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music, concertos and operas, marked by vivid

emotion and sophisticated textures.

Early Life
Central Europe in the mid-18th century was going
through a period of transition. The remnants of the
Holy Roman Empire had divided into small semi-
self-governing principalities. The result was
competing rivalries between these municipalities for
identity and recognition. Political leadership of
small city-states like Salzburg, Vienna, and Prague
was in the hands of the aristocracy and their wealth
would commission artists and musicians to amuse,
inspire, and entertain. The music of the Renaissance
and Baroque periods was transitioning toward more
full-bodied compositions with complex
instrumentation. The small city-state of Salzburg
would be the birthplace of one of the most talented
and prodigious musical composers of all time.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s was the sole-


surviving son of Leopold and Maria Pertl Mozart.
Leopold was a successful composer, violinist, and
assistant concert master at the Salzburg court.
Wolfgang’s mother, Anna Maria Pertl, was born to
a middle class family of local community leaders.
His only sister was Maria Anna (nicknamed
“Nannerl”). With their father’s encouragement and
guidance, they both were introduced to music at an
early age. Leopold started Nannerl on keyboard
when she was seven, as three-year old Wolfgang
looked on. Mimicking her playing, Wolfgang
quickly began to show a strong understanding of
chords, tonality, and tempo. Soon, he too was being
tutored by his father.

A prolific artist, Austrian composer Wolfgang Leopold was a devoted and task-oriented teacher to
Mozart created a string of operas, concertos, both his children. He made the lessons fun, but also
symphonies and sonatas that profoundly shaped insisted on a strong work ethic and perfection.
classical music. Fortunately, both children excelled well in these
areas. Recognizing their special talents, Leopold
devoted much of his time to their education in
Synopsis music as well as other subjects. Wolfgang soon
Born on January 27, 1756, in Salzburg, Austria,
showed signs of excelling beyond his father’s
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a musician capable
teachings with an early composition at age five and
of playing multiple instruments who started playing
demonstrating outstanding ability on
in public at the age of 6. Over the years, Mozart
harpsichord and the violin. He would soon go on to
aligned himself with a variety of European venues
play the piano, organ and viola.
and patrons, composing hundreds of works that
included sonatas, symphonies, masses, chamber
In 1762, Wolfgang’s father took Nannerl, now age
eleven, and Wolfgang, age six to the court of
Bavaria in Munich in what was to become the first Number 9 in E flat major in early 1777. Wolfgang
of several European "tours." The siblings traveled to had just turned 21.
the courts of Paris, London, The Hague, and Zurich
performing as child prodigies. Wolfgang met a Despite his success with the compositions,
number of accomplished musicians and became Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was growing discontent
familiar with their works. Particularity important with his position as assistant concert master and the
was his meeting with Johann Christian Bach confining environment of Salzburg. He was
(Johann Sebastian Bach's youngest son) in London ambitious and believed he could do more
who had a strong influence on Wolfgang. The trips somewhere else. Archbishop von Colloredo was
were long and often arduous, traveling in primitive becoming inpatient with the young genius’s
conditions and waiting for invitations and complaining and immature attitude. In August 1777,
reimbursements from the nobility. Frequently, Mozart set out on a trip to find more prosperous
Wolfgang and other members of his family fell employment. The archbishop wouldn’t give
seriously ill and had to limit their performance Leopold permission to travel, so Anna Maria
schedule. accompanied Wolfgang on his quest to the cities of
Mannheim, Paris and Munich. There were several
Budding Young Composer employment positions that initially proved
In December, 1769, Wolfgang, then age 13, and his promising, but all eventually fell through. He began
father departed from Salzburg for Italy, leaving his to run out of funds and had to pawn several valuable
mother and sister at home. It seems that by this time personal items to pay traveling and living expenses.
