Composer of the Month – Mozart – Factfile

Composer of the Month

Factfile

Date of birth: 27 January 1756

Place of birth: Salzburg, Austria

Parents names: Leopold Mozart and Anna Maria Pertl

Siblings: Maria Anna Mozart (nicknamed Nannerl)

Age started playing a musical instrument: At 3 he was starting to pick out chords on the harpsichord, and at 4 he was already playing some pieces!

Age started composing: 5!

Height: Approximately 150cm, or just under 5 foot.

Married: Constanze Weber

Children: Mozart and Constanze had 6 children together, but only 2 survived into adulthood – Karl Thomas Mozart and Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart.

Date of death: 5 December 1791

Early Life:

Mozart was born to Leopold Mozart and Anna Maria Pertl. Leopold was himself a composer, violinist and music teacher. When both of his children showed incredible musical talent, Leopold started to take the children on tour throughout Eurpope for them to perform to, and delight their audiences. Nannerl was a very good performer in her own right, but she would be upstaged every time by her younger brother as he was an exceptional musician, and also very cute given that he started doing this at age 6! At these concerts each of the children would play their own pieces, they would also play duets and then often Mozart would be asked to improvise a piece of music based on a suggestion from the audience, and he would amaze them with how good the new piece of music was. These tours were very hard on the young Mozarts, and Wolfgang was often unwell, limiting how much he could perform.

Professional Success:

While Nannerl’s musical career was cut short due to her becoming of marriageable age (yes, that was the reason, despite her being a talented musician), Wolfgang – because he was born male as much as because he was incredibly talented – continued to progress with his career as a musician and composer. He moved from Salzburg to Vienna in around 1781, when he was 25 years old. He had had some success in Salzburg before he moved to Vienna, and here he became really very famous. Mozart was very much in demand, performing his music regularly, and receiving many commissions. He also had a number of pupils.

Mozart and Constanze enjoyed entertaining guests, and living the good life, so money was always an issue for them. Both Mozart and his wife had lots of health issues that also ate away at their family finances. As much as Mozart could earn, they spent.

Last years:

Towards the end of his life, while his music was successful – his opera The Magic Flute written for the Viennese People’s Theatre, where tickets were actually affordable for people who weren’t part of the aristocracy – he was becoming depressed and paranoid. He was convinced that someone was trying to poison him, and when a strangely dressed, mysterious messenger came to commission him to write a Requiem (a mass for the dead, or composition written to honour the dead), he thought this was a messenger from beyond the grave asking him to write his own Requiem. In fact, the messenger was sent by Count von Walsegg who wanted the Requiem to be played every year on the anniversary of his wife’s death. Why did he send this strange messenger then, well it is thought that the Count had planned to pass the Requiem off as his own composition!

Mozart died before completing the Requiem and it was finished by one of Mozart’s pupils, Franz Xaver Süssmayer, who went on to become a composer, but is now mostly remembered for finishing this amazing, dramatic and beautiful pieces of music.

Was Mozart buried in an unmarked grave?

The short answer is yes. Mozart was buried along with 3 or 4 other people in a grave in the St Marx cementery, which is now a public park. No one really knows exactly where he was buried.

I mentioned above that the Mozart’s often had money troubles, and it has been said that Mozart was buried in this unmarked grave because he was penniless and given a pauper’s burial. That is not true. at the time only noblemen and noblewomen were given a grand funeral, and everyone else would be buried in a common grave, and it was also customary for very few people, if any, to attend the burial. It was also customary for these graves to be re-used after a decade or so, and no one really knows what would have happened to the bodies buried in those graves that were re-used.

So, yes Mozart was buried in an unmarked grave, and no one really knows where that grave was, but there is now a memorial gravestone at a likely site where his grave was.

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