European Mozartways

Childhood and First Journeys 1756 - 1763


At 8 o'clock in the evening on January 27th, 1756, Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus came into this world. In Mozart's time, Salzburg had already developed into a largish medium-sized town which, in 1771, had somewhat more than 16,000 residents. The most important social and cultural centres were the court of the archbishop and the Benedictine university, the latter of which had been founded in 1623. Salzburg's merchant classes fostered trade relationships which were far-ranging and freed Salzburg from any hint of provincialism.


Wolfgang's first compositions are written. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart first performed before an audience in Salzburg on September 1st, 1761, when he took part in the Latin school play, "Sigismundus Hungariae Rex", as one of the "salii" (dancers) in a performance at the university auditorium. Amongst his early Salzburg compositions are the sacred singspiel "Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots" K. 35, written for the court of the prince archbishop (1767), the school drama "Apollo et Hyacinthus" K. 38, performed at the Great Hall of the university (1767), his Missa brevis in D minor K. 65 (61a) for the church of the university, as well as the Mass in C major K.66, the so-called "Dominicus Mass", written for the first mass officiated by childhood friend and subsequent Archbishop of St. Peter's, Kajetan Rupert Hagenauer. In his lifetime, Mozart never attended a school or a university, though he did have a close relationship with Salzburg University because of compositions he wrote to mark the successful graduation of his friends.


On January 12th, 1762, the father embarked with his gifted children on their first artistic journey together.  During their three-week trip to Munich, Wolfgang and Nannerl performed before Maximilian III Joseph, Prince Elector of Bavaria.
It has been calculated that Mozart spent 3,720 days on the road - virtually one third of his life.  In spite of the uncomfortable carriages of the day, Mozart actually enjoyed travelling.
By the autumn of 1762, the Mozart family had once again left home - this time for Vienna. On October 13th, they received their first audience with the Empress Maria Theresia. "Wolferl jumped on the empress' lap, put his arms around her neck and kissed her vigorously", the proud father reported on October 16th in a letter to his landlord, Hagenauer. In addition to other valuable gifts, the children were both outfitted in gala clothing.


Shortly after his return from Vienna, on February 28th, 1763, Leopold Mozart was appointed by Prince Archbishop Sigismund Christoph of Schrattenbach to the position of Vice Kapellmeister. Generously disposed towards Mozart, he sponsored many of the composer's journeys. Wolfgang gives his first performance as a musician at the birthday of the prince archbishop.