Following Mozart's return from Italy with his father in
1773, he accepted the position of a court musician in Salzburg. During this
time, Mozart had the opportunity to work in many different genres, including
symphonies, sonatas, concertos, string quartets and a few operas. However,
despite the opportunities and successes Mozart experienced in Salzburg, he
became increasing disgruntled with the position and began to seek work
elsewhere. After trips to Mannheim, Munich and Paris, and a brief return to
Salzburg, Mozart ultimately settled in Vienna in 1781 as a freelance performer
and composer. Mozart's early years in Vienna were quite successful. He frequently performed
on the piano, particularly in competition with Muzio Clementi and soon earned
the title of the "finest keyboard player in Vienna." His opera Die
Entführung aus dem Serail ("The Abduction from the Seraglio") was premiered
with much success and fully established Mozart's reputation as a composer.
While in Vienna, Mozart also met Haydn and the two composers became friends.
Haydn greatly praised the young Mozart and on one occasion he stated to
Mozart's father Leopold: "I tell you before God, and as an honest man,
your son is the greatest composer known to me by person and repute, he has
taste and what is more the greatest skill in composition." However, Mozart's initial success in Vienna did not last. Toward the end of the
1780's the general condition of music had declined in Vienna due to Austria
being at war. Mozart began to appear less often in concert as a performer and
his income significantly shrunk. He made several trips to Berlin, Leipzig and
other German cities that brought isolated and short-lived moments of success.
He was often forced to borrow money from friends during this period and some
musicologists, such as Maynard Solomon, suggest that he suffered from
depression. In 1791, Mozart's last year, things began to finally look up. The year, until
his final sickness, was marked by great productivity in which he produced the
opera The Magic Flute, his last piano concerto, the Clarinet Concerto,
the last string quintet, and the unfinished Requiem. Mozart's financial
situations also began to improve. He had stopped borrowing money and even began
paying off his debts. However, Mozart fell ill in September 1791 while in Prague. He was able to
continue his work for some time until he became bedridden on November 20th.
Mozart died a few weeks later on December 5th at 1 a.m. As was the custom at
the time, he was buried in a mass grave at St. Marx cemetery outside the city.
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