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The composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart went by many different names in his lifetime. This resulted partly from the church traditions of the day, and partly from the fact that Mozart was polyglot and freely adapted his name to other languages.

Baptismal record

Mozart was baptized January 28, 1756, the day after his birth, at St. Rupert's Cathedralmarker in Salzburgmarker as Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. The baptismal register of the cathedral parish contains the entry shown below, written down in Latin by city chaplain Leopold Lamprecht. The parallel five-column format of the original document, seen in the figure, is transcribed below in five consecutive paragraphs. Material in brackets represents editorial additions by Otto Erich Deutsch (see below), intended for clarification.
Mozart's baptismal record
[Januarius] 28. med[ia hora] 11. merid[iana] baptizatus est : natus pridie äh[ora] 8. vesp[ertina]Joannes Chrysost[omus] Wolfgangus Theophilus fil[ius] leg[itimus]Nob[ilis] D[ominus] Leopoldus Mozart Aulæ Musicus, et Maria Anna Pertlin giugesNob[ilis] D[ominus] Joannes Theophilus Pergmaÿr Senator et Mercator civicus p[ro] t[empore] sponsusIdem Leopoldus Lamprecht Capellanus Civicus

Mozart's first two baptismal names, "Joannes Chrysostomus," represent his saint's name, following the custom of the Catholic Church. They result from the fact that his birthday, 27 January, was the feast day of St. John Chrysostom. The document also records that Mozart was of legitimate birth and gives the names of his parents and his father Leopold's occupation as court musician. The first paragraph indicates that the baptism took place at 10:30 in the morning, and that Mozart had been born at 8:00 the night before.

Here are the details of the various names given on the register:
  • "Wolfgangus" is "Wolfgang", adapted to the Latin used in the parish register. The composer used "Wolfgang" in German-speaking contexts. "Wolfgang" was the name of the composer's maternal grandfather.
  • "Theophilus" comes from Greek and is variously rendered as "lover of God" or "loved by God". The familiar form "Amadeus" is the Latin version of this name. "Theophilus" was a name of Mozart's godfather, the merchant Joannes Theophilus Pergmayr, whose presence is recorded in the fourth paragraph.
  • The baptismal name "Joannes Chrysostomus" was in conformance to Catholic custom and was not used by Mozart in everyday life.

Mozart's father Leopold announced the birth of his son in a letter to the publisher Johann Jakob Lotter with the words "...the boy is called Joannes Chrisostomus, Wolfgang, Gottlieb", in German: "der Bub heißt Joannes Chrisostomus, Wolfgang, Gottlieb" (sic) – "Gottlieb" being yet another translation (German) of "Theophilus".

The baptismal names "Joannes" and "Chrysostomus" have German equivalents, namely "Johann" and "Chrysostomos" (or less frequently "Chrystostom"). The widely-used Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians employs these versions in the heading name for its Mozart article, which parenthesizes the little-used baptismal names: "(Johann Chrystostom) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart."

Later life

Austrianmarker musicologist Otto Erich Deutsch, who studied all available letters and documents about the composer, arrived at the following conclusion about what the composer called himself: "In Italy, from 1770, Mozart called himself 'Wolfgango Amadeo', and from about 1777, 'Wolfgang Amadè'."

The use of multiple language versions of the same name was perhaps common in Mozart's day. Joseph Haydn went by "Joseph" (German, English and French), "Josef" (German), and "Giuseppe" (Italian); and Ludwig van Beethoven likewise published as "Luigi" (Italian) and as "Louis" (French).

Mozart's preference for "Wolfgang Amadè" can be seen on the wedding contract for his marriage to Constanze Weber, dated August 3, 1782, where the composer's signature is "Wolfgang Amade Mozart". In the parish register entry for the marriage, dated August 4, Mozart is referred to as "Herr Wolfgang Adam Mozart", plausibly an error caused by a mistake of Constanze Mozart's witness Johann Thorwart, who didn't know Mozart's exact name. Mozart biographer Maynard Solomon has developed a number of speculations on the meaning of "Adam", under the assumption that its appearance is deliberate.

Mozart's preference for "Amadè" was not in general respected by others. Frequently, he was called either "Wolfgang Amadeus" or "Wolfgang Gottlieb". Here are examples:
  • Mozart's only official mention as "Wolfgang Amadeus" in an official document made during his lifetime was found in 1998 by Mozart scholar Michael Lorenz in the registers of the Lower Austrian Governorship, where in May 1787 "Mozart Wolfgang Amadeus" is referred to as having applied for the return of his written surety for his friend Franz Jakob Freystädtler.
  • The day Mozart died, his name was entered in the death records of the Vienna Magistrate as "Wolfgang Amadeus". This is the earliest posthumous source that uses the Latin version of his name.
  • In a letter dated December 11, 1791, Mozart's widow Constanze, in severe financial straits, asked to be given a pension by the Emperor (the appeal was ultimately successful). She signed herself "Konstantia Mozart, née Weber, widow relict of the late Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart." Imperial officials, replying to her request, used the same name.
  • A benefit concert for Mozart's family was held in Praguemarker on December 28, 1791, billed as "Concert in memory of Wolfgang Gottlieb Mozart".

Posthumous usage of Amadeus

The 19th century saw the gradual victory of "Amadeus" over alternative middle names when referring to Mozart. Braunbehrens (1988) observes that early (18th century) biographers of Mozart, such as Friedrich Schlichtegroll and Franz Niemetschek, used "Gottlieb". However, in 1798 the publishing firm of Breitkopf & Härtel began to issue a (partial) Complete Works edition under the name "Amadeus". The dominance of "Amadeus" began around about 1810; Romanticism, notably in the person of E. T. A. Hoffmann, "seized upon this name to proclaim its veneration for Mozart." Although various scholars since that time have made use of "Amadè" or "Gottlieb", "Amadeus" remains by far the most familiar term for the general public.

Facetious names

In the frequently playful letters of his youth Mozart sometimes would spell his name backwards, viz., Mozart Wolfgang or Trazom.

'Amadeus' may have originated as a facetious name; Mozart signed himself in three letters as "Wolfgangus Amadeus Mozartus" (this was certainly no accident as in one letter he did the same to the date of the letter as well: adding "us" to the end of each word).


  1. Source for this paragraph: Braunbehrens, 1988


  • Anderson, Emily (1938) The Letters of Mozart and His Family. Currently in print with Palgrave Macmillan (1989)
  • Braunbehrens, Volkmar (1988) "Mozart in orchestra concerts of the 19th century," English translation by Bruce Cooper Clarke of a German-language article originally published in Freiburger Universitätsblätter 101. ( online).
  • Deutsch, Otto Erich (1965) Mozart: A Documentary Biography. English translation by Eric Blom, Peter Branscombe, and Jeremy Noble. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. This work contains English translations of all of the documents cited above.
  • The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, online edition, article "Mozart". Copyright 2008, Oxford University Press.
  • Solomon, Maynard (1996) Mozart: A Life. Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-06-092692-9

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