History of Mozart

Bill Petro
8 min readJan 27, 2023

Today’s his Birthday

Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus, by Barbara Krafft. Photo: Encyclopedia Britannica

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756, but he was baptized under the name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart.

What’s In A Name?

When he was an adult, he referred to himself as “Wolfgang Amadè Mozart,” signing his marriage certificate that way. His baptismal name was Latinized, as was common in those days, and he was christened on the feast day of St. John Chrysostom. Theophilus was the middle name of his godfather, Johannes Pergmayr.

The names Amadeus and Theophilus are equivalents of each other; Amadeus is from the Latin “amare + Deus” while Theophilus is “Theo + philos” from the Greek for “lover of God” or “beloved by God.” In German, it would be Gottlieb. His father once wrote a letter calling his newborn son “Wolfgang Gottlieb.”

Tom Hulce as Mozart in “Amadeus.” Photo: Classic FM

But his middle name is entered into the records of the Vienna Magistrate when he died: “Wolfgang Amadeus.” This has become the nickname that modern fans use for the musician, including the title of an eponymous movie about his life.

Mozart in Salzburg

Salzburg, Austria, is famous for being the filming location for the film The Sound of Music, and there are tours everywhere. But it used to be renowned also as the birthplace of Mozart.

He was born in a flat on the third floor above what is now a shop at Getreidegasse 9.

My father had been in Salzburg in October 1945 after World War II, and as I walked down that street exactly 50 years later, I wondered if he had been on that street. A walk up to his flat, which is now a museum, brought me to the fortepiano that his father had taught him to play. In the museum, you can also see his childhood violin, harpsichord, and the clavichord upon which he composed The Magic Flute. And when you descend to the shop at street level, you can purchase Mozart Austrian chocolates.

Mozart chocolates. Photo: Amazon

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Bill Petro

Writer, historian, technologist. Former Silicon Valley tech exec. Author of fascinating articles on history, tech, pop culture, & travel. https://billpetro.com