Born in Salzburg, in the Holy Roman Empire, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty, embarking on a grand tour. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court but grew restless and travelled in search of a better position.
While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in Vienna, 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 portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his early death at the age of 35. The circumstances of his death are largely uncertain, and have thus been much mythologized.
Despite his short life, his rapid pace of composition resulted in more than 600 works of virtually every genre of his time. Many of these compositions are acknowledged as pinnacles of the symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral repertoire. He is considered among the greatest classical composers of all time, and his influence on Western music is profound, particularly on Ludwig van Beethoven. His elder colleague Joseph Haydn wrote: "posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years".