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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Composer

Biography

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

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 later was 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.

Videos

News and features

Saving the best until last: Our favourite operatic swansongs


Saving the best until last: Our favourite operatic swansongs


10 July 2015

Five of our favourite final masterpieces from opera’s greatest composers.

<em>Don Giovanni</em> to be relayed live to BP Big Screens and streamed worldwide on 3 July 2015

Don Giovanni to be relayed live to BP Big Screens and streamed worldwide on 3 July 2015

23 June 2015

See Kasper Holten's visually striking production of Mozart's tragicomedic opera for free at venues around the country.

The finale mystery: Ending <em>Don Giovanni</em>

The finale mystery: Ending Don Giovanni

11 June 2015

Mozart’s masterpiece has more than its fair share of alternative endings.

Photos

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

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

Janai Brugger as Pamina

Markus Werba as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte

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

Dušica Bijelić 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

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

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

Toby Spence as Tamino, Georg Zeppenfeld as Sarastro and Janai Brugger as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte

Anna Siminska as Queen of the Night in in Die Zauberflöte

Georg Zeppenfeld as Sarastro and Janai Brugger as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte

Markus Werba as Papageno and Janai Brugger as Pamina

Die Zauberflöte

Toby Spence as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte

Janai Brugger as Pamina and Georg Zeppenfeld as Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte

Janai Brugger as Pamina and Anna Siminska as Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte

Anna Siminska as Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte

Production Photo of Die Zauberflöte