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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an Austrian composer. He was born in Salzburg in 1756 and later settled in Vienna. Today his compositions are some of the most popular and well-known pieces from the Classical period.


Portrait of Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart was a child prodigy and performed and composed from a very young age. He was often in financial difficulties and died with little money in 1791 aged 35. Although his life was short, he composed very quickly and produced many important works. His most famous works include:

  • 41 symphonies
  • piano concertos
  • piano sonatas
  • string quartets
  • several operas eg The Magic Flute
  • a requiem

The Classical period

Mozart was writing during the Classical period (roughly 1750-1810). Musical characteristics of the Classical period include:

  • an emphasis on elegance and balance
  • short well-balanced melodies and clear-cut question and answer phrases
  • mainly simple diatonic harmony
  • mainly homophonic textures (melody plus accompaniment) but with some use of counterpoint (where two or more melodic lines are combined)
  • use of contrasting moods

Diatonic means using notes which belong to the key rather than chromatic notes which are outside the key.

Back to The western classical tradition index

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