Nannerl’s professional music career was over. She The lowest point of the trip was when his mother
was nearing marriageable age and according to the fell ill and died on July 3, 1778. After hearing the
custom of the time, she was no longer permitted to news of his wife’s death, Leopold negotiated a
show her artistic talent in public. The Italian outing better post for his son as court organist in Salzburg
was longer than the others (1769-1771) as Leopold and Wolfgang returned soon after.
wanted to display his son’s abilities as a performer
and composer to as many new audiences as Making it in Vienna
possible. While in Rome, Wolfgang heard Gregorio Back in Salzburg in 1779, Wolfgang Amadeus
Allegri’s Miserere performed once in the Sistine Mozart produced a series of church works,
Chapel. He wrote out the entire score from memory, including the Coronation Mass. He also composed
returning only to correct a few minor errors. During another opera for Munich, Ideomeneo in 1781. In
this time Wolfgang also wrote a new opera, March of that year, Mozart was summoned to
Mitridate, re di Ponto for the court of Milan. Other Vienna by Archbishop von Colloredo, who was
commissions followed and in subsequent trips to attending the accession of Joseph II to the Austrian
Italy, Wolfgang wrote two other operas, Ascanio in throne. The Archbishop’s cool reception toward
Alba (1771) and Lucio Silla (1772). Mozart offended him. He was treated as a mere
servant, quartered with the help, and forbidden from
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his father returned performing before the Emperor for a fee equal to
from their last stay in Italy in March, 1773. His half his yearly salary in Salzburg. A quarrel ensued
father’s benefactor, Archbishop von Schrattenbach and Mozart offered to resign his post. The
had died and was succeeded by Hieronymus von Archbishop refused at first, but then relented with
Colleredo. Upon their return, the new archbishop an abrupt dismissal and physical removal from the
appointed young Mozart as assistant concertmaster Archbishop’s presence. Mozart decided to settle in
with a small salary. During this time, young Mozart Vienna as a freelance performer and composer and
had the opportunity to work in several different for a time lived with friends at the home of Fridolin
musical genres composing symphonies, string Weber.
quartets, sonatas and serenades and a few operas.
He developed a passion for violin concertos Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart quickly found work in
producing what came to be the only five he wrote. Vienna, taking on pupils, writing music for
In 1776, he turned his efforts toward piano publication, and playing in several concerts. He also
concertos, culminating in the Piano Concerto began writing an opera Die Entführung aus dem
Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio). In the Minor, of which only the first two sections, "Kyrie"
summer of 1781, it was rumored that Mozart was and "Gloria," were completed. In 1784, Mozart
contemplating marriage to Fridolin Weber’s became a Freemason, a fraternal order focused on
daughter, Constanze. Knowing his father would charitable work, moral uprightness, and the
disapprove of the marriage and the interruption in development of fraternal friendship. Mozart was
his career, young Mozart quickly wrote his father well regarded in the Freemason community,
denying any idea of marriage. But by December, he attending meetings and being involved in various
was asking for his father’s blessings. While it’s functions. Freemasonry also became a strong
known that Leopold disapproved, what is not influence in Mozart’s music.
known is the discussion between father and son as
Leopold’s letters were said to be destroyed by From 1782 to 1785, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Constanze. However, later correspondence from divided his time between self-produced concerts as
Wolfgang indicated that he and his father disagreed soloist, presenting three to four new piano concertos
considerably on this matter. He was in love with in each season. Theater space for rent in Vienna was
Constanze and the marriage was being strongly sometimes hard to come by, so Mozart booked
encouraged by her mother, so in some sense, he felt himself in unconventional venues such as large
committed. The couple was finally married on rooms in apartment buildings and ballrooms of
August 4, 1782. In the meantime, Leopold did expensive restaurants. The year 1784, proved the
finally consent to the marriage. Constanze and most prolific in Mozart’s performance life. During
Wolfgang had six children, though only two one five-week period, he appeared in 22 concerts,
survived infancy, Karl Thomas and Franz Xaver. including five he produced and performed as the
soloist. In a typical concert, he would play a
As 1782 turned to 1783, Wolfgang Amadeus selection of existing and improvisational pieces and
Mozart became enthralled with the work of his various piano concertos. Other times he would
Johannes Sebastian Bach and George Frederic conduct performances of his symphonies. The
Handel and this, in turn, resulted in several concerts were very well attended as Mozart enjoyed
compositions in the Baroque style and influenced a unique connection with his audiences who were,
much of his later compositions, such as passages in in the words of Mozart biographer Maynard
Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) and the finale of Solomon, “given the opportunity of witnessing the
Symphony Number 41. During this time, Mozart transformation and perfection of a major musical
met Joseph Haydn and the two composers became genre.” During this time, Mozart also began to keep
admiring friends. When Haydn visited Vienna, they a catalog of his own music, perhaps indicating an
sometimes performed impromptu concerts with awareness of his place in musical history.
