna, Austria
His full baptismal name, Latinized of course, was Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. His father Leopold was deputy Kapellmeister at the court of the Archbishop of Salzburg at a time when Salzburg was an independent jurisdiction in the Holy Roman Empire. Mozart first composed piano pieces, still taught to beginning pianists, at age five, and traveled with his sister "Nannerl" to perform at age six. Wolfi and his father were very close, and Leopold soon realized he had been eclipsed and stopped composing himself, dedicating much of his life to promoting his son. From 1773 to 1777 Mozart was employed by the archbishop as a court musician and was very popular there. His operas and other compositions were gaining popularity around Europe so he went to Paris and several German cities, performing and composing some works by commission but not finding the employment he looked for. He returned to Salzburg and took a position at court, reluctantly, parted company with the archbishop and left for Vienna in 1781. He performed as a pianist and impressed the Emperor, and roomed with the Webers, a family he had known in Salzburg. He married their third daughter, Constanze. Shortly after this he first encountered the works of Bach and Händel and became close friends with Joseph Haydn, twenty-five years his senior and then the most celebrated composer in Europe. He dedicated six string quartets to Haydn. It was during this period that Mozart mounted concerts several times each season, the piano concerti he performed were hits but he and Constanze immediately established a lifestyle that required every pfennig. At the end of the 1780s the Mozarts moved to larger quarters further from town, he cut back on appearances and his income shrank. His letters from this period suggest depression and he sank into debt despite traveling extensively in search of income. His last year saw a great deal of new work, his finances began to improve, but he fell ill, suffering from swelling, pain, and vomiting, probably acute rheumatic fever. As depicted in Amadeus, he was buried in a mass grave and few were in attendance, but this does not mean he was no longer popular, it was merely the funerary custom of the day. Large, well-attended memorial services were held for him at Vienna and Prague.
Biography from Wikipedia
Additional quotes from Wikiquote. Wikiquote entries are "sourced" and may include items longer than those included here, particularly for poets, lyricists, and dramatists.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart quotes:
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- All I insist on, and nothing else, is that you should show the whole world that you are not afraid. Be silent, if you choose; but when it is necessary, speak; and speak in such a way that people will remember it. permalink
- As death, when we come to consider it closely, is the true goal of our existence, I have formed during the last few years such close relationships with this best and truest friend of mankind that death's image is not only no longer terrifying to me, but is indeed very soothing and consoling, and I thank my God for graciously granting me the opportunity ... of learning that death is the key which unlocks the door to our true happiness. permalink
Letter to Leopold Mozart (4 April 1787)
- I have long had the taste of death on my tongue, I smell death, and who will stand by my Constanze, if you do not stay? permalink
Spoken on his deathbed to his sister-in-law, Sophie Weber (5 December 1791)
- I must give you a piece of intelligence that you perhaps already know, namely that the ungodly arch-villain Voltaire has died miserably like a dog, just like a brute. That is his reward! permalink
Letter to Leopold Mozart (3 July 1778)
- I never lie down at night without reflecting that, young as I am, I may not live to see another day. permalink
Letter to Leopold Mozart (4 April 1787)
- I pay no attention whatever to anybody's praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings. permalink
- I write as a sow piddles. permalink
- If Germany, my beloved fatherland, of whom you know I am proud, will not accept me, then must I, in the name of God, again make France or England richer by one capable German; and to the shame of the German nation. permalink
Letter to Leopold Mozart at Vienna (17 August 1782)
- It is a mistake to think that the practice of my art has become easy to me.... No one has given so much care to the study of composition as I. There is scarcely a famous master in music whose works I have not frequently and diligently studied. permalink
- Melody is the essence of music. I compare a good melodist to a fine racer, and counterpoints to hack post-horses. permalink
- Music is my life and my life is music. Anyone who does not understand this is not worthy of God. permalink
- Music, even in situations of the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but should flatter and charm it, and thereby always remain music. permalink
- Music, in even the most terrible situations, must never offend the ear but always remain a source of pleasure. permalink
- My great-grandfather used to say to his wife, my great-grandmother, who in turn told her daughter, my grandmother, who repeated it to her daughter, my mother, who used to remind her daughter, my own sister, that to talk well and eloquently was a very great art, but that an equally great one was to know the right moment to stop. permalink
- My subject enlarges itself, becomes methodized and defined, and the whole, though it be long, stands almost complete and finished in my mind, so that I can survey it, like a fine picture or a beautiful statute, at a glance. permalink
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