Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is considered to be one of the greatest musical geniuses of all time. He was a prolific composer and wrote over 600 works in the traditional forms of music. He also infused great emotion into his compositions with a remarkable ability for creating different melodies. He was born near Salzburg, Austria on January 27, 1756. He was a child prodigy who learned to play the family harpsichord at the age of 3. By the time he was 7, he had already composed several pieces and went on to become an accomplished violinist and organist.
He accompanied his family on a European tour at age 6 performing at royal courts. While in London he composed his only work set in an English text – God is Our Refuge and Strength. His first opera, La finta semplice and the operetta, Bastein und Bastienne, were composed in Vienna in 1768. By the time he was 13 he had achieved such a reputation that he was appointed concertmaster to the Archbishop of Salzburg. After his patron died, he served under his successor, but this person was not a music lover. Mozart went to Vienna in 1773, but could not find any work at the court. He stayed in Salzburg and wrote his first string quartets. He did move back to Vienna in 1781.
While in Vienna he met Franz Joseph Haydn, another famous composer. Haydn had such an influence on him that he dedicated six of his string quartets to him. These compositions are regarded as come of his finest chamber music. In 1781, he composed his first dramatic composition – the opera Idomeneo. This was followed by the comic opera The Abduction From the Seraglio and in 1786 he wrote the Marriage of Figaro. His accomplishments finally earned him the appointment of chamber composer to the Austrian Emperor in 1788. That year he also composed three of his greatest symphonies, Nos. 39, 40 and 41. He also wrote three string quartets for the King of Prussia.
While he was working on The Magic Flute, he received an anonymous request to compose a requiem mass. He became obsessed with the idea that this was to be his funeral mass and devoted most of his time to it. However, he died in Vienna, on December 5, 1791 before he could complete it. His pupil Franz Sussmayr completed the composition, which now ranks as one of the most beautiful religious works.