string quartets. Between 1782 and 1785 Mozart
wrote six quartets dedicated to Haydn. By the mid-1780s, Wolfgang and Constanze
Mozart’s extravagant lifestyle was beginning to take
European Fame its toll. Despite his success as a pianist and
The opera Die Entführung enjoyed immediate and composer, Mozart was falling into serious financial
continuing success and bolstered Wolfgang difficulties. Mozart associated himself with
Amadeus Mozart’s name and talent throughout aristocratic Europeans and felt he should live like
Europe. With the substantial returns from concerts one. He figured that the best way to attain a more
and publishing, he and Constanze enjoyed a lavish stable and lucrative income would be through court
lifestyle. They lived in one of the more exclusive appointment. However, this wouldn’t be easy with
apartment buildings of Vienna, sent their son, Karl the court’s musical preference bent toward Italian
Thomas, to an expensive boarding school, kept composers and the influence of Kapellmeister
servants, and maintained a busy social life. In 1783, Antonio Salieri. Mozart’s relationship with Salieri
Mozart and Constanze traveled Salzburg, to visit his has been the subject of speculation and legend.
father and sister. The visit was somewhat cool, as Letters written between Mozart and his
Leopold was still a reluctant father-in-law and father, Leopold, indicate that the two felt a rivalry
Nannerl was a dutiful daughter. But the stay for and mistrust of the Italian musicians in general
promoted Mozart to begin writing a mass in C and Salieri in particular. Decades after Mozart’s
death, rumors spread that Salieri had poisoned him.
This rumor was made famous in 20th century from central Vienna to the suburb of Alsergrund,
playwright Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus and in the 1984 for what would seem to be a way of reducing living
film of the same name by director Milos Foreman. costs. But in reality, his family expenses remained
But in truth there is no basis for this speculation. high and the new dwelling only provided more
Though both composers were often in contention room. Mozart began to borrow money from friends,
for the same job and public attention, there is little though he was almost always able to promptly
evidence that their relationship was anything repay when a commission or concert came his way.
beyond a typical professional rivalry. Both admired During this time he wrote his last three symphonies
each other’s work and at one point even and the last of the three Da Ponte operas, Cosi Fan
collaborated on a cantata for voice and piano called Tutte, which premiered in 1790. During this time,
Per la recuperate salute di Ophelia. Mozart ventured long distances from Vienna to
Leipzig, Berlin, and Frankfurt, and other German
Toward the end of 1785, Mozart met the librettist cities hoping to revive his once great success and
Lorenzo Da Ponte, a Venetian composer and poet the family’s financial situation, but did neither. The
and together they collaborated on the opera The two-year period of 1788-1789 was a low point for
Marriage of Figaro. It received a successful Mozart, experiencing in his own words "black
premier in Vienna in 1786 and was even more thoughts" and deep depression. Historians believe
warmly received in Prague later that year. This he may have had some form of bipolar disorder,
triumph led to a second collaboration with Da Ponte which might explain the periods of hysteria coupled
on the opera Don Giovanni which premiered in with spells of hectic creativity.
