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Mozart: The Boy Musician
by [?]

Johannes Chrysostemus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart–what a burden to be put upon a baby’s tiny shoulders!

If there is any truth underlying the belief that a name can in some measure foreshadow a child’s future, then surely Wolfgang Mozart, who was born in Salzburg in 1756, came honestly by his heritage of greatness, for when he was only a day old he received the five-part name, to which was later added his confirmation name of Sigismundus. But as soon as he could choose for himself, the little son of Marianne and Leopold Mozart from his store of names, selected Wolfgang, to which he added Amadeus, by which combination he was always known, and the name is for ever linked with the memory of a great genius.

Almost before he could talk plainly the little fellow showed himself to be a musical prodigy, and when he was scarcely three years old he would steal into the room where his father was giving a lesson on the harpsichord to Anna (or “Nannerl,” as she was called), the sister five years older than himself, and while she was being taught, Wolfgang would listen and watch with breathless attention.

One day when the lesson was over, he begged his father to teach him too, but Leopold Mozart only laughed as he answered, glancing down into the child’s serious face looking so intently into his:

“Wait, my little man, thou art but a baby yet. Wait awhile, my Wolferl!” and the disappointed little musician crept away, but as soon as Nannerl and his father had left the room, the tiny fellow crept back again, went to the harpsichord and standing on tiptoe, touched the keys with his chubby fingers stretched wide apart until he reached and played a perfect chord ! Leopold Mozart was in another part of the house, but his sensitive ear caught the sound, and he rushed back to find his baby on tiptoe before the harpsichord, giving the first hint of his marvellous ability.

At once the proud and excited father began to give him lessons, and always, too, from that day, whenever Nannerl had her lesson, Wolfgang perched on his father’s knee, and listened with rapt absorption, and often when the lesson was over, he would repeat what she had played in exact imitation of her manner of playing.

Leopold Mozart, who was himself a talented musician, saw with pride almost beyond expression, that both of his children inherited his musical ability, and soon felt that Wolfgang was a genius. When the boy was only four, his father, to test his powers, tried to teach him some minuets which to his perfect astonishment, Wolfgang played after him in a most extraordinary manner, not merely striking the notes correctly, but marking the rhythm with accurate expression, and to learn and play each minuet the little fellow required only half an hour.

When he was five years old, one day his father entered the sitting-room of their home and found Wolfgang bending over a table, writing so busily that he did not hear his father enter, or see that he was standing beside him. Wolfgang’s chubby little hand held the pen awkwardly, but held it with firm determination while it travelled back and forth across a large sheet of paper on which he was scribbling a strange collection of hieroglyphics, with here and there a huge blot, testifying to his haste and inexperience in the use of ink.

What was he trying to do? His father’s curiosity finally overcame him and he asked:

“What are you doing, Wolfgang?” The curly head was raised with an impatient gesture.

“I am composing a concerto for the harpsichord. I have nearly finished the first part.”

“Let me see it.”

“No, please, I have not yet finished.”

But even as he spoke, the eager father had taken up the paper and carried it over to where a friend stood, and they looked it over together, exchanging amused glances at the queer characters on it. Presently Leopold Mozart, after looking carefully at it, said: