By December 1791, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had written the defining compositions in every available musical genre of his time: symphony, chamber music, masses, and—above all—opera. Opera was the prestige genre of the time, and Mozart loved it dearly and counted on it heavily for personal, professional, artistic, and financial reasons. Just the thought of opera, as Mozart wrote, made him "beside myself at once."
Josef Myslivecek dropped out of university at the age of sixteen, and along with his twin brother became an apprentice to the family millers’ business. In 1758 both became journeymen, and in 1761, master millers. It was soon after this that Myslivecek decided to devote himself to music. He studied organ and composition and in 1763 left Prague for Venice where he studied operatic composition. He immediately became known as ‘Il Boemo’ (The Bohemian) because his name was impossible for the Italians to pronounce. Myslivecek’s first opera was staged in 1766 and a further opera was produced a year later for the birthday of the King of Naples, but despite this early success and the enormity of his output (which included concertos, a quantity of chamber music, some forty-five symphonies, oratorios and nearly thirty operas), Myslivecek died in abject poverty, in Rome, at the age of fifty-four.