Little Wolfgang Never Fails to Astound …

Skilful Blots of Ink and the First Public Performance


The young Mozart playing the organ for the first time in September 1762 in the Franciscan church in Ybbs, Lower Austria (detail)

Oil painting by Heinrich Lossow (1843– 1897) 1864 (Schlossmuseum Linz) Photo: Bernhard Böhler
1761
Salzburg
Portrait of a boy, said to be the young Mozart (detail)

Portrait of a boy, said to be the young Mozart (detail)

Oil painting by Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725–1805) Paris, 1763-64 (Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven) Source: Wikimedia

Even at the age of four, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart apparently absorbed everything to do with music with a tremendous appetite and seemingly without effort. Not only did he already know how to play his first instruments, the piano and the violin, but he now composed his first piano concerto. Leopold Mozart regarded the blots of ink put down on paper by the unskilled hand of a child with disbelief, realising that all notes were correctly arranged following contemporary musical rules. From this time on he also taught his son the art of composing: Wolfgang played the melodies on the piano and his father put the notes down on paper. Thus dances for keyboard came into being. At the age of six Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed a minuet and a trio for keyboard, the future number 1 of the Köchel catalogue.

Unburdened Childhood in Salzburg and a Joy of Singing

The home of the Mozarts in the Getreidegasse was a merry place. The Mozart children often cavorted with their friends and indulged in “Bölzlschiessen” – a popular leisure time activity for the entire family involving shooting darts at highly decorated targets. Vulgar pranks and mocking poems were an everyday occurrence. Wolfgang enjoyed singing, a passion that would be his companion for the rest of his life - religious hymns, canons and churlish songs with his friends. In 1761, at the age of five, he performed in public for the first time: he was allowed to participate in a musical comedy for the saint’s day of the prince-archbishop of Salzburg.

As carefree as the first years of his life were for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the child genius always took music very seriously. His “Sir Father” Leopold Mozart proved to be a perfect teacher and supporter, who already had a very precise idea about how to pave the way for his son's talent…