Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is the prototype of the child prodigy. Born in Salzburg, Austria on January 27, 1756, by the age of three he could pick out tunes on the piano. At age four he could tell when the violin was a quarter tone out of tune, and he could learn a new piece of music in a half hour. By six, he was composing. For the next four years, he and his family traveled throughout Europe, everyone wanting to see and hear "the wunderkind"! Having served his apprenticeship at a much younger age than most, he had already mastered his craft by his early twenties.
The popular image of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as a starving artist buried in a pauper's grave is false. Between the years of 1781 and 1786, he was one of the highest paid musicians in all of Europe. In the days before publishing royalties and recording contracts, his only source of income was subscription concerts of his newest works. In 1786 he composed the "Marriage of Figaro" but the aristocratic audience felt insulted by the plot - the triumph of clever servants over their bumbling, arrogant aristocratic masters.
Mozart grew up to be the greatest composer of his day, supreme in all musical forms - opera, symphonies, concertos, chamber and piano solo. He was probably the finest pianist, organist and composer in Europe. He was the first to make comic opera more than entertainment. He used his music to explain mood, situation, and character. He has been called the first modern psychologist of opera. That is clearly apparent from experiencing "The Abduction from the Seraglio" (1782), "The Marriage of Figaro" (1786), "Don Giovanni" (1787), "Cosi fan Tutte" (1790) and "The Magic Flute" (1791).
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's musical legacy is even more alive today than it was in the last years of the eighteenth century.