Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) composed his first work before he turned five. His father, Leopold Mozart (1719–1787), a composer and violinist, recognized his son's unusual musical talents. He taught Wolfgang to play the harpsichord at age three and the violin at age five. In 1762 Leopold took his son and daughter Maria Anna (1751–1829) on tour to Paris, France. While there, young Wolfgang composed his first published violin sonatas and improvisations. On this tour the siblings performed at royal courts and private aristocratic homes in Paris and Vienna, Austria, and London, England.
Wolfgang claimed that his talents did not come naturally to him. Throughout his life he claimed that he worked incredibly hard at his craft. In a letter to his father he wrote, "It is a mistake to think that the practice of my art has become easy to me—no one has given so much care to the study of composition as I have. There is scarcely a famous master in music whose works I have not frequently and diligently studied." Though he composed at a rapid speed he did make revisions to his work, showing a passion for perfection. The result was 600 works that included symphonies, sonatas, operas, operettas, cantatas, arias, and duets. Among his best-known works are The Marriage of Figaro (1786), Don Giovanni (1787), Cosi fan Tutte (1790), and The Magic Flute (1791).
Further Information: Blakely, Roger K. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. San Diego: Lucent Books, 1993; Crespi, Francesca. The Magic Flute: The Story of Mozart's Opera. New York: Henry Holt, 1989; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. [Online] Available http://www.frontiernet/-sboerner/mozart/index.html, October 23, 2000; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. [Online] Available http://www.bmg.classics.com/classics/biography/mozart.html, October 23, 2000; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. [Online] Available http://www.salzburginfo.at/rundgang/mozart_e.htm, October 23, 2000.