69 Interesting Facts about Mozart

By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published December 22, 2016
  • In 2002, on the one-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks, choirs around the world sang Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor for 24 hours in a global effort to honor those who died.[11]
  • Mozart wrote half the number of total symphonies he would create between the ages of 8 and 19.[1]
  • Mozart’s nickname was “Wolfie.”[6]
  • Rocker Eddie Van Halen named his son “Wolfgang van Halen” in honor of Mozart.[9]
  • Ludwig von Köchel (1800–1877) produced the first scholarly catalog of the works of Mozart.[9]
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on 27 January 1756
  • By the age of 3, Mozart had learned to play a clavier, which was an old-fashioned stringed instrument that had a keyboard. By the age of 5, he was playing the harpsichord and violin as well as a professional. He was playing in front of royalty when he was just 6 years old. Mozart was a rare musical genius.[8]
  • Mozart composed his last symphony (no. 41) in 1788. It is known as the “Jupiter” symphony.[11]
  • In the largest-ever recording project devoted to a single composure, Philips Classic produced 180 compact discs in 1991 containing the complete set of authenticated works by Mozart. It comprises over 200 hours of music and would take over 6.5 feet of shelving.[10]
  • The soundtrack to the1984 film Amadeus made it to #56 on the Billboard album charts, making it one of the most successful classical music albums ever.[2]
  • Composer Gustav Mahler’s (1860–1911) last word before he died was “Mozart.”[11]
  • Wolfgang Mozart was baptized Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart.[1]
  • Mozart could listen to music just once and then write it down from memory without any mistakes.[11]
  • The only country that begins with the same first three letters at Mozart is Mozambique.[5]
  • One anagram of “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart” is “A famous German waltz god.”[5]
  • Mozart was a master of every type of music he wrote. He was a child star, one of the greatest pianists of his generation, and the most well known composer in Europe by the age of 20. However, even with all this, he spent most of his life searching for a job.[1]
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) died in his 36th year, at the peak of his musical power—without any money.[11]
  • Mozart wrote more music in his short career than many other composers who lived much longer.[9]
  • Mozart could write music before he could write words.[5]
  • The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.

