Today in Classical Music History: Mozart

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart would have been 254 years old on Wednesday. Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria on January 27, 1756.

Despite his short life--he died at 35 years old and the cause of his death is disputed--Mozart is arguably the most influential composer of the Classical era. He wrote more than 600 works, and has influenced countless composers, including another master from the Vienna scene, Ludwig van Beethoven.

Mozart reportedly mastered the keyboard and violin by age 5, at which time he had already composed his first work. By the time he was 17, the Salzburg court hired him to be a court musician.

But it was in Vienna that Mozart composed many of his best-known works, including his opera, The Magic Flute; his Clarinet concerto in A major; and his unfinished Requiem Mass in D minor. He moved there in 1781, and a year later, Mozart married Constanze Weber. They had six children, and two of them survived. Neither of those heirs produced children, so the Mozart line ended a generation later.

Mozart may have been well-known the day he died, December 5, 1791, but he had massive debts. The mastermind was buried in an unmarked grave at Saint Marx cemetery.

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