By the age of five, Mozart was already a master of the keyboard and violin under the guidance of his father, Leopold. He was Mozart’s only music teacher and worked for the court orchestra of the Archbishop of Salzburg. He was a very experienced teacher and even wrote a textbook on the violin the year Mozart was born. Though Leopold first gave keyboard lessons to Mozart’s sister, Nannerl, Mozart would imitate the techniques she was taught. Once Leopold began to teach Mozart as well, it became clear that Mozart was keen (and ready) to learn beyond what he was teaching his child.
Here is what Mozart’s sister Nannerl remembers from Mozart’s childhood, as stated by the Grove dictionary:
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.
Recognizing the great talent in Mozart, and Nannerl as well, Leopold took them all over Europe and had them perform for both civilians and aristocracy. Leopold Mozart’s Family concert tours took them to such cities as Paris, London, Munich, Hague and Vienna. There has been some debate between biographers of both Mozart and his father as to how lucrative these concert tours were for the family. Some report that most of the money the family made from the concerts only covered their travel and living expenses. And when certain members of the family were sick, which was often, they did not earn any income.
The idea is put forth that Leopold’s intense focus on educating his children, and the fact that the concert tours took him away from his post in Salzburg for great amounts of time, had a detrimental effect on his own career. But, as the Grove Dictionary states, Leopold saw the talent his son possessed as miraculous and he once referred to Mozart as the “miracle which God let be born in Salzburg.”
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