Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is one of the most renowned musicians of all time. Just about everyone can hum a snippet of his music, and countless musicians amateur and professional have studied his compositions. Here are a few interesting facts about Mozart’s remarkable life.
Mozart began composing at age 5
Leopold, Wolfgang’s father, was his first teacher, and taught Wolfgang his sister Nannerl both how to play and compose music from their first lessons. Mozart composed a few short pieces at age 5, and Leopold wrote the music down and provided critiques and advice. These pieces are collected in the Nannerl Notenbuch, which also contains compositions by Leopold that he used to teach the children.
Mozart performed throughout Europe as a child prodigy
Leopold quickly recognized both Nannerl and Wolfgang’s talents and took them on tours of European courts. Child prodigies were very fashionable among the nobility at the time and brought them into contact with many important musicians, including one of J.S. Bach’s children, Johann Christian Bach. These tours were arduous, and exposed the family to difficult conditions and serious illness.
Mozart composed his first opera at age 14
From 1769 to 1771, Leopold and Wolfgang traveled throughout Italy. During that tour, Mozart completed his first opera, Mitridate, re di Ponto, which was performed in Milan in December 1770.
Wolfgang loved his pets
Later in life, Mozart was known to keep a number of pets, including a dog, a starling, a canary, and a horse. The starling is thought to have learned to mimic at least one of Mozart’s melodies, since there is a brief musical transcription of one of its songs in his expense book from the day he purchased it. This theme would later appear in one of his compositions. Mozart was so aggrieved when the bird passed away three years later that he held a funeral procession in its honor.
Mozart’s music is preserved in outer space on the Voyager Golden Record
Mozart’s composition Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen, from his opera The Magic Flute, was included in Voyager Golden Records. The records are carried by the Voyager 1 and Voygaer 2 spacecraft, whose contents were selected by a committee lead by Carl Sagan.
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