Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – A Famous Young Prodigy

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a classical music composer, was a young music prodigy.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as a young child, had a very ambitious father, who

  • helped him develop his musical skills

  • promoted him in the royal courts of Europe:

  • in Vienna, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire

  • in Paris, the capital of France

  • in London, the capital of the British Empire.

The biography of Mozart as a young child is a story of travel. If we wanted to recreate a young Mozart life, we would fill it with stays in hotels and palaces together with his father and sister and continuous classical music.

Today, classical Mozart music can be heard at an evening concert for adults, at a day concert for the young, on the radio and even streamed in department stores. Mozart music online is also very popular, particularly for young parents who play it for their young children.

Parents of young children seem to be particularly interested in Mozart. This might be because Mozart became famous at a very young age. Even by today’s standards when we see many young opera singers performing on world stages, Mozart can be considered quite the prodigy.

 

Why was Mozart Famous at a Young Age?

Young Mozart at 6 Years Old
Young Mozart at 6 Years Old

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart became famous at a very young age.

By age 4, Leopold Mozart, the father of young Mozart began giving him lessons on the harpsichord. At this age, with the help of his father, young Mozart composed his first sonata.

By age 6, young Mozart was traveling with his mother, father and sister around Europe. He began visiting the French and Austrian imperial courts and performing for Emperors and Empresses.

By age 8, Mozart and his sister Narnerl gave a grand concert, in which they played only symphonies composed by Mozart, who was still very young.

By age 12, young Mozart had composed his first opera.

By age 14, Mozart’s opera Mitridate, re di Ponto (Mithridates) was staged and peformed. The premiere took place on December 26, 1770 at the Teatro Regio Ducal in Milan and ran for 20 (some say 21) performances.

By age 16, young Mozart, his sister and father had traveled to and performed in all the major courts and capitals of Europe – Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, the Hague, London, Lyons, Milan, Munich, Naples, Paris, Rome, Salzburg, Versailles and Vienna.

These interesting details about Mozart as a young child were written down in “The Life of Mozart”. This is an essay compiled based on reminiscences by Mozart’s family and friends. It was published after his death. The author, Adolf Heinrich Friedrich Schlichtegroll (1765 – 1822), was a teacher and scholar who lived during Mozart’s lifetime.

 

Interesting Young Mozart Facts from Vienna, Austria

Young Mozart in Vienna, Austria
Young Mozart in Vienna, Austria

When young Mozart was 6 years old, his father, Leopold, took him to Vienna. Earlier, he had officially petitioned the Imperial Court to allow his son and daughter to perform before royalty.

On October 13, 1762, Maria Anna and Wolfgang Mozart played in the Hall of Mirrors at Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. The Empress Maria Theresa, the Emperor Franz Stephan and twelve archdukes and archduchesses listened as the young Mozart children performed.

Mozart’s mother, Anna Maria, did not accompany the children and her husband to Vienna. Her husband, Leopold Mozart, wrote her a letter in which he described the events of that day. In this letter, Leopold Mozart included the now famous anecdote of how, after performing, the young Mozart climbed onto the Empress Maria Theresa’s lap and kissed her. This childish act, unheard of in the imperial and royal courts, was very well received.

This and many other interesting facts about Mozarts visit to Vienna as a young child are recorded in the archives of the Schloss Schönbrunn.

 

Interesting Young Mozart Facts from Paris and Versailles, France

Young Mozart with Father and Sister in Paris, France
Young Mozart with Father and Sister in Paris, France

When young Mozart was 7 years old, his father, Leopold, took him to France. The family arrived in Paris on November 18, 1763.

In mid-December 1763, Baron Friedrich Melchior von Grimm (1723 – 1807) – not to be confused with the famous Brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm – arranged for the Mozarts to come to Versailles and meet King Louis XV. During this visit and after his performance, the young Mozart attempted to give Madame Pompadour a kiss, which she haughtily refused.

On January 1, 1764, the Mozart family was invited to dine at the king’s table. Young Mozart was seated beside the king’s wife, the Queen Consort Marie Leszczinska. Most of the conversation at the table was in French. However, the queen consort spoke German. This was the language young Mozart spoke with her. The queen even translated what young Mozart said for the rest of the guests.

The Mozart family was so well liked that they were invited to stay at Versailles for the next 16 days.

The above interesting facts of Mozart as a young child are recorded in the archives of the Chateau de Versailles.

 

Interesting Young Mozart Facts from London, England

Young Mozart Biography by D.Barrington
Young Mozart Biography by D.Barrington

When young Mozart was 8 years old, he spent over a year with his family in London.

During this time, many visitors came to visit the family. One such individual was a Mr. Daines Barrington (1727 – 1800). During one of his visits, Barrington brought with him a musical manuscript which consisted of five musical lines:

  • a first violin

  • a second violin

  • a bass stringed instrument

  • a high counter-tenor vocal part

  • a low counter-tenor vocal part.

Barrington presented the manuscript to young Mozart and his father. Without prior rehearsal, the younger Mozart began to first play the musical introduction and then to flawlessly sing the higher voice parts. The older Mozart sang the lower voice part, albeit, according to Barrington, with some mistakes.

In his recollections of the event, Mr. Barrington stated that young Mozart exceeded his expectations and that his abilities were higher than many “capital musicians”, which in today’s language means “highly competent musicians”.

Daines Barrington recounted his visits to the Mozart family and his encounter with young Mozart in a letter to Mathew Maty. The account was later published in the 60th volume of the Philosophical Transactions for the year 1770.

 

Difficult Mozart Aria by a Young Opera Singer

Even though Mozart wrote music at a young age, much of what he wrote is not always easy to perform.

In fact, one of the most difficult (and famous) soprano arias in the opera repertoire was written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The aria is commonly known as the “Queen of the Night Aria”.

In the opera video clip above Zoryana Orlova, a young opera singer, performs one of the most difficult soprano arias in the opera repertoire. Myron Yusypovych conducts the INSO-Lviv Orchestra at the Lviv Philharmonia in Ukraine. The performance took place on May 20, 2009.

Zoryana Orlova was born and received her musical training in Lviv, Ukraine. Currently, she resides in Edmonton, Canada.

The aria is from the opera The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This was Mozart’s last opera, written just before his death at the young age of 35.


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