Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Born 27 January 1756. Died 5 December 1791.

classical composer

Please Note: you do not have javascript enabled. Video content requires javascript to be enabled.

Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro

In this Proms Music Guide, Andrew McGregor talks about Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.

Featured in BBC Music Clips
 

Biography

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756, the son of a violinist at the court of the local Prince-Archbishop. His father, recognising early the boy’s extraordinary musical talents, proceeded to take him on performing tours throughout Europe so that he could be exposed to as wide a range of musical styles and cultural milieux as possible. By the age of 16 Mozart had visited England, Italy, France and Germany, had met many important musical and political figures, and had had three operas performed in Milan.

It was the sort of education he could never have gained in Salzburg; and, while the constant travelling may have contributed to his lifelong poor health, it was doubtless also a major factor in the formation of his cosmopolitan musical style.

Throughout the 1770s, however, Mozart was a member of the Salzburg orchestra. Growing frustration with his position led him to try his luck in Mannheim and Paris in 1777–8, but the trip brought only disappointment and within a few months he was back in Salzburg. A breakthrough of sorts came when a commission from Munich led to his first great opera, Idomeneo (1781), a work into which he poured all of the musical experience he had so far gained.

The year 1781 finally saw him break with Salzburg and move to the musically more sophisticated Vienna, where he embarked on the life of a freelance composer, pianist and teacher. At first he enjoyed considerable success, particularly as a pianist in his own concertos and with his lively comic opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail (1782). There followed three of his greatest operatic masterpieces – The Marriage of Figaro (1786), Don Giovanni (1787) and Così fan tutte (1790) – but by the time of the last his popularity had waned and he found himself seriously in debt. He died in December 1791, not long after the successful premiere of his final opera, The Magic Flute.

Profile by Lindsay Kemp © BBC

Links & Information

Personal Relationships

BBC Reviews

  1. Review of La Finta Giardiniera (Freiburger Barockorchester; Rene Jacobs)

    La Finta Giardiniera (Freiburger Barockorchester; Rene Jacobs) 2012

    Reviewed by Graham Rogers
    An overwhelmingly joyous account of one of Mozart’s lesser-known operas.
  2. Review of Don Giovanni (Ildebrando D'Arcangelo; Mahler Chamber Orchestra; conductor: Yannick Nezet-Seguin)

    Don Giovanni (Ildebrando D'Arcangelo; Mahler Chamber Orchestra; conductor: Yannick Nezet-Seguin) 2012

    Reviewed by Graham Rogers
    The most exciting and consistently well-sung Don Giovanni to appear for several years.
  3. Review of Piano Concertos Nos. 9 & 21 (feat. piano: Mitsuko Uchida; The Cleveland Orchestra)

    Piano Concertos Nos. 9 & 21 (feat. piano: Mitsuko Uchida; The Cleveland Orchestra) 2012

    Reviewed by Graham Rogers
    Uchida's measured approach reaps rewards, capturing the joy in this life-affirming music.
  4. Review of Paris & Vienna (piano: Gottlieb Wallisch)

    Paris & Vienna (piano: Gottlieb Wallisch) 2012

    Reviewed by Charlotte Gardner
    The pianist presents much to appreciate, not least the simple grace of his expression.
  5. Review of Duo Sonatas Volume 5 (Duo Amadè; violin: Catherine Mackintosh; fortepiano: Geoffrey Govier)

    Duo Sonatas Volume 5 (Duo Amadè; violin: Catherine Mackintosh; fortepiano: Geoffrey Govier) 2012

    Reviewed by Graham Rogers
    The duo’s individualistic, historically informed approach can be extremely illuminating.
  6. Review of Symphonies Nos. 39 and 40 (Orchestra Mozart; Claudio Abbado)

    Symphonies Nos. 39 and 40 (Orchestra Mozart; Claudio Abbado) 2011

    Reviewed by Graham Rogers
    An album that absolutely demands to be heard.
  7. Review of Flute and Harp Concerto / Sinfonia Concertante for Winds (Orchestra Mozart; conductor: Claudio Abbado)

    Flute and Harp Concerto / Sinfonia Concertante for Winds (Orchestra Mozart; conductor: Claudio Abbado) 2011

