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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Composer

Biography

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in action.
Colin Judson as Monostatos and Janai Brugger as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte © ROH. Mark Douet 2015

Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–91) was one of the greatest composers in the Western tradition. His mature operas, including Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte and Die Zauberflöte, are among the finest examples of the art form.

Mozart was born in Salzburg, the seventh and last child of composer and violinist Leopold; only he and his sister Maria Anna (‘Nannerl’) survived infancy. He and Nannerl were taught by their father and both displayed prodigious musical talent, which they displayed on tours to the European courts. Mozart’s earliest compositions date from age five or six, and his music seems first to have appeared in print in 1764. Aged 13 he was appointed Konzertmeister at the Salzburg court, in recognition of his reputation as both composer and performer. Early operas include Mitridate, re di Ponto (1770) and Lucio Silla (1772), both written for Milan. For much of the 1770s he was settled in Salzburg, excursions including to Munich in 1774–5 for La finta giardiniera. Idomeneo (1780), also composed for Munich, is now considered the first opera of his maturity; but it was Die Entführung aus dem Serail (1782) for Vienna that secured his fame. His move to Vienna in 1781, where he taught, composed and preformed, heralded his most successful years. Operatic works from this period include his three operas with librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, Le nozze di Figaro (1786), Don Giovanni (1787, for Prague) and Così fan tutte (1790); all were instantly acclaimed, although Così was later accused of immorality. In 1791 he wrote La clemenza di Tito to celebrate the coronation of Emperor Leopold II and Die Zauberflöte for the Viennese popular theatre Theater auf der Wieden. His many other great late works include the clarinet concerto, the final two string quintets and the unfinished Requiem.

Mozart excelled in every musical form current in his time, including sacred, chamber, symphonic, dance and operatic works. His early facility matured into an inspired synthesis of Italian and south German traditions. Recognized as a great artist in his time, he is now considered perhaps the most consummate artist in Western music.

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Photos

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–91) by Barbara Krafft (1764–1825), 1819

Janai Brugger as Pamina

Colin Judson as Monostatos and Janai Brugger as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte

Markus Werba as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte

Heather Engebretson as Barbarina and Kate Lindsey as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Erwin Schrott as Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Erwin Schrott as Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Ellie Dehn as Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Ellie Dehn as Countess Almaviva and Stéphane Degout as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Ellie Dehn as Countess Almaviva and Kate Lindsey as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Anita Hartig as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Anita Hartig as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Rebecca Evans as Countess Almaviva and Anna Bonitatibus as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Rebecca Evans as Countess Almaviva and Camilla Tilling as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Anna Bonitatibus as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Christophoros Stamboglis as Bartolo and Marie McLaughlin as Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Alex Esposito as Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Rebecca Evans as Countess Almaviva and Gerald Finley as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Camilla Tilling as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Alex Esposito as Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Gerald Finley as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Camilla Tilling as Susanna and Gerald Finley as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Gerald Finley as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Jeremy White as Antonio and Gerald Finley as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Camilla Tilling as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with his sister Maria Anna and father Leopold, on the wall a portrait of his dead mother Anna Maria, by Johann Nepomuk della Croce. c. 1780

Georg Zeppenfeld as Sarastro, Benjamin Bevan as Speaker of the Temple, Maxwell as the second priest in Die Zauberflöte

Toby Spence as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte

Anna Siminska as Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte

Toby Spence as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte

Janai Brugger as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte

Kate Lindsey as Cherubino and Krystian Adam as Don Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Erwin Schrott as Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Ann Murray as Marcellina and Carlo Lepore as Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Anita Hartig as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera

Anita Hartig as Susanna and Kate Lindsey as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, The Royal Opera