The composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on 27 January 1756 and died on 5 December 1791, a pauper and in what are rumoured to be suspicious circumstances.
He was a child genius under the tutelage of his domineering father – and together with his elder sister Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia Mozart (30 July 1751 – 29 October 1829) – he became the darling of polite society across Europe.
Mozart on Tour in Italy
In December 1769, he and his father set out from his home town Salzburg in Austria on their first tour of Europe, taking in the prominent Italian cities, including Rome, Verona, Florence, Turin, Naples, Bologna, Venice and Milan as well as Bolzano (in later centuries, the transit camp for Nazis transporting Italy’s Jews) and Loreto, Brescia, Parma, Rovereto and Rimini.
Mozart – Knight of the Golden Spur
Among his many honours and awards was the Order of the Golden Spur given by the Pope, which involved him being dressed in ceremonial regalia. The award is an honour of the Holy Roman Empire, and is known as the Knight of the Golden Spur.
Amadeus – Beloved of God
Mozart’s full name was Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. He was known as Amadeus as it derives from the name Theophilus – Theo is Greek for “God” and Amadeus in Latin means “beloved of God”. In German, this translates as “Gottlieb”.
Mozart died from a severe fever aged 35, with some believing he was poisoned – possibly by the freemasons for revealing secrets of their order in his opera The Magic Flute, which is full of ceremony and symbolism.
Mozart was born on 27 January – the day Auschwitz was liberated, the 75th anniversary of which we are marking this year.
His final work was the beautiful and haunting Requiem, which he was unable to complete. It was finished by Mozart’s student, Franz Xaver Süssmayr.
It is perhaps appropriate that this favourite son of Italy, Mozart, who was honoured by Papal Rome, composed a Requiem fitting for us to remember the atrocities of the Nazi era, so firmly rooted in Italy and across Europe during the Second World War; and all atrocities in our global history, which are still taking place today.
The first phrases of the Requiem are considered one of the most beautiful and moving ever written – and Mozart was fully aware that, as he lay ill, he might be writing the Requiem for himself.
You can hear the the full Requiem in D minor (K.626) played live on YouTube.
Featured image: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Verona, 1770, aged 13 (attributed Giambettino Cignaroli (1706-1770)) Creative Commons Licence
Map by Jappalang, Wikipedia
Knight of the Golden Spur image Public Domain, Wikipedia