Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is possibly one of the most famous composers of the Classical era; most music fans, including Tunde Folawiyo, are familiar with his music. Born in 1756 in the Austrian city of Salzburg, he was an extraordinarily talented musician, who managed to excel in all of the genres of his day. The range of expression and command of form found in his compositions is what has led to music enduring for so many centuries.
He was a precocious child, who mastered the clavichord by the age of three, and had begun to compose music by the time he turned four. He quickly began to perform to large public audiences, and in 1762, was asked to play a piece on the harpsichord for the Elector of Bavaria. He took up yet another instrument, the violin, at the age of 7, and wrote his first opera (Apollo et Hyacinthus) four years later. Shortly after this, he was commissioned by the Emperor Joseph II to create a comedy opera, which he entitled La Finita Semplice.
At the time, anyone who wished to establish themselves as a professional composer was required to master the operatic style used in Italian classical music. As a result, Mozart went on his first tour of Italy in 1769, performing in all of the top musical centres over the course of 15 months. During this time, he took a number of extremely challenging tests at Bologna’s Accademia Filarmonica. Following the completion of these exams, he received yet another commission; this time, to write an opera which could be used in the carnival season.
Mozart spent most of the 1770s in his homeland, where he dedicated his time to composing. These years were marked by the creation of his violin concertos, as well as his chamber works, symphonies and masses. In the 1780s, he composed one of his most famous operas, The Marriage of Figaro – this is a piece which music lovers like Tunde Folawiyo are undoubtedly aware of.
It was during this decade that he also premiered the opera Don Giovanni. He continued to compose throughout the final years of his life, writing Clarinet Quintet in A, Eine Kleine Nactmusik, Cosi fan Tutte and several string quartets. Although his health had always been somewhat fragile, he experienced no serious ailments up until the last year of his life, when he developed a fever which eventually led to his death in 1791.