Have you ever wondered when Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart gave his first public performance, or when he had his first audience with Empress Maria Theresa? The following contains detailed information about the life of the musical genius from 1756 to 1791, as well as some interesting facts about the period after his death.

Portrait of Mozart family
W. A. Mozart.
Detail from family portrait,
Johann Nepomuk della Croce,
1780/81, ©SMF
1756 Wolfgang Amadé Mozart sees the light of day

Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart was born in Getreidegasse 9, Salzburg, on January 27th at 8pm. At the age of four, he began playing instruments and Leopold Mozart gave him piano lessons.

Mozart in formal attire.
Pietro Antonio Lorenzoni,
1763, ©SMF
1761 The first compositions are created

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart made his first public appearance on 1 September 1761 in Salzburg. Mozart never went to school or university but was closely connected with Salzburg University because he composed music for his friends’ graduation ceremonies.

Empress Maria Theresa auditioned Mozart
Empress Maria Theresa
auditioned Mozart, 6-year-old.
Beginning of 20th century, ©SMF
1762 Audience with Empress Maria Theresa in Vienna

On 12 January 1762 his father embarked on a cultural journey with his child prodigies. During the three week trip to Munich, Wolfgang and Nannerl played concerts for the Elector Maximilian III Joseph of Bavaria.

In autumn 1762 the Mozart family went to Vienna. On 13 October they had their first audience with Empress Maria Theresa. “Little Wolfgang jumped on to the lap of the empress, threw his arms around her neck and kissed her profusely”, father Leopold reported proudly to his landlord Lorenz Hagenauer on 16 October in a letter. Besides other valuable gifts, the children were each given a ceremonial dress.

Picture of a carriage.
18th century, Vignette
of a book, ©SMF
1763 Start of the great journey through Western Europe

In the summer of 1763 Leopold Mozart and his family embarked on a major journey across Western Europe. The trip took them through Germany – Wolfgang gave his first concert in Augsburg, hometown of his father – France, England, Holland and Switzerland. During the stay in Paris the first compositions by Wolfgang appeared in print. People were astonished and amazed by the young boy’s performances.

On 23 April 1764, the Mozart family arrived in London. In addition to four public concerts the children played repeatedly for King Georg III and his wife Sophie Charlotte. Mozart dedicated six sonatas for piano and violin (flute) to her.

It has been calculated that Mozart spent 3,720 days of his life travelling, almost a third of his life. Despite the uncomfortable carriages, he liked to go on journeys.

Father Mozart with his children.
Replica of Watercolour of Louis Carrogis
de Carmontelle, 1763, ©SMF
1767 Second journey to Vienna and the first premieres

They had hardly returned home before rumours were abroad that the Mozart Family was again to go on a journey. In fact they left after spending only eleven months in Salzburg and set off for Vienna but had to travel to Brno and Olmütz so as to evade the prevailing smallpox epidemic. Nevertheless the children became very ill.

At the end of January 1768, at the suggestion of Emperor Joseph II, Mozart began work on the composition of the opera buffa “La finta semplice”. However the opera was not performed until May 1769 in Salzburg because a theatrical conspiracy against the young composer prevented its performance in Vienna.

W.A. Mozart as
“Knight of the Golden Spur”.
Replica in oil of
anonymous Oil Portrait,
1777, ©SMF
1769 First journey to Italy

While he was in Salzburg, Mozart was appointed as an unpaid concert-master in the Salzburg court orchestra. On 13 December, father and son began an arduous journey to Italy via the Brenner Pass. They travelled via Verona, Milan, Florence and Rome to Naples, and Mozart celebrated great triumphs everywhere. He gave his first concert in Italy in Verona; in Milan he was commissioned to compose an opera for the carnival season 1770/1771, the opera seria “Mitridate, re di Ponto”. It was given its first performance on 26 December 1770 in the Regio Ducal Teatro in Milan conducted by Mozart himself, who was aged only 14, to great acclaim. In Rome, the Cardinal Secretary Graf Pallavicini presented Mozart with the insignia of the order of the Golden Spur, awarded to him by Pope Clemens XIV. On his return journey, after successfully passing an examination, Mozart became a member of the Accademia Filarmonica in Bologna on 10 October 1770.