    Reviewed by Graham Rogers
    Some of the most satisfying and energising performances you will ever hear.
  8. Review of Dissonances – String Quartetes KV 421 & 465; Divertimento KV 138 (Quator Ebene)

    Dissonances – String Quartetes KV 421 & 465; Divertimento KV 138 (Quator Ebene) 2011

    Reviewed by Adrian Edwards
    Inspired and personal readings of Mozart’s quartets from the Gramophone award-winners.
  9. Review of Keyboard Music Vol.2 (fortepianist: Kristian Bezuidenhout)

    Keyboard Music Vol.2 (fortepianist: Kristian Bezuidenhout) 2011

    Reviewed by Graham Rogers
    Bezuidenhout really does Mozart’s solo piano music the fullest justice.
  10. Review of Piano Concertos 22 and 25 (feat. piano: David Fray; conductor: Jaap van Zweden; Philharmonia Orchestra)

    Piano Concertos 22 and 25 (feat. piano: David Fray; conductor: Jaap van Zweden; Philharmonia Orchestra) 2010

    Reviewed by Graham Rogers
    A recommended release, recorded with clarity and natural balance.
  11. Review of Die Zauberflöte

    Die Zauberflöte 2010

    Reviewed by Graham Rogers
    Jacobs’s account is a game-changer: we will never listen to this the same way again.
  12. Review of Duo Sonatas Vol. 3

    Duo Sonatas Vol. 3 2010

    Reviewed by Graham Rogers
    Full of variety and invention, this is delightful music calculated to have wide appeal.
  13. Review of Klavierkonzerte Nr 22 & 23 (feat. piano Daniel Barenboim, cond. Rafael Kubelik, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks)
  14. Review of Symphonies Nos. 39 & 40

    Symphonies Nos. 39 & 40 2010

    Reviewed by Michael Quinn
    Surprisingly crisp and spry, but authentically Mozartian.
  15. Review of Symphonies 29, 31 'Paris', 32, 35 'Haffner' & 36 'Linz' (feat. cond: Sir Charles Mackerras, orch: Scottish Chamber Orchestra)
  16. Review of Violin Concertos 1 & 3, Sinfonia Concertante (Scottish Chamber Orchestra feat. conductor: Louis Langrée, vln: Renaud Capuçon, vla: Antoine Tamestit)
  17. Review of Sonatas For Fortepiano And Violin

    Sonatas For Fortepiano And Violin 2009

    Reviewed by Charlotte Gardner
    A real pleasure.
  18. Review of Colloredo Serenade K.203 and Divertimento K.251

    Colloredo Serenade K.203 and Divertimento K.251 2008

    Reviewed by Charlotte Gardner
    Altogether, fine stuff.
  19. Review of Piano Concertos 21 & 22

    Piano Concertos 21 & 22 2008

    Reviewed by Charlotte Gardner
    Fantastic stuff.
  20. Review of Symphonies Nos. 38 - 41

    Symphonies Nos. 38 - 41 2008

    Reviewed by Charlotte Gardner
    In all the symphonies, the transparency of sound has you sitting bolt upright,...
  21. Review of Serenades

    Serenades 2007

    Reviewed by Claire Rogers
    thoroughly recommend, especially if you have any kind of SACD player.
  22. Review of 3 Violin Concertos

    3 Violin Concertos 2007

    Reviewed by Andrew McGregor
    Refreshing and stylish performances of these three Violin Concertos with Andrew Manze...
  23. Review of Opera Arias

    Opera Arias 2007

    Reviewed by John Armstrong
    ...No matter what demands Mozart throws at his heroines, Piau is equal to the task. It...
  24. Review of Violin Concertos

    Violin Concertos 2007

    Reviewed by Andrew McGregor
    The OAE is on top form, with a superstar soloist meeting them on their own terms - the...
  25. Review of String Quartets

    String Quartets 2006

    Reviewed by Andrew McGregor
    Mozart's 'Dissonance' Quartet, so-called because of its harmonically-ambiguous slow...
  26. Review of Flute Concertos

    Flute Concertos 2005

    Reviewed by Andrew McGregor
    Sharon Bezaly obviously adores this music, which she performs with limpid tone, an...
  27. Review of The Marriage of Figaro

    The Marriage of Figaro 2004

    Reviewed by Andrew McGregor
    An absolute joy from beginning to end. This is opera for our times, a subversive...
Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss