When you're in the mood to listen to music, what tunes soothe your soul? Do you tune the radio to the latest rock and pop hits? Or is country more your speed? Perhaps you prefer rap or hip hop? But do you ever sit back, close your eyes, and soak up the lush sounds of classical music?
Rather than electric guitars and synthesizers, classical music offers a diverse musical landscape decorated with the sounds of a multitude of instruments, from pianos and violins to flutes and clarinets. A full symphony orchestra can delight the ears in a way that few modern rock bands can.
Instead of Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake, the giants of classical music bear names such as Bach and Beethoven. There's one name in classical music that some believe stands above all others, though. Who are we talking about? Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, of course!
Born in 1756 in Salzburg, Austria, Mozart was the definition of child prodigy. His father, Leopold, was a successful violinist and composer who introduced him to music at an early age. Watching his older sister practice, Mozart began to pick up the basics of the piano when he was just three years old.
With the support and teaching of his father, Mozart soon moved beyond the piano to learn to play both the clarinet and violin. Mozart wasn't just good at playing multiple instruments, though. At the tender age of five years old, he composed his first simple piece of music.
In 1762, Mozart joined his father and sister on a tour of the courts of some of Europe's largest cities, including Munich, Paris, London, and Zurich. People were amazed at the talent of six-year-old Mozart, and he met many important musicians who would influence his future work.
In his teen years, he took several trips to Italy with his father to play concerts for Italian nobles. He also continued to compose new works. In addition to Italian operas, he wrote many concertos for both violin and piano.
In 1781, Mozart moved to Vienna, Austria, where he would achieve great fame as a composer and performer. He married his wife, Constanze, in 1782, and they had six children, although only two of these children survived infancy.
In Vienna, Mozart was influenced greatly by the works of other classical composers, including Bach, Handel, and Haydn. One of his operas, Die Entführung, was very successful, and he soon became quite famous throughout Europe. The money he made from composing and performing in Vienna allowed Mozart and his family to live an extravagant lifestyle.
Unfortunately, Mozart's good fortune would not last, as he repeatedly experienced financial problems despite continuing to compose new works at an impressive pace. In his final years in Vienna, he composed some of his most famous symphonies, concertos, and operas, such as The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and The Magic Flute.
Mozart died in 1791 at the age of 35. Although many people believe he was poisoned by a rival, experts suspect that he succumbed to rheumatic fever, which he had struggled with several times over the course of his life.
At the time of his death, Mozart was widely-considered to be one of the greatest composers of all time. During his life, he composed over 600 works, many of which are believed to be some of the best examples of symphonic, operatic, choral, and chamber music.Mozart's work lives on today, as he has remained one of the most popular classical composers in history. His influence on musicians and composers, such as Beethoven and Haydn, was profound.