    - Mozart

  • Count Hieronymus von Colloredo (1732–1812), archbishop of Salzburg, is famous for being one of Mozart’s patrons and employers. He eventually became annoyed with Mozart’s frequent absences and dismissed him with the famous words: “Soll er doch gehen, ich brauche ihn nicht!” (“He may leave, I don’t need him!)”[11]
  • At one time, Mozart was an employee of the archbishop of Salzburg. Relations with his employer ended when the archbishop’s secretary gave Mozart a kick in the behind.[11]
  • Debate surrounds the temperament of Mozart’s father, Johann Georg Leopold Mozart (1719–1787). Some scholars cast him as being tyrannical, mendacious, and possessive, while others argue Leopold was a sensible guide for an irresponsible Wolfgang.[11]
  • Wolfgang Mozart’s second name, Theophilus, means “loved by God” in Greek. He liked to use the Latin translation, “Amadeus.”[1]
  • Mozart, his father, and his sister traveled around the noble courts of Europe to perform music. Travel was difficult in those days, and all three Mozarts suffered serious illnesses on the road. Wolfgang never grew to be a strong man, and researchers believe his many illnesses as a child left him small, pale, and delicate.[6]
  • The music Mozart played as a child was called the “gallant style,” which was a part of a larger artistic movement known as Rococo. It was noted for its more jocular, florid, and playful style. Mozart would later move away from the gallant style to become an archetype of the classical style.[6]
  • Mozart traveled extensively. He spent 14 of his 36 years away from home.[6]
  • When Mozart was just 14, he composed the opera Mitridate re di Ponto (Mithridates, King of Pontus). It was a triumph when it was performed in December 1770 in Milan.[6]
  • The term “Mozart’s ear” describes a defect of the ear. Researchers believe Mozart and his son, Franz, had a congenital ear defect.[10]
  • Mozart and his sister were very close, and they even invented a secret language together
  • Mozart’s sister Maria Anna (1751–1829) was a talented pianist, but after she reached marriageable age, she was not allowed to perform in public. In contrast to Mozart, who disobeyed his father’s wishes about his career and marriage, Maria Anna was very obedient to her father.[1]
  • Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria, in 1756. He died in Vienna, Austria, in 1791 at the age of 35.[1]
  • In addition to composing perfect fugues and operas, Mozart also has a sense of humor that frequently included references to scatology (feces). In one letter to his 19-year-old cousin Marianne, the 21-year-old Mozart wrote, “I now wish you a good night, shit in your bed with all your might.” However, it appears the entire Mozart family “wrote strange things to each other.”[7]
  • First coined in 1993, the “Mozart Effect” is the belief that listening to Mozart’s music can improve a person’s IQ.[11]
  • Mozart’s music has been credited with helping those with epilepsy, boosting the milk production of cows, and boosting the IQ of unborn babies. A Swiss sewage treatment center has now claimed that Mozart can help microbes break down sewage waste. The center’s preferred composition is The Magic Flute.[3]
  • No one is sure where Mozart’s body is. He was buried according to the custom of the time in a simple grave. He had no graveside ceremony or even a grave marker.[10]
  • Mozart’s father, Leopold, described Mozart’s birth as a “miracle from God” because he seemed too small and weak to survive.[9]
  • Mozart's' parents, Leopold and Maria Anna Mozart, were afraid for their son's life at birth because five of his siblings had died as infants
  • Mozart was the first person to compose piano concertos as we know them today. Piano concertos are like lively conversations between the piano and orchestra.[6]
  • While Mozart earned substantial money from his successful operas, he was an extravagant spender and often ended up in financial straits.[6]
  • Count Franz von Walsegg commissioned Mozart to write his famous requiem. However, he wanted Mozart to leave his name off of the requiem mass so that the count could pass it off as his own work.[11]
  • Mozart composed over 600 works, and most of them are pinnacles of symphonic, concerto, chamber, operatic, and choral music.[11]
  • Among Mozart’s prolific musical creations are 41 symphonies, 27 piano concertos, 5 violin concertos, 27 concert arias, 23 string quartets, 18 masses, and 22 operas.[11]
  • Portrait of Mozart wearing the Order of the Golden Spur
  • While Mozart was in Rome as a child, the pope awarded him the Order of the Golden Spur, a very high honor.[1]
  • Mozart’s impact on Western music is profound. Joseph Haydon noted “posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years.”[11]
  • Mozart was the youngest of seven children; however, five of his siblings died in infancy. The only other sibling to survive was Maria Anna (1751–1829), who was nicknamed “Nannerl.”[1]
  • When he was young, Mozart’s only teacher was his father. Along with music, Mozart’s father also taught his children languages and other academic subjects.[1]
  • Mozart wrote his first symphony when he was just 8 years old.[8]
  • When Mozart visited the Sistine Chapel as a child, he astonished everyone when he remembered and wrote down, note for note, Allegri’s Miserere. This composition had been previously kept a secret.[8]
  • Much to his father’s horror, Mozart married 19-year-old Constanze on August 4, 1782. Some scholars depict her as flighty; others view her more sympathetically. Eighteen years after Mozart’s death, she married again and helped her new husband write a book about Mozart.[11]
  • Mozart’s famous partnership with Lorenzo Da Ponte resulted in the Marriage of Figaro, which is based on a play by Beaumarchais. Their partnership is one of the most famous in the history of music.[11]
  • Mozart’s main rival was the Italian composer Antonio Salieri, who wrote more than 40 operas. Years later, Salieri claimed that he had poisoned Mozart, though most people believe it was the ramblings of a confused old man.[11]
  • When Mozart died, his wife Constanze was so upset that she crawled into bed with her dead husband so she could catch his illness and die with him.[11]
  • As a child, Mozart asked Marie Antoinette to marry him
  • While in Vienna as a child, Mozart performed for Empress Maria Theresa. He amused her when he asked one of her young daughters to marry him. She was Marie Antoinette, the future queen of France.[1]
  • Mozart studied Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel, both of whom influenced his music—specifically the fugal passages in Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) and the finale of Symphony No. 41.[11]
  • Mozart’s Mass in C Minor was largely prompted by his father’s and sister’s cool reception of his wife, Constanze.[11]
  • When Mozart met Joseph Haydn in Vienna in 1784, they became friends. They would sometimes play together in impromptu string quartets. Mozart dedicated six quartets to his friend.[1]
  • The Marriage of Figaro (1786) and Don Giovanni (1787) are two of Mozart’s most important works and are still opera mainstays today. At their premieres, their musical complexity was surprising for both listeners and performers.[9]
  • While Mozart was working under Emperor Joseph II in 1787, a young Ludwig van Beethoven spent several weeks in Vienna, hoping to study under Mozart. No one is sure whether the two famous composers ever met.[9]
  • Mozart fell ill while in Prague for the September 6, 1791, premier of his opera La clemenza di Tito. He died in his home on December 5, 1791. Even while ill, he was occupied with the task of finishing his Requiem.[11]
  • The purported skull of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on display
  • In 1801, gravedigger Joseph Rothmayer allegedly dug up Mozart’s skull from a cemetery in Vienna. However, even after various testing, it remains uncertain whether the skull is, in fact, Mozart’s. For now, it is locked away at the Mozarteum Foundation in Salzburg, Austria.[4]
  • Mozart was buried in a “common grave” at the St. Marx Cemetery. A “common grave” is not the same as a pauper’s grave or a communal grave, but a grave for people who were not the aristocracy. One main difference is that common graves were subject to excavation after 10 years while the graves of aristocrats weren’t.[11]
  • Researchers have hypothesized at least 118 causes of death for Mozart, including rheumatic fever, influenza, trichinosis, mercury poisoning, kidney ailment, and streptococcal infection.[1]
  • After Mozart’s death, his wife, Constanze, successfully petitioned the emperor for widow’s pension for herself and her two children. She also organized a series of concerts of Mozart’s music and the publications of his works.[11]
  • According to several biographers, Mozart was a small man with intense eyes. He had smallpox when he was a child, which left some facial scars. He was thin and pale with fine hair and he loved elegant clothes.[9]
  • Mozart once said, “I pay no attention whatever to anybody’s praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.”[11]
  • According to Mozart’s wife, Constanze, at the end of Mozart’s life, he believed he was being poisoned and that he was composing his Requiem for himself. He died before finishing it. His student Franz Süssmayr completed the work, and it is this version that is most often heard today. Scholars still debate which parts Mozart truly wrote.[11]
  • Mozart and his wife had six children, of whom only two survived infancy
  • Mozart had six children, but only two survived infancy. Neither of his two sons, Karl Thomas and Franz Xaver, married or had children.[6]
  • Mozart became increasingly popular after his death. In fact, as 20th century biographer Maynard Solomon notes, there was an “unprecedented wave of enthusiasm” for his work postmortem.[11]
  • Mozart was born a Catholic and remained a member his entire life. Some of his greatest works are religious.[11]
  • Mozart was a tenor. He was also left handed.[9]
  • Mozart’s wife destroyed many of his sketches and drafts after his death.[11]
  • Mozart had several pets, including a dog, a starling, a canary, and a horse.[11]
References