1787 to high acclaim in Prague. Noted for their
musical complexity, the two operas are among Between 1790 and 1791, now in his mid-thirties,
Mozart’s most important works and are mainstays Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart went through a period
in operatic repertoire today. Both compositions of great music productivity and personal healing.
feature the wicked nobleman, though Figaro is Some of his most admired works -- the opera The
presented more in comedy and portrays strong Magic Flute, the final piano concerto in B-flat, the
social tension. Perhaps the central achievement of Clarinet Concerto in A major, and the unfinished
both operas lies in their ensembles with their close Requiem to name a few -- were written during this
link between music and dramatic meaning. time. Mozart was able to revive much of his public
notoriety with repeated performances of his works.
Later Years His financial situation began to improve as wealthy
In December, 1787, Emperor Joseph II appointed patrons in Hungary and Amsterdam pledged
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as his "chamber annuities in return for occasional compositions.
composer," a post that had opened up with the death From this turn of fortune, he was able to pay off
of Gluck. The gesture was as much an honor many of his debts.
bestowed on Mozart as it was incentive to keep the
esteemed composer from leaving Vienna for However, during this time both Wolfgang Amadeus
greener pastures. It was a part-time appointment Mozart’s mental and physical health was
with low pay, but it required Mozart only to deteriorating. In September, 1791, he was in Prague
compose dances for the annual balls. The modest for the premier of the opera La Clemenza di Tito,
income was a welcome windfall for Mozart, who which he was commissioned to produce for the
was struggling with debt, and provided him the coronation of Leopold II as King of Bohemia.
freedom to explore more of his personal musical Mozart recovered briefly to conduct the Prague
ambitions. premier of The Magic Flute, but fell deeper into
illness in November and was confined to bed.
Toward the end of the 1780s, Wolfgang Amadeus Constanze and her sister Sophie came to his side to
Mozart’s fortunes began to grow worse. He was help nurse him back to health, but Mozart was
performing less and his income shrank. Austria was mentally preoccupied with finishing Requiem, and
at war and both the affluence of the nation and the their efforts were in vain.
ability of the aristocracy to support the arts had
declined. By mid-1788, Mozart moved his family Death and Legacy
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died on December 5, The Requiem in D minor, K. 626, is a requiem
1791 at age 35. The cause of death is uncertain, due mass by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791).
to the limits of postmortem diagnosis. Officially, Mozart composed part of the Requiem in Vienna in
the record lists the cause as severe miliary fever, late 1791, but it was unfinished at his death on 5
referring to a skin rash that looks like millet seeds. December the same year. A completed version
Since then, many hypotheses have circulated dated 1792 by Franz Xaver Süssmayr was delivered
regarding Mozart's death. Some have attributed it to to Count Franz von Walsegg, who commissioned
rheumatic fever, a disease he suffered from the piece for a Requiem service to commemorate
repeatedly throughout his life. It was reported that the anniversary of his wife's death on 14 February.
his funeral drew few mourners and he was buried in
a common grave. Both actions were the Viennese The autograph manuscript shows the finished and
custom at the time, for only aristocrats and nobility orchestrated Introit in Mozart's hand, and detailed
enjoyed public mourning and were allowed to be drafts of the Kyrie and the sequence Dies irae as far
buried in marked graves. However, his memorial as the first eight bars of the Lacrimosa movement,
services and concerts in Vienna and Prague were and the Offertory. It cannot be shown to what extent
well attended. After his death, Constanze sold many Süssmayr may have depended on now lost "scraps
of his unpublished manuscripts to undoubtedly pay of paper" for the remainder; he later claimed the
off the family’s large debts. She was able to obtain Sanctus and Agnus Dei as his own.
a pension from the emperor and organized several
profitable memorial concerts in Mozart’s honor. Walsegg probably intended to pass the Requiem off
From these efforts, Constanze was able to gain as his own composition, as he is known to have
some financial security for herself and allowing her done with other works. This plan was frustrated by
to send her children to private schools. a public benefit performance for Mozart's widow
Constanze. She was responsible for a number of
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s death came at a stories surrounding the composition of the work,
young age, even for the time period. Yet his including the claims that Mozart received the
meteoric rise to fame and accomplishment at a very commission from a mysterious messenger who did
early age is reminiscent of more contemporary not reveal the commissioner's identity, and that
musical artists whose star had burned out way too Mozart came to believe that he was writing the
soon. At the time of his death, Mozart was requiem for his own funeral.
