Happy Birthday, Wolfie!
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, affectionately called Wolferl by his family, or Wolfie, as we might say in English, was born on January 27th, 1756, in Salzburg, Austria. The kid was a musical prodigy. He was playing the harpsichord and composing music when he was five years old. His older sister, Marianna, called Nannerl ( call her Nanni), was musically talented, too. Their father, Leopold, was a musician and in no time Leopold and his two children were touring Europe and astonishing audiences.When it came to music, Mozart’s brain was neurologically different from others: the Vatican never permitted copies to be made of Allegri’s Miserere, but Mozart — around the age of 14 — was able to listen to that composition twice in the Sistine Chapel and to write it out from memory. Mozart married Constanze Weber, a woman who had, among other virtues, a fine singing voice. He composed over 600 pieces, symphonies, operas, choral music, chamber music, masses, serenades — you name it, he was astonishing at whatever form he turned his hand to. Most of his life Mozart was famous and successful, and he spent money freely, much too freely. When times turned bad, the brilliant young man, husband and father, found himself asking his friends for loans. Eventually, modest good fortune returned — but then Mozart fell ill, sickened and died. He was 35 years old, survived by Constanze and two of their six children. It was a brief life, but astonishing and productive of dazzling music.