Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Classical Composer (January 27, 1756, to December 5, 1791)
Enduringly popular classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was one of the most inventive and influential composers of his, or any other time. Among his over 600 compositions are many acknowledged to have explored and perfected their forms to a previously unreached degree. He is renowned for having created masterpieces in every musical form that he touched: symphonies, concertos, chamber music, operas, and choral music. Mozart's music, like that of his mentor Joseph Haydn's helped to define the classical style. Increasingly influenced by baroque music as he matured, Mozart advanced the technical sophistication and emotional reach of the already out-of-style baroque while adding increasing counterpoint to his own music. Throughout his career Mozart's increasingly sophisticated orchestration influenced his operas and his use of the orchestra for dramatic effect in his operas added psychological depth to his instrumental pieces.
A child prodigy who was already composing at age 5, Mozart actively learned from others—including his teacher Joseph Haydn—and went on to profoundly influence composers and musicians who followed him. During his brief life, Mozart travelled widely through Europe meeting many important musical figures, including Johann Christian Bach, whom he visited in London. His travels were motivated first by his father's efforts to win the boy prodigy a stable position and later by a desire to have a job as a musician and composer that would pay enough to support his growing family.
Mozart's first full-time employment came in 1773 as court musician to the ruler of Salzburg. While writing for the court, Mozart composed symphonies, sonatas, string quartets, choral pieces and minor operas. Many of these pieces, including his 5 violin concertos are still regularly performed.
Dissatisfied with his position in Salzburg, Mozart settled in Vienna in 1781, where despite his fame—as an independent performer and composer—he never achieved financial security. Already regarded as the finest Viennese keyboard player of his time, his reputation was secured by the 1782 premier of his opera Die Entfuhrung as dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio). During this period Mozart began his association with librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, a collaboration that led to such operatic masterpieces as The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni.
1791, Mozart's final year, included the composition of some of his most esteemed works: his final piano concerto, the Clarinet concerto in A major, the last of his string quintets, his opera The Magic Flute, and the monumental but unfinished Requiem. He contracted an illness in Prague where he premiered his opera La clemenza di Tito on September 6, and was bedridden by November. Mozart died at 1 a.m. on December 5 at age 35 leaving behind a wife and 2 surviving sons.