considered one of the greatest composers of all
time. His music presented a bold expression, often In addition to the Süssmayr version, a number of
times complex and dissonant, and required high alternative completions have been developed by
technical mastery from the musicians who musicologists in the 20th century.
performed it. His works remained secure and
popular throughout the 19th century, as biographies Don Giovanni (Italian pronunciation: [ˌdɔn dʒoˈvanni];
about him were written and his music enjoyed K. 527; complete title: Il dissoluto punito, ossia il
constant performances and renditions by other Don Giovanni, literally The Rake Punished, namely
musicians. His work influenced many composers Don Giovanni or The Libertine Punished) is an
that followed -- most notably Beethoven. Along opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus
with his friend Joseph Haydn, Mozart conceived Mozart and Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It
and perfected the grand forms of symphony, opera, is based on the legends of Don Juan, a fictional
string ensemble, and concerto that marked the libertine and seducer. It was premiered by the
classical period. In particular, his operas display an Prague Italian opera at the National Theater (of
uncanny psychological insight, unique to music at Bohemia), now called the Estates Theatre, on 29
the time, and continue to exert a particular October 1787.[1] Da Ponte's libretto was billed as a
fascination for musicians and music lovers today. dramma giocoso, a common designation of its time
that denotes a mixing of serious and comic action.
AKA - Wolfgang Mozart Mozart entered the work into his catalogue as an
Full Name - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart opera buffa. Although sometimes classified as
comic, it blends comedy, melodrama and
supernatural elements.
A staple of the standard operatic repertoire, Don Early Years
Giovanni for the five seasons 2011/12 through
2015/16 was ninth on the Operabase list of the
Johann Strauss, often referred to as Johann Strauss
most-performed operas worldwide.[2] It has also
II or "the Younger," was born on October 25, 1825,
proved a fruitful subject for writers and
in Vienna, Austria. He was the oldest son of Johann
philosophers.
Strauss (the Elder), also a composer, but one whose
reputation would eventually be eclipsed by his
son's.

Strauss the Elder wanted his son to follow a


different career path than he himself had followed,
so Strauss II became a bank clerk while secretly
studying the violin with a member of his father's
company. His father left the family when Strauss
was 17, and Strauss soon began openly embracing
the musician's life, conducting a band in a Viennese
restaurant when he was still a teenager, in 1844.

The Musician
A year after the restaurant appearance, Johann
Strauss formed his own band and suddenly found
himself competing with his father. He also began
writing at this point—quadrilles, mazurkas, polkas
and waltzes, which were then performed by his
orchestra. He soon began receiving praise for his
Austrian composer Johann Strauss surpassed his work and, in 1845, was awarded the honorary
bandmaster position of the 2nd Vienna Citizens'
father, Johann Strauss the Elder's popularity and
Regiment. (To shed some light on the competition
productivity, becoming known as the "Waltz King." between father and son, Strauss the Elder was
bandmaster of the 1st regiment.)
Synopsis
Johann Strauss, often referred to as Johann Strauss Strauss began composing for the Vienna Men's
II, was born on October 25, 1825, in Vienna, Choral Association in 1847. His father died two
Austria. His father, Johann Strauss the Elder, was a years later, prompting him to conflate his own and
self-taught musician who established a musical his father's orchestras, after which he mounted a
dynasty in Vienna, writing waltzes, galops, polkas successful career. In 1853, Strauss fell ill, and his
and quadrilles and publishing more than 250 works. younger brother, Josef, took control of the orchestra
Johann the Younger went on to write more than 500 for six months. After recovering, he dove back into
musical musical compositions, 150 of which were conducting and composing activities—a pursuit that
waltzes, and he surpassed both his father's proved to be stronger than ever, gaining the
productivity and popularity. Compositions such as eventual attention of such luminaries as Verdi,
The Blue Danube helped establish Strauss as "the Brahms and Wagner.
Waltz King" and earned him a place in music
history. He died in Vienna in June 1899.

