Throughout the years, historians have painted Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as a poor man. However, new evidence shows that he was not relatively as impoverished as many may have assumed. Which brings us to the question, how rich was he?
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a member of the top 5% of wage earners in his era. By the time he died, he had spent most of his money lavishly and was buried in a poor man’s grave.
Who is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart?
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, full name Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptized Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was born on January 27, 1756, in Salzburg, Austria. He passed on December 5, 1791, in Vienna. Mozart was an Austrian composer is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers in Western music history.
He pushed the achievement of the Viennese Classical school to its pinnacle with Haydn and Beethoven. He wrote in several musical genres of his day and excelled in each and every one, this made him unlike any other composer in musical history.
His taste, grasp of form, and variety of expression have made him appear to be the most universal of all composers. Nonetheless, his music was also intended to cater to specific audiences’ interests. (Source: Britannica)
How Rich was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart?
Historians sifting through Austrian archives for an exhibition on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s later years in Vienna, which opened on April 4, 2006, discovered proof that he was genuinely part of the upper-class society and enjoyed the good life.
According to letters, Mozart often borrowed money from friends to pay for his trips and social commitments. Because of this, his family was forced to relocate at least eleven times. Newer documents on display at Vienna’s Musikverein state that he made around 10,000 florins each year. This is roughly $42,000 in today’s money.
Experts say that would have put him in the top 5% of income earners in late-eighteenth-century Vienna, but they could not verify persistent fears that gambling debts ate into Mozart’s earnings. Otto Biba, the head of Vienna’s extensive musical archives explained that Mozart did make a lot of money.
According to Biba, successful professionals could live comfortably on 450 florins a year. Mozart’s main business in Vienna was teaching piano lessons to aristocrats. Back then it was a lucrative job that helped support his lavish lifestyle.
On the other hand, Mozart developed a reputation for money-grubbing, and there was ample evidence that he spent much of his fortune on so many unnecessary expenses. Handwritten letters in which Mozart pleaded with his supporters, publishers, and associates for large sums to clear his debts are exhibited at the Musikverein.
Nobody can deny that Mozart’s fortune had vanished by the time he lay on his deathbed. His estate documents show that his widow barely had enough money to even bury him. The researchers at Salzburg’s International Mozarteum Foundation explained that he owed thousands, including debts to his tailor, cobbler, and pharmacist. (Source: Billboard)