The Fascinating Life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
We know many great stories about Mozart and his fascinating life.
We tell some in Wolferl, but our time is limited. Here are just a few Mozart stories:
There are many sites on the World Wide Web
where you can learn about Mozart. In fact, if you just type "Mozart"
into one of the major search engines you'll get literally millions of pages.
There are many books, CD's, movies, and videos
that tell us more about him. You may wonder, "How do we know so much about
Mozart and his life?" Fortunately for us, Mozart and his family were great
letter-writers, and they saved many of the
letters that they sent
Wolferl Learns to Play the Piano
When Wolferl was just three years old,
Papa Leopold was teaching his sister Nanerl to play the piano.
Wolferl would hang around them and listen to what they played.
Later, he would come back to the piano. He would stand up on his tiptoes and
try to play what he had heard them play.
Soon he could do it.
By the time he was four years old, Papa Leopold was giving Wolferl his own piano lessons.
Little Wolferl could learn a Minuet - by heart,
mind you - during a single half-hour lesson.
And at the end of his lessons Papa would have to send him away,
for it seemed Wolferl wanted to continue all day.
Wolferl Learns to Play the Violin
Papa Leopold was a fine violinist. I
n fact he wrote a famous book about how to play the violin.
He had given Wolferl a tiny violin, but had not given Wolferl any lessons on it.
One day two of Papa's good friends from the Court Orchestra of Salzburg came to visit.
One of them had written six new violin trios, and wanted Papa to join them to play
through the new music.
Wolferl got out his tiny violin and asked his Papa if he might play second fiddle.
Papa Leopold asked Wolferl sharply how he could possibly think he'd be able to do that
when he had never been taught how to play the violin.
Wolferl tearfully began to sulk away when one of the friends said,
"Let the boy play second fiddle along with me."
And Wolferl did indeed play - so well that Leopold had tears in his eyes on hearing him!
Wolferl Goes on a Grand Tour of Europe
In 1762, when Wolferl was just six years old, Papa Leopold took him and his sister Nanerl
to Vienna to play for the Emperor and Empress.
The royal family loved them. After their performance at the imperial palace,
everyone in Vienna wanted to see the children and have them play for them, too.
Papa Leopold saw how much his children were in demand, and conceived a grand plan to
establish his family's fame and fortune. Leopold Mozart said he felt it was his duty
to share with the world this miracle which God caused to be born in Salzburg.
Of course the prospect of the money he might make was likely of considerable interest
to him as well.
So Papa and Mama, along with Wolferl and Nanerl, set off on a Grand Tour of all
the capitals and major cities of Europe - Paris, London, The Hague in Holland and
Brussels in Belgium. In every city they played in the homes of the wealthiest people,
in the castles of Counts and Princes, in the palaces of Kings and Queens.
All this time Wolferl was very busy learning, too. He was learning languages, learning
composition, learning new forms and styles of music. It seemed he could learn just about
anything and everything. While the family were in London Wolferl wrote his first symphony -
at the age of just 8 years old!
By the time they returned home to Salzburg
they had been traveling for more than three and a half years!
Wolferl Receives a Gold Medal
Wolferl's memory for music was phenomenal!
Once when he was 14 years old he went with Papa to St. Peter's in Rome
to hear the Papal choir sing their sacred Easter music - a piece called the Miserere
by Gregorio Allegri. This music was considered so special that
no one except the Papal choir was allowed to have, or even see, a copy of the music.
The members of the choir were not even allowed to take the music home to practice.
In the cathedral Wolferl listened very carefully,
paying attention to every note.
Then they hurried back to their room and Wolferl wrote down
the entire score - every note of every part - from memory.
The next day Wolferl hid the score in his hat and they returned to St. Peter's,
where they listened to the Miserere once more and Wolferl corrected a few small errors
that he had made.
Pope Clement XIV got word that this young boy from Salzburg had a copy of the sacred music.
The Pope commanded Wolferl to tell him how he got it.
He explained that he had memorized every note of every part and then later
wrote it all out by himself. The Pope called his choirmaster and asked him to look at
Wolferl's manuscript. The choirmaster confirmed that Wolferl's manuscript was
indeed a perfect copy of the score.
Pope Clement was so impressed by Wolferl's prodigious memory that,
rather than being angry with the boy,
he presented Wolferl with a gold medal and made him a Knight of the Golden Spur.
Mozart Moves to Vienna
The year 1780 found Wolfgang still serving as Court Organist and Composer under
Prince-Archbishop Heironymous von Colloredo of Salzburg.
He was not very happy in the service of the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg
at that time. Wolfgang had been all over Europe, and he knew that
Vienna was the very center of the musical world of Europe - and Salzburg
felt to him practically like a little desert island.
Finally in 1781, when he was 25, he left the service of the Prince-Archbishop
in order to make his way as an independent musician in Vienna.
This was almost unheard of, quite risky, and Papa was extremely upset and worried about him.
However, Wolfgang was already well known in Vienna,
and was quickly recognized as both an excellent composer
and a virtuoso performer on the piano.
Here he organized concerts at which he performed his own brilliant new works.