Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical period. Born in Salzburg, in the Holy Roman Empire, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court but grew restless and travelled in search of a better position. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in Vienna, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his early death at the age of 35. The circumstances of his death have been much mythologized. He composed more than 600 works, many of which are acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. He is considered among the greatest classical composers of all time, and his influence on Western music is profound. Ludwig van Beethoven composed his early works in the shadow of Mozart, and Joseph Haydn wrote: "posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years". Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on 27 January 1756 to Leopold Mozart (1719–1787) and Anna Maria, née Pertl (1720–1778), at Getreidegasse 9 in Salzburg. Salzburg was the capital of the Archbishopric of Salzburg, an ecclesiastic principality in the Holy Roman Empire (today in Austria).[c] He was the youngest of seven children, five of whom died in infancy. His elder sister was Maria Anna Mozart (1751–1829), nicknamed "Nannerl". Mozart was baptised the day after his birth, at St. Rupert's Cathedral in Salzburg. The baptismal record gives his name in Latinized form, as Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. He generally called himself "Wolfgang Amadè Mozart" as an adult, but his name had many variants. Leopold Mozart, a native of Augsburg, then an Imperial Free City in the Holy Roman Empire, was a minor composer and an experienced teacher. In 1743, he was appointed as fourth violinist in the musical establishment of Count Leopold Anton von Firmian, the ruling Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. Four years later, he married Anna Maria in Salzburg. Leopold became the orchestra's deputy Kapellmeister in 1763. During the year of his son's birth, Leopold published a violin textbook, Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule, which achieved success. When Nannerl was 7, she began keyboard lessons with her father, while her three-year-old brother looked on. Years later, after her brother's death, she reminisced: He often spent much time at the clavier, picking out thirds, which he was ever striking, and his pleasure showed that it sounded good. ... In the fourth year of his age his father, for a game as it were, began to teach him a few minuets and pieces at the clavier. ... He could play it faultlessly and with the greatest delicacy, and keeping exactly in time. ... At the age of five, he was already composing little pieces, which he played to his father who wrote them down. These early pieces, K. 1–5, were recorded in the Nannerl Notenbuch. There is some scholarly debate about whether Mozart was four or five years old when he created his first musical compositions, though there is little doubt that Mozart composed his first three pieces of music within a few weeks of each other: K. 1a, 1b, and 1c. In his early years, Wolfgang's father was his only teacher. Along with music, he taught his children languages and academic subjects. Solomon notes that, while Leopold was a devoted teacher to his children, there is evidence that Mozart was keen to progress beyond what he was taught. His first ink-spattered composition and his precocious efforts with the violin were of his initiative and came as a surprise to Leopold, who eventually gave up composing when his son's musical talents became evident. Mozart fell ill while in Prague for the premiere, on 6 September 1791, of his opera La clemenza di Tito, which was written in that same year on commission for the Emperor's coronation festivities. He continued his professional functions for some time and conducted the premiere of The Magic Flute on 30 September. His health deteriorated on 20 November, at which point he became bedridden, suffering from swelling, pain, and vomiting. Mozart was nursed in his final illness by his wife and her youngest sister and was attended by the family doctor, Thomas Franz Closset. He was mentally occupied with the task of finishing his Requiem, but the evidence that he dictated passages to his student Franz Xaver Süssmayr is minimal. Mozart died in his home on 5 December 1791 (aged 35) at 12:55 am. The New Grove describes his funeral: Mozart was interred in a common grave, in accordance with contemporary Viennese custom, at the St. Marx Cemetery outside the city on 7 December. If, as later reports say, no mourners attended, that too is consistent with Viennese burial customs at the time; later Otto Jahn (1856) wrote that Salieri, Süssmayr, van Swieten and two other musicians were present. The tale of a storm and snow is false; the day was calm and mild. The expression "common grave" refers to neither a communal grave nor a pauper's grave, but an individual grave for a member of the common people (i.e., not the aristocracy). Common graves were subject to excavation after ten years; the graves of aristocrats were not. The cause of Mozart's death cannot be known with certainty. The official record has it as hitziges Frieselfieber ("severe miliary fever", referring to a rash that looks like millet seeds), more a description of the symptoms than a diagnosis. Researchers have suggested more than a hundred causes of death, including acute rheumatic fever, streptococcal infection, trichinosis, influenza, mercury poisoning, and a rare kidney ailment. Mozart's modest funeral did not reflect his standing with the public as a composer; memorial services and concerts in Vienna and Prague were well-attended. Indeed, in the period immediately after his death, his reputation rose substantially. Solomon describes an "unprecedented wave of enthusiasm" for his work; biographies were written (first by Schlichtegroll, Niemetschek, and Nissen); and publishers vied to produce complete editions of his works.
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