Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born January 27, 1756, Salzburg, Austrian composer.
His father, Leopold was the author of a famous violin-playing manual. Mozart and his sister were the only two of their seven children to survive. Mozart was a prodigy. At five he was playing the clavier. At six he began composing, writing his first symphonies at the age of eight. He was constantly traveling all over Europe with his father. Young Wolfgang was exhibited to the courts, to musical academicians, and to the public. Between the ages of seven and fifteen, the young Mozart spent half of his time on tour.
During these tours, Mozart heard, absorbed, and learned various European musical forms, crystallizing his own mature style. His serenades, divertimenti, and dances, written on request for the entertainment and outdoor parties of the nobility, have become synonymous with the Classical "age of elegance."
In Vienna, Mozart became a regular at the court of Emperor Joseph II, where he wrote much of his greatest music including operas that had a great financial success. Through his mismanagement of money and the incidences of his impulsive, and at times childish behavior in an era of powdered wigs and courtly manners, Mozart seemed to find it difficult to make a successful living for himself and his family (his wife Constanze and six children, only two of which survived).
Mozart was just beginning to become financially stable when his illness brought an end to his life at the age of thirty-six. He was buried, like most Viennese in those days by the decree of Emperor Joseph, in a common grave, the exact location of which remains unknown. The influence of Mozart on the composers that followed cannot be overestimated. He is widely recognized as one of the greatest composers ever lived.