Certificate concerning
admittance of Mozart in
„Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna“.
1770, ©SMF
1771 Second journey to Italy

Father Leopold and son Wolfgang returned to Salzburg on 28 March 1771, Wolfgang having been again commissioned to write an opera for the carnival season 1772/1773 in Milan (Lucio Silla). They stayed 138 days in Salzburg and then set off again for Milan, where during the marriage celebrations of Duke Ferdinand on 17 October 1771, Mozart’s “Ascanio in Alba” was performed. On 15 December 1771 Leopold and Wolfgang returned to Salzburg. One day later Mozart’s employer and great patron Sigismund Christoph Graf (count) von Schrattenbach died. In honour of the new prince-archbishop Hieronymus Graf Colloredo, Mozart’s serenata “Il Sogno di Scipione” was performed. Hieronymus Colloredo was considered to be strict, unrelenting and narrow-minded as far as cultural matters were concerned and the change of employer soon became very apparent in Mozart’s travel plans.

1772 Third journey to Italy

Mozart became the concert-master (leader) of the Salzburg court orchestra. The third trip to Italy was for the performance of the dramma per musica “Lucio Silla” in the Regio Ducal Teatro in Milan. They returned to Salzburg later than planned under the pretext that Leopold had fallen ill.

Middle-class living-room
in Salzburg during Mozarts
living period. Mozart’s
Birthplace 2014, ©SMF
1773 Relocation and third journey to Vienna

The Mozart family moved to the so-called Dancing Master’s House (today at Makartplatz 8-9). A third trip to Vienna and Munich did not result in Mozart finding an appointment outside Salzburg.

1774 Second journey to Munich

A second journey is undertaken to Munich from 6.12.1774 – 7.3.1775. On 13.01.1775, the premiere of the opera buffa (comic opera), “La finta giardiniera“, was performed in the Redoutenhaus and the premiere of the Dramma per musica (drama for music), “Il Re Pastore”, at the Salzburg Court.

At tee with Prince Louis-François
de Conti‘s Palais du Temple.
Oilcopy of a painting
by Michel Barthélémy Ollivier,
1766, ©SMF
1777 Journey to Mannheim and Paris

In August 1777, Mozart requested his own dismissal in Salzburg, in order to “seek his fortune elsewhere”. At the end of September 1777 the prince-archbishop rejected a renewed request by his father for leave to travel. On 23 September 1777 at 6 a.m. Mozart set off with his mother Anna Maria on a journey to Mannheim and Paris. This trip also brought no fulfilment of his hopes.

Anna Maria Mozart.
Detail from family portrait,
Johann Nepomuk della Croce,
1780/81, ©SMF
1778 Mozart’s mother dies

On 3 July 1778, Mozart suffered a cruel blow of fate: his mother died in Paris. In mid-January 1779 Mozart returned alone to Salzburg after a disappointing trip. At this time the only major works he composed were the Symphony in D major and the “Sinfonia concertante” for wind instruments. On 17 January 1779, Mozart was re-appointed as court organist.

1780 The third journey to Munich

On 5 November Mozart left his parent’s house and travelled to Munich, where he completed the opera “Idomeneo, re di Creta”. His father and sister Nannerl were there for the first performance.

1781 Dismissal from position at the Salzburg Court

On 12 March 1781 Mozart was instructed by the prince-archbishop to go to Vienna, where he made various social contacts. Mozart again got in touch with the Weber family. He opposed the prince-archbishop’s orders and threatened not to return to Salzburg. Repeated conflicts with the prince-archbishop led to the final break on 8 June 1781. Mozart tried to establish himself in Vienna and made a living primarily as a composer of operas, as a piano virtuoso playing his own compositions and as a teacher.

Constanze Mozart
Constanze Mozart.
Oil Painting, Hans Hansen,
Vienna 1802, ©SMF
1782 The first Viennese opera success and engagement to Constanze

He achieved his first success in Vienna with the performance on 16 July 1782 of the singspiel “Die Entführung aus dem Serail” (The Abduction from the Seraglio). In the same year, against the will of his father, Mozart married Constanze Weber, daughter of theatre factotum Franz Fridolin Weber and his wife Maria Cecilia.
At the end of 1782 Mozart completed the first of the six string quintets he later dedicated to Joseph Haydn. On 1 September 1785 they appeared in print containing the memorable dedication to the great composer.

1783 Journey to Salzburg

After spending over one and a half years in Vienna Mozart travelled to Salzburg with his wife Constanze, to visit his father and his sister. During his stay in Salzburg, the “Mass in C minor”, was first performed in St. Peter’s Abbey with Constanze singing the soprano role. Mozart again contacted his friends and acquaintances in Salzburg. A friend of the family, the concert-master (leader of the orchestra) Johann Michael Haydn, had been commissioned by the prince-archbishop to compose duos for violin and viola. A severe illness meant that Haydn was unable to complete the commission and so Mozart composed the Duos for Violin and Viola in G major and in B flat major in a few days and submitted them in Haydn’s name.