(Photo: Fritz Luckhardt (1843-1894) - Photographer


Adam Cuerden - Restoration [Public domain], via
Photograph of Johann Strauss II taken by Fritz Wikimedia Commons)
Luckhardt in 1899.
The Composer
The 1860s saw Strauss hit a few touchstone composed in 1866. Originally performed on 15
moments, as he married singer Henriette Treffz in February 1867[1][2] at a concert of the Wiener
1862 and toured in Russia and England, extending Männergesangsverein (Vienna Men's Choral
his reputation. He would soon, however, quit Association),[2] it has been one of the most
conducting for the most part (exceptions being consistently popular pieces of music in the classical
engagements in New York City and Boston in repertoire. Its initial performance was considered
1872) to focus on writing music, turning his only a mild success,[1] however, and Strauss is
orchestra over to his two brothers, Josef and reputed to have said, "The devil take the waltz, my
Eduard. Strauss's focus in composition was dual: only regret is for the coda—I wish that had been a
the Viennese waltz and the Viennese operetta, and success!"[2]
he would become renowned for the former. His
operettas include Indigo und die vierzig Räuber After the original music was written, the words
(1871; his first) and Die Fledermaus (1874), which were added by the Choral Association's poet,
would become his most famous. But his waltzes— Joseph Weyl.[1][3] Strauss later added more music,
of which there were 150, less than a third of his and Weyl needed to change some of the words.[4]
total output—would have truly lasting appeal. Strauss adapted it into a purely orchestral version
for the 1867 Paris World's Fair, and it became a
An der schönen blauen Donau (The Blue Danube; great success in this form.[1] The instrumental
1867) would be the piece that defined Strauss to the version is by far the most commonly performed
listening public, and the work still resonates 150 today. An alternate text was written by Franz von
years later. Other Strauss waltzes include Gernerth [de], "Donau so blau" (Danube so blue).
Morgenblätter (Morning Papers; 1864), "The Blue Danube" premiered in the United States
Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald (Tales from the in its instrumental version on 1 July 1867 in New
Vienna Woods; 1868) and Wein, Weib und Gesang York, and in Great Britain in its choral version on
(Wine, Women and Song; 1869). 21 September 1867 in London at the promenade
concerts at Covent Garden.[citation needed]
Later Years When Strauss's stepdaughter, Alice von Meyszner-
On the heels of his American tour and his
Strauss, asked the composer Johannes Brahms to
international rise, Strauss encountered his share of
sign her autograph-fan, he wrote down the first bars
loss in the 1870s: His mother and brother Josef died
of The Blue Danube, but adding "Leider nicht von
around the same time, and his wife died of a heart
Johannes Brahms" ("Alas! not by Johannes
attack in 1878. Strauss married two more times and
Brahms").[2][5]
remained productive right up until his final days. He
was working on a ballet, Cinderella, when a
Kaiser-Walzer, Op. 437 (Emperor Waltz) is a waltz
respiratory illness turned into pneumonia and
composed by Johann Strauss II in 1889. The waltz
caused his death, on June 3, 1899, in Vienna.
was originally titled Hand in Hand and was
intended as a toast made in August of that year by
AKA - Johann Baptist Strauss
Emperor of Austria Franz Joseph I on the occasion
Johann Strauss II
of his visit to the German Emperor Wilhelm II
Nickname
where it was symbolic as a 'toast of friendship'
The Waltz King
extended by Austria-Hungary to the German
The Younger
Empire.
Johann Strauss the Younger
Full Name
Strauss' publisher, Fritz Simrock, suggested the title
Johann Strauss
Kaiser-Walzer since the title could allude to either
monarch, and thus satisfy the vanity of both rulers.
The waltz was first performed in Berlin on 21
"The Blue Danube" is the common English title of
October 1889. The original cover of the piano
"An der schönen blauen Donau", Op. 314
edition bore the illustration of the Austrian Imperial
(German for "By the Beautiful Blue Danube"), a
Crown.
waltz by the Austrian composer Johann Strauss II,