The New Student's Reference Work/Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus Chrysostom
Mozart (mō'zärt), Wolfgang Amade'us Chrys'ostom, the great musician, was born at Salzburg, Germany, Jan. 27, 1756. When only six years old, his father took him and nis sister on a musical tour through Europe. In Bologna, then the great center of music in Italy, the Philharmonic Society elected him for membership when only fifteen, in spite of its rule that no one under twenty should be admitted. The Easter music in the Sistine Chapel was jealously guarded and no copy allowed to be made, but young Mozart, hearing it once, wrote it out from memory. In 1781 he lost his position in the court of the archbishop with whom he had gone to Vienna. He soon after produced two operas, one of them The Marriage of Figaro, which created a furore, and he was commissioned to write an opera for the theater in Prague. The summer-house where, and the little stone table on which, he wrote this opera, Don Giovanni, are still shown in the gardens at Prague. The great success of this work made it impossible for the court to overlook his merits longer, and he received an appointment from the emperor with a small salary, his duty being to supply the dance-music at the imperial balls. He struggled with debt, mistaken loyalty preventing him from leaving the service of the emperor when offered a better position in Prussia. A friend, a theater-manager in financial difficulties, induced Mozart to come to his aid with a new opera, and in March, 1791, he began his Magic Flute. It was produced in September, and made the fortune of the lucky manager. While at work on this opera, a stranger visited him and commissioned him to write a requiem mass, to be finished in a month. He imagined there was something mysterious about the order, and said he was writing it for himself. He really was dying, and on Dec. 4, 1791, when a few friends met to rehearse the part of the work that was finished, he was unequal to the effort, though even when unconscious seeming to be occupied with his work. He died that night at Vienna, and was buried in the churchyard. When his wife tried to find the grave a few days after, no one could tell her where it was. Many years after his death Vienna honored him with a monument. Mozart wrote 624 compositions. In opera and symphony he is second to none. His three great operas, Don Giovanni, the Magic Flute and Figaro, still hold the stage, and three of his forty-one symphonies will always be admired as long as music exists. See Life by Otto John, translated by Townsend.