W.A. Mozart at the Piano.
Incomplete Oil Painting,
Joseph Lange, 1789, ©SMF
1784 Birth of Mozart’s son

Mozart’s son Carl Thomas was born. From February 1784, Mozart began to list all his works in the “Verzeichnis aller meiner Werke” (Catalogue of All my Works). On 1 April 1784 Mozart gave his first academy concert in the Burgtheater.

1785 Private performance for Joseph Haydn

In January, a private performance of the quartets dedicated to Joseph Haydn took place in the presence of Haydn himself. Leopold Mozart travelled to Vienna and the premiere of the cantata “Davide penitente” also took place.

1786 Opera premieres in Vienna

The year was mainly dedicated to composing operas: “Der Schauspieldirektor” (The Impresario) was performed in the orangery in Schönbrunn, Vienna, and “Le nozze di Figaro” (The Marriage of Figaro) was performed in the Burgtheater on 1 May.

Leopold Mozart.
Detail from family portrait.
Johann Nepomuk della Croce,
1780/81, ©SMF
1787 Journey to Prague and the death of Leopold Mozart

Mozart travelled to Prague with his wife for the performance of “Le Nozze di Figaro” (The Marriage of Figaro) and the premiere of “Don Giovanni”. Mozart’s father, Leopold, died on 28.5.

After the death of Christoph Willibald Gluck, Mozart was appointed by decree as court chamber musician on 7 December 1787 with a yearly salary of 800 florins. 1788 saw the first performance of the opera “Don Giovanni” (Viennese version).

In 1789 another journey took him via Dresden, Meissen and Potsdam to Berlin and the court of the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm II. The numerous trips and social obligations forced Mozart to borrow money from friends.

1790 Final journeys

The premiere of the opera “Cosi fan tutte” took place on 26.1. in the k. k. Nationalhoftheater (today known as the Burgtheater). Mozart’s last two journeys took him to Frankfurt for the coronation of Leopold II and to Prague where the coronation opera “La clemenza di Tito” was performed on 6 September. Soon after his return to Vienna Mozart conducted the first performance of “Die Zauberflöte” (The Magic Flute) on 30 September. The librettist Emanuel Schikaneder performed the role of Papageno; Mozart’s sister-in-law Josepha Hofer was the first Queen of the Night.

Mozart’s last days.
Anonymous Oil Copy of
Painting of Hermann Kaulbach,
19th century, ©SMF
1791 Mozart’s death

The final public concert took place in March. In May Mozart was appointed deputy unpaid kapellmeister of St. Stephen’s in Vienna. Mozart’s son, Franz Xaver Wolfgang was born.

Ailing and full of premonitions about his own death, Mozart worked on his last piece – the “Requiem” which he never finished. On 5 December 1791 at 0.55 a.m. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died of a feverish chill in his apartment at Rauhensteingasse No. 8 in Vienna. He was aged 35. He was buried on 6 December at the St. Marx Cemetery in Vienna.

After Mozart's death

After the death of her husband Constanze contacted Johann Anton André, the publisher of Mozart’s compositions. During her marriage to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart she had given birth to six children but only two survived – Carl Thomas and Franz Xaver Wolfgang – and they soon began to show they had a natural gift for music. Carl Thomas first completed a business apprenticeship in Livorno and then, with the help of Joseph Haydn, a great admirer of his father, turned his attention to studying music. However, in 1810 he abandoned his studies to take up a career as a civil servant. His younger brother Franz Xaver Wolfgang, known as W. A. Mozart (jr.), took music lessons from Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Georg Joseph Vogler, Antonio Salieri as well as Johann Georg Albrechtsberger and became a composer of some importance and a pianist.

In 1809 Constanze Mozart married the Danish diplomat Georg Nikolaus Nissen, who, besides historian and librarian Friedrich von Schlichtegroll, was one of Mozart’s first biographers.

In the second half of the 19th century there was increasing academic interest in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s œuvre. The first edition of a “Chronological and Thematic Catalogue of all Compositions by Wolfgang Amadé Mozart”, the so-called Köchel-Verzeichnis was edited by Ludwig Ritter von Köchel and published by Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig in 1862. The International Mozarteum Foundation started the Old Mozart Edition, the publication of all Mozart’s works in 1877, a project which continued until 1910. The New Mozart Edition was begun in 1955 at the instigation of the International Mozarteum Foundation and published by Bärenreiter in Kassel. The main body of this mammoth publishing project was completed in 1991.

Since 2007, the focus of the scientific division of the Mozarteum Salzburg Foundation has been directly specifically at the Digital Mozart Edition: All compositions are therewith being made freely accessible to Mozart fans and scientists throughout the world via the Internet, in the form of notes and audio files.

© Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation (SMF) – All image rights reserved.