Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart -- full baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.
Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood in Salzburg. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty; at 17 he was engaged as a court musician in Salzburg, but grew restless and traveled in search of a better position, always composing abundantly. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and the Requiem. The circumstances of his early death have been much mythologized. He was survived by his wife Constanze and two sons.
Mozart learned voraciously from others, and developed a brilliance and maturity of style that encompassed the light and graceful along with the dark and passionate—the whole informed by a vision of humanity "redeemed through art, forgiven, and reconciled with nature and the absolute." His influence on subsequent Western art music is profound. Beethoven wrote his own early compositions in the shadow of Mozart, of whom Joseph Haydn wrote that "posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years."
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born to Leopold and Anna Maria Pertl Mozart at 9 Getreidegasse in Salzburg, capital of the sovereign Archbishopric of Salzburg, in what is now Austria. Then it was part of the Holy Roman Empire. His only sibling to survive past birth was Maria Anna (1751–1829), called "Nannerl". Wolfgang was baptized the day after his birth at St. Rupert's Cathedral. The baptismal record gives his name in Latinized form as Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. He generally called himself "Wolfgang Amadè Mozart" as an adult, but there were many variants.
His father Leopold (1719–1787) was deputy Kapellmeister to the court orchestra of the Archbishop of Salzburg, and a minor composer. He was also an experienced teacher. In the year of Mozart's birth, his father published a violin textbook, Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule, which achieved some success.
When Nannerl was seven she began keyboard lessons with her father, and her three-year-old brother would look on, evidently fascinated. Years later, after his death, she reminisced: "He often spent much time at the clavier, picking out thirds, which he was always striking, and his pleasure showed that it sounded good. [...] In the fourth year of his age his father, for a game as it were, began to teach him a few minuets and pieces at the clavier. [...] He could play it faultlessly and with the greatest delicacy, and keeping exactly in time. [...] At the age of five he was already composing little pieces, which he played to his father who wrote them down."
If the word 'genius' has any legitimate meaning, then certainly Mozart is one of the preeminent examples.