How Mozart Became Famous

by J. Lang Wood
Mozart was a child prodigy, but spent his life in debt.

Mozart was a child prodigy, but spent his life in debt.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is figure of musical legend. A child prodigy who composed his first aria at the age of 4, Mozart is still recognized today as a composer of distinctive expression and remarkable output. He died at the age of 35, poor and largely unremarked. The great composer would no doubt see the irony in the great celebration of his name and work long after his death.

The Early Years

Mozart was born in 1756 in Salzburg, Austria, and first became interested in music during the process of his older sister's piano lessons. Soon he was taking up the violin, untutored, to the delight of his father, Leopold who oversaw his children's musical training. Recognizing this miraculous talent, Leopold, like many a Hollywood stage-parent, sought to capitalize on his son's talent for the family's benefit. He set up a tour of Europe to show of the amazing musical abilities of his two children, visiting the courts and musical venues of Vienna, Paris, London and Italy

At the Imperial Court

These travels eventually led to a call from the imperial court. Amadeus moved to Vienna, finally acquiring a modest salary writing dance music for court balls. Unfortunately, he was one of those people who spent lavishly and was always in debt. During his years at the Salzburg court, Mozart devoted himself to composition, writing 15 piano concertos before the end of 1786, according to PBS. A long list of arias, operas, masses and symphonies were added to his credits.

After Death

It was much later, in the late 19th century and early 20th century, that both musicologists and the publicbegan to appreciate the profound creativity of Mozart's music. Mozart became ensconced in the annals of the great composers of the Western World, and his music is played widely by orchestras and is heard often in the soundtracks of movies. His life and music inspired a popular movie titled "Amadeus," released in 1984 and directed by Milos Forman, which made the youthful spirit and lively creativity of the composer to the consciousness of the general public and re-invigorated interest in his music. Mozart would have found this highly amusing, since he struggled to make a living all his life and was overburdened by debt all the way to his last breath in 1791.

Mozart's Fame Today

Mozart's fame continues today in ways that would surprise the composer. In studies conducted at the Tel Aviv Medical Center, researchers found that infants exposed to 30 minutes of Mozart's music played once each day expended less energy and required fewer calories for rapid growth, reports ScienceDaily. This quick gain in body weight is particularly important for premature babies' survival.

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