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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

What If Mozart Was Your Life Coach?

Born on January 27, 1756, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a child prodigy who later became a cultural icon. Follow his lead, and you too might tap into your own creative genius..

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The time to start pursuing your passions is now.

By six years old, Mozart was writing his own compositions and playing multiple instruments in public performances. He wrote his first great mass—Misa Brevis in G—when he was 12. The lesson: It’s never too early to pursue your creativity. Of course, it helps if your family is wealthy and you don’t have to work on that “job” thing.

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Pick influential role models.

Mozart’s idols included Bach, Handel, and Haydn, even though the latter was already an established composer during Mozart’s childhood. In 1783, however, when Mozart was 28 and Haydn was 52, they co-headlined the bill at a charity concert in Vienna. “If only I could impress Mozart’s inimitable works on the soul of every friend of music,” Haydn once wrote, “the nations would vie with each other to possess such a jewel.”
The lesson:
Choose your mentors wisely.

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Learn to build and borrow from others.

Mozart sometimes took familiar phrases from other composers’ work and added them to his own, making him perhaps one of the earliest performers to sample music.
The lesson:
Quiet your ego and embrace the work of other artists—for they may lift your creativity to new peaks.

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Carl Joseph Geiger, Wimikedia Commons

Great work comes from great emotion.

Mozart may have suffered a form of ADHD or Tourette’s syndrome, exhibiting periodic mood swings and manic-depressive bouts. This affliction may have led him to be furiously and vigorously creative at times, hysterical and depressed at other times.
The lesson:
It’s okay to be a little crazy, especially if anti-depressants haven’t been invented yet.

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Just because it’s been done before, doesn’t mean you can’t do it better.

With a perfect ear for music, Mozart heard Gregorio Allegris Miserere at the Sistine Chapel and re-created the performance from memory. This composition had never been recreated outside the Vatican before Mozart wrote the score.
The lesson:
Be aware of what others have accomplished before you. Also, feel free to show off when you deserve to.

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Don’t give up.

Throughout his life, Mozart wrote music for choirs, operas, concertos, quartets, symphonies, oratorios, and chamber performances. By the time he died on December 5, 1791, Mozart had written more than 600 compositions. About 150 are incomplete.
The lesson: Even for masters, creativity isn’t easy all the time. If a project isn’t working out, take a break to focus on something different, like connecting with family, or egging Salieri’s manor.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest International Edition