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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
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 mother’s 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.
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 Nannerl’s 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 children’s 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
surrounding area, visiting every noble house and palace he could find, taking the entire family with him. Mozart’s 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 son’s 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 empress’s 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 Mozart’s reputation grew, his father realized the financial opportunities then could arise from increased exposure of his son’s talents. From than time on, Wolfgang and his sister spent much of their childhood traveling through Europe. The
rulers of Europe and England were astounded by Wolfgang’s 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 Salzbu
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