1 Allman, Barbara. Musical Genius: A Story about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books, Inc., 2004.

2Amadeus.” Trivia. IMDB. 2014. Accessed: December 17, 2014.

3 Connolly, Kate. “Sewage Plant Plays Mozart to Stimulate Microbes.” The Guardian. June 2, 2010. Accessed: December 17, 2014.

4 Harding, Luke. “DNA Detectives Discover More Skeletons in Mozart Family Closet.” The Guardian. January 8, 2006. Accessed: December 17, 2014.

5 Hartston, William. “Top 10 Facts about Mozart.” Express. January 27, 2014. Accessed: December 17, 2014.

6 McDonough, Yona Zeldis. Who Was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart? New York, NY: Grosset & Dunlap, 2003.

7 Rao, Mallika. “Mozart’s Dirty Love Letter to His Cousin: ‘Oh My Ass Burns Like Fire!Huffington Post. July 5, 2012. Accessed: December 17, 2014.

8 Salvi, Francesco. Mozart and Classical Music (Masters of Music). Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., 1997.

9 Solomon, Maynard. Mozart: A Life. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1995.

10 Traynor, Robert. “‘Mozart’s Ear’: Does It Explain the Great Composer’s Untimely Death?Hearing Health & Technology Matters. December 16, 2014. Accessed: December 17, 2014.

11 Vernon, Roland. Introducing Mozart. Parsippany, NJ: Silver Burdett Press, 1996.

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